This is an archive of the 2009-10 Northern Ireland Book Award. View details of this year's award


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Sean from Holy Trinity reading DARK CALLING at St Colman's AbbeyThe winner of our 2010 photo competition is Sean from Holy Trinity College, Cookstown.

In his photo he is seen framed in an appropriately Gothic ivy-clad window reading Darren Shan's Dark Calling. The photo was taken at the ruins of the 17th century St Colman's Abbey, which is adjacent to Old Cross at Ardboe (Co Tyrone), on the shores of Lough Neagh.

Second place goes to Shannon, also of Holy Trinity, who is seen reading Emily Diamand's Flood Child at Ballyronan Marina on the edge of Lough Neagh.

Third place goes to pupils from St Joseph's High School, Crossmaglen, whom we see reading Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book in Creggan Parish Church, Graveyard and Poets' Glen, Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh.

Some of the competition entries will be used in the polaroid-style photos at the top of each page on the site.

A selection of other entries from the photo competition

  • Second place went to Shannon of Holy Trinity College, Cookstown, who is seen reading 'Flood Child' at Ballyronan Marina on the edge of Lough Neagh
  • Third place went to pupils from St Joseph's High School, Crossmaglen. Here we see them reading 'The Graveyard Book' in Creggan Parish Church Graveyard, Crossmaglen.
  • Sebastian from Holy Trinity College, Cookstown, reading 'Escape from Shadow Island' at Tullyhogue Fort near Coookstown
  • Pupils from Holy Trinity College, Cookstown, reading 'The Eyeball Collector' and 'The Graveyard Book' at Beaghmore Stone Circles near Pomeroy in Co Tyrone

News item date: 24 MAR 2010



Lecture Theatre, W5, Odyssey Arena, Belfast

What a brilliant afternoon! First up was Belfast Circus performer Jitterbug Jackson, to welcome all our guests, including the Deputy Lord Mayor Mr Danny Lavery, Tricia Adams, Director of the UK School Library Association, local author Sarah Wray, visiting author Sam Osman, and most importantly of all, almost 200 children from the 22 participating schools drawn from right across the Province.

Jitterbug set the tone for the afternoon and the thread that ‘reading is fun’ ran throughout the proceedings. Mind you, no-one expected the uni-cycle or the Hiawatha arrow shooting…but that’s another story!

Thank you to St Patrick’s High School, Keady for their super PowerPoint presentations on The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw and Escape from Shadow Island, and to St Joseph’s High School, Crossmaglen for their drama on The Eyeball Collector and The Graveyard Book. We just loved the ghosts dancing!

Next up on our packed agenda was the final of the ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ quiz. With five schools taking part, it was always going to be fun, and certainly the ‘ask the audience’ lifelines had to be used with discretion since the said ‘audience’ had a vested interest in their own schools! Congratulations to the winners Colaiste Feirste, and to the runners up, RBAI and Sullivan Upper School. It was all so very close, with numbers of lifelines used being the deciding factor.

Two pupils from St Paul’s Junior High School, Lurgan presented their case for Wolven and Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones to win the Book Award, and one boy from Holy Cross College Strabane was adamand that Ausländer should win. RBAI were colourful and realistic in their re-enactment of the bar scene from Revolver. Perhaps a career awaits on the stage of the Grand Opera House? Thank you to all involved.

Our visiting author, Sam Osman, was next in entertaining our audience. Although new to children’s writing, Sam spoke with confidence about why she used ley lines and archaeology for the basis of her book Quicksilver. She spoke about her characters and showed slides to enable the audience to see where each was from. I for one just loved the Mountain scenes with the jagged lightning, and the superb pyramidal structures in the Sudan. Having read Sam’s book, both Ann and I can thoroughly recommend it. Who knows, maybe it will be on next year’s short-list?

Final presentations on Floodchild from Belfast Royal Academy and the very imaginative ‘Wimpy Kid meets Nico’ from Sacred Heart College, Omagh rounded off proceedings. Thank you to all presenters.

All that remained of our afternoon was the announcement of our winner. Just under 700 votes were cast and anticipation was high. To a drum roll of stamping feet I read out our third place - The Set-Up by Sophie McKenzie. Excitement mounted as Ann declared The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman to be our runner up, whilst in true award style a short wait added to the thrill before the winner Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones by Derek Landy was announced. Yes, the margin was slight, two votes alone separated first and second place, but clearly the choice was the popular one for our audience. Applause filled the theatre, with shrieks and shouts erupting everywhere!

