Strong characters lead the way to win the Tir na n-Og 2022 Welsh-language children’s book awards
This year’s winners of the Welsh-language Tir na n-Og children’s book awards were announced today, Thursday, 2 June, in a special celebration at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Denbighshire. Although very different in setting and theme, memorable characters who readers will care about are at the centre of the winning novels – Gwag y Nos by Sioned Wyn Roberts and Y Pump, edited by Elgan Rhys.
Established in 1976, the annual Tir na n-Og Awards celebrate the best books for children and young adults in Wales. They are organised by the Books Council of Wales and sponsored by CILIP Cymru Wales, the library and information association.
The winners will receive a cash prize of £1,000 sponsored by CILIP Cymru Wales, as well as a specially commissioned award created by Cardiff-based designers The Patternistas.
Primary school age category winner – Gwag y Nos by Sioned Wyn Roberts (published by Atebol)
The Victorian era and the cruel world of the workhouse are brought to life through the adventures of rebel Magi, the likeable and mischievous main character of the story. We follow Magi as she goes from the Gwag y Nos workhouse to Plas Aberhiraeth, and encounters memorable characters such as Mrs Rowlands, Nurse Jenat and Cook. As we follow the twists and turns of the story, we want to know the answer to the same question as Magi – what is the dark secret of Gwag y Nos?
Alun Horan, Chair of the Judging Panel, commented: “This book grabs the reader’s attention from the first paragraphs and gets straight to the middle of an exciting story. The striking artwork must be praised; the cover conveys the chilling atmosphere of the workhouse and the illustrations inside the book prompt the readers to paint the world in their own imaginations. We admired the originality and imagination of the author, and the depth of the research that makes the Victorian Age so real for the reader.”
Sioned Wyn Roberts said: “I’m delighted that Gwag y Nos has won the Tir na n-Og 2022 Award in the primary category. Many thanks to the Books Council and the judges for this honour. I would also like to thank Rachel Lloyd for editing, Almon for designing, Atebol for publishing the novel and all the friends and children who have read the early drafts and made some perceptive comments.
“I never would have started writing if I hadn’t attended a course at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre about three years ago. I was inspired by talented writers to give it a go, and I haven’t stopped writing since.”
Secondary school age category winner – Y Pump, edited by Elgan Rhys (published by Y Lolfa)
Y Pump (The Five) follows a group of pupils at Llwyd Secondary School, as they discover the power their otherness gives them when they come together as a community. Through the unique perspectives of Tim, Tami, Aniq, Robyn and Cat, we get to recognise the complex reality of being a young person who is marginalised. With editor Elgan Rhys, five young writers have worked in collaboration with more experienced authors to create this ambitious, experimental, powerful series of stories.
Alun Horan, Chair of the Judging Panel, said: “What makes these stories different and especially relevant is the collaboration between the co-authors, and all of the characters, their situations and their interrelations feel very, very real. Having several authors creates individual voices for each of the characters, something that is extremely effective. The undoubted achievement of the editor is the way he has brought all of these stories together effectively. It would take many pages to do justice to these volumes – they were so rich in terms of content. Many congratulations to the team behind this ambitious venture, and I’m sure we will be discussing and considering the content of these volumes for years to come.”
The titles and authors of the five individual volumes are: Tim (by Elgan Rhys and Tomos Jones), Tami (by Mared Roberts and Ceri-Ann Gatehouse), Aniq (by Marged Elin Wiliam and Mahum Umer), Robyn (by Iestyn Tyne and Leo Drayton) and Cat (by Megan Angharad Hunter and Maisie Awen).
Elgan Rhys, the editor of the series, said: “This award is a recognition of the passion and hard work of all the members of the team, who came together from all over Wales during the dark days of lockdown with the ambition to create a truly new and authentic picture of young people’s lives in Wales today. We would all like to thank the judges, Y Lolfa and the Books Council and everyone else who has contributed to the creation of Y Pump, and most of all, everyone who has picked up and immersed themselves in one of the books.”
Amy Staniforth from CILIP Cymru Wales said: “Many congratulations to the winners on their terrific achievement. We are proud to sponsor the Tir na n-Og Awards again this year, and to continue helping children and young people to discover the very best of books from Wales and about Wales.”
Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, said: “The Tir na n-Og Awards have been celebrating the very best books for children and young people in Wales since 1976, and the quality of the entries just keeps getting better and better. I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in this year’s competition, which has been a wonderful showcase of the talents of writers and illustrators in the field of children’s literature in Wales.”
The other shortlisted titles in the Welsh-language categories were:
Primary age category
• Gwil Garw a’r Carchar Crisial by Huw Aaron (Broga)
• Sara Mai a Lleidr y Neidr by Casia Wiliam (Y Lolfa)
Secondary age category
• Fi ac Aaron Ramsey by Manon Steffan Ros (Y Lolfa)
• Hanes yn y Tir by Elin Jones (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch)
The winner in the English-language category is The Valley of Lost Secrets by Lesley Parr (published by Bloomsbury) and was announced on the Radio Wales Arts Show on 20 May.