Best Scottish Children's Books of 2015 Revealed
Ross Collins, Alex McCall and Cathy MacPhail were today (4 March) announced as the winners of the 2015 Scottish Children’s Book Awards during a special ceremony at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms, attended by 600 children.
As Scotland’s largest book prize for children’s authors and illustrators (each winning book receives £3,000), the Scottish Children’s Book Awards are voted for exclusively by children and are run by Scottish Book Trust and funded by Creative Scotland.
Over 28,000 votes were cast in this year’s awards, which are judged in three age categories - Bookbug Readers (3-7), Younger Readers (8-11) and Older Readers (12-16). Children across Scotland were encouraged to read the three shortlisted books in their age category and to vote for their favourite. A free copy of each of the Bookbug Category books was gifted to every Primary 1 child as part of Book Week Scotland 2014.
Glasgow-based author and illustrator Ross Collins won the Bookbug Reader’s (3-7 yrs) category for the illustrations in picture book Robot Rumpus, written by Sean Taylor. Published by Andersen Press, Robot Rumpus is a hilarious exploration of what might happen in a world where robots cater to our every need. Ross is the author and illustrator of over 100 picture books, and is a previous winner of two Scottish Children’s Book Awards – one in 2008 for Billy Monster’s Daymare and another in 2011 for Dear Vampa. Growing up, Ross attended Primary and Secondary school in Shawlands and then studied illustration at Glasgow School of Art, where he won the Macmillan children’s book prize in his final year. He also works in character development for animators such as Disney and is a regular at the Edinburgh Book Festival.
Commenting on his win, Ross said:
“I'm delighted to win the Scottish Children's Book Award with Robot Rumpus!. It's always amazing to hear about the thousands of children who have read, debated and reviewed the books - it makes this such a special award to win.”
Kintore-based debut author Alex McCall, one of the youngest published authors in Scotland, won the Younger Readers (8-11 yrs) category for his first novel Attack of the Giant Robot Chickens. The book, published by Kelpies, is a hilarious story packed with adventure and chicken jokes. 21 year-old Alex, who grew up in Kittybrewster, wrote the novel in just 6 months after being inspired to put pen to paper when author Caroline Clough visited his school in 2013. Alex currently splits his time between promoting his book and studying Filmmaking and Screenwriting at the University of the West of Scotland in Ayr. This inaugural book has already won the 2013 Kelpies Prize. The sequel, Revenge of the Giant Robot Chickens, will be published by Kelpies in July.
Commenting on his win, Alex said:
“There’s something of a feeling of coming full circle here. This is my first book and it got published through the Kelpies Prize. But the only reason that I found out about the Kelpies Prize is through a previous winning author coming to my school, through the Scottish Book Trust’s Live Literature Fund. So while I’m delighted to win I also feel very lucky that Scottish Book Trust exists in the first place. Being able to go into school and meet the children that you are writing for is fantastic enough as it is. Knowing that those kids have voted for you makes it even better. In general participating in the Awards has been a really good experience. It is just hard to believe that I’ve been lucky enough to actually win."
Greenock-based author Cathy MacPhail, also a previous winner of two Scottish Children’s Book Awards (in 2006 for Roxy’s Baby and in 2010 for Grass) won the Older Readers (12-16 yrs) category for her young adult thriller Mosi’s War. Published by Bloomsbury, it is a taut, brilliantly written novel set in Glasgow which explores the terrifying world of child soldiers. Cathy was born and grew up in Greenock where she lives to this day. It wasn’t until her daughter became the subject of bullying that she was inspired to write her first children’s book, Run, Zan, Run. This won the 1994 Kathleen Fidler Award for new Scottish Writing. Cathy went on to win many other awards including a Scottish Arts Council Book Awards for Fighting Back. Her other books include Fugitive, the Nemesis series, Grass and Underworld among many others. She is currently Patron of Reading at Falkirk High and an Ambassador for Children First.
Commenting on her win, Cathy said:
“I am absolutely delighted to have won the Scottish Children’s Book Award...again! How brilliant is that! There are so many awards now for children’s books, and all of them worthy, but for me, this is the best because it is all down to the children. And if you can write a book that captures their imagination, keeps them turning the pages, keeps them reading, then you have won the lottery. All I have ever wanted to do is write rattling good stories that children will enjoy, and this very special award makes me think I must be doing something right.”
Jasmine Fassl, Head of Schools at Scottish Book Trust, commented:
“These awards are built on the simple premise that if children are encouraged to voice their opinions about the books they have read, they tend to get a lot more excited about reading. There is nothing nicer than celebrating the books that children themselves have enjoyed reading, and the continuing success of the awards is down to everyone who is involved in encouraging the children to vote – the authors, illustrators, teachers, publishers, parents and librarians – who are passionate about giving children a love of reading for life.”
Leonie Bell, Director of Creative Development at Creative Scotland, said:
“Congratulations to Ross, Alex and Cathy. It is a huge triumph to win this fantastic award and even better to have been chosen by the children themselves. Thank you to all the young readers across the country who voted and to the teachers, publishers, parents and librarians who encouraged them. The Award not only encourages reading, which impacts on education, wellbeing and imagination but by taking an active role in the vote they are taking steps in their journeys as independent readers. Creative Scotland is delighted to be supporting these awards and the important work Scottish Book Trust does in promoting the pleasures and benefits of books and reading.”
The total prize fund is £12,000, with the shortlisted authors and illustrators receiving £500 per book, and the winning authors and illustrators receiving £3,000 per book.
The Scottish Children’s Book Awards are not only about reading but also about writing: the popular Book Review Competition attracted hundreds of high quality entries from budding journalists and authors all over the country, hoping to win book tokens for themselves and an author visit for their school.
Photos of winning authors are available to download at the bottom of this page.
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Notes to editors
Scottish Book Trust believes that books and reading have the power to change lives.
We work with partners throughout the country to inspire, support and challenge the people of Scotland to fulfil their potential as readers and writers and celebrate reading in all its forms. www.scottishbooktrust.com
CALL Scotland worked with Scottish Book Trust to create accessible digital versions of the shortlisted books, for children and young people with physical, visual and reading or dyslexic difficulties. The accessible digital versions are available free of charge from CALL Scotland. www.callscotland.org.uk
The Scottish Children’s Book Awards are managed by Scottish Book Trust and funded by Creative Scotland, in partnership with Waterstones and CALL Scotland.