Southern Schools Book Award 2009 Presentation Evening

Regrettably the presentation evening planned for this date had to be cancelled due to the severity of the snowy conditions as a result of which many schools in the area were closed.  SSBA organisers did try to reschedule the event for a date in February but disappointingly it proved just too difficult to arrange for all schools and authors to meet.

This year 34 schools participated with a further 6 shadowing the award including a school in France where the students read all five books in English. The shortlist for 2009 was a popular selection and generated much enthusiastic discussion among those taking part.  After many weeks of reading, reviewing and meeting up to talk through the merits of each book the young judges voted for their top titles.

The  2009 shortlist
Blood Ties – Sophie McKenzie
Guantanamo Boy – Anna Perera
Life Interrupted – Damian Kelleher
Numbers – Rachel Ward
Red Necklace – Sally Gardner

Our congratulations go to Sophie McKenzie for Blood Ties, the winning title for the 2009 Southern Schools Book Award.

Further congratulations for the Highly Commended award goes to Rachel Ward for Numbers.

As we were sadly unable to meet with Sophie she sent this message of thanks to all involved in the award:

Thank you for this wonderful honour! Writing books is a very solitary activity and to be shortlisted for – and win – an award is the ultimate validation of all those long, hours working alone. Blood Ties is my favourite book of all those I’ve written and it’s wonderful to know that others have enjoyed it too.

It is such a shame that all the people who’ve worked so hard to organise and take part in the awards won’t be able to enjoy a day when everybody gets together to celebrate but please know that I am totally thrilled and with you all in spirit!

I really hope to be able to visit some of the schools involved at some point later this year. In the meantime, happy reading everyone! And, once again, a huge thank you to all who voted for Blood Ties…. YAYYY!!!

We also received a warm message of appreciation from Rachel:

I was sorry to hear that events have conspired against holding a presentation evening for the Southern Schools Book Award this year, but I was delighted to hear that ‘Numbers’ was Highly Commended. Thank you for your votes and congratulations to Sophie McKenzie! I’ve really enjoyed reading students’ reviews online and I’m so glad that many of you enjoyed ‘Numbers.’ I hope that I will have a chance to meet some of you over the coming year. I’ve nearly finished editing the sequel, ‘Numbers 2: The Chaos’ which picks up the story sixteen years on and follows Jem’s son, Adam, as he struggles with the gift he has inherited from his mum. I hope some of you will enjoy reading this when it comes out in June and thanks again for including me in this year’s SSBA. Best wishes, Rachel.”

It goes without saying that all the judges were so very disappointed at not being able to meet the shortlisted authors and say hello again to Tim Bowler, last year’s winner, who was to have been host for the evening, but they will have enjoyed some event within their own schools to celebrate the 2009 award.

A huge thank you goes to the staff and students at Roedean School and to those involved in the organisation of the presentation evening.  Also to the authors who, although we couldn’t meet, nevertheless were very enthusiastic about the award, to Tim who was so supportive throughout the year and of course to all those in the many schools taking part.

Reading has begun on the 2010 long list and we have our sights firmly fixed on January 14th 2011 for the next Southern Schools Book Award Presentation Evening which will again take place at Roedean School.