Southern Schools Book Award 2021 Awards Ceremony

On Friday 25th February the Southern Schools Book Award Presentation Evening was hosted by Hurstpierpoint College. Their lovely theatre was a fitting venue for this joyous celebration of books and reading.

Eighteen schools were able to attend and it was lovely to be able to welcome them in person after last year’s virtual event.

Bex Hogan was a cheery yet laid back host, showing real pleasure in the shortlisted authors’ success. Bex is the author of ‘Viper’ – the winner of last year’s award and it was nice to finally see her in person.


All the shortlisted authors were able to attend:

  • Frances Hardinge for Deeplight
  • Patrice Lawrence for Eight Pieces of Silva
  • Vincent Ralph for Lock the doors
  • Julien Sedgwick and Chie Kutsuwada for Tsunami Girl
  • Kevin Wignall for When we were lost.



Chris Riddell’s live-drawings were a wonderful addition to the evening and caused a lot of laughter from the audience. He managed to capture the essence of the books and authors so swiftly – it was incredible.



The authors loved the drawings with Julien Sedgwick later tweeting how much he love the picture of Yuki and a Hokusai wave




There were some excellent questions for the authors, including one for Patrice Lawrence from Roedean School:

“Did you experience any negativity in making your central character black and gay in Eight Pieces of Silva, and what would you like readers to take away from this?”




Then students lined up to collect their book token from Chris Riddell – these were richly deserved after all the work the students had put into reading the books and reviewing them.




Highly Commended went to Kevin Wignall for ‘When we were lost’. Then it was time for the winner to be read out. ‘Lock the doors’ was the clear winner and the announcement was met with cheers by the audience. Vincent Ralph was overcome with emotion and spoke about how he had put everything into his book, so really appreciated the students’ support.



Then it was time for the book signing. There were queues for every author and the students really appreciated being able to get their books (and their goody bags) signed by the author/authors of their choice.




The authors had a lovely time too. Many said this was one of the first in-person events they had done since the pandemic started and that it was a really lovely re-introduction.

In the end, this year’s SSBA was a great celebration of the power of books, as well as the joy of being with fellow readers. We look forward to welcoming everyone next year…