So it was a great afternoon, brought to a close by Tricia Adams, Director of the UK School Library Association. Indeed it was a great end to what has been an amazing first year of the Northern Ireland Book Award. Our thanks go out to all who have been involved, to all the librarians, to Schools Library Service, to Scholastic Book Clubs and Fairs, to those schools who hosted the drama workshops, millionaire quizzes, coffee mornings etc, to those who entered competitions, participated in presentations, creative writing exercises etc, but especially our thanks go to all those children who read the books on our short list and who cared enough about their reading to vote for what they consider to be Northern Ireland’s best book for children. Well done you!

Kathy Lindsay and Ann Cowdrey, Organisers, Northern Ireland Book Award

Photos from the 2010 Finale (click to enlarge!)

  • The audience arrive
  • Belfast Circus performer Jitterbug Jackson welcomed the guests
  • Jitterbug Jackson with ladder!
  • Jitterbug Jackson on his unicycle
  • The Hiawatha arrow shooting was an unexpected part of the finale
  • Hiawatha (a pupil from Sullivan Upper School) prepares to take aim
  • Hiawatha shoots an imaginary arrow at Jitterbug Jackson
  • St Patrick's High School, Keady presenting 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw'
  • St Joseph's High School, Crossmaglen presenting 'The Eyeball Collector'
  • St Joseph's High School, Crossmaglen presenting an interpretation of the dance scene from 'The Graveyard Book'
  • Five schools took part in the 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' quiz
  • The audience seem to think the answer is D
  • 'Ask the audience' lifelines had to be used with discretion!
  • St Paul's Junior High School, Lurgan presented 'Wolven' and 'Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones'
  • Holy Cross College, Strabane presenting 'Ausländer'
  • RBAI in their dramatic reconstruction of the bar scene in 'Revolver'
  • Visiting author Sam Osman
  • Sam Osman talked about her book 'Quicksilver'
  • Sam Osman signed her books for pupils
  • Sam Osman signed her books for pupils
  • Sam Osman signed her books for pupils
  • Belfast Royal Academy presenting 'Floodchild'

News item date: 24 MAR 2010



The first Northern Ireland Drewett Book Award has been won by Derek Landy's The Faceless Ones, the third Skulduggery Pleasant book. After a very close vote, the winner was announced at the grand finale on 24th March. Derek Landy sent the following message:

"I’m sitting in my hotel room in Australia as I write this, the Sydney harbour stretching out beneath me and the sun streaming in through the window, and the only thing I want right now is to be back home in Ireland, where I could take a train up to you guys and personally tell you what an honour this is. I’ve seen the other books on the shortlist, and I’ve read a few of them, and I’ve loved them. The Graveyard Book is, in my opinion, a ferociously brilliant book, so to even be nominated alongside it was a thrill in itself. I never expected to win, and I’m quite stunned that I did, but this proves that you are obviously readers of tremendous taste and intelligence…!

Thank you so much, and I’m delighted to have won the Northern Ireland Book Award, and I hope to see you soon. "


The runner-up was Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. In third place was Sophie McKenzie's The Medusa Project: The Set Up.

News item date: 24 MAR 2010



An enjoyable coffee morning was held on 18th December at Sacred Heart College, Omagh. As well as many enthusiastic pupils from the school, this was attended by Ms Martine Clement (Deputy head of CASS Post-Primary), Mr Seamus McCaughey (Chair of curriculum leadership team) and Mr Dominic Clarke, Principal at Sacred Heart. At the coffee morning pupils had a fantastic opportunity to talk about the books they had read to date.

Photos from the coffee morning (click to enlarge!)

News item date: 08 FEB 2010



A hugely successful series of workshops with Dave Cryer, based on the short list books, were held from 8th-10th December. Photos and detailed feedback below!

Photos from the workshops (click to enlarge!)

