A Distant

A Day in the World of Books

Ruth Allen

6 March was World Book Day, and to 'celebrate' BBC Radio 4 have been taking part in a poll 'We are what we read' - listeners have been invited to nominate, and later, to vote from the shortlist for a book which is supposed to epitomise the nations of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales in the present day. The pessimism of the nation is demonstrated by the fact that Orwell's 1984 was voted the winner for England!

The winners of the Today World Book Day vote were:

ENGLAND: 1984 by George Orwell
NORTHERN IRELAND: Desire Lines by Annie McCartney
SCOTLAND: Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon
WALES: Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

As in previous years, every schoolchild will be entitled to receive a World Book Day £1 Book Token (or Euro equivalent), and schools will be sent a special pack full of ideas and activities to help to celebrate the day in their sixth year as 'the biggest reading initiative in the UK and Ireland.'

The Youth Libraries Group YLG) of CILIP (The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals - the body which has combined and replaced both the Library Association and the Institute of Information Professionals in the UK) is beginning its run-up to the Carnegie/Greenaway Awards Season. The Awards Panel is already considering the first nominations, but in the meantime, the South West section of the YLG held a meeting/day course on Wednesday 12 February at Taunton Library to discuss Awards and award-winning books.

Margaret Pemberton from Bath & North Somerset Library authority was the first speaker, and gave an overview of the number of awards that are in existence in the UK alone for children's books and authors/illustrators. She also mentioned how difficult it was for children's librarians to get this information without 'digging around' and furnished us with a list of useful web sites that had helped her keep up to date with the awards. My own book, 'Children's Book Prizes; an evaluation and history...' was given a plug here (see bufobooks where you can order your own copy at a special price).

We then heard from Peter Bone about the Portsmouth Book Award - from its inception, arising from a programme of schools 'shadowing' the Carnegie judging panels, to its current success - now in its 4th year, with both a 'longer novel' (for Years/Grades 8 & 9) and a 'shorter novel' (for Year/Grade 5) award, and 3rd award section for preschool picture books to come. The longer novel award involves all 10 secondary schools within the Portsmouth City Boundaries, and the shorter novel award includes a selection from the junior schools. All the awards have input from the children, and the longer novel is voted for - and thoroughly discussed - by the youngsters themselves. Good to hear that 'enjoyment' comes high on the list of criteria, although 'a significant learning experience' and 'enrichment' also feature!

We then heard from an award-winning author - Katherine Roberts - who was the first winner of the Branford-Boase award (for a first children's novel), who read from her new title, Dark Quetzal.

After lunch it was the turn of illustrator Caroline Binch, who won the Smarties Prize for Hue Boy and was on the 2002 Greenaway shortlist with Silver Shoes. As well as sharing her experiences as a winner, she handed round some of her original watercolour art work for us to see.

Then it was time for the workshop session, when the reason for the coloured dots on our name badges became apparent as a clever and simple means by which we were divided into groups - each colour being directed to a particular area of the room. We then proceeded to discuss the books we had each brought - something 'that was shortlisted for an award in 2002' according to our instructions. We had to say why we thought our chosen book did (or did not!) deserve its place on the shortlist, and, if the result was known, what had beaten it to the award if it was not itself the winner.

A worthwhile day indeed.


Ruth Allen

Volume 7, Issue 2, The Looking Glass, April, 2003

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A Day in the World of Books" © Ruth Allen 2003
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