Award ceremony

Where the River Runs Gold


Today, I was lucky enough to be invited to The Skip Garden for the launch of Sita Brahmachari’s wonderful new book, ‘Where the River Runs Gold’ which is on our Moving On long list this year. This is a powerful, thought-provoking story, set at a time when bees have disappeared and plants are pollinated by hand using child labour. It is a stunning piece of writing and its main characters, Shifa and Themba, are beautifully portrayed.


The Skip Garden is a fascinating place and made the perfect backdrop for the launch. The team who worked on this project with Sita are obviously very passionate about the book - and there was such a lovely warmth between them. Speeches were made and then Sita spoke, not only about ‘Where the River Runs Gold’ but also about her childhood, entertaining us by ‘channelling’ her father, speaking to us as he would have had he been there.


Amid the noise from the surrounding area, Sita spoke passionately about the importance of children realising they can make a difference and that their voices can be heard, about the importance of looking after our world and the people in it.


Sita did a reading whilst in the polytunnel, a very fitting location for the extract she chose. She read with such conviction and expression I think everyone was disappointed when she finished! We then were able to explore the Skip Garden and look at all the amazing work they are doing.


When we re-grouped for a drink and some delicious nibbles, we were taught how to make an origami seed packet in which to gather our own collection of seeds.


It was a suitably fabulous celebration of a wonderful book and its lovely author. Thanks very much for inviting me!

Where the River Runs Gold Sita Brahmachari

Orion ISBN: 978-1510105416

NSTBA Past Winners- Moving On Category


Today, we’re looking back at the winners of our Moving On Category. After our first awards in 2015, we felt there was a need for a section specifically for children at the top end of Primary school, who want a more challenging read. It’s a real joy to find the right book which will help children to continue with their reading.

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Nicky Singer was our first winner in this category with her very special book, ‘Island’, illustrated by Chris Riddell. We were delighted that Nicky could join us for the ceremony; she was fascinating to talk to and a pleasure to meet. You can read our review here.

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In 2017, Ally Sherrick’s novel ‘Black Powder’ was our winner. Set at the time of the Gunpowder Plot, this is an exciting historical novel with much to recommend it. Ally came to the awards ceremony and was a pleasure to meet. You can read our review here.


Last year’s winner was ‘Ella on the Outside’, a wonderful story about friendship, loyalty and wanting to belong. Cath joined us for the awards and it was lovely to meet her. You can read our review here.

Brilliant books one and all! Each of these books has been widely used in our schools and each has ideas for a book event and /or teaching notes to go with them which are available to our members. Our search for this years treasures is going well so it’s looking good for this year’s list!

This year’s long list will be announced on Saturday 13th July 2019 and the short list on Saturday 7th September 2019.

NSTBA Past Winners- Quality Fiction Category


We love a good book which inspires both teachers and children to produce amazing work and are constantly on the hunt for those special texts we think will achieve this. There are so many lovely books available, but it takes something special to make a book a quality text. Here are the wonderful titles that have won this category over the past four years.

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Beautifully written, ‘The River Singers’ was our first winner in this category. The adventures of Sylvan and his siblings are a compelling read, full of stunning descriptions and lyrical language. Tom was able to join us for the awards with his lovely wife in 2015 and they were absolutely lovely. You can read our review here.

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In 2016, this category was won by Horatio Clare with his extraordinary book, ‘Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot’, a very powerful, moving story. You can read out review here. Horatio and Jane were not able to attend the awards due to other commitments, but I caught up with them at Hay Festival and gave them their award then.

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Hilary and Martin won again- this time in the Quality Fiction Category with their poignant and beautiful book, ‘A Song for Will and the Lost Gardeners of Heligan’. Based on historical evidence, it tells the story of the gardeners of Heligan who went to the First World War, some of whom returned and others who did not.

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Both Hilary and Martin were able to come to the awards and you could not meet two nicer people. Each of their books is written from the heart and with the greatest attention to detail. You can read our review here.


Last year’s winner was Saviour Pirotta’s novel, ‘Mark of the Cyclops’. Saviour came all the way from Yorkshire to join us at the awards ceremony and was delighted to win. His book is a fabulous mix of historical detail and mystery, perfect for engaging children with work on the Ancient Greeks. You can read our review here.


Each of these books has been widely used in our schools and each has ideas for a book event and /or teaching notes to go with them which are available to our members. It is a pleasure to see them being used in classes and enjoyed by so many children! If you haven’t read any of them, give them a try- each one is really wonderful! What will this year’s long list bring?