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Redbridge Children’s Book Award 2017


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.

RCBA_ICHSStudents 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


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Holly Black and Emily Lockhart get the kids votes in the Redbridge Children’s Book Awards 2015

Reading for pleasure and creative writing is thriving in Redbridge schools.  On Thursday 25 June 2015, around 200 young readers, budding writers and their school librarians and teachers celebrated this year’s Redbridge Children’s Book Awards in a vibrant, exciting ceremony at Redbridge Town Hall.

Students from 14 secondary schools and 9 primary schools across Redbridge and Newham voted for their favourite children’s and teenage book published in 2014.

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra, won the Children’s category and We Were Liars by E Lockhart won the Teenage Category.

          RCBA 2015 Authors and children               RBA 2015 Authors

We were delighted to have six of the shortlisted authors, Sita Brahmachri, Kevin Brooks, Keren David, A.F. Harrold, Polly Ho-Yen and Bali Rai, attend.  They answered varied questions from eager students and signed copies of their books.  Emily Lockhart, who was unable to attend, sent a message saying “I am honoured and happy.  Libraries have been my home since childhood and they are home to so many children and teens.  Long may we all read and share and celebrate books.”

It was also a chance for the winners of the writing and poetry competitions to be presented with their prizes by the Mayor, Cllr Barbara White.  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.

Esther Ukhueleigbe from Ray Lodge Primary School won the years 6 and 7 poetry competition with her poem, Make it GreenKanishk Panchal from The Palmer Academy, Ilford  won the year 8 and above category with the poem Our Cursed Elements.

Jessica Johnson from Wanstead High School won the years 6 and 7 short story competition with her story, My Father, The WomanFreddie Cochran from Wanstead High School won year 8 and above  category  with his story, The Shirt.  Winners were presented with a book token, a fiction book and a copy of this year’s anthology of all shortlisted poems and stories.

Our thanks to everyone who attended, especially the authors who gave up their time to be present and who made the afternoon so special, students and teachers who participated so enthusiastically and most of all, the Redbridge Schools’ Library Service team who worked  very hard behind the scenes to ensure the afternoon was such a success.

The book award is organised by Redbridge Schools’ Library Service and sponsored by MLS (Micro Librarian Systems).

Nina Simon
Manager Redbridge Schools’ Library Service

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National Libraries Day: Users Reveal What the Library Means to Them

Every year, libraries everywhere provide joy, help and knowledge to their community. From their countless shelves lined with books waiting to be read, to the fantastic staff who help organise all the activities, there’s always something to gain from spending time at the library. That is why on Saturday 7 February National Libraries Day was celebrated, to appreciate all the wonderful things that the library does for its users. I went to Redbridge Central Library to see what was going on to mark the occasion.

It was very fitting to mark the whole occasion on the birthday of one of the most widely read and loved authors, Charles Dickens. So it only seemed right to have a Victorian theme running through the celebrations on the day. Nick Dobson was on hand to provide an insight into the life and career of Charles Dickens through pictures and readings from actor Allan Yeoman. Something a little bit more creative for the children was the crafts session where you could make your very own Victorian set of accessories including hats and fans. Seeing all the finished products almost transported you right back to the 1800s!

NLD mans comments

I was very lucky to have been given the task of finding out what the library really means to the community. Armed with a camera, clipboard and coloured pens I asked children, students and adults to complete the sentence ‘to me, the library is…’ to understand what it is that they will be celebrating about the library. I had some fantastic responses. Some people had so many answers they had to write them all down. Many of the students seemed to mainly appreciate the peaceful surroundings in the study areas, allowing them the right environment to succeed in their studies. The younger library-goers seemed to love the books and the activities on offer at the library. Other people wanted to celebrate specific services of Redbridge Central Library, including Redbridge Museum and the fantastic Heritage Services.

NLD boys comments

Being at the library on any day is always a great experience, but being there on National Libraries Day really makes you truly appreciate everything that the library is and does. Without the library, where would we be? I asked myself this as I walked away from the studying students, the cheerful children and all the other people enjoying what the library has to offer. I realised just how fortunate I am to have such a great facility on my doorstep.

Visit the website for more information on your local library

Post Author: Raeesa Mukhtar

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A celebration of libraries and the Arts: Fabula Festival is a true success!

After hearing about the library being jam-packed on Saturday, for the first full day of the Fabula Festival, I did not want to miss out. So, I went to along on Sunday to enjoy the talks, stalls and the company!

There’s something about being in the library on a Sunday, when it’s not usually open, that makes it feel all the more exciting. The doors opened at 11am and the library was ready to welcome everyone and anyone who wanted to enjoy the various authors coming to discuss their books and the creative workshops to get those creative juices flowing!

Fabula Festival is all about celebrating libraries and the arts, so it was really great to see people of all ages walk through those doors as it proved that there really is something for everyone at the library. A personal favourite of mine was the Ubuntu Arts workshop that had a glorious array of colourful beads, paper and decorations to create your own greetings card – be it for a birthday or a wedding, there was a chance to make any card you could think of.

Even I got stuck in with this one and was delighted to hear that everyone was enjoying themselves. There was a gentle buzz of children whizzing around the library for the treasure hunt and excited murmuring of the crowds waiting to see their favourite author. It really was the perfect way to relax on a Sunday afternoon, I thought to myself as I reached over for the box that overflowed with sequins and ribbons.

Fabula butterfly girlFabula boys cards

Not far away from the greetings card stall was Knitters which also attracted young children, parents and grandparents. One little girl beamed with excitement as she exclaimed her intent on making a woolly hat – yes, what a smart and convenient idea for this chilly time of year!

Just behind the Ubuntu Arts stall was a heart drawn on the window and in the heart were all these fingerprints of people who had visited the festival. Not only was it pretty to look at because of all the different colours people had chosen for their fingerprints, but it was a way of physically capturing the wonder of the Fabula Festival.

Fabula heart

There was also a very important guest at the festival. The Deputy Mayor of Redbridge popped by and perused the goings-on and she even left her fingerprint on the window display! 

I peeped around to see what else was going on and found the ‘Restart Party’ which was offering help and advice about maintaining and repairing technology – something that we can all benefit from these days! There was also a cake decorating workshop that got everyone’s mouths watering. All the author events were extremely popular which was more than understandable as they included: Clive Bloom, Khalil Ali and Claudia Lord-Lynch.

You could just tell that the day would be a successful one. As big groups left the library all in a good mood after the events, more people entered, ready to experience the Fabula Festival!

Post Author: Raeesa Mukhtar

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Redbridge Museum Needs Your Stories!

First World War – can you help?

The centenary of the outbreak of the First World War will be commemorated in 2014. Redbridge Museum is researching the impacts of the War on Redbridge for a major exhibition, school education and events programme.

We would like to hear from local people about their family stories. This can include information about people living in Redbridge at the time of the War or from people who have a connection with the borough today.

As they are unrepresented in the Museum’s records, we are particularly keen to hear from those from an African, Caribbean or south Asian background whose ancestors may have fought in the War.

Contact: or call 020 8708 2317.