A novel which tells the uplifting story of a boy who flees from a war torn country and makes new friends in the UK has been voted as the 2020 winner of South Gloucestershire’s literature prize for young people, the Concorde Book Award.
Author of ‘The Boy at the Back of the Class’, Onjali Raúf, beat off competition from five other young people’s fiction titles to claim the coveted award.
Once again this year’s winner was chosen after an exciting district-wide reading challenge in which hundreds of young people from groups throughout South Gloucestershire read their way through a shortlist of titles.
Votes were cast on World Book Day (5 March) and the winner was announced at a gala event at Bristol and Bath Science Park at Emersons Green on Tuesday 10 March.
Chair of South Gloucestershire Council Cllr Brian Allinson, announced the winning author. He said: “I’d like to congratulate Onjali for winning this award in what was a shortlist full of excellent books. The Concorde Book Award encourages young people to maintain a passion for reading through a time in their life when some turn to alternative activities instead.
“My thanks go to the organisers and to the young people for taking part, it is an inspirational event and I have really enjoyed being involved.”
Winning author, Onjali Rauf said: “I’m so utterly thrilled to have the Concorde Book Award be gifted to Ahmet’s story – it means the world to me that the story is deemed worthy enough of this lovely award, and that the story is still striking a chord with so many hearts. Thank you so much for the honour!”
The awards event saw young people give presentations about their favourite books and conduct interviews with shortlisted authors Ali Sparkes, Tracy Darnton and Gabriel Dylan.
The Concorde Book Award is a long-running book award run by South Gloucestershire schools and public libraries in which groups of young people read a shortlist of novels. They are then encouraged to join a reading group, whether at school or in a local library, to read six books and talk about them with other group members, before voting on their favourite title.
The scheme aims to promote a love of reading among 11-14 year olds (Year 7 to 9 secondary school students, Key stage 3), and thousands of young people have taken part since it was launched in 2007.
The Award is unique in being one of the few literary awards that involves children and young people all the way through from choosing the longlist and the winner, to delivering presentations and author interviews at the annual award ceremony.
Shortlisted books are made available from South Gloucestershire public and school libraries, and voting takes place on World Book Day each year.
This year’s shortlisted titles were:
• ‘The Boy at the Back of the Class’ by Onjali Rauf (Winner)
• ‘The Truth About Lies’ by Tracy Darnton,
• ‘Whiteout’ by Gabriel Dylan,
• ‘Thunderstruck’ by Ali Sparkes,
• ‘Potkin and Stubbs’ by Sophie Green
• ‘The Land of Neverendings’ by Kate Saunders
Participants are also encouraged to contribute to a dedicated online forum as part of the process of sharing views on each book: http://concorde2020.edublogs.org/.
There is also an award for the group that makes the best contribution to the blog.