The Books Council of Wales has appointed seven new Trustees to lead the national charity in its work of supporting the publishing industry and promoting reading.
Rajvi Glasbrook Griffiths, Alwena Hughes Moakes, Lowri Ifor, Professor Carwyn Jones, Linda Tomos, Professor Gerwyn Wiliams and Dr Caroline Owen Wintersgill will take up their positions on the new Board of Trustees on 1 April 2021.
The Board will be responsible for the governance of the Books Council and will oversee the direction and strategy of the national charity.
Four of the Books Council’s current Trustees will also transfer from the Executive Committee to the new Board, namely Professor M. Wynn Thomas (Chair), Rona Aldrich (Vice-Chair), Professor Jane Aaron (Honorary Secretary) and Chris Macey (Honorary Treasurer).
Professor M. Wynn Thomas, Chair of the Books Council, said: “As we approach the organisation’s sixtieth birthday, we are pleased to announce the formation of a Board of Trustees that includes eminent representatives from the worlds of government, business, cultural management and international publishing. The Board will support the Council’s specialist in-house team of experienced professionals serving the book industries of Wales in both Welsh and English.
“This is another exciting development that will ensure the Books Council of Wales is equipped with a governance and management structure well able to respond to the challenges of an industry that is in a state of perpetual change.”
Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council, said: “In the year of the Council’s anniversary, I look forward to working with the new Board as we set a strategy for these challenging times and ensure the success of the publishing industry in Wales for the future. As a charity we appreciate the very important contribution made by our Trustees, who give of their time and expertise voluntarily to support the books sector in Wales.”
Rajvi Glasbrook Griffiths has worked in the teaching profession in Wales since 2009 and is Headteacher of High Cross Primary School in Newport. She has been the Director of Literature Caerleon since 2014 and Director of the Caerleon Gateway Project since 2016, as well as an Advisory Board member for Planet magazine. Mrs Glasbrook Griffiths is also a member of the Welsh Government’s Race Equality Action Plan Committee and its Working Group on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities, Contributions and Cynefin in the New Curriculum.
Alwena Hughes Moakes is the Global Head of Employee Engagement and Communications for an international agriculture company with its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. Before relocating to Switzerland, Alwena held senior roles at Aberystwyth University, most recently as Director of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs. Originally from Mold, Flintshire, Alwena is a seasoned communications professional with over 20 years’ experience across the public and private sectors.
Lowri Ifor is a former teacher who has worked for the Welsh Slate Museum since 2018 as an Education and Events Officer and who also teaches a Welsh for Adults class. She was Children’s Books Editor at Gwasg Carreg Gwalch press from 2018–2019 and has been one of the editors of the Codi Pais magazine since 2018, as well as a member of the Noson Pedwar a Chwech committee which organises Welsh-language musical and literary events in the Caernarfon area.
Professor Carwyn Jones is a former First Minister of Wales (2009–2018) and was a Member of the Senedd for Bridgend from 1999–2021. After graduating in law from Aberystwyth University, he went on to train as a barrister in London before working in legal practice at Gower Chambers, Swansea, for 10 years. He was appointed part-time Professor in the Department of Law and Criminology at Aberystwyth University in 2019.
Linda Tomos has been a chartered librarian since 1975 and was the National Librarian for Wales from 2015–2019, leading the strategy of the National Library in Aberystwyth. She worked previously as a senior civil servant with the Welsh Government and was the first Director of CyMAL: Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales within the Department for Culture, Sport and Tourism. A former Chair of the Library and Information Services Council for Wales, she was Chair of the BBC Education Broadcasting Council Wales between 1999 and 2003 and Chair of the National Trust’s Advisory Board in Wales between 2016 and 2020.
Professor Gerwyn Wiliams has been Professor of Welsh at Bangor University since 2005, and has worked at the School of Welsh since 1989. He has been a member of the Advisory Board of O’r Pedwar Gwynt magazine since 2019 and a member of the Board of Directors of Theatr Bara Caws since 2018. A former winner of the National Eisteddfod Crown (1994) and the Wales Book of the Year Award (1997), he has also judged a number of literature competitions including the National Eisteddfod’s Prose Medal in 2017 and the Wales Book of the Year in 2011. He was a board member of the Arts Council of Wales between 2010 and 2016.
