To start with over ninety books and whittle them down to one winner is no mean feat, but Y9 students from Garstang Community Academy were more than up to the challenge. Pupils in Mr Cummings’ and Mrs Morgan’s classes have been working tirelessly all year as part of the judging panel for the prestigious Lancashire Book of the Year Award, one of the country’s longest running Young Adult book prizes. Now in its 31st year, this prize also has the distinction of being one of the few awards judged for by school students.
Friday 7th July saw the culmination of this process, as Mr Cummings and Study Centre Manager Mrs Gornall took twelve students to the final celebration event where the winner would be announced. The day saw an author panel, where students were invited to quiz some of the authors on the shortlist, including former Garstang pupil Louise Gornall, whose book ‘Under Rose-Tainted Skies’ proved to very popular. Each of the authors spoke about what motivated them to put pen to paper and gave valuable tips to our budding writers.
Rhys Williams represented the school admirably by volunteering to speak at this event, which was attended by around three hundred people. He said: “When I was chosen to take part in the Lancashire Book of the Year process, I was ecstatic as I love reading. This opportunity has pushed me to pick up books I would not normally have read, and explore lots of new genres. One particular reason I have enjoyed this process is that it was almost like we as teenagers were swapping places with the adults, as we were giving the feedback rather than receiving it. My favourite part of the whole experience was meeting up with other schools to debate and share our opinions, as well as making new friends from across the county. I look forward to walking into a book shop and seeing shelves full of books from these authors, knowing that I was a part of their journey.”
The eventual winner was ‘The Deepest Cut’ by Natalie Flynn (Mr Cummings’ favourite!), a book about knife crime – a moving story of friendship and the aftermath of its destruction.
A massive congratulations to the winner, as well as a thank you to all of the students who took part this year, especially Sam Monks, Olivia Rodgers, Leonie Burton-Blake and Rhys Williams who have represented the school at various events this year.
If you would like to read the winning title, or any of the others on the shortlist, please see Mrs Gornall in the Study Centre.