News and Events

SSBA Award Presentation Evening


The hugely exciting finale of the Southern Schools Book Award was held at Roedean School on Friday 15 January, and eighteen of our most able readers went to the event.  We all arrived and took our seats in the magnificent theatre, looking down on a stage set for the five shortlisted authors; Sara Crossan, Keren David, Juno Dawson, Alan Gibbons and Bali Rai.

Sophie McKenzie, last year’s winner was hosting the event and she introduced Chris Riddell – our current Children’s Laureate - who spoke a few words about his award.  Each author then came on stage and talked a little about why they had written their book, how the stories developed and how they grew their characters throughout the books. This was Sara Crossan’s debut novel so she was thrilled to be on stage with so many famous Young Adult authors, and talked about the land, myth and legends her story, Bone Jack was based upon.  Keren David explained that she had worked with children in the care system and that she wanted to write a story full of hope that showed how things can improve for a teenager whatever the circumstances of their upbringing, and so she wrote Salvage.  Juno Dawson told the audience how the school in ‘Say Her Name’ was modelled on Roedean, and that she had wanted to write a gothic horror story to scare her readers. Alan Gibbons made a very political speech, calling for hate crime to be acknowledged in society and referring to the Sophie Lancaster murder on which his book ‘Hate’ was based. Finally Bali Rai talked about ‘Web of Darkness’ which portrays how easily teenagers can be drawn into a predator’s web of deceit on social media – sometimes with criminal intent and sometimes just for a power rush.

Our student representative went up on stage to collect our book tokens, and we all joined in the drum roll as the runner-up (Juno Dawson) and then the winner (Bali Rai of course) were announced.  A quick refreshment break and then we went to the bookstall to get our free copy of a book of our choice before queueing to get the books signed (and take selfies) with the authors!

It was a fabulous evening, very exciting and the winning author Bali Rai really plugged how important reading is for all teenagers, and asked them to support and campaign for their libraries and librarians to be appreciated for the difference reading can and does make to our lives.