Brilliant Learning

Susan Morgan-Jones: the FAB Book Award is back!! 

March 2022 saw the welcome return of the successful Wandsworth Fabulous Book Award. An event organised each year by Wandsworth School Librarians, with pupils from different secondary schools voting for their favourite book from a shortlist and culminating in an award ceremony at the Wandsworth Professional Development Centre (WPDC).

Twelve years of the Fabulous Book Award were recently celebrated in style by Wandsworth Secondary Schools.  With the disappointment of the last minute cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 events behind them, students representing Wandsworth Schools eagerly gathered at the Wandsworth Professional Development Centre in Tooting for the announcement of their 2022 FAB Award Winner.  

The shock closure of schools on 19th March 2020 on the onset of the Covid pandemic had proved to be a real challenge for many libraries who struggled to provide resources for their students, many of whom were confined to home schooling during the nationwide lockdown.  However, the ever resourceful school librarians met that challenge, e-library platforms becoming a much coveted asset as quarantining procedures prohibited library loans and some libraries even had to close. 

…Difficult times for us all. 

As schools reopened in September of that year, the librarians working in somewhat challenging situations sought to return to normality with our usual book clubs and participation in the FAB and Carnegie Awards.  Sadly, more Covid setbacks with more closures late in 2020 and through 2021 meant that we could not run our awards that year, but this made us more determined to go ahead in 2022.  Late in the autumn of 2021 with Wandsworth approval, participating Schools across the borough put forward 21 books for our longlist, which were avidly read and discussed by our FAB Book groups.  Due to national Covid uncertainties and subsequent school restrictive practices, numbers participating were down, yet librarians and students persevered with the shortlist, ever hoping that the FAB event would actually happen. 

…Fingers were crossed! 

The shortlisted books covered a range of subjects including Immigration, The Second World War and Racial Injustice, using both prose and narrative to incredible effect with thought provoking story lines.  We were also very pleased that three of our shortlisted authors were subsequently shortlisted for the National Carnegie Award, a testament to our discerning teenage FAB readers. 

On the day of our FAB Event, we were very glad to have the presence of author Lisa Heathfield, FAB Winner in 2020 who brought her trophy along so that students could share in her happiness at winning with her book ‘I am Not a Number’.  Just before the 2020 lockdown we had already voted her the winner, but with no end event we sent her the trophy and were super happy to see her at our 2022 event, to applaud her in person – Better (2 years) Late than Never! 

Our students had a very hard time deciding on the 2022 winner, all on the shortlist being worthy of carrying away our trophy and everyone gathered at the Wandsworth Professional Development Centre (WPDC) for the announcement, hoping that the book that their school had championed was indeed the winner. The morning was lively with each school introducing authors and participating in a quiz that tested their knowledge of all of the shortlisted books. 

Author Lisa Williamson shortlisted for ‘First Day of my Life’ was present. She gave a spirited and witty talk on her life and her writing process and thanked all present for their love of her books, having been longlisted twice previously for ‘The Art of Being Normal’ (2017) and ‘Paper Avalanche’ (2020). 

Messages of thanks and appreciation were also read out by students from authors who could not be present and Manjeet Mann, Phil Earle and Jewell Parker Rhodes sent in video soundbites, which thrilled the students present. 

Then finally, to thunderous applause for each author, the results were announced and judging by the screaming and clapping that ensued, the winner was a universally popular choice. Every one of the shortlisted books were really winners, such was the closeness of the voting and the authors should be applauded for producing such interesting and varied books that our students actually chose and wanted to read. 

FAB Award 2022 the Results 

Results in Reverse Order:  

  • 7th When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle 
  • 6th First Day of my Life by Lisa Williamson 
  • 5th Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewel Parker Rhodes  
  • 4th The Crossing by Manjeet Mann 
  • 3rd A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik 
  • 2nd Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Lyimide 

1st The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 

Jennifer Lynn Barnes, who is American based, was sadly not at the ceremony, so the FAB Trophy was sent to her publisher in New York, who reported that she was thrilled and honoured to receive the Award. 

After the results, much celebratory cake was eaten, books were bought, selfies with authors were taken and the multicoloured balloons that graced the occasion found themselves bobbing back to schools across the borough.  

We all agreed it was such a happy day. The sun was shining and our FAB Award was well and truly back…. 

Teenage fiction goes from Strength to Strength!……Roll on year 13 of our Ever So Popular FAB Award! 

Happy Reading Everyone…. 

Special Mentions Go to:  

The magnificent team at the WPDC who under the guidance of Catherine Green, rose to the occasion and worked so hard to make the day so special. We truly could not achieve any of this year on year without you. Thank You All. 

Cheryl John for the truly FABulous cakes, which is so much a part of our FAB Award. 

Bronnie and Bob Mayo of Bookwagon, who had experienced some difficulties getting to us on the day, but who still managed to arrive in time with smiles, total professionalism…and lots and lots of books.. 

…To all of the Librarians…FAB Year 12 was such a gamble but we did it everyone!! 

…and to the students, who read, debated and voted on the books. The FAB Award is truly Their Own Book Award. The authors always say it is so very special because it is the students who read their books, it is the students that they write for and that is means so much when their books are voted onto the FAB Long and Shortlist 

 ….High Praise indeed! 

Susan Morgan-Jones, LRC Manager at Ashcroft Academy and FAB Event Co-ordinator. 

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