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Friday 13th January, a dark and chilly night, hordes of teenagers determinedly moving towards a gothic looking building on the south coast...yes, Roedean was hosting the eighth Southern School Book Awards (SSBA) and there was even a horror book on the shortlist!
This year’s shortlisted novels were Being Billy by Phil Earle, Ghost of a Chance by Rhiannon Lassiter, Wasted by Nicola Morgan, The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight by Jenny Valentine and Numbers Two: the Chaos by Rachel Ward.
The SSBA presentation evening, enthusiastically hosted by last year’s winner Lucy Christopher, was attended by 290 students and staff from 34 state and independent schools in Kent and Sussex. The students, mostly aged 13 to 14, had read and voted for all five titles on the shortlist and were on the edge of their theatre seats, anticipating the results of the voting.
The authors read extracts from their books and answered intriguing questions posed by the students. Author Nicola Morgan played several rounds of Jack’s game of chance with the audience where students had to guess whether a coin had landed heads or tails. The winner was Kyle from Hove Park school who won a copy of ‘Blame My Brain’.
After the schools had received their book tokens, the gold and silver envelopes were produced with a flourish and the tension was palpable as Lucy requested the traditional drum roll just before revealing the results. And the winner of the 2011 award was Jenny Valentine with The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight. The Highly Commended category was awarded to Numbers Two: the Chaos by Rachel Ward.
After the event, the Librarians from the participating schools said:
‘Thank you so much for all of the behind the scenes work that went into such a professional and engaging evening on Friday – my students were excitedly discussing the books and authors all the way there and back home afterwards, such a joy to witness.’
Sir Robert Woodard Academy
‘What a fantastic evening, thank you to everyone who worked so hard organising it!’
‘Please pass on my thanks to everybody at Roedean too. It was a great evening, as always. My students really enjoyed it and there was a buzz on the coach all the way home!’
Willingdon Community School
Many thanks to Mandy Rutter, Librarian of Homewood School, who works tirelessly to coordinate the SSBA award, members of the SSBA committee, all the Roedean staff involved with the organisation of the event and the Book Nook for supplying the books.