Northern Irish pupils judge the Blue Peter Book Award

Published on: 05 March 2015 Author: Kathryn Anderson

Two funny and silly books win Best Book with Facts and Best Story in this year's Blue Peter Book Awards. The Spy Who Loved School Dinners, winning Best Story, is written by Pamela Flintham who teaches philosophy at secondary school, and illustrated by Thomas Flintham. The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff, winning Best Book with Facts, is written by Andy Seed who was a primary teacher and deputy head for 17 years, and illustrated by Scott Garrett.

The shortlisted books were voted for by hundreds of schoolchildren, including Primary 6 & 7 pupils from St Joseph's Primary School, Lisburn. Viewers will be able to see them receive their awards on Blue Peter tonight from Waterstones Children's Laureate 2013-2015 Malorie Blackman, as the show celebrates its 15th anniversary of the prize.

Northern Irish pupils judge the Blue Peter Book Award

At St Joseph's Primary School, P6 pupils judged the non-fiction titles, whilst the fiction books were judged by the P7 pupils.

Rachel Gribbon (pictured right), a P7 pupil, said of her experience: 'When I heard that I was taking part in the awards, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the books. I love reading anyway but hearing that I could be one of the judges and help decide which book was best was fantastic. It was an amazing experience. I loved every bit of it.'

A panel of judges including Tom Gates author Liz Pichon, Rastamouse creator Michael de Souza, The Bookseller journalist Anna James, and non-voting chair of judges, Blue Peter editor Ewan Vinnicombe, selected the shortlist from publishers' submissions.

These were then read and voted on by more than 200 children from ten schools across the UK to decide the winners in each category. The winners were announced on a special World Book Day morning bulletin of Newsround.

Mrs Fleming, Acting Principal for St Joseph's Primary School, said:

'being involved in judging the Blue Peter Book of the Year Awards was a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of reading within the school. From the moment the books arrived, the excitement was palpable within P6 and P7. Pupils couldn't wait to get started and often finished the books within a day or two. Reading for a purpose helped to stimulate the children and they loved completing the voting slips after all the books were read.

'As a teacher it was really interesting to hear exactly what the children had to say about the books. Having Blue Peter come to film some of the children was really fabulous and receiving Blue Peter badges was just the icing on the cake! A wonderful experience all round.'

One of our Book Trust NI Ambassadors, Karen Gribbon, who has a daughter in P7, said:

'I've relished the opportunity to support the Blue Peter Book Awards in our local primary school. As soon as the children knew that they were taking part, they couldn't wait to get started. Debating the best characters and storylines was definitely a highlight in the classroom. The enthusiasm and excitement of the children never dwindled throughout the process and is still bubbling as they continue to talk about the whole experience.'

Ewan Vinnicombe, Editor, Blue Peter said:

'It's fantastic that in our 15th year of the Blue Peter Book Awards we have given 200 children across the UK the chance to vote for their favourite books. Pamela and Thomas, Andy and Scott should be really proud and Blue Peter will continue to promote children's books and our viewers' love of reading.'

The pupils' parents were also very enthusiastic about the project. Aine Ryan explained:

'Tiernan was very excited about St. Joseph's participation in the Blue Peter project. He took his role in judging very serious, spending time deliberating over which one was best. It was a great means of promoting enthusiasm for books amongst children. He wears his Blue Peter badge with pride!'

Northern Irish pupils judge the Blue Peter Book Award

While Anna Scanlan added:

'A highly rewarding experience. I do not say this phrase lightly as this was such a memorable event in Alicia's school life. Alicia felt privileged to receive a Blue Peter Badge and a letter addressed to her. Her efforts were rewarded and we, her family, were delighted to tell her how proud we are of her. Confidence cannot be bought but Alicia received a great confidence boost from taking part in this. I am grateful she was given the opportunity. Thank you!'

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