GRAND FINALE, 23RD JUNE 2015
A glorious afternoon and a beautiful new school provided the backdrop to our sixth NI Book Award Grand Finale. The large hall in Strathearn School was filled with nearly 200 participants and the sense of excitement was palpable, not least because the visiting author was none other than sports aficionado and writer of the tremendously popular Jamie Johnson series, Dan Freedman.
First up was the inevitable informal competition and whilst the questions were definitely more tricky than in previous years, our audience of experts had no difficulty in finding answers. Well done, guys!
The book trailer presentations which followed were definitely slick and professional and certainly Dan was so impressed he said any one of these entrants could make a trailer for his books. Watch out 20th Century Fox, we are on your tail! Congratulations to Aquinas, resounding winners for the second year in a row and a special mention to Colaiste Feirste who had completely thrown themselves into the character s of The Boundless. Who can fail to be impressed when pupils carry a coffin… yes an actual coffin… onto the Bangor train. No doubt the passengers on board were clamouring to make a hasty exit at the next station platform.
The photographic competition yielded some cracking images and the creative writing mini sagas made for some wonderful reading. Well done Amber from Belfast Royal Academy – a well-deserved winner.
Recounting an interview with sports personality Ronaldo, our guest author, Dan Freedman went on to consider how he had come to write his Jamie Johnson books. With anecdotes and a certain amount of ‘keepy-uppy’ Dan had our audience in the palm of his hand and such was the enthusiasm for this visitor that there were large queues to purchase his books at the end.
However, the main point of the book award finale is to announce the winner, and wow was it close this year. The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel and Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan were neck and neck in a photo finish whilst at the final hurdle Carter Roy’s title took the lead so our NI Children’s book of the year 2015 is The Blood Guard by Carter Roy.
A huge thank you to everyone taking part and for all the encouragement and enthusiasm both from the librarians and children taking part.
DRAMA WORKSHOP AT THE LYRIC THEATRE
Drama workshop at the Lyric Theatre
‘Brilliant as ever!’ was the overwhelming consensus following Stephen’s two super workshops at the spectacular Lyric theatre. Indeed Stephen’s workshops are rapidly reaching legendary status in NI Book Award circles, such is their popularity.
A decidedly different warm-up which saw Rian from HTC pretending to be hypnotised, was great fun and well done to Ronan of ColaisteFeirste for his superb ability to portray his favourite fictional character – complete with missing arm!
Stephen based his workshops around four of the short-listed titles – Counting by 7’s, The Boundless, Listen to the Moon and Blood Guard, and the tableaux that emerged from the different groups showed ingenuity and creativity in bucket-loads. Well done everyone!
As usual, it is the participants who sum up the day best:
‘Tuesday was a fantastic day when we met Stephen Beggs and had a lot of fun with him! My favourite part of the day was when we had to make a tableau of a scene from Listen to the Moon. Although I enjoyed everything else too!!!!’ - Szimonetta
‘Stephen Beggs was really funny and very nice. During the workshop we did some great warm ups but my favourite part was doing the freeze frames’ - Aoife
Huge thanks to the Lyric theatre and to Stephen for making the workshops such a success.
In a change to our usual format, we decided to condense the award shadowing and reduce the number of books on the shortlist, with a corresponding shift in the times of year for the events. It is a gamble made in response to participant feedback, so let’s see if this new experiment works!
Anyway, huge thanks are due to Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School for hosting this, our sixth launch of the Northern Ireland Book Award. The hall was packed for the event, with pupils and librarians alike all keen to bear witness to the sharp wit and banter from the charismatic artist/author Oisín McGann, and of course to discover which books had made it to this year’s shortlist.
None of us will forget Oisín describing the light bulb moments, the middle of the night genius ideas and the trips to the clothes shops for the multiple pairs of pocketed jeans to fit the essential, always at hand, notebook! Indeed, so engaged were his audience that it was difficult to stem the flow of questions and to get Oisín off stage, which surely serves to underline that Oisín is truly a wonderful ambassador for all things literary, a view certainly reflected in so many comments from the audience.
