Stan Lee Excelsior Awards shortlist announced!

Have you seen the exciting shortlist that school librarian Paul Register has put together for the 2012 award?  It is not too late to register your school to take part in this innovative award for graphic novels – your students will have fun reading the books even if they are too far away to travel to the award ceremony.  The award is solely driven by the students, who rate each book as they read it.  Contact Paul at the website for further details.

Catalyst Book Awards 2011


Our Lady’s High School in Motherwell recently hosted the 8th North Lanarkshire Catalyst Awards, presented to the best teenage book of the year. Hundreds of 3rd and 4thyear pupils and 4 excited but nervous authors were present to see  Alex Scarrow awarded Catalyst winner of 2011for his book ‘Time Riders’.

“A lovely award to win – the RIGHT kind of award to win, because it’s the students that vote. I had a fantastic and memorable day.”Alex Scarrow awarded Catalyst winner of 2011for his book ‘Time Riders’.

Young People from all 24 secondary schools and public libraries in North Lanarkshire were invited to take part in voting for the overall winner from an exciting shortlist of 4 great books.

Grass by Cathy Macphail , Time Riders by Alex Scarrow, Where I Belong by Gillian Cross, and  When I was Joe by Keren David

The response to the voting this year was overwhelming, helping to keep the Catalyst awards driven by the people that matter – the readers. Young people were involved in every aspect of the Catalyst Awards, from helping to choose the shortlist, posting reviews on the Catalyst blog and voting for the winner. This year saw the continued use of the Catalyst blog, here young people had a chance to post reviews on the books they had read, find out information about each book on the long list and interact with pupils from across the authority. This year in conjunction with the Catalyst blog a competition was held to see which school could write the most reviews and which pupil could write the best review.The winners were:

Damon A from Caldervale High School, Airdrie – for the best individual review on the blog.

Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell – for the school that wrote the most reviews on the blog.

And their prize is an author visit of their choice for both schools.

The Catalyst Awards ceremony was hosted by pupils from schools across North Lanarkshire. Each author was introduced by different pupils and the pupils asked lots of interesting questions to the authors during the Q&A section of the ceremony. A special mention has to go to the pupils from Our Lady’s High School; they were involved in lots of different aspects of the ceremony. The Duke of Edinburgh pupils produced the programmes and helped set up the event and the pupils from Intermediate II Hospitality provided lunch for the authors and special guests. Photography club assisted with taking pictures on the day and the Writers Club were on hand to entertain the authors during the day.The Catalyst committee would like to express a huge thank you to everyone who was involved in making this years awards such a success. A special thank you goes to everyone at Our Lady’s High School Motherwell for hosting the awards.

To find out more about Catalyst please visit our blog @



Kevin Sutherland speaks about the Stan Lee Excelsior Award

The noted comic artist (Beano and Dr Who Adventures amongst other titles, and gifted Falsetto Socks Company creator) Kev Sutherland was the keynote speaker at the Stan Lee Excelsior Awards.  This is what he had to say:

‘I was honoured and delighted to be part of the Stan Lee Excelsior Awards in Sheffield yesterday.
Organised by Paul Register, the Learning Resource Centre Manager (that’s Librarian in old money) at Ecclesfield School, this splendid award involved a number of local schools (10 I believe, Paul will correct me), whose pupils were given the opportunity to read, review and vote on a shortlist of 8 graphic novels and their votes would find a winner. A few hundred pupils, drawn from each of the participating schools, were in attendance at the presentation.
I did my small Comic Art Masterclass keynote speech, which kept them entertained for half an hour, then we had a presentation from the most marvellous special guest – Theodore “Ted” Adams from the Stan Lee Foundation, who had come all the way over from the States just to be here and give Stan’s seal of approval to the event. We watched some highly entertaining video by and about Stan, and the whole hall posed for a video clip of us shouting “Excelsior” which should wind up on Stan’s website.
Then the awards were presented. In 3rd place was the manga version of Twilight, in 2nd place was Bryan Talbot’s Grandville Mon Amour – Bryan was there to accept the award – and the winner, quite
overwhelmingly if the students’ applause was anything to go by, was Black Butler by Yana Toboso.
Bryan and Ben Heggarty, author of shortlisted title Mezolith, signed books, the guys from Sheffield Space Centre sold books, the whole event was filmed and should end up online, and I did drawings and signed comics for kids.
This was an absolutely excellent event, reaching precisely the sort of audience that I always wanted my Comic Festival events to reach. The school hall was full of kids who now read comics, some of whom did before but all of whom will do now.
Thanks Paul & congratulations.’

We have permission to print this straight from the website (in case you were wondering), which is here. Kev is an excellent visitor to have in your schools, as he will give comic masterclasses and enthuse your students, turning them on to the joy of graphic novels.

