This year saw the twelfth annual Southern Schools Book Awards, held at Roedean School on Friday 19th January, with more than 300 students from thirty schools covering the whole of Sussex and parts of Kent and Surrey, coming together to celebrate the best of Young Adult fiction.
Over the course of three months a small but enthusiastic group of four students from Homewood School – Poppy, Freya, Maddie and Kai - read five shortlisted books from a long list of twenty five and after much discussion (sometimes heated!) sent in their votes for their most commended book. It was with great excitement that we set off to attend the awards evening – a hugely enjoyable event that is highly regarded by the authors themselves as it is the only existing award made by young readers rather than critics. Four of the authors were present to talk about their books and the fifth did so in a video link.
The shortlisted books were:
Margot and Me by Juno Dawson
Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield
Instructions for a Second-Hand Heart by Tamsyn Murray
The Trap by Alan Gibbons
The Hypnotist by Laurence Anholt
The winner of the Southern Schools Book Awards was Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield, a powerful story of a young girl’s struggles in life, with a shocking twist at the end. Second place, or the Highly Commended Award, was given to Juno Dawson for Margot and Me. The event was hosted by Holly Bourne, last year’s winning author. For the second year running we were delighted to have Chris Riddell, former Children’s Laureate, who drew charming and wittily accurate sketches of the authors and their thoughts while they were speaking about their books, projected onto the screen behind as he drew.
At the end of the awards every participating student was presented with a book token, which they could exchange for a book from a wide range of the authors’ works, and were then able to meet and have their books signed by the authors themselves. They could also have a signed copy of one of Chris Riddell’s amazing drawings.
Two of our participating students from Homewood voiced their thoughts about the event. Poppy said: ‘I really enjoyed going to the SSBA because I love reading and I really enjoyed meeting the authors. My favourite part was actually reading the books and my favourite book was Margot and Me. I also really liked getting the books signed.’
Kai said: ‘I enjoyed meeting the authors and getting my books signed. I’ve never had this kind of experience before and it was great fun. I really liked how Chris Riddell was drawing when the authors were speaking and how we could have the drawings.’
This year’s long list of books has already been compiled and the quest to shorten it to the five greatest reads will begin soon. Come and join us in the Conference Room in the KIC Centre at lunch time on Thursdays and experience the magic of reading – details from Miss Haywood in the Library or Ms Ploszajski, C40, English Department.