The votes have been counted and the winners have now been declared of the Lancashire School Library Service Fantastic Book Awards 2017.
The Fantastic Book Awards aim to support reading for pleasure by introducing newly published fiction titles to upper Key Stage 2 pupils. The awards involve thousands of children aged 9-11 from primary schools across Lancashire who read and vote for the books they consider the best. The schools then hold Oscar style celebrations to announce the winners.
The winning authors have received uniquely engraved fountain pens and special letters of congratulation, written by the schools that voted them winners!
So here they are – Lancashire children’s choice of winners – the top reads for 9-11 year olds!
Well done to the winning authors, to all the library and school staff involved in putting together and running the awards and to the pupils that took part and chose such brilliant winners!
We’ve been industriously reading and digesting the Carnegie and Greenaway shortlists over the last couple of weeks but with only a month to go before we discover 2017’s winning titles we think it’s high time that we shared our thoughts with you…
To start us off we’re looking at Sputnik’s Guide To Life on Earth by previous Carnegie Medal winner Frank Cottrell Boyce.
What the Judges Say:
‘This writer is particularly skilled at using fantasy to say something about the world we live in and how we relate to each other and it is the relationships which really matter. Touching and credible’ – Judging panel
What We Say:
Frank Cottrell Boyce takes the story of Laika, the dog sent into space by the Russians in 1957, and asks what if she didn’t die, what if she was rescued by someone up there and told them about the wonders of Earth? Enter Sputnik, a small, rather unpredictable alien who lands on the doorstep of Prez, a young boy in care. Prez has grown up with his grandfather but the onset of dementia has meant that the two have become separated. Though he finds himself unable to speak to humans, Prez will talk to Sputnik, who having only Laika as a reference, has taken the form of a dog.
Prez’s uncertainty of his place in the world makes him hugely endearing, and Sputnik, a kind of beneficent Lord of Misrule (happy to put a lightsabre into the hands of a five year old or deploy a reverse dynamite grenade to rebuild Hadrian’s Wall), is a fantastic character able to fill the page with joy and adventure. Together the two embark on a mission to save the earth from destruction by cataloguing the reasons it is still worth seeing (according to Sputnik’s alien logic). The resulting list is both profound and ridiculous.
Sure to be a hit with young enquiring minds, this is a tale which is heart-breaking and hilarious in equal measure; it takes the poetic and the mundane and blends them into Cottrell Boyce’s own particular brand of magical realism. Readers will find themselves more than happy to suspend their disbelief – adventures are but a gravity eddy away!
From the Horse’s mouth:
Watch Frank talking about the book on the CKG website where you can also hear him read an extract: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=14
Much Ado About Shakespeare – The Life and Times of William Shakespeare: a literary picture book by Donovan Bixley
April 23rd is Shakespeare Day so it seemed fitting that our ‘What We’re Reading Wednesday’ for this week should be Shakespearey. This is in fact a book that I wanted to nominate for this year’s Greenaway Award but the fact that it is a New Zealand import made it disappointingly ineligible. It is, however, a corker of a book that deserves some shouting about!
The subtitle says it all: ‘The Life and Times of William Shakespeare: a literary picture book’. Bixley says his aim is to offer a new interpretation of Shakespeare’s world: a play on words and pictures that attempts to draw back the curtain and shed light on the bright and exuberant world of Shakespeare’s life and times.
Double page spreads combine words from the plays and map them on to historical fact/context. The fact that the known details of Shakespeare’s life are pretty sparse allows Bixley some fun with his interpretations (Macbeth’s ‘double, double toil and trouble’ accompanies the birth of Shakespeare’s twins). It is a work of speculation but a joyous one at that that allows us a gateway to this world.
On Tuesday evening I was lucky enough to be able to accompany 3 of the young volunteers I work with to see Cecelia Ahern at County Hall, Preston, an event that was organised by Silverwood Events in partnership with Lancashire Libraries.
Going to any author event is a treat. But going to see an author you particularly admire in an impressive venue like County Hall is extra special. And seeing young people inspired and enthused and then desperate to get home and start reading is the absolute cherry on top.
Cecelia was in conversation with our very own YLG North West representative and current Chair Elect, Jake Hope, and was promoting her new novel Perfect, the follow-up to her debut YA novel, Flawed, which was published in 2016 and brilliantly received.
Topics discussed on the night included Cecelia’s career so far, the differences between writing adult and young adult fiction, and the ways in which (particularly with the proliferation of social media) people can be so quick to judge others and publicly shame them for their mistakes. This is a central theme in the Flawed series, in which anyone that is deemed to be imperfect is physically branded with an F for Flawed – with the location of the F dependent on what it is they are judged to have done wrong. It’s dark and compelling and the parallels with our own society give real pause for thought.
Cecelia also talked about her experiences of promoting her young adult books and some of the schools she has visited. She talked about how often the pupils that ask the most questions are the ones described by the teachers as the ‘quiet ones,’ and how vital author visits are in showing young people that they can make a living from writing, that there are people out there that have done it and do it every day.
This was a really well-organised, enjoyable event – Jake has a lovely interview manner and Cecelia was a brilliant speaker – refreshing, down-to earth and funny too. The young people were buzzing about the event on the train home – and so was I! 🙂
100 years on from The Wind in the Willows, Toad Hall lies in ruins. Teejay (Toad Junior), Mo and Ratty are exploring the place when they make a discovery in the Ice House – it’s a very frozen Mr Toad! Nobody can quite believe he’s alive – especially not the dodgy weasels who want to claim Toad Hall for their own.
This is one of the first chapter books I have read with my eldest daughter (just-turned 5) and she absolutely loved it. As did I! When she asked for “just one more chapter” I was powerless to resist and three bedtimes later we’d finished the whole book!
Mr Toad is as gloriously eccentric as you would expect him to be and the new young characters are smart, brave and adventurous. Holly Swain’s illustrations are vibrant and vivacious, with a colour palette of mostly greys, greens and blacks with occasional splashes of red. And the car racing action is brilliant fun!
Looking forward to the next instalment in the series.
A Race for Toad Hall is published by Oxford University Press