Dr Caroline Owen Wintersgill is a Lecturer in Publishing at University College London and Programme Director for the MA in Publishing. She has a PhD on reading, writing and publishing contemporary fiction, which involved work with reading groups across the UK as well as interviews with authors and publishers. Before moving into academia, Caroline worked for more than 25 years for leading publishers including Routledge, Bloomsbury and Manchester University Press. Alongside her teaching, Caroline has been editor-at-large for Biteback Publishing and Senior Consulting Editor for the US-based independent publisher, Lynne Rienner, since 2015.
Full meetings of the Board of Trustees will be held four times a year.
On 1 April 2021, the Books Council of Wales will transfer from being an unregistered charity to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).
Members of the Council of the Books Council of Wales, which includes representatives from local authorities and other organisations, will transfer as members of the charity and will meet formally once a year at a public Annual General Meeting.
Three stories exploring Wales at different times through history feature in the English-language books shortlisted for the Tir na n-Og Children’s Book Awards 2021 announced today (12 March 2021) on the Radio Wales Arts Show.
The periods of history range from the early Middle Ages when Welsh national identity was gathering strength in The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott, to a family emigrating from Wales to the USA at the turn of the twentieth century in The Quilt by Valériane Leblond, and a contemporary story set in the Celtic rainforest of north Wales in Where the Wilderness Lives by Jess Butterworth.
Organised by the Books Council of Wales and sponsored by CILIP Cymru Wales, the annual awards celebrate the best books for children and young adults published in 2020.
There are three main categories: Welsh-language books for primary school age, Welsh-language books for secondary school age, and English-language books with an authentic Welsh background for children and young people.
This is the first time Jess Butterworth and Elen Caldecott have been shortlisted for the awards and the first time Valériane Leblond has been nominated as both an author and illustrator. The Short Knife has also been longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2021.
Where the Wilderness Lives by Jess Butterworth (Orion, 2020) for ages 9+ centres around the character of Cara who lives on a houseboat with her mum, siblings and a dog called Willow. Her dad used to live with them but now lives in a remote part of Wales. The adventure starts when Cara and her siblings find a locked safe one day when they are helping with a clean-up of the canal where they live. A fire destroys their houseboat one night, and while her mum is in hospital and Cara is looking after her siblings, a thief comes to steal the safe. The children leave the house they are temporarily living in to travel in their houseboat with the safe to go to their dad, and then on foot on a journey of survival across Welsh mountains in the snow.
The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott (Andersen Press, 2020) for ages 12+ is a story set many centuries ago, in the early Middle Ages, 454, at a time when a new Welsh identity was just starting to emerge, when the Romans had left and the Britons and Saxons were battling to take hold of different territories. It is narrated through the voice of the main character, Mai, a young girl, who up until now, along with her sister Haf, has been kept safe by her father. The story starts with the arrival of Saxon warriors at their farm, forcing the family to flee to the hills where British warlords lie in wait. From here we see Mai surviving in a dangerous world where just speaking her mother tongue could lead to her death, and where she comes to mistrust even the people she loves the most.
The Quilt by Valériane Leblond (Y Lolfa, 2020) for ages 5+ is a beautiful, lyrical story about a little girl who lives with her parents on a farm near the coast in rural Wales, around the turn of the twentieth century. Life is hard and the family decide to emigrate to America. To pay for the cost of their journey they sell their possessions but keep a black and red quilt hand-made by the mother from pieces of fabric left over from clothes she has made for the family. Leaving everything familiar behind brings homesickness and a longing – hiraeth – for the little girl, and it is the memories and love contained in the quilt that help her overcome these feelings and adapt to her new life.
Jo Bowers, Chair of the English-language judging panel, said: “All three books had their stories set against a rich authentic Welsh background, which is a central criteria for this award, and each one did this in a very different way to the others. Each book stood out for many reasons: the sense of place and time in Wales and Welsh history; the overall design as each book had very attractive front covers and either illustrations or design features in the body of the text, and each surprised and engaged in both the style and content of the story. We felt that each one brought new aspects about Wales in children’s literature.”
Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, Helgard Krause, said: “My warmest congratulations to all those involved in bringing these three shortlisted titles to readers. It is so important to ensure that young readers in Wales have a choice of high-quality books which reflect the country and culture in which they live.”
The shortlisted titles in the Welsh-language primary age category are Ble Mae Boc – Ar Goll yn y Chwedlau (‘Where is Boc – Lost in the Legends’) by Huw Aaron (Y Lolfa, 2020), Mae’r Cyfan i Ti (’It’s All For You’) by Luned Aaron (Atebol, 2020) and Sw Sara Mai (‘Sara Mai’s Zoo’) by Casia Wiliam (Y Lolfa, 2020).
