Lancashire schoolchildren's book of the year revealed

The winner of Lancashire’s Book of the Year Award has been announced at a virtual presentation ceremony.
Lancashire’s Book of the Year Award was won by Samuel Pollen's The Year I Didn’t EatLancashire’s Book of the Year Award was won by Samuel Pollen's The Year I Didn’t Eat
Lancashire’s Book of the Year Award was won by Samuel Pollen's The Year I Didn’t Eat

The award was won by Samuel Pollen, for his book, The Year I Didn’t Eat. The award was accepted by Samuel virtually, due to the current coronavirus situation.

The book draws on debut author Samuel Pollen’s personal experiences, and is an uplifting story of one boy’s battles with anorexia – a battle which pulls him further and further away from his family and friends, until he feels totally alone.

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County Coun Phillippa Williamson, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “This Award is a fun way to encourage young people to read and help us to maintain the county’s high literacy levels. The love of reading that is shared by so many young people is evident and I hope that the young people have enjoyed taking part in a different way this year.

Winning author, Samuel Pollen, said: “I’m completely thrilled to win this award. What makes it so special is that it’s chosen by students, with representatives from 25 high schools across Lancashire debating which book to pick.

“The Year I Didn’t Eat is really about kindness, and the importance of seeing the world from other people’s point of view. It feels wonderful to know that this message resonated! Thank you so much to everyone involved.”

Now in its 34th year, it remains one of the few book awards where young people themselves are totally responsible for drawing up the shortlist and choosing the overall winner.

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The Lancashire Book of the Year was the first regional book award for children when it was originally organised in 1987. It was won that year by Philip Pullman, who went on to great success with the His Dark Materials trilogy.

The judges are pupils from school years eight and year and 25 high schools from across the county took part, with each of Lancashire’s districts represented.

There were 58 books nominated on the list. The young judges came together in March to hear which books had made it to the shortlist.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the young people then weren’t able to physically meet up again to appraise each of the 12 shortlisted books and debate who should be the winner.

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Instead, the libraries service worked with eBook partners, Borrowbox, to make the shortlisted titles available for the young people to read as eBooks, as they no longer had access to the books at school.

County Coun Peter Buckley, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “Being introduced to books at a young age is important, as it can build up a love of reading that can stay with you for the rest of your life.

“It’s fantastic to see so many young people so actively involved in judging these awards, and clearly getting so much pleasure from books. I really hope that their love of reading continues. I’m keen to do all I can to promote it.”

The Lancashire Book of the Year Award was sponsored by UCLan for the 19th year.

This year’s judging schools were:

• Shuttleworth College, Burnley

• Blessed Trinity RC College, Burnley

• Unity College, Burnley

• Holy Cross Roman Catholic High School, Chorley

• Carr Hill High School, Fylde

• Rhyddings Business and Enterprise College, Hyndburn

• The Hyndburn Academy, Hyndburn

• Our Lady’s Catholic High School, Lancaster

• Lancaster Royal Grammar School, Lancaster

• Colne Park High School, Pendle

• West Craven High School, Pendle

• Corpus Christi RC High School, Preston

• Moor Park High School, Preston

• Walton-le-Dale College, Preston

• Longridge High School, Ribble Valley

• St Augustine’s RC High School, Ribble Valley

• Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School, Rossendale

• Haslingden High School, Rossendale

• All Hallows Catholic High School, South Ribble

• Balshaw Church of England High School, South Ribble

• St Mary’s Technology College, South Ribble

• Burscough Priory High School, West Lancashire

• Lathom High School, West Lancashire

• Baines High School, Wyre

The shortlisted authors and books were:

Neal and Jarrod Shusterman – Dry

Kesia Lupo - We Are Blood And Thunder

Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera - What If It’s Us?

Chelsea Pitcher - This Lie Will Kill You

Gabriel Dylan – Whiteout

Sarah Carroll – The Words That Fly Between Us

Samuel Pollen – The Year I Didn’t Eat

Mary Watson – The Wickerlight

Kathryn Evans – Beauty Sleep

Angie Thomas – On The Come Up

Lisa Williamson – Paper Avalanche

Erin Lange – The Chaos Of Now