Winner of the Stan Lee Excelsior Award announced!

Black ButlerOn Friday July 1st, the winners of this award, for the best graphic novel and manga books for young people, was announced.  The award was the brainchild of innovative Sheffield school librarian Paul Register.  Many schools took part, and the winner was Black Butler by Yana Toboso (Published by Yen Press).  Second Prize went to ‘Grandville: Mon Amour’ by Bryan Talbot (Published by Jonathan Cape), and third prize went to ‘Twilight: The Graphic Novel’ by Stephanie Meyer and Young Kim (Published by Atom).  There was also a special award for the school which returned the most rating forms, called the ‘True Believer Award’, and this was awarded to Fir Vale School in Sheffield.  Photos and a report from the ceremony will follow on the blog later, but what a wonderful and innovative award this is – congratulations to Paul in particular, and every school which took part.  If you would like your school to take place in the award next year, then you can contact Paul on this address:  You can also join the  award’s Facebook site, and read a review on the Forbidden Planet blog.

Watch the video

Carnegie and Greenaway Award winners

Carnegie Greenaway winners 2011

Congratulations to the winning authors of the prestigious Carnegie and Greenaway Awards this year.  Patrick Ness won the Carnegie Medal  for the last brilliant book in his trilogy ‘Chaos Walking’, and Grahame Baker-Smith won the Greenaway Medal for the beautiful picture book ‘FArTHER’.  An interview with Patrick Ness in the Independent questions why he puts violence into his teenage books, to which Patrick has some very interesting answers.  Patrick Ness’s acceptance speech can be found in this article in the Guardian, in which he makes an amazing, passionate defence of libraries, and school libraries in particular.  Patrick refers to himself as ‘the child that libraries built’ and says ‘That’s what librarians do.  They open up the world.  Because knowledge is useless if you don’t know how to find it, if you don’t even know where to begin to look’.  The speech is well worth reading, and passing on to everyone who matters in your school.  It’s been a year where authors are speaking out for school libraries – Michael Morpurgo, then Julia Donaldson, and now Patrick Ness.  Lets hope Ed Vaizey and Michael Gove are listening!

Morpurgo wins Red House Award for third time

ShadowMichael Morpurgo wins the Red House Award for the third time with his book Shadow. This award is voted for solely by children. The book is about a boy from Afghanistan who is befriended by a dog when he is fleeing the horrors of war. See this report in the Guardian for more information,  and also the Red House Book site.  Morpurgo is a very popular children’s author, who has already given us the wonderful War Horse, as well as Private Peaceful,  and Kensuke’s Kingdom amongst others.

New Children’s Laureate announced!

Julia DonaldsonAs you probably know by now, the new Children’s Laureate has been announced as Julia Donaldson.  She is the wonderful author of the Gruffalo, amongst other books, and she is also a library campaigner.  Read a blog post from Tricia Adams from the SLA who was at the ceremony and witnessed Julia promising to speak against the closure of libraries.  Let’s hope she gets on board with the school library agenda as well!  A statement of support from Julia for those excellent campaigners against the closure of public libraries,  Voices for the Library, can be found here, which expands further on her feelings on the important role that libraries play in the future of our children.

Local Book Awards

One of the ways which school librarians increase the excitement around reading and books is to participate in local book awards.  These have been set up, usually with a partnership with public libaries.  Generally, several schools in a geographical area take part in these awards, and then announce their own winners.  Some of these Awards have become very big, and some remain very local. Doncaster Book Awards have recently announced their winner, which was ‘The Thornthwaite Inheritance’ by Gareth P. Jones.  The rest of the shortlist can be seen on their website.  Another local book award which is taking place at the moment is the Southwark Book Awards. This award was set up to be a bridge between primary and secondary schools, and involves pupils in Years 6 and 7.  The award also reaches out to public libraries, involving them through ‘Chatterbooks’.  The 6 shortlisted books are on their website now, and winners will be announced at the end of the school year.  The Phoenix Book Award also involves Years 6 and 7 pupils in Lambeth, and takes place at the beginning of the school year. The Northern Ireland Book Awards have also just had their grand finale, with Chris Bradford’s ‘The Ring of Earth’ winning the prize.  Some book awards have different criteria than latest books published.  The newly formed Maidstone Area Book Awards have ‘Journeys’ as their theme, and will have their first award and presentation in May this year. Have a look at our page to read more about the local book awards in Berkshire and Sheffield. Also there is the exciting ‘Stan Lee Excelsior Award’, just starting this year for graphic novels, with judging due later in the school year.  Perhaps this is something that your school participates in, or would like to do.  Do get in touch with your success stories, and tell us about your experiences of local book awards.