Feedback from the drama workshops

  • "I thought it was quite exciting to learn about the different novels in the reading list. I also loved it when we got to meet an actual author who has written books and published books. I love writing books as well. To me books are like gates to other worlds. I have been to planets, countries, the future and the past all without leaving one room. I hope I can come back again next year." — Rhionna (St. Louises Comprehensive School)
  • "It was so much fun and I know a lot about speech and drama and some people were really promising" — RBAI pupil
  • "Extremely well done: it was cool acting everything out and fun watching others" — RBAI pupil
  • ‘I just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the Drama Workshop yesterday. It was a super event and all our students really enjoyed taking part. Beforehand, I had wondered how Dave would involve everybody at the one time, but I was amazed to see how focused all the students were on the task and what great results they produced in a comparatively short time. Also, as time went on they all seemed to grow in confidence with their performances. I think the day really did entice everyone into attempting to read as many of the books as possible.’ Well done again to you and Kathy for organising all so well. — Jennifer Gorringe, Sullivan Upper
  • "I thought it was really good the way we acted out a part of the book". — Catreece (St Louises)
  • "My day in INST was brilliant. We worked with a man called Dave who gave us little scripts of different books and we had to act them out. The 2 books I acted out were Flood Child by Emily Diamand and Dark Calling by Darren Shan. I enjoyed my day. I’m glad I went to the workshop". — Cliondna (St Louises)
  • "I loved going to the workshop, it was great. I especially loved it when we did drama and acted out a page from the book. I loved that different schools were there. It was amazing. I love being part of a club that does reading. It feels good to read books I never even knew existed before I joined". — Gemma (St Louises)
  • ‘Our Drama workshop was very enjoyable. I took Yr8 and 9 pupils who mixed really well with the other schools especially St Patrick’s Keady. Dave was excellent and encouraged the children to read some of the nominated books that they were not so keen on. He would have done a full day with them as they all were so good; I myself felt it was too short, a good sign showing how enjoyable the day was. My pupils loved it and Jacqui was an excellent host’ — Margaret McNamee, librarian, St Joseph’s Crossmaglen.
  • ‘Shíl mé go raibh sé ar abhais / I though it was amazing’. —Courtney (pupil Colaiste Feirste)
  • ‘Shíl mé go raibh sé an-mhaith agus tá dúil mhór agam dul arís / I thought it very good and I am looking forward to going again’. — Conaill (pupil Coaliste Feirste)
  • ‘Thíl muid go raibh sé maith go leor ach ní raibh ‘props’ ar bith ann / We though it was okay, but we think there should have been props’ Aisling and Clár (pupils Colaiste Feirste)
  • ‘All my pupils really enjoyed the day. They loved acting out parts of the books and it has inspired them to try and read all the short listed books. They had previously decided on which books they wanted to read by looking at the covers and the blurb now that they have a better insight into the books they want to give them all a go’.(Louise Beattie, librarian, St Paul’s Lurgan)
  • "I loved the trip to St. Patrick’s High School in Keady. I thought it was entertaining and made you be creative. I didn’t feel forced to do anything and I thought everybody was really understanding. It was completely voluntary and I was appreciative of that because I’m not that good of an actor and it was a drama workshop. I felt so comfortable and I thank Mr McIlwaine and Mrs Beattie for taking us there. A very good learning experience. It made me want to read all the books in the Drewett Book Award immediately." — Jason, St Paul’s Lurgan

Comments from Sacred Heart College, Omagh

  • "I liked the drama workshop very much. I thought that it gave us a chance to put our own views and points across and talk to others who read the same book. I thought that acting out some of the scenes from the books was interesting and gave us a chance to work with others. It also made me more interested in the books I wouldn’t usually read."
  • "I really enjoyed the workshop with Dave Cryer. I thought the performances we did were really good and we all put a lot of effort into our performances. Aoife, Maeve and I were in a group and we had to act out 3 books, Flood Child, Wolven and Skulduggery Pleasant. I also do acting outside school with Hazel Wand Theatre Group. I really liked today. Dave also told us about all the books and I now want to read all of them and I’m really looking forward to reading them."
  • "It was really fun because I got to see what the other books were like and after doing the drama with everyone. I like the books more now. I think Ill read Flood Child now."
  • "The drama workshop was really good. My friend Clare and I acted out these parts from different books. It was really funny watching everyone else do theirs too."
  • "I thought the drama workshop was fun and interesting. The acting out was what made it fun. My favourite play was on "Revolver". Dave made me want to read other books, he made them sound brilliant!"
  • "I thought it was grand because I generally don’t like books. I liked some books more after Dave introduced them. We acted out some of the books and some acts were very funny. "The Wimpy Kid" one was funny because the people acting it out were very good."
  • "It was hilarious. I loved the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and we acted out Flood Child. I thought it was good to learn about the other books."
  • "I really enjoyed it! Really good fun! I though the performances we put on were really good. Everyone took part and everyone loved it. Beth, Maeve and I acted out three performances and we really enjoyed it. I liked the way Dave told us about each book because now I understand about more of the meanings. I want to read all of the books now!"
  • "I liked the drama workshop. I liked it because I got to act out parts of books. It made me think of what book I would like to read next. I got to see a layout of a book before it was published, it was very interesting."
  • "I thought the drama workshop was amazing. I really like acting so it was very fun and as well it helped me improve my drama. It was good that we were allowed to pick any script we wanted rather than being given one. It was really fun and exciting."

