Monday, 1 November 2010

The Booktrust Teenage Prize

Once a year, in November, at the top of the Penguin building on the Strand, Booktrust award their Teenage Prize for fiction. It's where Churchill used to go, apparently, to view the damage done to London after a bomb attack; although the only damage that might possibly be done these days is by champagne glasses or cocktail sticks falling down to the street below. I've been going to the prize for several years now: it's one of my favourite events in the literary calendar. Always, it seems, it's a beautiful day. You can see the Embankment down below, lined with flaming trees; inside is champagne, merriment - and, of course, lots of people in children's publishing. There was a very strong shortlist this year, including Charlie Higson (for The Enemy) and Zizou Corder (for Halo); but the winner was Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes. I haven't read it yet, but I shall certainly look out for it.

I chatted to Mr Higson, although this time we did not cross swords about the role of celebrities in writing; I spoke to the charming Mary Hoffman, who has written over ninety children's books and still looks to be going strong; and I met the organiser of the Bath Children's Literary Festival. I left at two, quite happily filled with champagne and canapes, to snooze - I mean, of course, work very hard - in an armchair in the London Library until my duties took me elsewhere - to Kensington, in fact, where I wandered into the Waterstones just before Malorie Blackman arrived to do a book signing. Rather sweetly, they asked me to sign a few books too. So all in all, a brilliantly bookish start to what will be a brilliantly bookish week.

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