Southern Schools Book Award 2011 Presentation Evening

Friday 13th of January, a dark and chilly night, hordes of teenagers and six notable authors determinedly moving towards an impressive gothic building on the south coast… yes, Roedean was hosting the eighth Southern Schools Book Award (SSBA) and… there was even a horror book on the shortlist…

clip_image002_0002The SSBA presentation evening, enthusiastically hosted by last year’s winner Lucy Christopher, was attended by 290 students and staff from 34 state and independent schools in Kent and Sussex. The students, mostly aged 13 to 14, had read and voted for all five titles on the shortlist and were on the edge of their theatre seats, anticipating the results.

The five books shortlisted for the 2011 award were Being Billy by Phil Earle, Ghost of a Chance by Rhiannon Lassiter, Wasted by Nicola Morgan, The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight by Jenny Valentine and Numbers Two: the Chaos by Rachel Ward.

The authors read extracts from their books and answered intriguing questions posed by the young judges. Author Nicola Morgan played several rounds of Jack’s game of chance with the audience where students had to guess whether a coin had landed heads or tails, Jack, being the central character from Wasted. The winner was Kyle from Hove Park School who won a copy of Nicola’s book Blame My Brain.

clip_image004After the school representatives had stepped on stage to receive their book tokens, the gold and silver envelopes were produced with a flourish and the tension was palpable as Lucy requested the traditional foot drum roll just before revealing the results. The Highly Commended category was awarded to Numbers Two: the Chaos by Rachel Ward and the 2011 winner was Jenny Valentine with The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight. The judges finished the evening by meeting and talking with the aut hors.

Jenny later commented :  “I know the presentation of the SSBA comes at the end of a lot of hard work from librarians and children, and on the night, it feels like a celebration we’ve all earned. For me, it’s one of the best awards, a really good event with so many people there who care about the same thing – books.  There were some great stories to choose from, and I was so happy that “The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight” was voted the winner.  It was a bit of a rollercoaster book to write, and I’m glad it was a rewarding read.  Thank you so much. And see you next year!

Jenny has kindly  agreed to uphold the SSBA tradition of hosting next year’s presentation evening.

clip_image006Rachel said afterwards “I am thrilled that ‘Numbers 2 The Chaos’ was voted as Highly Commended in the Southern Schools Book Award. It was a very strong shortlist and it is quite unusual to have a sequel recognised in this way. The SSBA is an important award because it brings together so many, diverse schools in a brilliant celebration of reading and writing. It is wonderful that two books from my trilogy have now been Highly Commended and the two awards will sit happily together in pride of place on my mantelpiece.”

Comments from Librarians of the 2011 participating schools.

Thank you so much for all of the behind the scenes work that went into such a professional and engaging evening on Friday – my students were excitedly discussing the books and authors all the way there and back home afterwards, such a  joy to witness.’
Sir Robert Woodard Academy

What a fantastic evening, thank you to everyone who worked so hard organising it!’
Brighton College

‘Thank you to all, a wonderful evening, we all really enjoyed it, a brilliant evening, such a lot of organisation, very well done.
Davison CE High School for Girls

Thanks go to all the Roedean staff involved with the organisation of the event, the SSBA organiser, members of the SSBA committee and Book Nook for supplying the books.