The books shortlisted in the Welsh-language secondary age category are Y Castell Siwgr (‘The Sugar Castle’) by Angharad Tomos (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2020), Llechi (‘Slates’) by Manon Steffan Ros (Y Lolfa, 2020), and #helynt (‘#trouble’) by Rebecca Roberts (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2020).
The winners of the Welsh-language categories will be announced on S4C’s Heno programme at 19:00 on Thursday, 20 May, while the winning English-language title will be revealed on the Radio Wales Arts Show on 21 May at 18:30.
The Books Council of Wales is delighted to announce the six Welsh-language books shortlisted for the 2021 Tir na n-Og Awards, which celebrate the best books from Wales for children and young people.
The primary age category includes Ble Mae Boc – Ar Goll yn y Chwedlau by Huw Aaron (Y Lolfa), Mae’r Cyfan i Ti by Luned Aaron (Atebol) and Sw Sara Mai by Casia Wiliam (Y Lolfa).
The books reaching the shortlist in the secondary age category are Y Castell Siwgr by Angharad Tomos (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch), Llechi by Manon Steffan Ros (Y Lolfa) and #helynt by Rebecca Roberts (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch).
Hywel James, Chair of the panel of judges for the Welsh-language primary and secondary categories, said: “As judges, we have been able to graze our way through a feast of children’s and young people’s literature. All the books offered a wonderful choice to young readers, and contributed to our literature by filling gaps that feed the imagination and develop their understanding of the past or an awareness of the world around them.
“This year’s titles included some very attractive picture story books by new authors and illustrators, a development that deserves special praise for creating high quality original publications. There were very impressive titles in the young adults’ category too, with some quite shocking content as they strived to convey the challenges of coming of age either in contemporary Wales or at key stages in our history.”
Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, said: “Our warmest congratulations to the shortlisted authors and our thanks to everyone across the book sector in Wales for ensuring not only that our judges were provided once more with a range of high-quality publications, but also that there is a selection of excellent books available to young readers in Wales. I would also like to thank our judges for their valuable work and feedback which helps to maintain and improve standards year on year.”
The Welsh-language shortlists were revealed on S4C’s Heno programme on Thursday, 11 March, and the programme will announce the names of the winners on Thursday, 20 May 2021.
Primary Age Shortlist
Ble Mae Boc – Ar Goll yn y Chwedlau by Huw Aaron (Y Lolfa)
Summary: 10 illustrated double pages, with each spread offering a chance to find Boc, the little red dragon, who’s hiding in every picture. A uniquely Welsh twist on the Where’s Wally? books.
A taste of what the judges had to say: “This is a volume that offers a fantastic feast of pictures and hours of amusement for a child as they try to find the little dragon… It’s an ideal gift book for all ages.”
Mae’r Cyfan i Ti by Luned Aaron (Atebol)
Summary: A tender and sensitive bedtime story for a parent to present the wonders of the natural world to a child. We follow the whole day from dawn to dusk as we read about the wonderful world that awaits the child.
A taste of what the judges had to say: “A very high-quality picture story book. The simplicity of telling the story through poetry is ideal for the nursery age group and brilliantly conveys the element of surprise that young children have about the world around them as well as nostalgia on the part of the adult.”
Sw Sara Mai by Casia Wiliam (Y Lolfa)
Summary: Welcome to the world of Sara Mai, where cleaning up elephant poo is a lot more appealing than going to school, and where it’s much easier to understand the behaviour of a bear from South Africa than the other girls in Year 5.
A taste of what the judges had to say: “This is a novel that deals with a contemporary subject, tackling the issue of bullying and prejudice against people from a different ethnic background. The story grips the reader from the beginning with plenty of details about the characters without overwhelming us or slowing the flow of the story, which holds our attention to the end.”
Secondary Age Shortlist
#helynt by Rebecca Roberts (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch)
Summary: Missing the bus to school can change your life… Rather than go home, Rachel decides to go on an adventure in the town of Rhyl (after all, the bailiffs have taken her father’s car), and she finds herself in a seaside nightclub. She feels safe there, a different experience to school where she is bullied because of her disability.
A taste of what the judges had to say: “It is a story that grips the reader from beginning to end, conveying some of the real impact of poverty and domestic violence on a young person in contemporary Wales… This is an excellent, perhaps ‘classic’, example of a teenage ‘genre’ book – and that is not an easy feat to achieve.”
