Winner of the Haringey Children’s Book Award announced!

HCBA3-3HCBA3-2The Haringey Childrens Book Awards ceremony, hosted at Heartlands High School, received a gargantuan turnout last week, doubling the number of attendees from the year before, from over 100 last year to over 200 this year.

After introductory speeches from guests, and readings of the books by all six nominated authors, the Award winner was announced

Voting had been tense and Heartlands students and staff had taken the ballot box away for vote counting. The authors, who are all established children’s writers, were eagerly awaiting the announcement of the winner.

SF Said, the winner of the previous year and writer of the highly successful “Varjak Paw” series, presented the award to this year’s winner, Christine Hamill for her touching yet humorous novel about a teenager who struggles to deal with his mother’s breast cancer, “The Best Medicine”.

Christine Hamill, the 2017 Award winner, had this to say: “I’m so grateful to win the award and to see schemes like this take place – it’s a sobering and disappointing moment when I’m on the tube or bus and I see so many people on their phones, rarely holding a book or even reading, rather they’re perpetually scrolling – so it’s wonderful to see so many young people actively engaged in such a wonderful habit and getting stuck into a good book.”

The Haringey Children’s Book Award, now in its third year, is an initiative created by Haringey School Librarians, led by Helen Swinyard, librarian of Heartlands High School, to encourage children in primary and secondary schools to come together and engage in reading and discussing books, meeting authors and actively voting on their favourites.

For the second year running, Haringey Literature Live, a Collage Arts initiative, has supported the Award with Arts Council England funding, providing highly engaging creative writing workshops for students with nominated authors on the day of the Award Ceremony, and printing book marks for all attendees, designed by Heartlands students in conjunction with Collage Arts artist and illustrator, Rosie Chomet.

Students from Years 5, 6 and 7 were brought along to the 2017 event on Monday 24th April hosted at Heartlands High School, from all areas of the borough with 17 Haringey Schools in attendance.  All attendees were equally thrilled to be at such a vibrant event and happy to participate in workshops which might not otherwise have been available or on the curriculum. Events and classes were held throughout the day, starting with creative workshops hosted by each of the distinguished authors where children were encouraged to write and read both poetry and short stories in order to expand their creative technique, getting real advice from professionals who are in the industry.

This year’s nominated authors were as follows: Peter Bunzl, with his steampunk novel “Cogheart”; Emma Carroll, with her gothic novel “Strange Star”; Jo Cotterill’s “A Library of Lemons”; AF Harrold with his book illustrated by Emily Gravett, “The Imaginary”; Karen McCombie’s “Catching Falling Stars”, and Christine Hamill, with her novel “The Best Medicine”.  Heartlands’ Poet In Residence, Paul Lyalls, was also in attendance. His residency at the school is another initiative of Haringey Literature Live.  Paul was previously writer in residence at the Roald Dahl museum and Arsenal FC, and has been working at Heartlands High School for the last 6 months on a project in which every single Year 7 and Year 8 child is writing a poem for two anthologies which will shortly be published.

The ceremony was a great success, where both the adults as well as the youngsters were equally enthusiastic. The atmosphere was truly one of enjoyment with students laughing alongside each other whilst sharing their favourite anecdotes from their beloved stories, and both authors and the teachers enjoying a comradery understood by passionate educators and creatives.

Executive Headmaster of Heartlands High School, Simon Garrill said: “We are delighted to host the Haringey Children’s Book Award for the third year running. It’s a brilliant event made special by all the schools, the children and especially the authors that make it happen.” ?

A similar theme was echoed amongst authors and teachers alike, with wordsmith A F Harold noting, “The impact this kind of work has on the children is profound. Changing the perception of literature among children is so important, especially giving them contemporary novels with different themes from those which they might be used to. I think it’s fantastic you get to meet the authors after reading their work – something I didn’t have back when I was at school. It’s inspiring to kids who want to pursue the arts and who want to see that you can make a living from this!” 

A pupil excitedly announced to me, “I can’t wait to come next year. It’s really good because you get tips from people who’ve worked as real authors and it’s so inspiring!” 

The Award Ceremony itself was presided over by notable local figures such as MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, Catherine West, alongside the Deputy Mayor for London and Assembly Member for Enfield and Haringey, Joanna McCartney, who gave both profound and heartfelt speeches during the gathering, touching on the literary inspirations and books that shaped their youth, with Catherine West noting how wonderful the HCBA is and what a wonderful opportunity the Award offers to the younger generation.

Alongside the Awards Ceremony and voting, the students were able to buy discounted copies of the authors books at a book stall run by Pickled Pepper of Crouch End. There was a bustling book signing, with hundreds of books being signed for the students, who were also given the bespoke bookmark made by Heartlands High School art students and Collage Arts artist Rosie Chomet.

In an extension to Paul Lyalls’ residency at Heartlands, an exhibition of the students’ poetry, alongside art created by local artists in Haringey, will be hosted at Karamel Restaurant on Coburg Road, Wood Green in May.

Collage Arts would like to thank Kate Pemberton, Haringey Literature Live Co-ordinator, for setting up and running the literature initiatives on behalf of Collage Arts over the last 4 years.