Tir na n-Og Awards

Aberystwyth at the heart of this year’s winner

the nearest far away place   hl

Author Hayley Long wins the Tir na n-Og children’s literature award for YA title

Hayley Long, who studied English at Aberystwyth University, paid a return visit to the town to accept the Tir na n-Og Award for Children’s Literature.

In a prestigious event held at Y Drwm, National Library of Wales on 9 May, as part of the CILIP Wales Conference (Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals), this year’s award is presented to Hayley Long for her novel The Nearest Faraway Place, published by Hot Key Books.

Organised by the Welsh Books Council, the award celebrates the best English-language title with an authentic Welsh background.

The Nearest Faraway Place is a young adult novel about two boys, Dylan and Griff, and their attempts to overcome a tragic accident that changes their lives forever. The story is set in both New York and Aberystwyth, with flashbacks to a range of exotic locations around the world, and follows the boys as they try to rebuild their lives.

The panel of judges agreed that this well written book deals sensitively with issues of both grief and hope as the two brothers try to recover from the accident that results in them losing everything they hold dear.

Gordon Bell, Chair of the Tir na n-Og English-language Panel, stated that ‘the story conveys an authentic sense of Aberystwyth, capturing the town convincingly, and presents an external view on what it is to be Welsh in today’s society. Griff’s own struggle to come to terms with the Welsh language and culture are realistically portrayed. Throughout the story, the author displays empathy in the way that relationships between the characters develop, and the role that the elderly Mr Powell plays in eventually helping Griff acknowledge what has happened to him is very movingly described.’

He added, ‘Hayley Long effectively engages the reader in this poignant story which draws the reader in, and is both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.’

Hayley Long said, ‘I’m delighted to win the Tir na n-Og award! I also feel very moved and very honoured. The Nearest Faraway Place was essentially my way of telling the world how much I love Aberystwyth! To win this important prize which celebrates Wales and Welsh culture in children’s books is a really wonderful thing.’

The Tir na n-Og English-language Award – which recognises the exceptional quality of books with a Welsh background for children and young adults – is sponsored by CILIP Wales.

The winning titles in the primary and secondary Welsh-language categories will be revealed on 31 May at the 2018 Brecon and Radnorshire Urdd National Eisteddfod at Builth Wells.

According to Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Welsh Books Council, ‘There was a wealth of books to be considered for this year’s award, reflecting the quality and range of titles available for children and young adults. It is with great pleasure that we warmly congratulate Hayley Long and Hot Key Books on their achievement.’

For further information and interviews please contact Helen Jones at the Welsh Books Council: helen.jones@books.wales / 01970 624151

Visit Hayley Long’s website to hear her discuss the novel: http://www.hayleylong.org/navigation/the-nearest-faraway-place


Announcing the 2018 Tir na n-Og Awards Shortlist

From picture book to YA – something for everyone on this year’s list

The Welsh Books Council has announced the titles on the shortlist of the prestigious Tir na n-Og Awards 2018, presented annually by the Council to honour original work by authors and illustrators of children’s books in Welsh and English.

The prizes are sponsored by CILIP Wales (The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) and the Welsh Books Council.

According to Llinos Davies, Chair of the Welsh-language Books Panel, ‘This year’s standard was exceptionally high across the board, with no weaker titles among the contenders. The publishers are to be congratulated on such a varied programme.’ She added, ‘It was great to see a growing number of novels aimed at the young adult category.’

Gordon Bell, Chair of the English Books Panel, noted that the variety and overall standard of the six titles under consideration this year were a cause for celebration.

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council, added: ‘The titles that have reached the shortlist this year reflect the high standard of books for children and young people in Wales. I am so pleased to see the great variety of themes included in the shortlist.’

The Welsh-language winners (primary and secondary categories) will be announced at this year’s Urdd National Eisteddfod in Builth Wells on 31 May 2018.

The English-language winner will be announced at the Welsh CILIP annual conference in Aberystwyth on Wednesday, 9 May.

English-language shortlist:

Santa’s Greatest Gift – Tudur Dylan Jones (Gomer)
A Christmas story written in rhyming verse with beautiful colour illustrations. Santa sets out to deliver Christmas presents and everything is going as expected until he discovers that he has made a mistake, and poor Gwydion’s name is not on the list.


King of the Sky – Nicola Davies (Walker)
A beautiful, moving story about a young boy starting a new life in a new country who feels alone and unsure about his new surroundings until he forms a friendship with an old man, Mr Evans, who keeps racing pigeons.

king of the sky

St. David’s Day is Cancelled! – Wendy White (Gomer)
An engaging and enjoyable story about how a school’s newspaper editorial team save their school’s St David’s Day celebrations with the help of teachers and fellow pupils.

st david

Gaslight – Eloise Williams (Firefly)
A historical mystery story set in Victorian Cardiff which follows the adventures of Nansi, a determined heroine, as she attempts to find her missing mother.


The Jewelled Jaguar – Sharon Tregenza (Firefly)
An exciting mystery story with a dramatic opening when a hole in the ground swallows Griffin’s home and leaves his mum in a coma.

the jewelled jaguar

The Nearest Faraway Place – Hayley Long (Hot Key)
A young adult novel about two boys, Dylan and Griff, and their attempts to overcome a tragic accident that changes their lives forever.

the nearest far away place

Welsh-language shortlist:

Yma: Yr Ynys – Lleucu Roberts, Y Lolfa
Merch y Mêl – Caryl Lewis, Y Lolfa
Gethin Nyth Brân – Gareth Evans, Carreg Gwalch
Mae’r Lleuad yn Goch – Myrddin ap Dafydd, Carreg Gwalch
Y Melanai: Efa – Bethan Gwanas, Y Lolfa
Dosbarth Miss Prydderch a’r Carped Hud – Mererid Hopwood, Gomer


2017 Tir na n-Og Awards

sweet pizza

Author G. R. Gemin wins the Tir na n-Og children’s literature award for the second time!

