Last night, hundreds of young readers from across the South East gathered together for a celebration of children’s fiction at the Awesome Book Awards 2018 prize-giving which was held in the Speech Hall at Cranleigh School. Peter Bunzl won the top prize this year for his first children’s novel Cogheart.
“I was delighted to be shortlisted and grateful to the schools for giving children the chance to get involved in reading and reviewing new books. The Awesome Book Awards are an important new prize in children’s fiction and it’s fantastic to hear from so many children who have enjoyed my story,’ said Peter Bunzl. Peter, who has since published a sequel, Moonlocket, was presented with his prize and trophy by the winner of last year’s inaugural Awards, Ross Welford.
Peter’s advice to aspiring young writers was: “Read as much as you can, and write as much as you can – anything and everything. Poetry, novels, short stories, non-fiction – whatever interests you. Read it all and write it all, and don’t fear failure – you learn by trial and error until you’ve found your voice and the story you want to tell.”
The Awesome Book Awards is a prize that honours the best new fiction authors for young readers aged between 7 and 10. To be eligible for the 2018 award, titles had to be a UK based author’s debut novel, suitable for able readers in the listed age group, appealing to both boys and girls and available in paperback from May 2016.
Cranleigh Pupil Ted M, who voted for the winner and introduced him on the stage, said: “As the front cover of the book states, I completely agree that Cogheart is a stunning adventure of danger and daring. I hope many of you in the audience will read the sequel to Cogheart which is called Moonlocket and is just as compelling.”
The other titles shortlisted for the 2018 Awards were: Erica’s Elephant, by Sylvia Bishop; Radio Boy by Christian O’Connell; The Secret of Nightingale Wood, by Lucy Strange; and The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson. Thousands of pupils from schools across the South East read the whole shortlist and then voted for their favourite overall.
It was particularly special to have four out of our five shortlisted authors present at the Ceremony; sadly Lucy Strange was unable to be there as her baby is due any day now. M.G. Leonard, Cranleigh Prep School’s Patron of Reading, introduced the Ceremony, then five CPS pupils introduced each shortlisted author who gave us an insight into the inspiration and background to their work, including a video with Lucy Strange. A big drum roll followed before the overall winner was announced at the end of the evening.
M.G. Leonard, a former Awesome Awards nominee and author of the popular Beetle Boy trilogy, also presented the prizes to the pupils who had written the best review of a shortlisted book. “There is no other way than stories to celebrate getting to know creatures and people of all shapes and sizes. An award for writing and reading is a wonderful thing,” said Ms Leonard.
Cranleigh Prep School’s Head of English, Kate Schutte, who came up with the idea for the Awards, said: “The Awards seem to have gained a life of their own. We estimate that this year around 2000 pupils will have been given the opportunity to experience new and exciting authors, befriend quirky characters and become embroiled in adventures in worlds that are different to our own. I have loved reading the reviews that many of the participating children wrote about their favourite books.”
Please follow the link to watch what happened behind the scenes, and on the night!
The Awesome Book Awards is an annual event run by Cranleigh School and Cranleigh Prep School. Their panel of readers is already hard at work compiling the shortlist for the 2019 awards. To read more about the Awesome Book Awards, visit: https://www.awesomebookawards.com/