Winners of Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children’s Books Announced

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Winners of Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children's Books announced as over 16,000 children vote for their favourites

Julia Donaldson, Barry Hutchison and Catherine MacPhail have been named as this year’s winners of the 2010 Royal Mail Awards, Scotland’s largest Children’s Book Prize (each winner receives £3,000 ) which is voted for exclusively by Scottish children themselves. The winners were announced today during a special circus themed ceremony at Glasgow’s Tramway Theatre, attended by 500 young people from all over Scotland.

Best-selling author Julia Donaldson won the Early Years (Bookbug) category (0-7) for her picture book What the Ladybird Heard ((Macmillan), which is illustrated by Lydia Monks. Julia said:

“I am absolutely thrilled that What the Ladybird Heard has won - especially as it's the fourth time I've been shortlisted, so I have been saved from despair! These are such worthwhile - and fun - book awards and I'd like to offer a big thank you to Scottish Book Trust and the Royal Mail, to my brilliant illustrator Lydia Monks, to the other authors and illustrators, and especially to the children who took part (even the ones who voted for the other books!)”

Debut young-fiction author Barry Hutchison won the Younger Readers category (8-11) for his first novel, Invisible Fiends – Mr Mumbles (Harper Collins). He said:

“When I found out that my first book was shortlisted for the award, I was shocked and delighted in about equal measures. I’ve been practicing my ‘gracious runner-up’ face for months now, fully expecting not to win. So to find out that Mr Mumbles has taken the prize was an absolutely brilliant surprise!”

Popular teenage fiction author Catherine MacPhail won the Older Readers category (12-16) for Grass (Bloomsbury). A previous winner of the Royal Mail Awards in 2006, Catherine commented:

“To win this wonderful award once was exciting enough, but to win it twice, I still can't quite believe it's true. It's a mistake, someone is going to come up and snatch it from me. But they won't get it. It's mine! And I am so proud that so many young people voted for Grass, such a simple story about such an ordinary boy. Delighted doesn't come close to describing how I feel."

Record numbers of children took part in the awards this year, with over 16,000 children from all over Scotland voting for their favourite books - 1000 more than last year - and almost a quarter of all Scottish schools registering to take part. Votes were cast from every single Scottish education authority, from Dumfries and Galloway to Shetland.

Jasmine Fassl, Acting Children’s Programme Manager at Scottish Book Trust commented:

“The Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children’s Books 2010 continues its success story of record sign-ups and votes cast. The key to this success is the high quality as well as the accessibility of the writing in all the shortlisted titles. The three winning books are all fantastic stories that draw you in right from the start and don’t let you go until the last page is turned.”

Julie Morrison, Royal Mail Group Head of External Relations in Scotland, said:

“Royal Mail is delighted to again be sponsoring the Children’s Book Awards. We are particularly pleased with the enthusiastic response of children, parents and teachers across Scotland to these awards. It is fantastic that the number of children taking part continues to grow every year. “

Angela Constance, Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning, said:

"We are incredibly fortunate to have so many excellent authors and illustrators from across the country to inspire our future writers. The development of literacy skills is, of course, a key focus of Curriculum for Excellence and these awards play an important role in encouraging reading and writing in the younger generation.”

More votes than ever were cast in the Early Years category thanks to the paired reading scheme, sponsored by Crerar Hotels, through the North British Hotels Trust, who have made a £12,000 donation to increase the number of reluctant readers and children with additional support needs taking part in reading and judging the shortlist across Scotland. Their support includes providing free copies of shortlisted picture books for Scottish primary schools, together with teaching resources to support them, courses for teachers on running the awards with reluctant readers and shortlisted author and illustrator visits to primary schools. The areas taking part in this year’s shared reading scheme are Aberdeenshire, Fife, Highlands, Perth & Kinross and Western Isles.

The Royal Mail Awards are not only about reading but also about writing: children also took part in different writing competitions in the following three categories - Review Writing Competition, Scots Creative Writing Competition and Gaelic Creative Writing. The writing project is organised in collaboration with the Gaelic Books Council.

This year Scottish Book Trust again teamed up with the Royal National Institute of Blind People Scotland (RNIB Scotland) who have transcribed all nine shortlisted books into Braille, audio and large print format simultaneously. This means that hundreds of visually impaired children were able to take part in the judging alongside other young readers.

CALL Scotland has again worked with Scottish Book Trust and the authors and publishers to create accessible digital versions of the nine shortlisted books. The idea is that children and young people with physical, visual and reading or dyslexic difficulties, who can’t read the paper books, can read the digital books instead and take part in the awards. The accessible digital versions of the shortlisted books are available free of charge from CALL Scotland. You can request books by going to CALL’s Books for All website at http://www.books4all.org.uk/Book-Awards/.

The Royal Mail Awards are managed by Scottish Book Trust in partnership with Creative Scotland and supported by the Times Educational Supplement Scotland (TESS) and Waterstone’s. Waterstone’s are running a three for two offer on all the shortlisted titles from the middle of February to the end of April 2011.

For all press queries, photos and interview requests, please contact Helen Croney, Press & PR Officer at Scottish Book Trust:

07751 69 58 54 or helen(dot)croney(at)scottishbooktrust(dot)com

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