Latymer Upper Hosts Trinity Schools Book Awards

Nominated authors attend along with 170 students and staff from 12 schools

Front row: Jasper, Idil, Lili - Latymer Upper students. Back row – author guests: Natasha Bowen, Frances Hardinge, Ann Sei Lin (TSBA winner), Teri Terry, Chloe Daykin
Front row: Jasper, Idil, Lili - Latymer Upper students. Back row – author guests: Natasha Bowen, Frances Hardinge, Ann Sei Lin (TSBA winner), Teri Terry, Chloe Daykin

April 30, 2024

Latymer Upper School was this year’s host for Trinity Schools Book Awards which celebrate authors writing for children.

There were 21 schools across London and the Southeast participating this year with the theme being ‘elemental’. Five of the nominated writers attended the awards’ ceremony along with 170 students and staff from 12 schools. Another five schools and the remaining authors watched remotely via livestream.

The two winners were Rebel Skies, a debut novel by Ann Sei Lin and Lies Like Wildfire a thriller for young adults by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez. Other short-listed authors present were Natasha Bowen, Chloe Daykin, Frances Hardinge and Teri Terry.

Over 170 students and staff from 12 schools attended the ceremony, along with five of the shortlisted authors.

Lin’s Japanese-inspired fantasy, set in a world of sky cities and paper spirits made by crafters, scooped the TSBA 2024 aimed at pupils in Year 7 and older. The Trinity Plus Award, aimed at YA readers in Year 9 and up, went to Alvarez’s mystery about an out-of-control wildfire accidentally started by a group of friends, and the fate of one who goes missing in the chaos.

The TSBA ceremony celebrates all the shortlisted books, as well as pupils’ responses to them; a key feature of the TSBA is its parallel student competitions (for best book reviews and best creative responses), with overall student winners revealed at the Ceremony. Prize-winning entries included: a hand-crank model of a swimming boy and a fish; a giant origami eagle made from photocopied pages of Rebel Skies; an illuminated jellyfish model and a crocheted, dragonfly-motif scarf.

Joint 3rd Prize was awarded to three students at Latymer Upper: Jasper created a sculpture of a shikigami core in response to Rebel Skies, while Lili and Idil made their own version of Keltie’s dress and a sketchbook inspired by the graphic novel, The Girl from the Sea. These and the other prize-winning creative responses can be viewed on the TSBA’s YouTube channel.

After the formal ceremony, students enjoyed meeting five of the authors at the book-signing. They also had the opportunity to view many of the best book reviews and creative responses on display in a special pop-up exhibition, while sampling Elemental-themed snacks.

Terri McCargar, Librarian at Latymer Upper School, said, “The TSBA is all about celebrating the power of reading and where it can take us. Through students’ thoughtful book reviews and truly creative responses, we get a little window into the magic that happens between a writer and a reader.”

In a special message recorded at her home in Tennessee, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez thanked her readers, “I am so honoured that Lies Like Wildfire won your hearts and won the Trinity Plus Award.”

She also revealed her personal inspiration for the book’s drought and wildfires, having recently moved from California, “Fires burned around my home four years in a row … I hope that the up-and-coming generation is able to help our planet heal.” She encouraged budding authors: “Never give up, never quit. My first book that I ever published was my fifth book that I had written, so never give up on whatever your dream is.”

TSBA winner Ann Sei Lin promised to carry the Award with her everywhere: “I’ll tell everybody, ‘Did you know I won this?’ And then they’ll say, ‘Ma’am, this is McDonalds…’” She thanked students for reading and voting for Rebel Skies, saying, “It means a lot.”

The 2024 shortlists in full:

TSBA shortlist (Year 7+):
• King and the Dragonflies – Kacen Callender (Scholastic Children’s)
• Fish Boy – Chloe Daykin (Faber & Faber)
• Deeplight – Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s)
• The Elemental Detectives – Patrice Lawrence (Scholastic Children’s)
• Rebel Skies – Ann Sei Lin (Walker)
• Ghostlight – Kenneth Oppel (Guppy)
• The Girl from the Sea – Molly Knox Ostertag (Graphix)
• Arctic Star – Tom Palmer (Barrington Stoke)
Trinity Plus shortlist (Year 9+):
• Lies Like Wildfire – Jennifer Lynn Alvarez (Penguin)
• Skin of the Sea – Natasha Bowen (Penguin)
• Burn – Patrick Ness (Walker)
• The 57 Bus – Dashka Slater (Wren & Rook)
• Everything I Thought I Knew – Shannon Takaoka (Walker)
• Dark Blue Rising – Teri Terry (Hodder Children’s)

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