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Curtis Jobling Launches Bolton Book Award Shortlist

Tuesday, 06 October 2015

Author, illustrator and animator Curtis Jobling has helped to launch the shortlist for the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award 2016. This annual award – which puts the voting entirely in the hands of the children under the age of fifteen – has now been running for ten years, with many winners going on to enjoy great success.

The 2016 shortlist was announced by Curtis in a ceremony held at Bolton School. Bolton School pupils from the Boys’ and Girls’ Divisions were joined by students from Bury Grammar School for Boys, Bolton St Catherine's Academy, Canon Slade School and Smithills School for this exciting event.

As well as writing the Wereworld series and the Haunt books, Curtis has also worked on several children’s TV programmes, including Bob the Builder and Raa Raa the Noisy Lion. He showed pupils his first ever design for Bob and discussed some of the changes he had to make, and even showed how a few defining characteristics can create a character by drawing live sketches on the stage. He also talked about his career as an author: the Haunt books create a fusion between comedy and horror, while the Wereworld series straddles two of Cursits’s favourite genres: fantasy and horror.

He talked about how his childhood hobbies led him to become a writer, and emphasised to pupils that nothing is stopping them from doing the same, no matter what their hobby happens to be. The advice he gave to pupils was: “Keep your hobby. At the very least, you’ll have a worthwhile pastime for the rest of your life. At the best, you’ll be able to make a living doing the thing you love.”

Finally, the time came to announce the shortlist for the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award 2016. The nominees selected by school librarians this year are:

The Disappearance of Tom Pile by Ian Beck is set during the Second World War. Corporal Jack Carmody is sent to investigate mysterious lights in the sky in a remote village where a young boy disappeared forty years ago, apparently snatched by angels. Are the lights German bombers, or something more intriguing? When a bewildered boy appears, believing it’s 1900, it’s up to Carmody to discover the truth.

13 Hours by Narinder Dhami centres on thirteen suspense-filled hours in twelve-year-old Anni’s life. She is a carer for her mum, who is terrified of intruders and often gets Anni to check the house to make sure they are safe. This time, Anni’s mum is right. Kept prisoner and monitored by strangers in her own home, Anni discovers a secret. Everything can change in thirteen hours – and it’s time for the truth to come out.

An Island of Our Own by Sally Nicholls is about three orphaned children who live in poverty in London. Visiting their Auntie Irene in hospital, they are given an old photo album with a set of strange photos in it. When their aunt dies, Holly and her brothers are supposed to inherit a fortune of jewels – but they are nowhere to be found. Then Holly realises that the album could be a set of clues, and a treasure hunt across the country begins in a bid to find the jewels before their greedy uncle.

Smart by Kim Slater is a crime story featuring a detective with a difference. When a homeless man drowns in the canal, everyone thinks that it is an accident, but Kieran thinks otherwise. The police don’t take any notice of his offer to help in the investigation, so he decides that he is going to find out what really happened himself. It is not easy and could put him in danger, but Kieran has some special skills to help him and he’s determined not to give up.

Would the Real Stanley Carrot Please Stand Up by Rob Stevens is a funny book which also deals with serious issues. Stanley ‘Carrot’ Harris is chubby, ginger, and not very cool. He also has a secret: his adopted, which makes him feel like he’s never quite fitted in. When he gets a card from his birth mother on his thirteenth birthday asking him to meet her, he doesn’t want to disappoint her! So he advertises for a stand-in Stanley who will be sporty, clever and good-looking. Needless to say, things don’t go as planned and he finds himself getting deeper into trouble as his lies escalate.

One of Us by Jeannie Waudby is a fast-paced thriller set in a divided country. The book opens with a bomb attack on a station. Sixteen-year-old K is rescued and finds herself recruited as a spy for the Citizens. She has to infiltrate the Brotherhood to find out who is responsible for the terrorist attacks. However, as she gets to know the pupils at the Brotherhood school, she begins to question what she has been told – and makes a shocking discovery which shows that everything is not as it seems.

Pupils involved in the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award will now start to read the books on the shortlist. In the coming months, they will be able to post reviews in their School Libraries, comment on the books via the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award Blog, and even tweet about their favourites using the hashtag #BCFA2016.

In May 2016, voting will commence and pupils will be able to elect for their favourite book to win the Award. The winner will be announced at a special event at Bolton School in June, and Curtis Jobling has promised to return for the award ceremony to find out who the overall winner.

The Bolton Children’s Fiction Award is promoted by Bolton School and sponsored by Page Nation. For more information, check out the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award Blog. Any schools interested in taking part should contact Mrs Maria Howarth, the Senior Librarian at Bolton School: mhowarth@boltonschool.org.

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Pupils holding the nominated book with Curtis Jobling and a sketch he drew on the occasion

Pupils holding the nominated book with Curtis Jobling and a sketch he drew on the occasion

Curtis drew characters as part of his talk

Curtis drew characters as part of his talk

Curtis signing books after the Launch Ceremony

Curtis signing books after the Launch Ceremony