‘We really enjoyed Oisín, he gave great tips and advice on being a writer to one of his biggest fans in our school... I would love to have him on an author visit in the very near future’ (Tara Corcoran, librarian, Belfast Royal Academy)
‘It was amazing and fun. I now know how to write a great story. Oisín Mcgann drew a great illustration.’ (Megan)
‘I liked listening to Oisín talk about what inspired him to write his books. I also liked finding out what books were on the short list this year’ (Aine)
‘Our students were delighted to be entertained by the humorous fantasy author, Oisín McGann, who volunteered some of his writing tips and happily gave autographs signing everything from mobile phone cases to Pokémon cards’ (Tanja Jennings, librarian, WCB)
But the crux of the morning was to reveal the shortlist for 2015, and on this Wendy McAdoo, librarian from Holy Trinity College, has the last word: ‘My pupils could not wait to begin reading the shortlisted titles, such is the enthusiasm generated by the NIBA launch event. A hall-full of true readers is a wonderful thing!’
The sixth year of the Northern Ireland Book Award will be launched at Aquinas Grammar School, 518 Ravenhill Road, Belfast BT6 0BY, on Wednesday 18th March 2015 at 11:00 a.m. We are delighted to have author Oisín McGann as Guest of Honour at the launch.
GRAND FINALE AT THE LYRIC THEATRE, THURSDAY 10TH APRIL 2014
Without a doubt, this has been the most spectacular finale we have ever had. What a sight, some 355 pupils and their librarians filling the entire Danske Bank auditorium at the superb Lyric Theatre. So many young adults celebrating their enjoyment of reading surely flies in the face of all that we are led to believe about young people and books?
Anyway a huge thank you to Philip Crawford and his team at the Lyric for allowing us to use this wonderful space and for all their hard work in making the event run smoothly. Also tremendous thanks you to our fantastic compère, Stephen Beggs, who was truly magnificent in his chosen role; Stephen, you are now a permanent member of the NI Book Award panel!
Setting the tone for the event was the opening quiz round with difficult and easy questions for the willing volunteers. It didn’t take long before the gambling started with pupils opting for the more difficult questions in order to trounce the opposition. Well done to all of you!
However, the gold star for the day has to be awarded to our guest author, Chris William Hill - a really super speaker who soon had his audience shrieking with laughter.
‘Christopher William Hill was hilarious and I think the new catch phrase in our school library should be “Death to not reading!” (Jacqui, St Patrick’s HS, Keady)
‘I thought the author of Osbert the Avenger was very eccentric and fun’ (Cormac, Aquinas)
Sadly for Chris, his book did not win the NI Book Award, this accolade indeed went to the great Mr Horowitz with Russian Roulette. However, to be runner up to this legend is no mean feat, so congratulations Chris as ‘Osbert the Avenger’ came a very, very close second. Indeed this year the voting was really close and every single title was voted for by at least one school - so that is an indication of just how varied reading tastes are.
The book trailer competition rounded off the morning and with so many professional-looking entries, publishers need look no further in trying to promote their titles. Well done to Aquinas whose trailer for ‘The Screaming Staircase’ completely blew everyone away! £50 worth of books for your school library will be available from No Alibis Bookstore courtesy of David Torrens.
It is always such a great privilege to work with so many people who really enjoy reading, so perhaps these comments best sum up what the finale meant to them.
‘I really enjoyed the trip to the Lyric Theatre in Belfast because it was fun and interesting. Christopher William Hill was really funny and nice. I am happy his book came second because I really enjoyed it. Stephen Beggs was definitely a great choice for announcer. I enjoyed watching the quiz as I didn’t have to go on stage and I could play along. I would give this day a 10 out of 10’ (Erin, Holy Trinity College)
‘It was really good because they had lots of children up on stage and got them all involved’ (Owen, Aquinas)‘
‘An excellent day out’!!! (Katie) and last but not least… ‘It was probably the best thing I have ever been to’ (Tom)
DRAMA WORKSHOPS WITH STEPHEN BEGGS, 25TH-28TH FEBRUARY 2014
Bringing the short-listed books to life through the drama workshops is one of the most imaginative and enjoyable aspects of the NI Book Awards and the week after half-term saw our wonderful drama facilitator, Stephen Beggs, throwing himself and many others into character when he conducted five different workshops in three different geographical locations.
The workshops were, of course, centred round the short-listed titles, and it was brilliant to see pupils transforming themselves not only into the different characters in the books, but also into the many, many inanimate objects in each scenario. I just loved the pupils transforming themselves into the bed for the violin teacher in the tableau from ‘Osbert the Avenger’, or indeed into the helicopters as Yassen escapes in ‘Russian Roulette’. Hilarious!
