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Friday, 03 October 2014
After much anticipation, the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award 2015 Shortlist has finally been announced! The six books were revealed to students from four participating schools, plus pupils from the Boys’ and Girls’ Divisions, and has now been publicised on the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award Blog.
The shortlisted books were chosen by school librarians at Bolton School, Canon Slade, Turton and St James' Schools. However, it is entirely the children who choose the winner, as only those under the age of fifteen are allowed to vote.
As the pupils congregated in the Girls’ Division Great Hall for the launch event, there was an air of great anticipation. Mrs Maria Howarth, the Senior Librarian at Bolton School, opened the event, welcoming pupils from Canon Slade, Derby High School, Philips High School, and Tonge Moor Primary School, as well as Boys' and Girls' Division students. She described how difficult it has been for the excited librarians and delighted authors to keep the shortlist secret, as they have known for several weeks which books are included! Mrs Howarth reassured a captive audience that this year’s shortlist contains a wide variety of genres and all of the books are quite different, which means that there will be something for everyone to enjoy.
This is the tenth year of the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award and, as Mrs Howarth said in her introduction, “The tenth year of sharing books, and meeting inspirational and memorable authors.”
She then passed the proceedings to three Girls’ Division Prefects and three Boys’ Division Monitors, who each introduced one of the shortlisted books and gave a short summary of what they enjoyed when reading it.
Hate, by Alan Gibbons, is a hard-hitting thriller about the fallout from the brutal murder of Eve’s older sister. Six months later, she meets a boy who was there the night her sister died and did nothing to help. The book questions society’s norms and looks at what it means to be singled out for being different.
Knightly and Son, by Rohan Gavin, is a fantastical crime caper with several great mysteries just waiting to be solved. The main characters are Darkus Knightly, an aspiring detective determined to follow in the footsteps of his father, formerly the greatest detective in London; and his father, who has lost part of his memory and is in need of assistance after he wakes from a four-year coma.
Valentine Joe, by Rebecca Stevens, is a book that weaves a story from the First World War with the concept of time-travel. Rose is on a trip to Ypres to visit the graves of those who died in the Great War when she starts to be able to sense and see the past, and eventually meets a young soldier from the past: Valentine Joe. After finding out that he was killed, she begins a campaign to re-write history to save him. This is all the more poignant as ‘Valentine Joe’ was a real person: born on Valentine’s Day, he was just fifteen when he was killed on the front lines during the First World War.
Thirteen, by Tom Hoyle, is about Adam, a Year 9 pupil living in London, who happened to be born at the stroke of midnight at the start of the new millennium. What he does not realise is that there is a cult dedicated to wiping out the boys born on that date before they reach the age of fourteen. They have already killed twelve, and Adam is their thirteenth target.
Dragon Shield, by Charlie Fletcher, is the first in an action-packed trilogy. When something dark awakens in the British Museum and freezes time, only the statues are able to move and witness what happens next. Two children, Will and Jo, find themselves plunged into this world of statues and pursued through the street of London by dragons!
Pyrate’s Boy, by E. B. Colin, is about eleven-year-old Silas Orr, a runaway who is rescued by pirates following a shipwreck – and subsequently finds himself taken along on their adventures. He faces death threats, sea battles and even a volcanic eruption, all of which seem to be linked to the mysterious lead box that the pirates found chained to the leg of another drowning boy.
Secondary school pupils involved in the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award will read each of the books and vote for their favourite to win the award. This year, two primary schools are involved: Bolton School Junior Girls’ School and Tonge Moor Primary School will take part in a reduced version of the Award, reading four of the shortlisted books: Knightly and Son, Valentine Joe, Dragon Shield and Pyrate's Boy.
Girls’ Division Year 7 pupil Olivia Kauta’s first choice of book was Hate, closely followed by Valentine Joe. She said, “I’m excited about judging the books, because the votes will show people’s different tastes and I think that’s a good idea. It’s great that it’s only under-fifteens allowed to vote – if there were older judges, they would probably prefer the books for older children.”
In the coming months, children will read the shortlisted books. 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 #BCFA2015!
Mrs Howarth said, “After the success of the award ceremony last June, we are delighted to launch the award for 2015. It has been hard to keep it a secret from our pupils, even the authors have not been able to reveal they are on the shortlist, so we are all relieved that the list is finally out.
“I am really excited about the shortlisted books, there is definitely something for everyone. The children have been telling me that they can’t wait to get their hands on them and start reading now that they know what is on the shortlist .
“We have seventeen schools from Bolton, Bury and further afield joining in with the award, with Tonge Moor Primary being the first external primary to participate. With a blog and Twitter feed there are plenty of opportunities for the readers to have their say about their favourites.”
Children can start voting for their favourites in May next year. Their votes will be counted up, and the winner will finally be announced at a special event in June 2015.
The Bolton Children’s Fiction Award is promoted by Bolton School, and sponsored by the bookseller Page Nation, which provides the books and the cash prize for the winning author.
This is a great way for school librarians to introduce Year 7 pupils to the library and to engage pupils in reading. Any schools interested in taking part should contact Mrs Maria Howarth, the Senior Librarian at Bolton School: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, check out the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award Blog.
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