On the last Thursday of June, Redbridge Town Hall was crowded with excited, enthusiastic readers and budding writers along with their school librarians and teachers to celebrate the 2017 Redbridge Children’s Book Awards. A panel of five of the shortlisted authors – Peter Bunzl, Anne Cassidy, Christopher Edge, Kathryn Evans and Teri Terry – talked about their reading journeys and how authors, Neil Gaiman, Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl and books, Watership Down and Wuthering Heights inspired them to become writers. I won’t mention the author who skipped school to meet Neil Gaiman. They also answered questions on topics ranging from where they like to write – which varied from on the train, in a shed, any quiet space to thinking story plots while walking round Ilford shopping – to which character they would choose to be from their books.
Students from 17 secondary schools and 9 primary schools across Redbridge, Havering and Newham voted for their favourite children’s and teenage book published in 2016 and they eagerly awaited the results.
The Many Worlds by Albie Bright by Christopher Edge, won the Children’s category and Flawed by Cecilia Ahern won the Teenage category. We were delighted that Christopher was able to attend to receive his award. Cecilia sent a video acceptance speech.
It was also a chance for the winners of the writing and poetry competitions to be presented with their prizes. The poetry competition was judged by David Fulton, lecturer in Creative Writing at Brunel University and the short story competition was judged by author and Head of Bancrofts Prep School, Joe Layburn.
Time by Amber Kwong from Woodford County High School won the junior poetry competition and I See a Lily on the Breeze by Naomi Blakely from Trinity Catholic High School won the teenage category.
The Astounding Story of Salt Bae by Theo Newton from Wanstead High School won the junior short story competition and No Going Back by Jessica Johnson from Wanstead High School won the teenage category. Winners were presented with a book token, a fiction book and a copy of this year’s anthology of all shortlisted poems and stories.
Guest Author: Nina Simon