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Two great reads win Children's Book Awards

The 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.

 

Challenging children and young adults with a variety of reading opportunities

The 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.

The 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."

The 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."