Last week I was at Norwood School in Lambeth for the Phoenix Book Awards 2017. The awards have been running for 10 years, with winners including Frank Cottrell-Boyce and David Walliams, so I was honoured to be included in the shortlist which was put together by young readers.
When I write a book, I write it for myself. After all, how boring would my profession be if I wrote stories that I didn’t enjoy? But I also write for a younger version of myself – I think back to the kind of thing I would have wanted to read when I was twelve/thirteen years old and I write something that would have entertained and inspired young Dan. And I write for someone else . . . for the young readers who are out there right now. So these kinds of awards are particularly special, because those young readers are the ones who choose the books, write the reviews, and vote for their favourite.
Katherine Woodfine (also shortlisted for the award) and I were made to feel very welcome at Norwood School and we enjoyed a fantastic morning during which several students took to the stage (some of them on their own) to tell the audience why they would vote for a particular book. It’s no small thing to do that in front of a large group of people you don’t know, and every one of them did an amazing job! There was also an interactive quiz, drama, films, and even the mayor of Lambeth came along to inspire the students and hand out prizes.
Sometimes being an author can be a lonely profession. There are occasions when I feel like I’m shouting into a deep dark hole, my own voice swallowed by all the other voices shouting into it, so I was thrilled when Boy X was announced as the winner. As a writer, I can think of nothing better than to know that young readers have been picking up my book and enjoying the adventure within its pages.
Thank you to everyone who organised the fantastic day, to all the students who took part, and to everyone who voted for BOY X!!
So. It looks like I’m going to have to stop saying I never win anything. Y’know . . . until recently it was true. But first there was the Coventry Inspiration Book Award and now BOY X has won the Essex Book Awards 2017!
Yesterday was a long and brilliant day in Chelmsford, at King Edward VI Grammar School, where students from 18 schools came along to listen to the shortlisted authors say something (brief) about their books. There must have been over 250 students, all of them awesome readers (of course!), and over the past few months they, along with other students from schools across Essex, they have been reading the shortlisted books, reviewing them, and voting for their favourite.
It was great to meet the other authors – Helen Dennis, Monica Vaughan, Robin Jarvis, and Hayley Long – but most of all it was fantastic to meet all the students who have been reading the books, and I even had the chance to give Olivia her award for the best review of BOY X.
The organisation was excellent, the staff were amazing, and the students were awesome!
Thank you so much to everyone who reviewed BOY X and voted for Ash’s jungle adventure. And to the student who apologised for not giving it a good review . . . well, that’s okay. If we all liked the same things, the world would be a very dull place.
Over the past few years, World Book Day has grown to become World Book Week. And that’s no bad thing – anything that encourages the celebration of books and reading for pleasure is worth while. For many young people, their only main contact with books is in the classroom and, even with the best intentions, studying a book can kill it stone dead. I understand the benefits of studying literature, but I also know that writers (me included) want their readers to feel excitement, fear, sadness, elation, and wonder when they settle down and open a book. Studying a text, dissecting it in a classroom, reading a couple of sentences and then discussing them, removes the wonder.
So World Book Week is a time to celebrate. It’s a time for us to revel in the joys of reading and story-telling (although, shouldn’t every week be a book week?), and it’s a time time when a school’s focus can turn on their library (if they have one) and their librarian (if they have one). It’s also a busy time for authors as we are invited into schools to meet and hopefully inspire future generations of readers.
Over the course of World Book Week this year I was in schools every day, and so would like to give a big shout out to Bollin Primary, Hockerill School, Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy, Jarrow School, Hepburn Comprehensive, Wirral Grammar School for Boys, and GSMS in West Virginia USA (who asked some great questions via Skype). Thank you to all the awesome young readers who listened to me, joined in, and asked questions, and to the fantastic librarians, teachers, and staff who looked after me so well. And there was even time for a quick dab.
And . . . in other news . . .
BOY X was voted by young readers as winner in the ‘Hooked on Books’ category at the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards 2017. All of my books for younger readers have been shortlisted for multiple awards (including the Coventry Inspiration Book Award in the past), so it’s very exciting to finally win – especially when the winner is voted for by the readers themselves.
Hooray for Boy X.
Once again, it’s been a long time since I have blogged. I do have an excuse, though. Honest. I’ve been working hard on a new book. Things don’t always go according to plan and I’ve been doing more deleting recently than I’d like to, but I’ll tell you about that later. I actually came here to tell you about something else.
My most recent book for younger readers, BOY X, has been nominated for a couple of awards!
The Coventry Inspiration Book Award 2017 and The Essex Book Award 2017.
It’s always a huge honour to be nominated for these kinds of awards because the winner is
chosen by the readers!! The Coventry Inspiration Book Award runs an on-line voting system; the book with the least votes is knocked out and then voting starts all over again. If you’d like to vote for BOY X, you can find the information right here.
The Essex Book Awards works in a different way. There’s a website where readers from the various schools involved can leave reviews, and the winner is announced on a special day in Chelmsford for all the participating schools. If you’d like to see some of the great reviews the children have written, you’ll find them right here.
Keep reading . . . it makes you smart.