Let’s leave the last word to Aleksandra of Holy Trinity College, Cookstown who commented:
‘I really enjoyed the Drama Workshop. Stephen Beggs motivated me to read more of the books.’
2013-14 LAUNCH EVENT WITH NIALL DE BURCA
Friday 22nd November saw the 2014 Book Awards off to a flying start. With a change of venue this year (the strange case of the scaffolding and building work at RBAI) it was Victoria College which provided the location for this fifth book award launch. Sharpening his organisational skills, Victoria College librarian Ross McDonald made all the 200-plus pupils from participating schools very welcome, and the text from our speaker announcing his possible late arrival (the case of the flat tyre in Newry), didn’t faze our host one bit!
First up, as ever, was our quiz warmer, this year a sort of hang-man book title experience. Congratulations to all who answered questions and guessed titles and for the record – the letter A is the only vowel NOT on the top row of the ‘qwerty’ keyboard!
How is it possible to begin to describe our amazing speaker, Niall de Burca? Brilliant, wonderful, excellent are all adjectives which feature in the feedback, but I would say he is all these things times three! A traditional Irish story-teller, he really had 200 pupils in the palm of his hand as he began to weave his uproarious tale and his accent for Belfast, Cork and Dublin was just hilarious. Perhaps the children themselves are best placed to describe this renowned raconteur:
‘I think Niall de Burca is an hilarious man and I would definitely go to see him somewhere else. I really enjoyed the way he scared me but at the same time he was being funny’ (John)
‘I thought it was fun at Victoria College. I mostly enjoyed Niall de Burca who was very funny and told us a fantastic story. I also loved the game we played with the librarians!’ (Aleksandra)
‘ Loved the launch, especially Niall de Burca, He was interesting and fun! The books seem really good. I can’t wait to get started!’ (Nikki)
Indeed the whole idea behind the launch event is to enthuse children about books and stories and comments from librarians certainly indicate that Niall has done this by the bucket load:
‘What a brilliant launch! Our pupils were absolutely mesmerised by Niall de Burca and are now all fired up to start reading.’ (Wendy McAdoo, Holy Trinity College, Cookstown)
‘My boys thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly Niall de Burca! The sight of seven boys engrossed in the books on the bus on the way back to school, was wonderful to see! (Cath Skipper, Campbell College, Belfast)
GRAND FINALE, WEDNESDAY 20 MARCH 2013
Well, after a somewhat delayed start (the case of the double-booked school mini-bus, the train and the taxi…) the Grand Finale eventually got underway on what must be the absolute antithesis of last year’s weather. Grey skies and freezing cold temperatures with the centre of the Province snowed-in were all Northern Ireland could offer and it was a shame that this inclement weather meant one of our most enthusiastic participating schools was unable to make it. Never mind, I am sure Holy Cross College in Cookstown had a wonderful time with snowballs.
Anyway after a warm welcome to Bangor Grammar School’s superb new building by Principal, Mr Stephen Connolly, it was on to the business of the day and some wonderful trailers for the books gave a real insight into what pupils made of the short-listed titles - well done to Wellington, Glenlola and Campbell, these were great!
Aquinas must be a drama school in disguise, because pupils, who were lunatics in the asylum and then woke at twelve minutes to midnight to scrawl foreboding messages of the future, were surely RADA inspired?
It has become a tradition at these events to throw some sort of quiz into the mix, and today was no exception. A random back-to-front quiz – a ‘here’s the answer, what is the question?’ with contestants picked in serendipity fashion was next on the agenda. Sadly however, time constraints meant we had to forego the main bulls-eye quiz. Oh well that’ll be a definite for next year….
Debut author D J McCune was our author of the day and it was amazing to hear her talk about her new book Death & Co - how she thought of the idea of families of Luman guiding souls to the after-life and how one irritable teenager was certainly not a ‘natural’ when it came to working in this family ‘business’. Passages Debbie read about the disgruntled Adam and again about his valentine date with the non-Luman Melissa whetted many appetites and the audience were certainly privileged to be able to buy pre-publication books way in advance of their May launch date. Hit www.facebook.com/djmccuneauthor and LIKE her page for exclusive news and competitions!
