‘Cli-Fi’ Novels win both Trinity School Book Awards 2023

The winners of the two 2023 Trinity Schools Book Awards have been announced in a ceremony hosted by Ibstock Place School in London on Wednesday 26th April. The novel Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman is the winner of the Trinity Plus Award aimed at older teens, and the TSBA 2023 is awarded to Green Rising by Lauren James. Both awards were determined by students from 15 participating schools in London and the South East. The annual award is organised by a committee of school librarians; this year’s theme was “Facing the Future”. 

The YA thriller Dry imagines what happens when a severe drought in California, called the tap-out, results in no water at all, quickly turning a quiet suburban area into a warzone of desperation and violence. It was co-written by the award-winning and best-selling authors Neal Shusterman and his son Jarrod Shusterman, who are currently adapting the book as a Hollywood film. Based in Florida and California respectively, they joined the ceremony via video link

Lauren James’ climate fantasy Green Rising tells the story of teenagers who have developed a strange new power – the ability to grow plants from their skin. With profit-hungry corporations eager to exploit them, these so-called “Greenfingers” must come together to outsmart the adults in the hope of rewilding the planet and bringing about their own green rising. A scientist by day, Lauren James founded the Climate Fiction Writers League. Although she has published many YA novels to great acclaim, this is Lauren’s first book award, and she was delighted to accept it in person. 

Both winning books reflect young people’s sincere interest in – and concern for – the environment and climate change. Other shortlisted books dealt with the technical and ethical implications of advances in AI, as well as more personal stories of navigating friendships and relationships, including bullying, racism and grief.

Students and authors alike were excited to return to an in-person ceremony for the first time since 2020, with seven authors from all over the UK in attendance (Naomi Gibson, Sarah Govett, Lauren James, Nadia Mikail, Louisa Reid, Anthea Simmons and William Sutcliffe) and six more joining virtually, including from the USA (Femi Fadugba, Aimee Lucido, Elle McNicoll, 2023 winners Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman, and 2022 winner, Dr Jewell Parker Rhodes). School groups, too, had the option of attending in person or watching via livestream. Alongside the book awards, student competition winners were also celebrated for their book reviews and creative responses to the shortlisted books. These ranged from cakes to poetry and songs, videos, drawings and sculptures! After the formal ceremony, guests had the opportunity to view a special exhibition of these creative responses, as well as to meet the authors in attendance and get their books signed.

The 2023 shortlists in full:

TSBA shortlist (Year 7+):

  • We Go On Forever – Sarah Govett (Marotte)
  • Green Rising – Lauren James (Walker) Winner
  • In the Key of Code – Aimee Lucido (Walker)
  • Show Us Who You Are – Elle McNicoll (Knights Of)
  • The Cats We Meet Along the Way – Nadia Mikail (Guppy)
  • Burning Sunlight – Anthea Simmons (Andersen Press)
  • Clean Getaway – Nic Stone (Knights Of)
  • The Summer We Turned Green – William Sutcliffe (Bloomsbury)

Trinity Plus shortlist (Year 9+):

  • Wranglestone – Darren Charlton (Little Tiger Press)
  • The Upper World – Femi Fadugba (Penguin Random House Children’s UK)
  • Every Line of You – Naomi Gibson (Chicken House)
  • The Outrage – William Hussey (Usborne)
  • Wrecked – Louisa Reid (Guppy)
  • Dry – Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman (Walker) Winner

Take Two 2022

Our new Award features our absolute favourites from previous years, which didn’t win the Award.  We thought we would like to give them a second go, so 2022 is all about these wonderful books.  If you have taken part in all of our Awards, you may enjoy reading old favourites; if you haven’t, you are in for a treat!  None of these books are second best – they are all top favourites of ours!

TSBA tribute to Judith Kerr

On behalf of the TSBA Committee of librarians, we are so sad to learn of the death of Judith Kerr; an author we somehow thought would outlast us all. We were fortunate enough to meet Judith at the inaugural TSBA award ceremony in March 2015; her novel When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (based on her own childhood experiences of the family fleeing Nazi Germany) was shortlisted for our first ever award. Judith was one of six shortlisted children’s authors represented on the night at Latymer Upper School, and her presence was definitely a draw for the others: novelist Elizabeth Wein came all the way from Scotland, tweeting: 

Michael Morpurgo also turned up as a last-minute surprise to accept the Award for his novel Private Peaceful. The pair had long shared a publicist and publisher; they were thrilled to see each other and catch up in our makeshift “green room” before the ceremony.

Judith was keen to revisit Latymer; her son Matthew (novelist Matthew Kneale) is an alumnus and had “such fond memories”, she told me, citing some of his favourite teachers, including Mr Orme, who had only recently retired. When she arrived, she was delighted to be reacquainted with Mr Orme. She was a petite woman with a warm, ready smile that lit up the room.

Judith Kerr greeting Mr Orme

Judith and Mr Orme at Latymer Upper

Knowing that we had a star in our midst, we’d asked Judith to present our student competition winners with their prizes. On the day I started to panic about the arrangements: the portable steps leading to our stage were somewhat dilapidated and had no handrail. I took great care on them in my unfamiliar heels; Judith was 91 and we would be asking her to mount these wobbly steps a few times… Philippa Perry, Judith’s publicist, was not worried. “She’ll be fine,” she said, waving dismissively. And she was – practically skipping onto the stage without hesitation.

One of the winning creative responses was a musical composition for piano and violin, written by Nikolas (then in Year 7) at Latymer Upper in response to When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. Nik performed the piece at the Ceremony, accompanied by his friend Tianrun on violin – with his muse sitting in the front row. So the prize-giving became another lovely moment, when Judith congratulated the boys, saying how special it had been for her to hear them play.

Judith congratulating Nikolas and Tianrun after their performance


Judith presenting student prizes with librarian Tamsin Farthing (RGS, Guildford)

After the ceremony, the authors stayed on to sign books and chat with students for another half an hour. My colleague, Mrs Griffiths, eager to do some fan-girling herself, volunteered to stay with Judith; all were touched by her warmth – she listened intently to everyone and made you feel special. Judith Kerr brought so much stardust to our fledgling award that evening.

Judith with Mrs Griffiths

A few months later I was invited to a glamorous birthday party thrown for her at HarperCollins’ swanky London offices near the Shard. The publisher contacted me for help: could I supply some children for a photo op with Judith and the Tiger (from The Tiger Who Came to Tea) at Imperial Wharf before Judith was whisked off to her party by riverboat? Colleagues and friends with young children were only too happy to oblige.

Twins! Judith meeting young fans at Imperial Wharf (c) Damian Griffiths

That evening, at the party, I was star-struck by the celebrated authors and illustrators in the room. In the centre of it all was Judith in a bright pink dress, sipping champagne and surrounded by well-wishers. I wasn’t sure she would remember me out of context but when she saw me pass, she pulled me into the conversation, introducing me and telling her guests of the marvellous time she’d had at the TSBA Ceremony at her son’s old school. She later spoke of her long and happy history with HarperCollins, and how she loved her work. She told some funny stories of bad advice she’d received and ignored in her early career – she was an excellent raconteur, her words witty and sharp, her face gentle and sweet.

We are so grateful for her support and for the wonderful legacy she leaves in her books for children of all ages. Having seen her zest for life at close range, it is no surprise to us that she was still writing and illustrating new books until the end, with her most recent book published just last week. She will be missed.

Judith Kerr with me at the inaugural TSBA Ceremony, 2015

–Terri McCargar, Librarian at Latymer Upper School