Cardiff-raised author Giancarlo Gemin has scooped the annual Tir na n-Og Award for the second time.

Organised by the Welsh Books Council, the awards celebrate the best English-language title with an authentic Welsh background. In a prestigious event to be held at Llandudno Library on 11 May, this year’s award will be presented to Giancarlo Gemin for his second novel, Sweet Pizza, published by Nosy Crow.

Sweet Pizza is the funny yet moving story of 14-year-old Joe, a fourth generation descendant of Italian immigrants to south Wales. The story effectively interweaves Joe’s current problems concerning his family’s increasingly dilapidated cafe and the plight of his grandfather Beppe. His grandfather’s World War II experiences, based on the true events of the SS Arandora Star which was torpedoed en route to Canada during the war, are cleverly voiced in flashback fashion through tape recordings as he recovers from a stroke in hospital.

The panel of judges agreed that Sweet Pizza skilfully deals with aspects of contemporary life in Wales, and is brimming with personality.

John Humphreys, Chair of the Tir na n-Og English-language Panel, stated of the winner, ‘Giancarlo Gemin effectively engages the reader in this feel good novel with a strong storyline and well drawn characters. A notable feature of the novel is the emphasis on how problems can be overcome when working together.’

Giancarlo Gemin said, ‘I’m delighted to win the Tir na n-Og award for the second time! It’s great for me to win this important prize. I’m very moved and proud to receive such an acknowledgement from my native country.’

Layout 1llunie - pluen

Celebrating the reading journey

Nature-inspired alphabet and dementia-themed young adult novel scoop awards.

In a ceremony held today (01.06.17) in the main pavilion of the Urdd Eisteddfod at Bridgend, it was announced that the winners of the Welsh-language Tir na n-Og Awards 2017 are Luned Aaron and Manon Steffan Ros.

The Tir na n-Og Awards are presented annually by the Welsh Books Council to the authors of the best books for children and young people published during the previous year. The awards were established in 1976, and over the years they have been presented to some of the best authors of children’s books in Wales. This is the third time that Manon Steffan Ros has achieved success in the awards, with Luned Aaron winning the award for her first book.

The winner of the primary category is Luned Aaron from Cardiff for her ABC Byd Natur published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. W. Gwyn Lewis, Chair of the Welsh-language Judging Panel, stated: ‘This is an attractive, colourful and original work, beautifully designed and illustrated. The young child is led on an alphabetical journey through the natural world using a collection of colourful and original collage illustrations.’

Originally from Bangor, Luned and her family, husband Huw and daughters Eos, three, and one-year-old Olwen, have made their home in Whitchurch, Cardiff.

Luned said: ‘Winning the Tir na n-Og Award has been a great honour and a boost to my creative confidence. It is an affirmation that I am working on the right lines with regard to publications of this type for children. I would like to thank my family for all their support and Gwasg Carreg Gwalch and the Welsh Books Council for the opportunity to develop my initial ideas. My aim was to create something fresh, full of colour and playfulness to reflect the desires of a young audience, which would also be visually appealing – to children and adults alike.’

The winner of the secondary category is Manon Steffan Ros for Pluen, published by Y Lolfa. The novel tells the story of twelve-year-old Huw as he works on a school summer project about the Second World War, which soon becomes a journey of discovery about his great uncle Hywel and his part in the conflict.

Gwyn Lewis remarks: ‘As the story unfolds and the relationships intensify, the novel explores a number of rich and challenging themes – such as conflict and peace, ageing and dementia – and offers the opportunity for the author to deal with inter-generational relationships in a sensitive and lyrical way. A supernatural element is creatively introduced and continues to captivate the reader until the end.’

Originally from Rhiwlas in the Ogwen Valley, Manon Steffan Ros now lives with her family in Tywyn, Gwynedd.

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Welsh Books Council, said: ‘Our warm congratulations go to Manon Steffan Ros on winning this prestigious award for the third time, a truly wonderful achievement that illustrates her exceptional talent as an author for the young adult audience. Luned Aaron has shown that with her rich creative talent she will be a valuable addition to the world of children’s literature in Wales.’

She added: ‘The standard of the shortlisted books was particularly high this year, reflecting the wide variety of titles published. We warmly congratulate the authors and their publishers, Y Lolfa and Carreg Gwalch, on their success.’

Helen Jones, Head of the Books Council’s Children’s Books and Reading Promotion Department, said: ‘These two titles are a timely addition to the field of children’s publishing in Welsh. The themes show a real understanding by the authors and their publishers of the needs of our young readers on the reading journey. Learning about the environment in a creative and interactive way is a priority in early years education, and ABC Byd Natur will be a valuable addition to any activity. In the same way, Pluen will offer the opportunity for the reader to effectively discuss sensitive themes such as dementia and mental health.’

The Tir na n-Og Awards are sponsored by CILIP Cymru/Wales (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals), together with Cymdeithas Lyfrau Ceredigion.

This post is also available in: Welsh