Tir na n-Og Awards 2018

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

Two great reads win children’s book awards

Challenging children and young adults with a variety of reading opportunities 

llun 9The Welsh Books Council has announced the winners of the 2018 Tir na n-Og Welsh-language Awards at the Brecon and Radnorshire Urdd National Eisteddfod at Builth Wells. 

In a special ceremony held at the pavilion on Thursday afternoon, 31 May, awards were presented to Mererid Hopwood for her book Miss Prydderch a’r Carped Hud (Gomer Press) and to Myrddin ap Dafydd for his novel Mae’r Lleuad yn Goch (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch). 

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 Wales’s leading authors of children’s books.  

miss prydderchThe primary school category was won by Mererid Hopwood from Carmarthen, for the first in a series of novels about the adventures of extraordinary teacher Miss Prydderch, published by Gomer Press. 

Llinos Davies, Chair of the Judging Panel said: ‘Here is a novel with a light, contemporary feel, like a welcome breath of fresh air. The author and illustrator have taken the opportunity to bridge the gap between technology and the printed word which is a way of ensuring the appeal of books in the face of competition from so many places.’ 

She added: ‘The short margin notes offer an explanation of challenging words and phrases. This gives children confidence when faced with new vocabulary and gives learning unfamiliar phrases a fun dimension.’  

Born in Cardiff, Mererid graduated from Aberystwyth University in Spanish and German before completing her doctorate at University College London. She now lives in Carmarthen with her family where she teaches at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. She is the only woman to win all three of the National Eisteddfod’s main literary prizes. 

On receiving the prize, Mererid said: ‘Winning the Tir na n-Og Award for the first novel in the Dosbarth Miss Prydderch series is a great creative boost for me. I should like to take the opportunity to thank Sioned Lleinau and Gwasg Gomer for supporting the initial idea many years ago and to Nia Parri and the team for putting up with all the scribbles and bubbles and stuff. My thanks also to Rhys Bevan Jones for the great art work and to the Welsh Books Council for all its encouragement.’

lleuadThe winner of the secondary category is Myrddin ap Dafydd with his novel Mae’r Lleuad yn Goch (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch). This is a story that links the arson attack on the RAF bombing school on the Llŷn Peninsula in 1936 and the bombing of Guernica in the Basque Country in 1937. The book left a lasting impression upon the members of the judging panel. 

Llinos Davies said: ‘This is a story that’s skilfully crafted in three parts, forming a unified whole by carefully interweaving the events. The novel has a contemporary feel as well as a historical dimension.’  

Born in Llanrwst, Myrddin ap Dafydd graduated from Aberystwyth University before founding Gwasg Carreg Gwalch publishers. A prolific author and poet, he has previously won the Tir na n-Og Award in 2001 and the Chair at the National Eisteddfod on two occasions. He lives in Llwyndyrys near Pwllheli with his family.

Myrddin said: ‘It’s a great honour to receive the Tir na n-Og Award. Writing novels is much lonelier than the world of Welsh language poetry therefore it’s wonderful to receive the response from judges and readers. It’s a real boost to write more!’ 

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Welsh Books Council, said: ‘Our warmest congratulations go to Mererid Hopwood and Myrddin ap Dafydd on winning these prestigious awards. The standard of the shortlisted books was particularly high this year, including a strong and varied list of YA titles. We warmly congratulate the authors and their publishers, Gomer and Carreg Gwalch, on their success.’

Helen Jones, Head of the Books Council’s Children’s Books and Reading Promotion Department, said: ‘Here are two titles that will challenge children and young adult readers with a variety of reading opportunities. This year’s award is particularly timely in the light of recent research by Oxford University Press which found an increase in the ‘word gap’ among primary and secondary pupils. Limited opportunities for reading for pleasure has been highlighted as one underlying cause for this deterioration in vocabulary. Promoting reading for pleasure is a priority with all our projects.’  

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

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.

st david

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.


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

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 nearest far away place

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.

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

This post is also available in: Welsh