For the third year running, I'm involved with the Lancashire Children's Book of the Year and last Friday I went to Preston where, in an impressive cabinet room in the Council building, 24 young judges, (2 from each of 12 schools in the county) met one another and discussed the books they'd been reading since September from which the shortlist is chosen. Months of work and reading and talking have gone into the choice you see listed below. All the schools take their task very seriously and both teachers and children work very hard and energetically and also have fun during the process. They're helped in this by a cohort of helpful librarians. The whole thing is spearheaded most efficiently by Jean Wolstenholme and Jake Hope and more and more publishers are sending their books for teenagers in for the prize. The University of Central Lancashire is again a major sponsor of the Award. This year the longlist had something like 60 titles on it. This is the shortlist:
Numbers Rachel Ward
Stolen Lucy Christopher
Saving Rafael Leslie Wilson
Are these my basoomas I see before me? Louise Rennison
Bang Bang You're Dead Narinder Dhami
Bloodchild Tim Bowler
Grass Catherine MacPhail
The Spook's Sacrifice Joseph Delaney
Guantanamo Boy Anna Perera
Out of the Blue Val Rutt
Anyone who feels gloomy about young people today should have been there on Friday. You could not hope to meet a livelier, more chatty, more friendly and intelligent bunch of Year 9s. They were marvellous, and the meeting at which they will choose the winner will be amazing, I'm quite sure. The teenagers are the only ones who get to decide the outcome as they decided the shortlist and they are very passionate about their favourites. Adults are simply consultants of a helpful nature and have no influence on the outcome.
One of the questions I asked the judges was: "Which book were you sorry not to see on the shortlist?" and the answer from quite a few of them was: Lady in the Tower. So take a bow, Marie-Louise Jensen!
I'll post about the Award again when the winner is decided. There's also an adult panel shadowing the Year 9s this year and I'm intrigued to see whether they come up with the same winner or a completely different one.
I've now got weeks of delightful reading ahead of me. I've read and enjoyed Leslie Wilson's Saving Rafael and Val Rutt's Out of the Blue. The hunt is now on for a winner.