15 things I learnt from judging the Blue Peter Book Awards

Published on: 04 December 2014 Author: Anna James

Anna James, Blue Peter Book Awards judge in the Award's 15th anniversary year, lets us know what she learned from judging the Blue Peter Book Awards to create this year's shortlist.

Blue Peter Book Awards 2015

Taste is more subjective than you could possibly imagine. I was expecting differences of opinions but wasn't quite prepared for how much it varied. There were a couple of books I felt sure everyone must have loved, only to find that I was on my own in adoring them.

Having said that, I also learnt that my fellow judges, Michael de Souza and Liz Pichon, are thoroughly lovely, creative people who made the day incredibly fun. Despite the fact that we were coming from three quite different perspectives with different favourites, the judging stayed friendly and fun throughout the day.

Blue Peter Book Awards 2015

Liz can do some amazing nail art - she had Tom Gates themed nail art on the day that matched her Tom Gates shoes!

Michael really loves smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and is a lot of fun to spend a day with. He also brought and signed copies of his most recent Rastamouse book for us all.

I was really emotionally attached to some of these books - I felt incredibly protective of some of the books that I felt were really special and deserved to be celebrated.

Blue Peter presenters are pretty incredible and perhaps I wouldn't want to be one after all. We met Lindsey Russell on the day, who was filming the segment and she was intimidatingly charismatic, friendly and fearless. She was telling us about some of the things she's got up to for Blue Peter recently and I felt completely exhausting just listening to it. I think I'm going to stick with the books.

Blue Peter Book Awards 2015

Although, it is really fun when people see the Blue Peter crew and your badge and assume you're a Blue Peter presenter.

The team behind the cameras at Blue Peter are incredibly well-organised and professional and also did an amazing job of making us feel comfortable. I don't have much experience of filming and Jo, the producer, made sure we all knew what was going on all day and that everyone was happy and clear.

Blue Peter Book Awards 2015

Ewan, the Editor of Blue Peter and our non-voting chair of judges, while the consummate professional all day, is prone to fits of laughter - especially when we had to shoot one scene several times.

It really is as exciting as you would hope to get a Blue Peter badge, but you only get a Blue Peter badge if you appear on camera. Blue Peter badges are now made of rubber and smell kind of great.

The Library of Birmingham is beautiful and inspiring and an amazing place to spend a day filming, although they did serve potato curry on a baked potato for lunch.

The Library of Birmingham

Book Trust do an utterly amazing job of organising the Awards, especially Hannah and Katherine.

There is such an amazing array of incredible fiction being written at the moment for children.

Books are subjective, emotive, creative things and an enormous amount of effort goes into creating each one.

That with a long judging session, quite a lot of coffee, two brilliant fellow judges and the support of the Book Trust and Blue Peter teams, we came up with two shortlists of six brilliant books that I'm very proud to have helped choose. I can't wait to see what the schools who are judging think of them, and to see which two they choose as their winners.

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