Llechi by Manon Steffan Ros (Y Lolfa)
Summary: Gwenno is dead – perfect, clever, beautiful Gwenno, who was popular with both swots and cool people. Her body was found in the slate mine, the police are everywhere around Bethesda, and everyone is looking for her.
A taste of what the judges had to say: “The murder mystery story line of this novel is very similar to some contemporary popular television series, and so this story will certainly appeal greatly to a wide range of readers.”
Y Castell Siwgr by Angharad Tomos (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch)
Summary: Two girls on two continents. One lord with a thirst for profit. A heart-wrenching story about a slave girl, a maid, a ship and a castle, and about suffering beyond imagination.
A taste of what the judges had to say: “This novel takes us to challenging new territory with the story of two young girls, Dorcas and Yamba, and although the novel is in two parts, the links between them strengthen the narrative… This volume is a very important contribution to Welsh literature and will appeal to both young people and adults.”
Organised by the Books Council of Wales and sponsored by CILIP Cymru Wales, the annual awards celebrate the best books for children and young adults published in 2020.
The English-language books shortlisted for the 2021 Tir na n-Og Awards will be announced on the Radio Wales Arts Show at 18:30 on Friday, 12 March 2021.
Sharing a story could be reading at home with your family, reading in your favourite niche, reading in an unusual setting, sharing a story with your pet, reading a book dressed as your favourite character, and more!
This competition runs from 4–31 March 2021.
Prizes: The top 5 pictures will win a pile of books worth £30.
Books from Wales will be celebrated on the digital stage on World Book Day this year, Thursday 4 March 2021.
In a partnership between the Books Council of Wales and multimedia culture platform AM, a 12-hour celebration of reading will be held on amam.cymru from 9am on World Book Day.
Throughout the day the platform will showcase author readings, book reviews, reading recommendations and more, with publishers, booksellers and other organisations across Wales contributing new Welsh and English-language content to their AM channels including:
Amdani – Learn Welsh Reading Festival (National Centre for Learning Welsh)
Podcast and videos with children’s authors (Books Council of Wales)
Monster Max and Walker videos (Firefly)
Video of Cambrian Pictures by Ann Julia Hatton (Honno)
Reading from Welsh-language World Book Day title Na! Nel by Meleri Wyn James (Y Lolfa)
Hywel Price’s review of Iaith y Brifddinas by Owen John Thomas (O’r Pedwar Gwynt)
A series of readings from the bookshop (Palas Print)
Reading from The Amazingly Astonishing Story gan Lucy Gannon (Seren Books)
Reviews of books for children and young people (Sôn am Lyfra)
Short film of Welsh-language poetry by Morwen Brosschot from her ‘Gwrando’ pamphlet (Y Stamp)
Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, said: “World Book Day is an opportunity for us to celebrate the year-round benefits of reading for pleasure. In what has been a challenging year for us all, we are delighted to be working with AM and the books sector to celebrate the quality and range of content being produced by publishers in Wales. We also extend our thanks to Welsh Government for their support.”
Alun Llwyd, Chief Executive of AM, said: “It’s a privilege to work with the Books Council of Wales to celebrate and promote the wealth of Welsh literature during such a difficult time for authors, shops and publishers. Whatever the circumstances, books continue to be key to the wellbeing of society as a whole and World Book Day is a special opportunity for us to enjoy, share and support all those involved in writing and publishing in Wales.”
Designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, World Book Day is celebrated in over 100 countries around the globe. The aim is to promote reading for pleasure, offering every child and young person the opportunity to have their own book.
As part of the annual event, children in Wales receive a £1 National Book Token to either exchange for one of the £1 World Book Day books or use towards buying another book. The Books Council of Wales works with World Book Day to ensure that a range of titles are available every year in the Welsh language, with support from the Welsh Government and Waterstones.
Young readers in Wales have a choice of four £1 Welsh-language books for World Book Day 2021 namely Ha Ha Cnec! Jôcs Twp a Lluniau Twpach by Huw Aaron (Broga); Stori Cymru Iaith a Gwaith (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch) by Myrddin ap Dafydd, Na, Nel! (Y Lolfa) by Meleri Wyn James and Darllen gyda Cyw (Y Lolfa) by Anni Llŷn.
The Books Council is also organising other activities for World Book Day 2021 including the release of the first in a series of short films with children’s authors from Wales. Find out more by clicking on the links below: