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Roedean was the venue for the seventh Southern Schools Book Award (SSBA) this weekend, which was hosted by last year’s winner, Sophie McKenzie.
This year’s shortlisted novels were Bloodchild by Tim Bowler, Stolen by Lucy Christopher, Grass by Cathy Macphail, The Toymaker by Jeremy de Quidt and Saving Rafael by Leslie Wilson.
The SSBA presentation evening was attended by 250 students and staff from 29 state and independent schools in Kent, Sussex and, for the first time, France; pupils from CDI du Lycée Henri Avril had travelled from Lamballe, Brittany. The students, aged 12 to 14, had all read and voted for the titles on the shortlist and eagerly awaited the results of the voting.
Excitement mounted as all five authors read extracts from their novels, bringing their books to life. Sophie McKenzie encouraged the students to do a drum roll prior to the announcement that the winner of the 2010 award was Lucy Christopher with Stolen. The Highly Commended category was awarded to Leslie Wilson with Saving Rafael.
Winning author Lucy Christopher said, “The SSBA is an absolutely lovely award to win because it’s entirely voted for and judged by the readers themselves – made up of 35 different schools in the South of England! And what a fantastic award ceremony it was too! All of the shortlisted authors were in attendance, as well as hundreds of representatives from the various schools who were involved.”
After the presentation, the authors spent over an hour signing books for the enthusiastic crowds.
Many thanks to Mandy Rutter, Librarian of Homewood School, who coordinates the SSBA award; without her the award simply wouldn’t take place.