Martin Impey

NSTBA Past Winners- Quality Fiction Category

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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.

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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.

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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?

NSTBA Past Winners- Poetry Category

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Here at NSTBA HQ, we love poetry and value sharing it in our classrooms. Hugely versatile, poetry is so appealing and can be performed as well as created, discussed and enjoyed. There are so many styles of poems from so many cultures and eras and yet, this is the category we have to search the hardest for!

Here is a reminder of the winners from the past four years…

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Our first winner was ‘Buzzing’, a wonderful collection of poems about insects by Anneliesse Emmans Dean. Full of energy and enthusiasm, Anneliesse was as lovely as her poetry which is illustrated with her stunning photography. This book has been an excellent as a guided reading text. You can read our review here.

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In 2016, ‘Flo of the Somme’ was our choice. Beautifully illustrated with Martin’s wonderful watercolours, Hilary tells the story of Flo, one of the many animals used in war, in rhyming text. It is a beautiful book in so many ways and is perfect for sharing. Martin was able to attend the awards and it was a delight to meet him. You can read our review here.

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Three poets won our 2017 award with this marvellous collection of poems celebrating women. The range of women written about from diverse backgrounds and historic periods and the use of different styles makes this a real treasure trove. Liz Brownlee and her wonderful dog, Lola, were able to join us for the awards.

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A wonderful collection to use with children, you can read our review here.

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In 2018, Liz was back, accompanied by fellow poets Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens with their wonderful collection of shape poems which won the award. They are a wonderfully friendly crowd and we were delighted that they were all able to attend- with Lola!

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You can read our review here.

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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!

We will revisit the Read Aloud Category next!

Lest We Forget...

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In October 1917, whilst recovering from shell-shock, Wilfred Owen sent a letter to his mother which included a ‘gas poem’. This he revised and edited between January and July 1918 until it became the poem we now know as ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’.

Incredibly powerful, deeply moving, Owen’s work describes the harsh realities faced by those fighting in the trenches. My grandfather was amongst them.

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We were very fortunate and my grandfather returned home; many did not. Today marks the 100 year anniversary of the end of the First World War and there have been many tributes to those who have served their countries in many ways.

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Martin Impey and Hilary Robinson have combined their talents to create four amazing, beautiful books about Ben and Ray, friends who went to war together. These are the perfect way to introduce children to the life of soldiers in the trenches, the Christmas truce, the role of animals in war and the contribution of women who nursed soldiers on the battle lines. Their fifth collaboration- ‘A Song for Will and the Lost Gardeners of Heligan’ - is an incredible piece of work, celebrating the lives of those who worked at Heligan in Cornwall.

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In ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, Martin Impey has used his incredible artistic talents to interpret Owen’s words. This is not for a younger audience, but a heart-felt, gritty interpretation of the horrors experienced by soldiers.

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The book starts with a foreword contextualising the work before showing the revisions Owen made to ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ as he edited and developed his work to its finished form. Martin Impey has included some of these alterations as haunting shadows behind the finalised text, adding to the poem’s poignancy.

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Each page is a work of art. Martin’s talent and passion match that with which Wilfred Owen wrote each line and make a worthy tribute to those who fought and a stunning memorial for them. It emphasises the horrors of conflict, refuting ‘the Old Lie’.

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A powerful, significant work, perfect for using at KS3.

Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen, illustrated by Martin Impey

Strauss House Publishing ISBN: 978-1527218253