Author G. R. Gemin wins the Tir na n-Og children’s literature 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.’
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