2016 Tir na n-Og Shortlist Announced

5 Apr 2016

The Welsh Books Council has announced the titles on the shortlist of the prestigious Tir na n-Og Awards for 2016. The awards celebrate a special 40th birthday this year and there is much excitement surrounding the announcement of the winning title.

The Welsh Books Council has announced the titles on the shortlist of the prestigious Tir na n-Og Awards for 2016. The awards celebrate a special 40th birthday this year and there is much excitement surrounding the announcement of the winning title.

This year's shortlisted titles for the Best English-language Book with an authentic Welsh background, as chosen by the awarding panel are:

Best English-language Book Category
The Search for Mister Lloyd – Griff Rowland (Candy Jar Books)
Longbow Girl  – Linda Davies (Chicken House)
The Four Branches of the Mabinogi  – Siân Lewis (author) and Valériane Leblond (illustrator) (Rily)
Ruck in the Muck  – Ceri Wyn Jones (author) and Adrian Reynolds (illustrator) (Gomer)

Bethan M. Hughes, Reading Services Manager at Denbighshire Libraries and Chair of the English-language Selection Panel, said: "The panel was pleased with the general standard of the output, with particular praise for the physical quality and design of the selected titles. We were delighted to agree on a shortlist which provides for the widest age range, from a picture book to young adult fiction."

The Search for Mister Lloyd  by Griff Rowland (Candy Jar Books) tells the tale of Mostyn Price's attempts to find his racing pigeon, Mister Lloyd, which failed to return from a race. Full of rich language and creative images, this is a pacy modern quest story full of emotional peaks and troughs. Told from different narrative viewpoints, it intrigues and engages the reader from the outset with its chatty direct style which cleverly parodies old public information films and modern online chat. It explores family relationships, especially the role of the father figure, and the support and loyalty of friendships. Set in both Bangor and London, it weaves Welsh phrases and names effortlessly into the narrative. This is a novel which makes you laugh one minute and which tugs at your heartstrings the next, full of memorable scenes and dilemmas.

Linda Davies' novel  Longbow Girl  (Chicken House) is a time-slip historical adventure thriller set in the Brecon Beacons. Merry, the longbow girl of the title, is a modern day archery champion who finds herself caught up in a family feud which began at the Battle of Crécy. The fast-paced, vivid, tight plotting gives the reader just the right amount of historical detail to bring scenes to life, minor characters are well drawn, and the romance storyline is subtle rather than soppy. Sinister, mysterious events build up the tension as the modern and the historical stories run in parallel, and the ending suggests there will be a sequel to follow. A well-crafted, exciting and engrossing novel for young adults with a memorable lead character.

Each generation of children in Wales deserves a new retelling of the Mabinogi stories, and  The Four Branches of the Mabinogi  by Siân Lewis and illustrated by Valériane Leblond (Rily) is an important and successful volume which should be in every home, school and library in Wales. It's an excellent introduction to the stories and retains echoes of the original medieval text. The portrayal of the characters is subtle and skilled, and events are dramatic and memorable. The illustrations are integral to the text, both enhancing the storyline and providing practical help – the maps and the gallery of characters with a phonetic guide to pronouncing their names are particularly welcome. The book is impressive with high production values, making this a spellbinding and lasting treasure.

Ruck in the Muck  by Ceri Wyn Jones and illustrated by Adrian Reynolds (Gomer) tells the tale of two rugby-mad brothers whose imagination turns the field behind the house into their field of dreams, their Millennium Stadium. The rhyming text has a lively urgent rhythm reflecting the excitement of the game, making this another great sharing book. The illustrations are particularly effective, often in subtle, gentle ways. Different angles and points of view, varied page layouts, pale washed-out colours and a clever use of silhouettes all highlight the illustrator's skills. Combined with high production values, this makes for an excellent picture book which delighted the panel.

Also highly commended by the 2016 judging panel were:
White Petals  by Maria Grace (Firefly Press)
Mo Can't Go  by Rob Lewis (Pont Books)
Elen's Island  by Eloise Williams (Firefly Press)

Elwyn Jones, Chief Executive of the Books Council, said: "It's more important than ever that publications for children and young people are exciting, attractive and of the highest quality. This is the way to attract children and to ensure that they become lifetime readers. The Tir na n-Og Awards, for Welsh and English books from Wales, have an obvious role in exhibiting and promoting the best in the field and we congratulate the authors, illustrators and publishers who have reached this year's shortlist."

The Tir na n-Og Awards were established in 1976 with the intention of raising the standards of children's and young people's books in Wales, and to encourage the buying and reading of good books. Three awards are presented annually by the Books Council and are sponsored by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals Cymru/Wales and Cymdeithas Lyfrau Ceredigion.

There are three awards: the best English-language book of the year with an authentic Welsh background, the best Welsh-language book for the primary sector and the best Welsh-language book for the secondary sector.

The shortlists for the two Welsh-language categories have also been announced, and these are:

Best Welsh-language Primary Category
Santa Corn  – Ceri Wyn Jones (author) and Andy Catling (illustrator) (Gomer)
Coeden Cadi  – Bethan Gwanas (author) and Janet Samuel (illustrator) (Y Lolfa)
Pedair Cainc y Mabinogi  – Siân Lewis (author) and Valériane Leblond (illustrator) (Rily)

Best Welsh-language Secondary Category
Stori Cymru  – Myrddin ap Dafydd (author) and Dorry Spikes (illustrator) (Carreg Gwalch)
Paent!  – Angharad Tomos (Carreg Gwalch)
Gwalia  – Llŷr Titus (Gomer)

Full details and reviews of the books can be viewed on  www.gwales.com.

The name of the winner of the English-language award will be announced at a special event at Swansea Library during the CILIP Cymru Library and Information Conference on Thursday, 26 May, and the winners of the Welsh-language awards at the Urdd National Eisteddfod on Thursday, 2 June 2016.

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