The 2008 English Tir na n-Og Award

16 May 2008

The winner of the prestigious Tir na n-Og English Award is Frances Thomas for her novel for young people,  Finding Minerva,  Gomer/Pont Books.

The 2008 English Tir na n-Og Award
The Welsh Books Council has announced the name of the winner of the prestigious Tir na n-Og English Award which recognises the exceptional quality of books with an authentic Welsh background for children and young people. The 2008 English Award was won by Frances Thomas for her novel for young people, Finding Minerva, published by Pont Books. The award is sponsored by CILIP Wales (The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals).

The award was presented to the author at a special reception held at the CILIP Cymru annual conference at Llandrindod, Powys. Finding Minerva is a fast-moving thriller, set in a modern Britain still ruled by the Roman Empire. Action starts on page one and doesn’t flag until the end. Livia Marcel can’t believe it when she learns that her friend Max is wanted by the police for murder! When she receives a mysterious note, warning that she, too, is under surveillance, Livia’s in fear for her life. Frances Thomas has produced an exciting, intelligent story with great characters and a real sense of danger. There is a touching love story between Livia and the one person she meets she can trust, Cai. The way modern life and the ancient Roman Empire have been blended is convincing, intriguing and very well handled. Livia is an excellent heroine, brave but realistically shocked and frightened by all that is thrown at her.

According to the reviewer on www.gwales.com: ‘All in all, this is a gripping, hugely enjoyable novel, and I would highly recommend it to everyone.’

Frances Thomas was born during the war in 1943 in Aberdare where her mother had gone to escape the bombs. Her mother’s family was Irish and English, her father’s Welsh. Later the family moved back to south London where Frances Thomas grew up. Being an only child she read lots of books, and when the books ran out she made up stories, a habit she’s never lost. She was educated at a convent school and later read English at London University and took a teaching course. She married the historian, Professor Richard Rathbone and has two grown-up daughters. According to Frances Thomas’ her most interesting work, apart from writing, was working with dyslexic people.

This is not the first time for Frances Thomas to win the Tir na n-Og Award. She has won the award three times in the past: in 1981 for her first children’s book The Blindfold Track in 1986 for Region of the Summer Stars in 1991 for Who Stole a Bloater? She writes for children and adults but especially enjoys writing for children and has won the Scottish Arts Council’s award for a picture book for young children. After living for many years in north London, she and her husband decided to come to live in mid-Wales where they used to spend their family holidays. Frances Thomas said, ‘I’m very pleased and proud to have won this award’. She is now learning Welsh (ond mae mor anodd!), and enjoys walking on the hills, writing and painting.

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