Heavenly Hampshire Book Awards!

On Wednesday, I spent an absolutely wonderful morning in company of nearly 500 Y9 pupils and their school librarians as I picked up my award for Looking at the Stars. The ceremony was held in the impressive Town Hall, which was packed right up to the balcony!

View from the stage before I began
View from the stage before I began
View from the back of the balcony! Photo by Paula Ward
View from the back of the balcony! Photo by Paula Ward

The awards are organised and run by the Schools’ Library Service (which still exists in Hampshire, hurrah!!) with support of the Hampshire Libraries, and when I was invited to the ceremony, they told me I would need to prepare a speech. ‘How long?’ I asked, being used to about 10 mins to say my bit.

‘Forty-five minutes’ they said.

‘Four to five minutes?’

‘No. Forty-five.’

Forty-five minutes?! To 500 people?!!

Bring it on 🙂

A story I wrote when nearly six: 'Chismas'. One boy liked it so much he asked me to write 'Happy Chismas' in his book!
A story I wrote when nearly six: ‘Chismas’. One boy liked it so much he asked me to write ‘Happy Chismas’ in his book!
My 'photostory' of the writing process, taken from the back of the hall.
My ‘photostory’ of the writing process, taken from the back of the hall.
I talked about the importance of valuing your imagination rather than placing all your self-worth on passing exams...
I talked about the importance of valuing your imagination rather than placing all your self-worth on passing exams…
Presented with my award by Councillor Andrew Gibson
Presented with my award by Councillor Andrew Gibson

After my Very Long Speech, I was presented with my award (truly impressive) and then sat down to sign books. For an hour and a half! (And I was going as fast as I could, honestly!) I felt very, very special, and it was such an honour to meet so many young people who felt strongly about my book.

Signing books
Signing books

One of them felt so strongly, in fact, that she had made a special effort to come to the ceremony. FROM GERMANY. I am not kidding. This girl had attended one of the schools involved last year but had since moved to Germany with her family. But she loved Looking at the Stars so much that she persuaded her mum to let her fly back to England just for the ceremony. Apparently she’d got on a plane at 4.30 that morning. Now that is a passionate reader! And it was GREAT to meet you, Annika!

The Petersfield Post wrote up the event here .

I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the librarians and staff involved in organising the awards and making them such a special occasion. But my biggest thank you goes to the young people who read all six books on the shortlist and debated them hotly on ‘Decision Day’ before casting their votes. I gather that Looking at the Stars was the winner at five out of the six voting stations on the day. Knowing how strongly young readers can feel about books (and how you really can’t get away with sub-standard stories!) I am massively honoured that you chose my book. I hope you all had a great day on Wednesday 🙂

My amazing award, which is BIG and HEAVY and very difficult to photograph! I love it!
My amazing award, which is BIG and HEAVY and very difficult to photograph! I love it!
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