22nd June 2017
The Children’s Book Award run by the Federation of Children's Book Groups is special, as it is the only national book awards that is voted for by children. As avid readers, my son and I were therefore delighted to be invited by Toppsta to the award ceremony held in London on 10th June 2017. The event was attended by most of the nominated authors and illustrators and 14 of the children's reading groups from around the country. Held in the impressive setting of the Union Jack Club, there was an air of excitement and awe on arrival. We were soon put at our ease by the warm welcome of the organisers, and there was a relaxed and informal feel to the event.
We were able to freely mix and chat with the authors and illustrators, and we soon set off around the room to meet them. Having brought a bagful of books with us, my son was delighted to meet his favourite authors, chat to them and get his books signed. All were also happy to have their picture taken with my son, who was beaming with happiness! It was great to meet Michael Foreman, who told us that one of the books we had brought with us (‘The Saga of Erik the Viking’) was a former Children’s Book Award winner. And Steve Cole was thrilled to see that we had brought his book, ‘Stop those Monsters!’ - a book my son had received from Toppsta to review.
We were then invited to take our seats for lunch. A nominee was sat at each table alongside children and their parents. We were with the utterly charming Korky Paul (illustrator of Winnie the Witch books) who merrily chatted with everyone. He invited suggestions for alternative broomsticks for Winnie the Witch to sit on, and enthusiastically spent most of lunch drawing pictures for the children. My son is now the very proud owner of a sketch of Winnie the Witch perched upon a cucumber.
Following lunch, the award ceremony itself began. Steve Cole was Master of Ceremonies and gave a very witty and engaging talk about writing books which included extracts from his own diaries as a 7 year old and two lively songs. He wryly commented that while he had previously been a nominee twice for the Children’s Book Award that he had never actually one won - adding that his prize was seeing someone had brought his book ‘Stop Those Monsters!’ along (much to my sons delight!).
Each nominee was given a beautiful portfolio of comments written by children about their book. These were presented by children from each of the different reading groups, as were the Awards themselves. This was a brilliant way to include children in the ceremony and to emphasise their involvement in the whole process. All of the winners spoke about how much these particular awards meant to them, because they are the only ones voted for by children.
My sons verdict on the day? “Awesome!”. He left with a huge smile on his face, and an ambition to become a writer himself one day.
If you are looking for good summer reads for your children, I would definitely recommend looking up the books on the nominees for the Children's Book Awards as a good starting point to find excellent books that your children are sure to enjoy.
FCBG's Pick of the Year Top 50:
List of nominees and winners:
**Main photo of Steve Cole and Jacob copyright Ed Thompson**