7 July 2021
The Award Day was supposed to be held in July 2020 but, due to these unprecedented times, the announcement comes a whole year later! The shortlist for 2020 was carried over to 2021 to allow the Award to continue.
Bolton School’s library staff, who organise the Award, said: ‘It is unfortunate that this year we have not been able to meet the authors in person and celebrate together. However, we hope that the spirit of the Award has been present in our community of schools, offering children the opportunity to explore the work of authors that they may not have previously encountered.
‘We would like to thank the authors for their patience and support over the last two years. The Shortlist was outstanding, making it a pleasure to offer the books to a second cohort of readers. We are very grateful to our lovely community of Librarians, English teachers and other bibliophiles for supporting and promoting the Award.’
This year, book clubs were unable to meet normally and access to libraries was restricted, but despite the circumstances Bolton School’s librarians were pleased to receive a considerable number of votes from both primary and secondary schools.
Usually there is only one winner. This year, just like the Bookers, there are two!
Therefore (in alphabetical order) the two winners for 2020/21 are: Alan Durant, author of Clownfish, and Victoria Williamson, author of The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle.
Clownfish is about a boy called Dak, whose Dad has just died and has (miraculously) turned into a clownfish in his local aquarium. Themes of grief, friendship and learning to accept the death of a loved one are dealt with in a humorous, accessible way. The book is also about children being able to make a difference within their local community.
It took Alan almost twenty years to write Clownfish: he described it as a ‘slow burner’ so its success has relied upon word of mouth. It has now been included on Empathy and Wellbeing book lists.
The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle is set in a fictional part of Glasgow and also deals with issues which are important to young people today, specifically home circumstances, friendship and how people are multi-faceted characters rather than ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
The two main characters are girls from very different backgrounds: Caylin has difficult home circumstances and Reema is a refugee from Syria. Students within our community commented that they felt represented by Reema’s cultural background. Despite their differences, the two girls are united in their struggle to save a wild fox and her cubs, find friendship and realise that they are really quite similar.
This year the usual large-scale event at Bolton School, normally attended by up to 20 local schools, could not take place. Therefore Bolton School’s Librarians recorded the announcement, which also featured the winning authors, and this was shared with all the participating schools in and around Bolton.
The Library staff said: ‘We would like to thank you all for our support and hope you will join us in congratulating the winners.’
For the 2022 Award, Bolton School hopes to expand upon the online content that was provided in 2020/21 and move towards a hybrid Award, which will make it easier for more Schools to participate. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if your School would like to become involved.