So what IS the best book in North Herts Schools?

Eight St Chris Book Club members from years 7 and 8, accompanied by Linda and Liz from the library, headed over to Fearnhill School on Wednesday for the annual North Herts Schools Book Award.  This event, organised by school librarians from all over North Herts and Stevenage, has gone from strength to strength each year and this year approximately 100 students from ten schools got together to discuss two shortlists of top quality fiction for children and young people – and to decide just what we think is the best book in North Herts Schools. The process started back in December, when the two shortlists (for younger and older readers) were chosen by school librarians. Students then had three months to read their way through the books before attending the discussion morning and voting for their favourite book.

This year’s shortlist for younger readers was our strongest yet – this was reflected at the event by some very close voting in this category.  Our three books were:

Boy 87 by Ele Fountain
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders

In the final vote, the three books were separated by only two votes each, with The Land of Neverendings narrowly winning the category.

The three books for older readers were:

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge
I am Thunder by Muhammad Khan
Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

The winning title in this category was A Skinful of Shadows.

All the librarians would thoroughly recommend any of the books to students looking for their next good read.  Our book group students – Amar, Oliver and Zoe from year 8, and Alfie, Chloe, Dylan and Vincent from year 7 – showed commitment by reading all the shortlisted books in the younger readers’ category – but perhaps the greatest commitment was shown by Harry from year 7 who, despite having recently broken his leg, finished all the books and attended the event in a wheelchair!

It is now traditional that our previous year’s winner is invited to speak at the next discussion morning event, and this year we welcomed Lucy Adlington – author of last year’s older category winning book The Red Ribbon, which is a story of friendship set at the time of the Holocaust.  Lucy is also a costume historian, and gave a very thought-provoking presentation – dressed in 1940s clothing – which got the students thinking about how it would have felt to suddenly have to leave behind everything you own and just take one small suitcase, as those people sent to death camps were forced to do.  Lucy then answered students’ questions and signed copies of The Red Ribbon.  All too soon it was time for us all to return to St Chris, having had a thoroughly engaging and entertaining morning talking about some of our most favourite things – books!

Linda Aird