A fortnight ago, Book Boy received a phone call saying that he had a won a class trip to the Laugh Out Loud Book Awards 2016 (or ‘The Lollies.’) Obviously, we were skipping round the library in excitement as it meant we’d get to see lots of authors and illustrators whose books we loved!
The Lollies were set up in 2015 by Michael Rosen and Scholastic to fill the gap left by the end of the Roald Dahl Funny Book Prize. Rosen recognises how important funny books are in inspiring many children to read and develop a love of stories and wants to continue raising the profile of children’s books in the wider public domain.
The Lollies had three different award categories: Picture Books, 6-8 years and 9-13 years. There were several fantastic books in each category. The children enjoyed reading them all, then our librarian (Mr Collingwood) voted online for our favourites.
By voting, Mr Collingwood had entered us into a competition to go to the awards ceremony at the Lyric Theatre in London, the chance to present an award on stage to one of the winners AND a signed set of all the books for our school library. But we didn’t think we had a chance of winning. We were wrong…!
On Tuesday 21st June, a coach-load of children and three excited grown-ups headed off to London for a fabulous afternoon of bookish fun.
Upon arrival, we were all delighted to be presented with a complimentary lolly (obviously!) and an amazing goody bag crammed full of books, stickers and other delights. The children were also very busy playing ‘spot the author’ and being interviewed by BBC Radio. Another highlight was being treated to a performance of part of the new Horrible Histories stage show – we learnt a lot about King Henry the Eighth!
Soon it was time for the moment we’d all been waiting for – the winners!
Winner of the Picture Book category was the hilarious ‘I need a Wee!’ By Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet (who you may recognise as the authors of one of my favourite picture books, ‘Supertato.’) This story finds poor Alan the Bear having far too much fun on a day out with his friends to worry about something as boring as going to the toilet. But, as time marches on, Alan finds himself becoming more and more desperate. The queue for the toilet is enormous! Where on earth can he go for a wee? Packed full of the wacky humour and eye-catching illustrations you’d expect from this dynamic duo.
Winner of the 6-8 year old category was ‘Badly Drawn Beth,’ by the mysterious Knife and Packer. In this book, our heroine, Beth, is trying to survive the trials faced by your average schoolgirl: school, family barbecues, safari parks and Granny’s evil parrot! It’s presented in a style that’s very popular with readers at the moment – loads of quirky illustrations, wacky fonts and witty asides.
This award was particularly special as two of our pupils got to go up on stage and present the prizes to the winners themselves!
The final winner of the 9-13 year old category was ‘The Parent Agency,’ by David Baddiel, illustrated by Jim Field. This epic adventure is set in a world where children get to choose their parents rather than put up with the ones they’re given. This seems like a dream come true to Barry Bennett, but things aren’t always as simple as they first seem. ..
Interesting, Baddiel cited a recent online review which criticised this book as being ‘too full of childish humour.’ But surely, that’s the whole point?! The voting book-loving public obviously disagreed.
After all the announcements, the lights came up and people started filing out. Except for our children and the very kind authors and illustrators who stayed behind afterwards to sign umpteen books and notebooks with no outwardly visible signs of irritation. It really was the perfect end to an inspirational day for the children. They were buzzing with excited chatter as we finally left, goody bags and helium balloons in hands, and headed back to our coach.
Attending the Lollies award ceremony was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our children (and for me!) I honestly can’t explain how excited the children were about the books and the opportunity they’d been given. We would love the thank Scholastic again for organising such a fantastic event and inviting us to come.
It is so important that children’s books continue to receive the recognition they deserve through awards like these in times when national coverage is constantly being squeezed.
Books can provide children with an escape from everyday life and, perhaps most importantly, provide them with a gateway to the life they aspire to lead as adults. Turning our children into enthusiastic readers is possibly one of the most important things we can do to improve their life chances.
I know the buzz generated throughout the school by the Laugh Out Loud Awards this year will have a long-lasting and positive impact on reading for pleasure for all our pupils and we cannot wait to participate in next year’s awards.
A massive thank you again to Scholastic and Michael Rosen for organising this fantastic event and to all the authors and illustrators who work hard to produce such a brilliant and diverse range of books for our children to enjoy.
Library Girl and Book Boy.