Thursday, 5 July 2012

Sefton Super Reads

It is with great pleasure
That I read books (for pleasure)
Then I want others to well agree!

We in Sefton started a 'Reading Prize' and surprisingly called it 'Sefton Super Reads'

seems like a long time ago, the first year we met at a local high school (Ainsdale High)
I was...don't laugh, asked to wear a suit and say a few words and hand out the prizes for reviews and 'accept' the winners award and well we never even told the 6 authors much about it, although 7 years on by a pure accident, one of the 6 this year was slightly (unintentionally) snubbed (Sorry Panama!)

I can't remember all of the details m'lud but here foes a resume of reasonable reading...

We sort of wanted books published within the 'school year' preferably by UK authors and sort of 'new/not well known'. We have erred from this path a bit but in essence we tried to establish a level reading field.

In some ways the art of wrapping the books in plain or all six covers merged wrapping, it sort of at least means the kids start reading without looking at the artwork.

The winner the first year (and my fave too) was Robert Swindells: Ruby Tanya
Now he was 'known' but we felt the subject was apt as we also wanted to try and get six vaguely different genres read, although that has proved harder than expected.

also we hastily point out the votes are only cast by students reading not by us adults!

It was a success!

We adults went and read more books, we met and short long listed or long short listed, whatever, we had to reread and whittle and a few tears were spilled when favoured maybes became no-go Be's.

Year two a bigger number reading and big displays and prizes for reviews, still no prize bar a nice trophy for the winner though.

The nice thing was we had a huge win margin, possibly the biggest ever. And the winner was a local lad and now well known worldwide super seller Joseph Delaney and his 'Spook's Apprentice'

It sort of hotted up a bit as we argued over inclusions and wondered about mirroring the Carnegie a bit, weirdly our readers are different, we put John Boyne 'BSP' up and felt it would do well, I loved it and wore my suit and tried to read the reviews I penned out in reverse order, finishing with 'Boy' and..when I was handed the envelope..the winner was..Lauren St John 'White Giraffe'. A great book, but not what I thought would win! In fairness it was good and she has grown into a major name and wins more prizes, so just shows.

We still hadn't really got media or industry notice, I feel we need publishers and PR to actually get 'nominated' and 'won' into If you are involved and read this get in touch and we will find the definitive details!

Now we move onto a minor legendary story, I was given a ARC/Proof hot off the press and literally in the editors hands at a meeting in RHCB in London. I read said book in two hours and was blown away.
I put my foot down and the book was shortlisted, I had tried to shout about Hunger Games I recall but at the time they said no (import anyway!), and we had other great books and sort of nicely for me the one I championed won..Matt Haig and Shadow Forest, he actually came to the awards along with Philip Caveney the runner up! He also was meant to do a big talk for hundreds of kids, i went to get him from the hotel, he wasn't there..he was..back home in Yorkshire and I was worried, he was ill! Not my cooking or nerves, no he had picked up a bug and was very poorly, his poor wife had to drive all night to get him etc.

Thing was the kids...I had heard his talk twice and sort of had to stand in, was a treat reading some extracts and a teacher did say, if I hadn't said I wasn't Matt, some of the kids would have thought I was Matt!
He had a big box of books to sign and courier!

Now I get hazy as so many books are great and picked and suchlike

I seem to recollect putting Trash By Andy Mulligan up and it is still one of my all time favourites, but I don't think the popular vote I think we went with Michael Scott and the Alchemist. as it goes a book I rate highly and for me 'Better than Potter' sacrilege! He will soon be huge as a film beckons as does 'Seventh Son' for Mr Delaney.
Michael did pop over from Dublin and actually got his prize and a winners chq for £100!

We then had a winner with Gareth P Jones and his memorable 'Thornthwaite Inheritance', he couldn't make it up but we did eventually send his swag, I read his 'Space Crime Conspiracy' on hols and it was equally superb, he is soon to be..a biggie, funny,clever,different and well written, akin to Adams and even Pratchett.
Paul Adam was runner up and he was with us, his strait jacket went down well!

Dilemma..should we re-read the six previous winners a Super SSR, close call but no..we went for six newbies and one of them went mega..Jon Mayhew was suddenly a phenomenon, up for the Waterstones Prize and I think 9 others, he won 5 or 6! He is a super lad and was gracious in saying that 'Artichoke Hearts' was better than his and deserved the Waterstones Prize!  we missed that one, so he was lucky, 'cos he won ours! we also had Ellen Renner and Mary Hooper at the awards and the 'Book Witch', she blogged and took ace pix and it was a great event.

NOW, we are just about to announce the winner..
Andy Briggs and Tarzan or Gill Lewis and Sky Hawk or Paula Rawsthorne and Truth about Celia Frost or Ruth Eastham and Memory Cage or Patrick Ness and Monster Calls or Panama Oxridge and Justin Thyme

Patrick does win a few awards and is a nice lad and writes well, the others have also surprised some with their talents. Paula, Ruth and Andy are at the event, Gill and Patrick engaged elsewhere but were coming...and IF we had known Panama was 'real' we would have hoped they with us too, I was really mortified to hear they had fans emailing them and didn't know about the event etc! I am so sorry!
They may even win!

 BUT the main thing is READING wins and the enjoyment of the children getting so much pleasure from discovering new books and we hope maybe some notice beyond Sefton???

check back for the will be tweeted at 3pm @formbybooks


  1. The winner was Paula Rawsthorne for her stunning absorbing thriller with humanity..Truth about Celia Frost, well done!

  2. Great post, Tony. Thanks so much to you, Ruth, Lesley, Christine and all the schools involved in Sefton Super Reads. It was a lovely ceremony and an honour to have won. I loved meeting the students and answering their questions. I know that this style of award takes a lot of organistion and time but it is the best kind as it gets the kids reading,reviewing and, importantly,gives them the power to decide the winner. Fantastic- keep up the good work!