Announcing the winner of the creative writing competition were David Torrans, owner of No-Alibis, the last surviving independent bookshop in Northern Ireland, and Northern Irish crime writer, Stuart Neville: from a total of 72 entries these judges were looking for a glimpse of a story, a piece that made the reader want to find out more. Congratulations to the winner, Ellie from Holy Trinity College, Cookstown; and special mention also to Brenna from Coláiste Feirste. Well done to both who will receive a personal invitation for their families to a ‘meet the author’/ ‘musician’ night at No-Alibis.
However the main reason for the day was to announce the winner of the NI Book Award 2013 and it is probably no surprise that, by a huge and over-whelming margin, this accolade went to Wonder by R J Palacio: a truly original, amusing and decidedly different story which appealed to all. Congratulations to her and to all of you for participating!
WONDER WINS 2012-13 AWARD
The overall winner of the 2012-13 Northern Ireland Book Award, with a huge majority, is Wonder by R J Palacio.
Second place went to Itch by Simon Mayo, and third place went to The Adjusters by Andrew Taylor.
The winners and runners-up were announced at the grand finale event on 20 March 2013. At the finale we welcomed debut author Debbie McCune who talked about her book Death & Co, which is due to be published in May - but those who attended the finale were able to get a sneak preview of the book!
QUIZ MORNING AT HOLY TRINITY COOKSTOWN
"Just had a brilliant NIBA Quiz morning at HTC with St Patrick's Keady and Sacred Heart Omagh. We really are a very clever bunch out here in the country as the team and individual scores reflect” (Wendy McAdoo - librarian/ super-woman at Holy Trinity College, Cookstown)
CREATIVE WRITING COMPETITION
This year the Northern Ireland Book Award is running a fantastic creative writing competition, open from 26th February until 12th March 2013. The entries will be judged by David Torrans, owner of No-Alibis Bookstore, and Stuart Neville, Northern Irish crime writer. The prize is a personal invitation for you (and family) to a No-Alibis event - meet the author or poet or musician!
Full details of how to enter the competition can be found on our Activities page.
DRAMA WORKSHOPS WITH STEPHEN BEGGS
Stephen Beggs, our wonderful drama facilitator and director of the Bruiser Theatre Company, has worked his socks off during an otherwise dreary January to deliver bright and stimulating drama workshops based around our short-listed titles.
Three inter-school workshops in Belfast, Coleraine and Cookstown were tremendously well received, as indeed were the two individually organised sessions at Assumption Grammar School in Ballynahinch and RBAI. In all, representatives from some 17 schools took part in sessions which saw pupils enacting various scenes from the books - well done to the vomiting pupils in the greenhouse scene from Itch, the triplets jeering at Stuart from Small Change for Stuart, and indeed the all too realistic zombies from Oliver Twisted!
Comments from pupils best sum up the atmosphere:
‘I really enjoyed the drama workshop 2013. I liked the idea of mixing with other schools and interacting with the other young people my age. Stephen Beggs was very friendly and was very good at bringing humour to the activities’. (Meghan)
It was a very enjoyable event! Stephen Beggs was very funny and made me see the book in a very different but cool way’. (Eimear)
‘I loved the whole morning, it was good fun and enjoyable. I especially liked the part where we had to get into teams and act out a scene from one of the books.’ (Shamira)
And from one librarian:
‘We had a brilliant time with Stephen Beggs at the drama workshop in Holy Trinity Cookstown – the pupils just love him… I certainly hope that you have already booked him for next year!’ (Mrs McAdoo, librarian, HTC)
LAUNCH OF THE NORTHERN IRELAND CHILDREN'S BOOK AWARD 2012-13
Wednesday 25th October saw the 2013 Book Awards off to a flying start. 25 of the 32 participating schools were represented at the lunch where guest speaker, Joe Craig, author of the Jimmy Coates series, certainly kept his young audience engrossed. Yes – how many of us were taken in by his story of the old American author and his death-bed advice note?
Budding actors were encouraged by drama facilitator Stephen Beggs, who whipped up some strong enthusiasm for the drama workshops which will take place in early 2013 and will bring the Northern Ireland Book Award titles to life.
However, it was X-factor book-style which had pupils and librarians hopping off their seats to search for the dreaded ‘X’. Those who retrieved the sticker found themselves contestants in the quiz show where pupils took on librarians. With no cheating at all (??) and an absolutely unbiased question-master, it was no surprise when the pupils won and it was chocolate eyeballs all round for all the brave contestants.