Members of our Year 7 Book Club helped to re-launch the Southwark Book Award this year. Since last autumn they have been reading, reviewing and voting for the six shortlisted books, and last Thursday 10 of our boys joined children from several different schools around Southwark at Canada Water Library to find out the results.
Three of the shortlisted authors – Taran Matharu (The Novice) M.G.Leonard (Beetle Boy) and Alex Wheatle (Crongton Knights) were present at the ceremony, which caused an extra frisson of excitement amongst the children present. The three other shortlisted books were The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne, Jessica’s Ghost by Andrew Norriss and The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell.
The pupils had already voted for their favourite book online, but once at Canada Water Library they were split into groups to discuss and rank each book in terms of its style, characterisation, plot, setting and theme. Later, they were treated to a short talk from each of the authors present.
The highlight of the morning was the presentation of the award. Jo Mead, Learning Resources Manager at Harris Boys’ Academy, East Dulwich, first announced the results of the morning’s discussion – which saw the honours for the different elements of the books fairly equally divided between the six titles. The overall winner of the Southwark Book Award 2017 however, was Andrew Norriss, for his book Jessica’s Ghost. Sadly, the author was unable to be with us on Thursday, but he sent a video in which he professed himself “absolutely delighted” and thanked all the students for their votes.
Before leaving to return to their respective schools, the students swarmed the authors present with requests for books, posters and bookmarks to be signed – a sure sign that a love of reading is alive and well in Southwark!