A beautiful sunny morning provided the backdrop of the NI Book Award finale at Campbell College on Tuesday 26th June. The hall was filled with pupils from schools across Northern Ireland and the sense of excitement was palpable, not least because the visiting author was none other than Belfast’s own Kelly McCaughrain, author of ‘Flying Tips for Flightless Birds’.
First up was a fun literary quiz between the schools. One pupil was chosen to represent each participating school. Andrew Cleland from Form I represented the Academy and displayed a great knowledge and understanding of children’s and young adult literature. Well done, Andrew!
Kelly McCaughrain then gave the audience a very inspiring speech about how she got into writing and how circuses have influenced her. Kelly loves working with young writers and volunteers with ‘Fighting Words Belfast’ at their Wednesday ‘Write Club’. This is a club held at the Duncairn Arts Centre in North Belfast, which several Academy pupils regularly attend outside of school. Academy pupils had the opportunity of meeting Kelly after her talk and getting photographs and copies of her book signed.
The final and main part of the book award finale was to announce the winner and this year the award was won by ‘The Hate U Give’ written by Angie Thomas. This book has been highly popular with young adults and won the William C. Morris Award recently. The book had also been a contender for this year’s Carnegie Medal. 2nd place of the NI Book Award was won by ‘Goldfish Boy’ by Lisa Thompson and the 3rd place was won by Dave Rudden for his book ‘Knights of the Borrowed Dark’.
Pupils thoroughly enjoyed attending the NI Book Award finale. Academy pupil, Jessica Boyd (Form II) said afterwards: “I really liked the way the author read an extract from her book. It gave me a flavour of the story before I bought the book. I wasn’t surprised by ‘The Hate U Give’ winning the NI Book Award as I felt it was a very popular book”. Fellow Form II pupil Eleanor Black added: “I really enjoyed the informal nature of the book award finale. The quiz was very good fun. I also liked the way the author explained the stages of writing a book and how honest she had been about how long it took her to write a book”. Anna Monaghan from Form II said she “enjoyed the way the author involved the audience in her talk”. Anna said she found this to be “inspiring and encouraging for those considering a career in writing”. Thomas McNeilly from Form I said he enjoyed reading all of the books from this year’s NI Book Award shortlist but commented that “I wasn’t surprised by ‘The Hate U Give’ winning the NI Book Award today. I voted for it to win and I’m really glad it did.”
The Junior Book Club at the Academy greatly look forward to shadowing the NI Book Award again next year!