The 2020 Trinity Schools Book Award was awarded on Thursday 12 March to Penny Joelson for her debut novel I Have No Secrets before an audience of around 200 pupils from schools across London and the South East and fellow authors Tanya Landman, Andrew Norriss and Nicky Singer. Students from 30 schools took part this year, voting for their favourite book from a shortlist of six with the theme Stand Up, Speak Out. Unusually, I Have No Secrets is narrated by a teenage girl with severe cerebral palsy, who is incapable of speech or independent movement, but nevertheless uses intelligence, courage and determination to expose a crime and apprehend its perpetrator. Penny Joelson herself was not able to attend the Ceremony at the last minute due to illness, but the Award was accepted on her behalf by one of her editors.
The Trinity Schools Book Award not only encourages young people to read and discuss good quality contemporary literature, but also asks them to review and, uniquely, to respond creatively to the shortlisted books. The creative responses received this year – ranging from 3D models, poetry, paintings, cakes and songs to both computer and board games, puppets and films –demonstrated incredible imagination and inventiveness. Many of the contributions were showcased at Thursday’s Award Ceremony, hosted by City of London School in the heart of the City. David Rose, Senior Librarian at CLS, said: “It is often said that young people no longer read, but the enthusiasm with which students have engaged with this year’s shortlisted books and the many ways that they have been inspired to respond to them gives the lie to that statement. The books on the shortlist encouraged debate about the importance of speaking out, through historical, contemporary and futuristic plots.”
Now in its sixth year, the TSBA was launched by librarians from 22 independent senior schools in the Trinity group, with the aim to celebrate quality writing in both new and older fiction. The TSBA Committee determines a theme each year and shortlists books nominated by librarians. Participation now extends beyond the group to any interested secondary school. Children from the ages of 11 to 14 read the shortlisted books through the Autumn and Spring terms and cast their votes in February to determine the winner. The student competitions for the best book reviews and best creative response run alongside the main book awards.
The full shortlist was:
The Ones That Disappeared – Zana Fraillon (Orion Children’s)
I Have No Secrets – Penny Joelson (Egmont)
Beyond the Wall – Tanya Landman (Walker)
Mike – Andrew Norriss (David Fickling)
Ghost Boys – Jewell Parker Rhodes (Orion Children’s)
The Survival Game – Nicky Singer (Hodder Children’s)
Next year’s theme and shortlist will be announced in June.