On Wednesday 6th April Aquinas was privileged to host THE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOK AWARDS 2011. The Awards are the brainchild of two enterprising school librarians – Ann Cowdrey (Bangor Grammar) and Kathy Lindsay (R.B.A.I) and are designed to encourage a love of reading and to develop interaction and debate among young readers throughout Northern Ireland.

This year’s Awards kicked off in September when nominations were sought from booksellers and school children aged 11-13 years and these were then whittled down to 8 titles. Throughout the year participating schools were treated to an array of author events, book-related workshops and competitions culminating in the on-line vote and the Finale Event with over 20 schools from all over N. Ireland attending.

In the run up to the Finale, author/illustrator and former graphic designer Liz Pichon entertained an audience of our year 9s and an invited audience of two P7 classes from St Bernard’s and St Michael’s Primary Schools with excerpts from her latest book, “The Brilliant World of Tom Gates”. Students got the chance to ask questions and have their books signed, which led nicely into the main event.

We were then treated to a fantastic trailer and dramatic reading of author Alex Scarrow’s nominated book  “Time Riders”. Liz Pichon gave us a very interesting insight into how her love of art and craft from an early age had led her into graphic design and subsequently on to illustrating and writing children’s books. Competition prizes and spot prizes abounded. Finally after several schools presented impassioned powerpoints and short dramas in support of their favourite nominated book, the overall winner was announced from the on-line vote……….in FIRST PLACE …..…THE RING OF EARTH    BY   CHRIS BRADFORD ………SECOND PLACE……TIME RIDERS BY ALEX SCARROW……..and ………THIRD PLACE…… DIARY OF A WIMPY VAMPIRE BY TIM COLLINS.

Our congratulations to the winners and to all the nominated authors and thanks to the organisers and all those who took part. It was a great day !