Ross MacKenzie, Ross Collins and Nicola Morgan (photo by Rob McDougall)

The three winners of the Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2011 were announced at a prize giving ceremony in Edinburgh today.  600 children from across Scotland visited the Lyceum Theatre this afternoon to find out which of their favourite shortlisted authors had claimed a cash prize of £3000, whilst many more watched the ceremony streaming live on the Glow network in schools.

A record number votes were cast this year, with over 23,000 children from over a quarter of all Scottish schools registering to take part.  Teachers, librarians and book group leaders signed up their groups and then it was up to young judges to read, review, discuss and vote for their favourite using the Scottish Book Trust website.

The prize giving ceremony featured music from Stevenson College’s The Tricks, drama from the Lyceum Youth Theatre, magic and pyrotechnics.  It was no wonder some teenagers in the upper circle thought it exciting enough to merit starting a Mexican wave…

First up, Glasgow-based author and illustrator Ross Collins won the Bookbug Readers Category (0-7 Years) for Dear Vampa.  This picture book follows what happens when new neighbours move in next door to the Pire Family on Nostfer Avenue.

Ross, who accepted his prize from a 7 foot Bookbug,  said, “I’d like to thank all the schools and children who participated this year. I only wish that I could bite each one of them personally.”

The award for the Younger Readers Category (8-11 Years) was picked up by Ross MacKenzie for his debut novel, Zac and the Dream Pirates and judging by the reaction of the crowd he was a very popular choice.  On the stroke of midnight, Zac Wonder is thrown into an adventure on the other side of sleep.  Can he save us from the werewolves, vampires, and fierce dream pirates?  Ask your kids!

Two students from Merchiston Castle School handed Ross his trophy.  He said, “Knowing that thousands of children across Scotland have enjoyed my book enough to vote for it is incredible. Perhaps it’s fitting that the story is about dreams – I can’t help thinking I’m going to wake from this one at any minute!”

Finally the Older Readers Category (12-16 Years) was won by Nicola Morgan for Wasted.  According to Nicola’s website the book is about ‘luck, chance, risk, fate, danger, passion, hate, alcohol, music, and why leaving the house a few seconds later could change your life.’

She said of winning the award “I am overwhelmed and still can’t quite believe it. ‘Wasted’ was a risky book to write, because it’s unusual – well, ok, weird – and that meant it was really hard to predict whether readers would respond well.”

Morgan went on to explain that only two weeks ago she read a review of the book on GoodReads by an adult reader who absolutely hated it, but this only made winning an award voted for by the intended readers all the sweeter.

She also took time in her acceptance speech to highlight the importance of school librarians, saying “they do the most important job of inspiring people to read – and writers need readers more than anything else.”

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