Southern Schools Book Award 2008 Presentation Evening

presentation_eve_08_2Friday 16th January 2009 saw the fifth annual SSBA Presentation Evening take place and for the third time in the prestigious theatre of Roedean School.

36 schools participated this year with 31 attending the event. This meant that there were over 200 young readers from Kent and Sussex present at the occasion,

The Presentation Evening is the culmination of months of reading for the young judges. Many of them helped in the selection process for the shortlist by reading through the large numbers of librarians’ recommendations and publishers’ submissions early in the year.

Reading in the schools began after the summer holidays with voting for the most popular title taking place in early December. The winning title and runner-up were kept a closely guarded secret until the award evening. All of the authors were invited to attend the event.

Shortlisted this year were:
Tim Bowler – Frozen Fire
Kevin Brooks – Being
Fiona Higgins – Black Book of Secrets
Bali Rai – The Angel Collector
Jenny Valentine – Broken Soup

All of the books generated very lively discussion across the schools as groups held regular meetings to talk about the merits of each title.

Each of the five authors had readily agreed to attend the event. Sadly, though, Bali Rai had to withdraw at the last minute due to an accident.

Host for the evening was author Kate Cann. Kate won last year’s SSBA award with her chilling book Leaving Poppy.

Kate, a strong supporter of the SSBA kept the evening buzzing along as she invited each author in turn to talk a little about themselves, their writing, and to read a passage from their shortlisted book. In Bali Rai’s absence Kate read a hard-hitting few paragraphs from his book.

Following this, representatives from each school filed on to the stage to accept the £6 book tokens awarded to the young judges. These were handed out by Joolz Clothier from HSBC, a benefactor of the SSBA.

Finally, the moment all had been waiting for – the announcement of the highly commended and winning books.

presentation_eve_08Kate heightened the suspense as she slowly opened first the highly commended silver envelope to reveal that author Bali Rai with The Angel Collector had won second place. Then on to the winning gold envelope. Cheers went up as Kate announced that the overall winner for 2008 was Tim Bowler with the very popular Frozen Fire.

Once calm had been restored and the host and authors thanked, the young judges were able to spend their book tokens. A range of titles by the authors and Kate Cann were made available for sale by Bags of Books bookshop.

Excitement grew further as the students then lined up to meet the authors and have their books signed. There was an almost tangible buzz as judges went from author to author clutching their signed purchases. It was once again a wonderful evening.

Our sincere thanks go to Kate Cann for being such a great host in helping the evening to go so smoothly, all the authors for attending and being so interesting and entertaining, and of course the staff and students of Roedean School for all their hard work. And finally but importantly to all the young readers across the schools.