LARA WILLIAMSON, author of A Boy Called Hope, has today been announced as the winner of the prestigious Salford Libraries Children’s Book Award, at the Lowry Arts Centre.  

The award is part of an initiative by Salford Community Leisure’s Schools’ Library Service, and inspired hundreds of young people from schools across Salford to get involved in the scheme, naming Lara’s book as their favourite from the shortlisted six titles.

A Boy Called Hope tells the story of Dan Hope, a boy who wants to be the first eleven year old on the moon, but most of all who wants his dad to love him. This is a moving story about Dan’s search for his Dad and is described as ‘lovely, heart-warming and funny.’

In her acceptance speech, Williamson spoke of her delight at winning the award:

“I want to express my gratitude to the youngsters of Salford who have not only sat down and enjoyed my book, but taken the time to really understand it and comment on it. 

“It means so much to me to win the Salford Libraries Children’s Book Award, because it shows that the people I wrote the book for have actually enjoyed it. I dreamed about writing a book and it seemed like an impossible dream, but bit by bit I realised I had something – hope. And now A Boy Called Hope exceeded all of my expectations and I am delighted.”

During the process youngsters critiqued the works and also presented their synopsis and comments back to the authors in five-minute presentations.

The other titles shortlisted include: Thirteen Chairs by Dave Shelton, Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen, Scarlet Ibisby Gill Lewis, The Executioner’s Daughter by Jane Hardstaff and The Ultimate Truth by Kevin Brooks.

 The event is part of a recurring year-long campaign in Salford from Salford Schools’ Library Service to promote a greater engagement with books, reading, discussions and overall enjoyment of literature and was compered by popular children’s author, comedian, story-teller and poet, James Campbell. 

Sarah Spence, head of libraries, comments: 

“This is the thirteenth year of the Salford Children’s Book Awards. It is wonderful to watch so many young people engaging on such a level with literature. The Award offers those involved the chance to voice their opinions on youth books and even meet the authors of their favourite reads. 

“As a result, we are seeing more and more young people reading and enjoying books, engaging with the scheme and benefitting from the programmes we run within the community.

“As an organisation, we aim to maintain the stimulus and the availability of books for the whole community.”

 “The Salford Children’s Book Award is a great initiative,” said Founder and Editor of First News Nicky Cox. Encouraging children to read more books and engage in literary debate is so important. This may be the first time that some of these youngsters have read and critiqued books and will open up a fascinating world of literature now and in the future.

 “As Britian’s only national newspaper for the younger generation, we are delighted to be associated with this super event,” she said. 

Helen McAleer, Chief Global Development Officer of Walker Books and MD of Walker Productions, says:

“Walker Books are delighted to support Salford Community Leisure’s Children’s Book Award. We hope that more and more children will get involved in the world of books and that this event will spark a lifetime of enjoyment for the youngsters taking part.” 

Esteemed authors, Kevin Brooks (The Ultimate Truth) and Jane Hardstaff (The Executioners Daughter) both of whom have books shortlisted for the award, were in attendance at the event, alongside MC James Campbell, famed for his series of books, Boyface and his stand up comedy shows aimed at children.

Jane Hardstaff is a TV producer from London’s East End, near the great, wild River Thames – the inspiration for her first book, ‘The Executioner’s Daughter’ which is the tale of Moss, the ‘basket girl’ who must get used to beheadings, but longs to escape and dreams of doing so when she gazes at the river. Described as a ‘gripping tale’ that is ‘both gruesome and lightweight’.

Multi award winning author, Kevin Brooks lives in North Yorkshire. His latest book, The Ultimate Truth, sees Travis searching for the truth about his parents’ recent and fatal car crash. He begins investigating the last case that his parents were working on at their private investigation agency. He soon realises that he may have been right all along…

Thirteen Chairs by Dave Shelton begins with brave Jack deciding whether to venture in to the room with thirteen chairs, where twelve mysterious storytellers are waiting to begin their stories. There is one chair that still sits empty, waiting for Dave’s story.

Described as ‘a heart-wrenching tale of survival’, Polly Ho-Yen’s Boy in the Tower tells the story of Ade who lives at the top of a tower block with his mother. One day the surrounding towers begin to collapse and strange plants appear, and suddenly there is just Ade and his mother, trapped with no way out…

 Gill Lewis’s Scarlet Ibis is about Scarlet and her brother, Red. Every night, Scarlet tells Red his favourite story about how one day, they will fly away to the Caroni Swamp in Trinidad where thousands of birds fly. But one day, Scarlet and Red are split up and Scarlet must do whatever she can to get her brother back.


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