Berkshire Book Award Shortlist Event Wednesday 12th February 2020
This year’s event was held at Denefield School in Reading. Approximately 74 students and 10 staff members attended from schools across Berkshire. Our visiting speaker was Clare Rees, local English teacher turned author. The event included the announcement of the shortlist 2020. We had discussions in our table groups about reading habits and more in-depth discussions about the individual books.
Clare’s talk was inspiring and prompted many questions and lively interaction from the audience. Her first book is called Jelly. It was inspired by Clare’s imagination, and she asked the audience to imagine being trapped in a confined space; who would people like or not like to be trapped with, if this were to go on for many years?
The four main characters in the book all talk as real teenagers do. Clare spent a lot of time listening to teenagers in order to replicate their speech patterns accurately. There are also teachers from her school in the book.
Clare entered the story in the Times Chicken House competition and won a contract. Having a book published is not always this straightforward, as Clare was keen to point out!
At the end of the afternoon, a straw poll was conducted to see which book on our shortlist would win if the vote were to depend on students attending this event. Results were as follows:
Five Feet Apart by Rachel Lippincott: 32
Secret Weapon (Short stories, Alex Rider 3.5) by Anthony Horowitz: 11
Snowglobe by Amy Wilson: 9
The day I was erased by Lisa Thompson: 4
The Meltdown (Diary of a Wimpy Kid 13) by Jeff Kinney: 3
The dog who saved the world by Ross Welford: 2
A clear winner for Five Feet Apart, but time will tell what happens when the real voting to take place over the next few weeks!
Berkshire Book Award Launch Event 9th October 2019
This year’s launch event was held at St George’s School Ascot. There were 180 attendees from: Easthampstead Park Community School, LVS Ascot, St George’s Ascot, Denefield School, Leighton Park, Queen Anne’s School and St Michael’s Primary. Miss Knight, Librarian at Reading Blue Coat School, opened the event by reminding attendees what the award is about and reading a message from Robin Stevens, the winner last year. Robin Stevens was excited to be the winner and to be a part of this excellent opportunity for young people in Berkshire.
Laura Wood, author of the Poppy Pym series, Vote for Effie, A Sky painted Gold and Under a Dancing Star, was the inspiring speaker for this year’s launch. Laura talked passionately about reading and writing, in particular how it is not possible to be a writer if one is not an avid reader. Although Laura is not an illustrator, some of her very early illustration attempts still survive! She was fortunate in having her first book published because of a competition that she entered and won. For the competition she only had to write 5000 words. Having over-come the hurdle of this first stage, she then had to commit to finish writing the book – which she managed in just two weeks! She talked enthusiastically to her captive audience about how writing is hard work, but worth committing to for the rewards.
Her debut YA novel, A Sky painted Gold, was inspired by St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. She loves the mystery of the location and the fact that sometimes you can walk to the island on the sand; at other times it is surrounded by the sea, due to the tides.
Laura showed the audience two different pictures of creepy houses and asked them why they would inspire feelings of mystery, given that each picture was very different. One picture was of a very traditional creepy house with only one light on, not much colour and no leaves on the trees. The other picture was reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel, a seemingly happy house with hidden secrets. One detail that members of the audience spotted was some gravestones made of biscuits.
Laura spent time talking about her recent book Vote for Effie, which starts with an argument over chocolate cake in a lunch queue, and continues with Effie deciding to stand up for her rights and standing to be President of the School Council. The inspiration for the book came from young people, voting rights and friendships.
Laura answered many questions from the children in the audience. These included questions about the source of her inspiration for her books, her favourite book to date that she has written, how long it takes for her to write and what she enjoys reading.
Before and after the talk, students were queueing up to nominate books for this year’s longlist and to buy Laura Wood’s books and have them signed.
Many thanks to Ms Kennedy, Librarian at St George’s School Ascot, for hosting the event.
Berkshire Book Award 2019 Events
Launch of the Berkshire Book Award 2019
The Berkshire Book Award got off to a fantastic start this week during the launch held at LVS Ascot. Students from nine schools from across Berkshire attended the event, which featured an amusing and inspiring talk from author Emily Thomas, whose book Mud was published by Andersen Press in July 2018. Over 170 students were introduced to the wonders of 1980s New Romantic boy bands and life on a Thames barge, as Emily explained the semi-autobiographical inspiration for her moving book – a story of Lydia, a 13 year old trying to cope with a new blended family as well as a leaky bunk! Afterwards, Emily said it was a “fantastic afternoon with such fabulous students asking amazing questions. I loved talking to them about Mud. ⛵️
Reading Blue Coat was hosted more than 80 pupils and librarians from eight Berkshire schools at an event to announce the Berkshire Book Award 2019 shortlist on Wednesday, 13 February.
Our guest speaker was Imogen Russell Williams, a children’s literature critic, who reviews and writes on trends in children’s and Young Adult publishing for The Times Literary supplement and The Guardian. Imogen gave some insight into the art of reviewing books and emphasised that, in order to review a children’s book, you need to read as a child and ‘plunge into the relationships and feelings of the book’.
Following Imogen’s talk, the Berkshire Book Award 2019 shortlist was announced. After this, the students and staff had an opportunity to discuss and debate the short-listed books and then vote for their favourite.