Pass the Philanthropist!

Yesterday I went to the James Reckitt Hull Children’s Book Award – I was lucky enough to be one of the shortlisted authors  in the KS2 category with my book, The Cake, the Wolf and the Witch.IMG_20160608_094655318

First things first, I didn’t win, but I did have a brilliant day and I was so impressed by the librarian-powered machine that makes this award such a fantastic part of the Hull calendar.

Herded along by Tracey,( whose official  title is Librarian Connecting Communities – and boy, does she do a good job of that!) we gathered in Hull’s enormous Town Hall along with children from thirty nine, yes thirty nine! primary schools, all of whom had read our books. That in itself was pretty darned impressive.

I got to meet lots of very enthusiastic children and sign many books and autographs. The signing queues were loooong – there was even a slight tussle in my queue as a couple of girls jostled for position!

IMG_20160607_133635838I got to meet author, Helena Pielichaty who was our MC for the day. Here she is with her enormous pencil, setting up a great little play about the life of a paperback library book!

I got to meet three other shortlisted authors: Malcolm Judge, Tom McLaughlin and Brandon Robshaw, and find out all about their brilliant and very funny books.

I got to dress up as Max the very reluctant hero from my own book.

I got to answer questions like: What’s your favourite colour? (purple) and If you had one wish what would it be? (win Wimbledon – still feeling a bit selfish about that one).

I even got my very own packed lunch in a big paper bag.

It was jolly tense when the voting began. It felt as though we were at the EU referendum already!

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Tracey told us that as soon as the votes were counted, someone would notify the engravers and then race across town to collect the finished trophy before it was even dry. (If trophies actually get wet I’m not totally sure, but you know what I mean.)

The eventual winner was Tom Avery for his lovely book, Not As We Know It. Tom couldn’t be at the awards, since he lives in Amsterdam, which was a great shame. He would have had a ball. On the upside though, the rest of us didn’t have to fall out and I reckon we all left feeling like winners. Here are my fellow competitors, still smiling as you see.

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The Hull prize wouldn’t be possible without the Library Trust that Nineteenth Century industrialist and philanthropist James Reckitt set up for  the city. I started to wonder whether someone couldn’t do the same thing for my home city of Bath. Do you think there’s a captain of industry out there who might like to fund an award which would promote reading and a love of literature? I’m sure it wouldn’t cost much more than it takes to maintain their second or even their third best yacht….