Darren Simpson

Winner of the Best Character Award from the 2020 Redhill Academy Trust Book Awards (for Landfill)
A Guardian Best Book of 2019
An Observer Children’s Book of the Month

What happens when you break the rules?


Landfill is a boy raised with animals behind the walls of Hinterland – an industrial landscape succumbing to weeds and wild flowers. His guardian, a tormented scavenger called Babagoo, protects him from the horrors of Outside. As Landfill gets older obedience falls prey to curiosity, and he begins to question the Outside that fills Babagoo with such terror and loathing. Will this coming of age reveal hidden truths and make sense of Landfill’s longing? Or will it destroy everything that’s been built to protect him? Scavengersis a striking allegory for our times; a novel exploring fear, innocence, and the fine line between love and oppression. The novel has elements of The Jungle Book, Lord of the Flies and The Wasp Factory. There is humour, warmth, tension, drama and playful use of language, and the complex relationship between Landfill and Babagoo – along with the world in which they live – is beautifully depicted.

Some rules are meant to be broken.

Selected for the Summer Reading Challenge 2019
Peters Book of the Week
Selected by Literacy Trust for Read On pilot
Selected for Creative Learning Services’ 8 for 8 scheme
In the Observer’s children’s books special December 2019
Selected and published by Oxford University Press as a Rollercoaster edition
In Socialist Review in January 2020 as a Best Children’s Book
Shortlisted for Northern Ireland Book Award 2020
Selected by UNESCO Cities of Literature as reflecting UN’s sustainable development goals
Highlighted by Peters as a 2019 debut author to watch
Award for Best Character in Redhill Academy Trust Book Award
Selected by Empathy Lab as part of their 2021 Read for Empathy Collection

‘A book unlike any other – I was totally unprepared for the twists!’ Alex Wheatle

Guardian Best Book of 2019

Scavengers was selected for the national 2019 Summer Reading Challenge

‘The very best fiction involves creating believable alternative worlds. Darren Simpson does just that in Scavengers, his extraordinary first outing for young readers. The scavengers’ universe is made up of just two: young Landfill and old Bagaboo, who hide from an ill-defined enemy in an Eden Bagaboo has created out of detritus. Loving, but strict, Bagaboo has his own dialect and rules: chiefly, hide and obey. Landfill, though, makes a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries that seed doubt and rebellion, and the reader’s suspicions as to what is really happening gradually crystallise with a mixture of fascination and alarm. It’s a hugely compassionate, sophisticated novel, about inclusion and exclusion, and who – or what – is really crazy.’ Guardian

‘One book really stayed with me long after I finished it, however. Newcomer Darren Simpson’s debut, SCAVENGERS (Usborne), seems set in a different world with its own language and customs. But the reader’s realisation dawns – alongside that of Simpson’s protagonist, a youngster called Landfill – that Hinterland, the only home he knows, is not what it seems. Things are not exactly as he’s been told by Babagoo, his strict but affectionate protector, either, a cantankerous soul given to expletives such as “flaming brownberries!” The discovery of where puppies come from throws young Landfill for a loop. Parents, though, will smile at a “woofler” called Orwell and a “mowler” called Atwood.
Simpson skilfully avoids hammering any point home, but this emotive coming-of-age tale queries love and loyalty, our throwaway society, and what exactly it is that walls keep out and in. That’s a lot to pack into what is, at heart, a hard-to-put-down tale of tweenage derring-do.’ Observer, best of 2019 round-up


  • Usborne Publishing World English
  • Timas Yayinlari Turkey
  • Sabat Azerbaijan

Material: Finished copies (322pp)