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Posts Tagged ‘Sophie McKenzie

Red House Book Award winners 2009

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Former journalist and editor Sophie McKenzie has scooped the overall prize in the prestigious Red House Children’s Book Award 2009 for her thrilling teen novel, Blood Ties.

The award is regarded as the most important children’s prize for literature because it is the only award voted for solely by young readers.

It is second time lucky for McKenzie, as her novel, Girl, Missing, won the older readers’ category in 2007.

Blood Ties (Simon and Schuster) won both the older readers’ category and overall prizes in the award, which is owned and co-ordinated by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups.

The winning novel is a gripping thriller that explores issues of genetic engineering and personal identity.

Tightly plotted, readers said they empathised with the teenage characters Rachel and Theo who struggle with their sense of identity.

The fast-paced novel keeps readers on the edge of their seats as the protagonists race to survive against the odds.

McKenzie learned of her win at a glittering awards luncheon at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens yesterday (Saturday) which was attended by more than 200 people, including 80 children from across the country, all of whom were involved in the voting.

Stunned McKenzie, who won a silver trophy, said she was honoured to win this unique literary prize.

Blood Ties is my favourite book so I am completely overwhelmed that the readers have chosen it as theirs, too,” she said.

“I am delighted and it is a huge honour, but this isn’t really about an award, fantastic though it is to have won it, it is a celebration of reading. It’s stories above everything.

“I passionately love stories as they help us understand the world around us and the work the Federation of Children’s Book Groups does in getting children to love books and reading cannot be underestimated.”

Two other category winners in the 29th annual award were also announced at the event: Allan Ahlberg’s beautiful picture book The Pencil (Walker), illustrated by Bruce Ingman, has taken the younger children category, while Kes Gray’s fun story, Daisy and the Trouble with Zoos (Random House) has clinched the younger readers’ category.

An incredible 143,295 votes were cast by children and young adults all over the UK both online and through ballots collated by regional co-ordinators of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups.

Thousands of children from schools, libraries and nurseries spent 18 months devouring 838 titles to find the shortlistedten books, four in the category for books for younger children, and three each in the younger readers’ and older readers’ categories.                                                                


Announcing the winners, Sinead Kromer, national co-ordinator for the RHCBA, said: “The Red House Children’s Book Award is the only award that truly values the opinion of children and empowers them to make the decisions that collectively decide the winners.

“If you look back over the winners of the past 28 years most of them have become bestsellers and even modern classics.

“The children know what they like and know what they want to read. And it is children who have chosen the winners.

“The names of the winners are a closely guarded secret until the envelope is opened, the winners announced, the whistles blown, the poppers explode and the hall bursts into applause. It is an experience the children will remember for a very long time!”

Seni Glaister, CEO of Red House, said: “Congratulations to all the winners of the award, especially overall winner Sophie McKenzie whose exciting thriller Blood Ties has gripped children around the UK.”

Shortlist announced for the 2009 Red House Children’s Book Award

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Time travelling cows, a 17th century Japanese ninja and a young boy who mourns for his dead cat have made it on to the shortlist of a prestigious children’s book prize.


The Red House Children’s Book Award (RHCBA) has announced  the shortlist for 2009, chosen by children throughout the country from 838 submitted books published in 2008.


The award is unique because it is the only book award voted for solely by children. (While awards such as CLIP, Smarties and WH Smith/Richard & Judy celebrate children’s books, the shortlists are drawn up by adults and children vote for their favourite. This is not the case with the RHCBA.)


Children from schools, libraries and nurseries have spent the past 12 months working with regional testers from the Federation of Children’s Book Groups (FCBG) and ploughing through the titles, which range from picture books to novels for young adults.


Each reader, aged three to 16, from the 13 Federation of Children’s Book Groups across the country, chose his/her favourites in the three award categories: books for younger children, books for younger readers and books for older readers.


The votes were collated and the eagerly-awaited shortlisted titles are revealed today:




The Pencil by Allan Ahlberg, illus. Bruce Ingman (Walker Books)


Beware of the Frog by William Bee (Walker Books)


A Lark in the Ark by Peter Bently, Illus. Lynne Chapman (Egmont)


The Three Horrid Pigs and the Big Friendly Wolf  by Liz Pichon (Little Tiger Press)




Cows in Action: Wild West Moo-nsters by Steve Cole (Red Fox)


Daisy and the Trouble with Zoos by Kes Gray (Red Fox)


The Cat Who Liked Rain by Henning Mankell (Andersen Press)



Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior by Chris Bradford (Puffin)


Blood Ties by Sophie McKenzie (Simon and Schuster)


Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine (Harper Collins)


Voting is now open to find the category winners and an overall winner.


Anyone under the age of 16 can participate by simply logging onto the RHCBA website, www.redhousechildrensbookaward.co.uk and completing the voting form before the closing date of May 11.


Last year, 59,339 votes were cast in this final stage, which saw Polly Dunbar win the books for younger children category with Penguin and Chris Riddell take the books for young readers prize for Ottoline and the Yellow Cat, while Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant took the award for books for older readers and scooped the overall prize.


Previous winners of the award, which has been running for 29 years, include Robert Swindells, Michael Morpurgo, Roald Dahl, Jacqueline Wilson and Malorie Blackman. It was also the first book prize awarded to JK Rowling, who picked up the prize in 1998 for her first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

 (I’ll declare an interest here – I am being paid to be publicity officer for the RHCBA, but honestly – in my heart of hearts – think this is a fantastic award, which is why I agreed to do it.)