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Tuesday, 28 June 2016
The much-anticipated Bolton Children’s Fiction Award Ceremony took place at Bolton School today with all six nominated authors in attendance. Author, illustrator and animator Curtis Jobling was on hand as the master of ceremonies, and two hundred and fifty pupils from sixteen local schools joined Boys’ and Girls’ Division pupils at Bolton School for a morning of literary delights before the award itself was presented.
Over the course of the morning, pupils enjoyed sessions with two Award nominees. The authors talked about the book that had been nominated as well as discussing their other work, how they got into writing and what led them to publication. Jeannie Waudby gave pupils in her session a writing exercise that encouraged them to do some writing of their own, and all of the authors offered tips and advice to aspiring writers in the audience. There was also plenty of time for questions and pupils were keen to discuss the authors’ works after months of reading the shortlisted books! At lunchtime, there were opportunities for pupils to buy books and get them signed by the visiting authors before the ceremony itself.
Curtis Jobling, who helped to launch the 2016 Awards and announce the shortlist back in October, took to the stage as host of the Award Ceremony and welcomed everyone to the packed Girls’ Division Great Hall for the occasion.
This year, Bolton School hosted a Cover Competition which challenged pupils to create a new cover for Narinder Dhami’s Thirteen Hours. Pupils from Bolton St Catherine’s Academy, Canon Slade, Woodhey High School, and Bolton School Boys’ and Girls’ Divisions took part and produced a host of stunning and highly creative entries based on the book. The competition was judged by Bolton School staff Mrs Ryder and Miss Fazackerley from the Art Department and Miss Lord from the English and Drama Department. The winner and three runners-up were announced during the Awards Ceremony and Narinder presented the pupils with their prizes.
Esmée Higgins from the Girls’ Division came in first place with her design featuring a clock face and prison-like bars, while Amy Tsang from Bolton St Catherine’s Academy, Alice Dearden of Woodhey High School, and Umar Ikheria from the Boys’ Division were awarded with joint second place.
Curtis then announced a series of book trailers, which had been created for the nominated books by pupils at St James’s CE High School to introduce each author’s speech at the ceremony. All of the authors were delighted and impressed by the pupils’ work and commented on different aspects of their trailer.
Ian Beck spoke about how honoured he felt to have his book, The Disappearance of Tom Pile, included in the shortlist, particularly since he spent much of his career as an illustrator and only came to writing later in life. He also talked about how it took a long time to write the story, and the inspiration he drew from seeing the night sky “as it should be seen”.
Narinder Dhami discussed how she found out about the amazing children who care, sometimes single-handedly, for their parents or relatives, and the challenges she had with weaving this idea together with another plot in the story of Thirteen Hours.
Sally Nicholls said that her novel, An Island of Our Own, is about the power of kindness and the power of people to do extraordinary things. She also added that she wanted to write a book about hope, not because the world needs more, but because people often forget where to find it.
Kim Slater talked to the audience about the origins of Smart as a short story and the strong voice of the main character, Kieran. She said that although the book deals with difficult themes and topics, it has stunned her how much readers have got into Kieran’s mind and heart.
Rob Stevens, the author of Would the Real Stanley Carrot Please Stand Up, said that writing is still “a hobby” to him – as well as being an author, he is a British Airways Captain – and so he is always surprised and delighted to find that people are reading and enjoying his book. He also talked about some of the themes from the book that were picked up particularly well in the trailer.
Finally Jeannie Waudby discussed how the idea for One of Us came to her in a dream. She spoke about wanting to explore what happens when someone lives with people they think are their enemies, and how that changes their perceptions.
The time then finally came for Curtis to announce the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award 2016 winner: Narindar Dhami with Thirteen Hours! This is the second time she has won the Award, following her success in 2010 with Bang, Bang, You’re Dead.
Taking to the stage a second time to cheers from the audience, Narinder said, “Having looked at the others on the shortlist, I honestly didn’t think I would win! I’ll say exactly what I said in 2010 – ‘No, not me! I haven’t prepared a speech!’ I haven’t again. Shall I do what they do at the Oscars and thank everybody? I’ve got to thank everyone who voted for me. I should also thank everyone involved in the award. Thank you all for being so interested in reading and so enthusiastic.”
At the end of the ceremony, visiting pupils were able to get additional books signed and have photos taken with the authors before departing.
The Bolton Children’s Fiction Award is run by Bolton School. Each year, the winner is selected via votes cast by children under the age of fifteen: adults have no say in the outcome. Twenty-one schools took part in the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award this year. The Award Ceremony and author workshops were organised by Bolton School’s Head Librarian Mrs Howarth and the Library staff, and the day was run with assistance from the Girls’ Division Prefects and the Boys’ Division Monitors.
Further details about all of the books on the 2016 shortlist can be found here.
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