Comments from Holy Trinity College, Cookstown

  • The drama workshop was really fun. We had to get into groups and each group got a script. For the first part my group selected the start of "Flood Child". In the second part of the drama workshop it was more interesting. Loads of groups did ‘Revolver’ but my group did "The Eyeball Collector" which included a lot of movement. It was a great experience. — Aoife
  • At the Drama workshop in Omagh we worked on groups. The leader was a man called Dave Cryer. He started by telling a bit about himself and then discussed the twelve books. Each book had a script with it. The first script we looked at was from ‘Floodchild’. Aoife played the main character Lily, Tina was Tony, Dyaina was the captain and I played the part of Andy. We got up in front of everyone and performed the script, it was great fun. — Eimear
  • At the drama workshop we had so much fun. I loved the part where we learned the script and acted it out. My group focused on ‘Revolver’ and ‘The Graveyard Book’. I would like more days out like this, it was great. — Ryan
  • At the drama workshop in Omagh we had good fun. Dave Cryer told use about all the books and we got the chance of working with scripts from the 12 books. We had good crack doing that. We should have more days out like this! — Grainne
  • It was a great day and we learned a lot about the books we have not read yet. This has made me want to read the rest. It was very good and we had lots of fun acting out the scripts. — Sebastian

News item date: 10 DEC 2009



Two pupil competitions have now been announced as part of the 2009-2010 Award. For full details please see the Activities page.

News item date: 19 NOV 2009



Two organisers of the Northern Ireland Book Award, Ann Cowdrey and Kathy Lindsay, were interviewed on Marie-Louise Muir's Arts Extra programme on Radio Ulster on 10th November. The programme included soundbites from enthusiastic pupils, and Ann and Kathy revealed that they both shared the same favourite to win the award - but refused to reveal what it was! We hope to have a transcript of the programme available for you to read here soon.

News item date: 10 NOV 2009



The very first Northern Ireland Book Award was launched at a special event at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution on Thursday 22nd October 2009. The event, which took place in the Christ Church Library at RBAI, featured two very special guests - Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore, otherwise known as The Two Steves. For more information, see their website at!

Photos from the event (click to enlarge!)

  • The audience found the Two Steves hilarious
  • The Two Steves in action
  • The audience were enraptured
  • Steve Skidmore gets the audience's attention
  • Steve Barlow in action
  • Great double act
  • The Two Steves with pupils
  • The Two Steves with pupils
  • The Two Steves with pupils from Bangor Grammar School
  • NI Book Award T-Shirt!
  • What is Steve Skidmore pointing at?
  • Packed Hall
  • Rapt attention
  • Bird's eye view!
  • The Two Steves with pupils
  • The Two Steves with pupils
  • The Two Steves with pupils from RBAI
  • The Two Steves with pupils
  • The Two Steves with pupils
  • The Two Steves reading the winning book (what will it be???)

Feedback from the launch

  • ‘All of the pupils found the (2 Steves) entertaining and hilarious!
  • ‘Pupils can’t wait to get their hands on the books and several have been issued already’
  • ‘The pupils are very impressed that they get to vote for the winner. They like the feeling of being in charge and this has created a lot of debate already over which book should win’.
  • ‘The 2 Steves are the funniest people ever!’
  • ‘It’s a very good idea and I’m glad that we get to pick instead of adults picking for us’.
  • ‘... the food was delicious and the comedy from the 2 Steves was excellent. It was nice to see real authors including Sarah Wray from Finaghy’
  • Bhain muid uilig an-sult as an lainseáil agus go háirithe as "an Bheirt Steve" Steve Barlow agus Steve Skidmore a chuir gach duine sna trithí gáire agus a spreag na daltaí le smaointí dá gcuid scríbhneoireachta féin. Bhí bronntanas ann do gach scoil a d’fhreastal; tacar leabhar- cóip de gach ceann ar an ghearrliosta.
    We all enjoyed the morning, especially the ‘Two Steves’ who entertained everyone and who inspired our pupils with ideas to improve their own writing. We were delighted to receive a set of the books on the shortlist and look forward to reading them and to the future events. Thank you for the delicious lunch and the warm welcome. (Colaiste Feirste the Irish language school)
  • ‘I thought they were brilliant and I also liked the chocolate. I think it’s a great idea’
  • ‘Fabulous event… we have started reading the book collection with my junior reading clan and they are going down a storm’.
  • The pupils and I enjoyed the day, the 2 Steves were brilliant, we would certainly be interested in having them here at the school.
  • ‘Thank you for picking our school’

News item date: 22 OCT 2009