Portsmouth Book Awards 2015 – Behind the Scenes!

Hannah Rolls - editor photoMy name is Hannah and I’m the Fiction Commissioning Editor here at Bloomsbury Education. On Tuesday 30th June I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Portsmouth Children’s Book Award celebration and I thought you might like to hear about it.

Every year, the children of Portsmouth, helped by their librarians and teachers, choose their favourite new books. Back in the dark depths of winter we were excited to find out that two of our books had been shortlisted. Running on a Patchwork of Earth by Jonny Zucker and Warrior Heroes: The Viking’s Revenge by Benjamin Hulme-Cross were both nominated in the shorter novel category, which is voted for by the Year 5 children of 27 schools across the city.

Both books did really well in what was an extremely close vote, but at the end of May we found out that The Viking’s Revenge was the winner. Cue much (extremely quiet) excited squealing, as we had to keep the news a secret until the official announcement!

So bright and early on Tuesday morning one author, one marketer, one author’s family and one editor (me) headed up to the King’s Theatre in Portsmouth for the big reveal (poor Ben had to do some hiding to make sure the secret was safe until the big moment).

King's Theatre, Portsmouth
Beautiful day for a celebration

It isn’t often that you get to hear 1300 excited kids screaming for their favourite books. It was quite a sight to see, and after listening to them all do their best Viking war cries we might have to rely on seeing for a while. Blimey, they were LOUD; I’m not sure my ears work properly anymore!

Some schools had been let in on the secret of the winner a bit early so we were treated to a play, a song and a poem they had written and prepared, inspired by The Viking’s Revenge. Brilliant stuff! Prizes were also awarded to the Readers of the Year, who had been nominated by their schools and librarians.

After a quick pit stop for lunch we headed to a school which hadn’t been able to send all its Year 5s to the morning’s festivities. After a lovely talk from Ben about how to come up with ideas for stories (and some really terrible writing up of ideas from me – must practice my whiteboard handwriting), the children were keen to get their books signed by a real live author.

Ben Hulme-Cross author photo
Ben Hulme-Cross – real live author

We had an amazing day. Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors and to Portsmouth Library Service for organising such a brilliant event. In fact, for organising three brilliant events because there are picture book and longer novel categories which get their own celebrations too.

*Begins Machiavellian plotting to try and make sure we win again next year…*

Follow Ben on Twitter @bhulmecross and Portsmouth School Library Service @PortsmouthSLS

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