Tales of dragons, families, myths and magic set amongst the mountains and coastlines of Wales feature in the English-language books shortlisted today (27 March 2020) for the Tir na n-Og Awards 2020.

Tales of dragons, families, myths and magic set amongst the mountains and coastlines of Wales feature in the English-language books shortlisted today (27 March 2020) for the Tir na n-Og Awards 2020.

The Welsh-language shortlists include picture books promoting tolerance, tackling materialism and highlighting inspirational women from Wales in the primary age category, whilst books exploring mental health, eating disorders and migration dominate in the category for secondary schools.

Organised by the Books Council of Wales and sponsored by CILIP Cymru Wales, the awards celebrate the work of authors and illustrators published in 2019.

There are three main categories: Welsh-language books for primary school age, Welsh-language books for secondary school age, and English-language books for children of any age with an authentic Welsh background.

English-language Shortlist

• The Secret Dragon by Ed Clarke (Puffin 2019). A magical adventure story for ages 8+ about science, dragons and friendship set on the Welsh coast with a strong sense of place.

• Max Kowalski Didn’t Mean It by Susie Day (Puffin 2019). A contemporary story for ages 8+ about families, being a boy and coping with loss, full of empathy and a strong sense of place in Snowdonia.

• Storm Hound by Claire Fayers (Macmillan Children’s Books 2019). A fantasy adventure for ages 8+ set in the Welsh mountains, combining Norse legend with Welsh myth.

• Where Magic Hides by Cat Weatherill (Gomer 2019). A diverse collection of seven short stories for ages 9+, all set in Wales, where young characters encounter kings and trolls, wild horses and rainbow-coloured sheep as they learn to find the magic in the stories all around them.

Eleri Twynog Davies, Chair of the English-language judging panel, said: “All four books on the shortlist are of very high quality, from the covers, illustrations and design to great character depiction and excellent storytelling. They take us from Abergavenny to Ogmore and Snowdonia, giving us a real sense of place – one of the central criteria for this award. It is so important that the children of Wales can see themselves reflected in Welsh literature, and that children outside Wales have a window on another culture.”

Welsh-language Shortlist – Primary

• Y Ddinas Uchel (The High City) by Huw Aaron (Atebol 2019). Petra lives in a city of towers where people spend all day building them higher and higher. A picture book dealing with the materialism of society in an indirect, lighthearted way.

• Genod Gwych a Merched Medrus (Great Girls and Skilled Women) by Medi Jones-Jackson (Y Lolfa 2019). A picture book about 14 inspirational women from Wales including Tori James, Laura Ashley, Eileen Beasley, Amy Dillwyn and Haley Gomez. Full of fun, facts, puzzles, activites and colourful cartoons and illustrations.

• Pobol Drws Nesaf (The People Next Door) by Manon Steffan Ros and Jac Jones (Y Lolfa 2019). A picture book about the importance of not judging people who look and behave differently to us, and the need to respect everyone.

Welsh-language Shortlist – Secondary

• Byw yn fy Nghroen (Living in my Skin) edited by Sioned Erin Hughes (Y Lolfa 2019). A collection of autobiographical accounts about the experiences of twelve young people who have fought against long-term conditions including cancer, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, spina bifida, blindness, OCD, depression and anxiety.

• Tom by Cynan Llwyd (Y Lolfa 2019). A YA novel from a debut author about 15-year-old Tom who lives in a block of flats with his mother and who befriends an 81-year-old neighbour. Themes cover bullying, conflict, migrants, violence and illness.

• Madi by Dewi Wyn Williams (Atebol 2019). A powerful YA novel about a teenage girl living with anorexia and bulimia who tries to hide the illness.

Gwawr Maelor Williams, Chair of the Welsh-language judging panel, said: “We have heard the voices of new, exciting and unique writers this year – books by young people for young people. In the midst of adventure and fantasy, there’s a voice for children’s well-being, a voice for Welsh women, a voice for mental resilience and mental health, and a voice for young people with physical ailments and conditions.”

The Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, Helgard Krause, said: “The Tir na n-Og Awards are an opportunity for us to celebrate the talents of our writers and illustrators, who are creating world-class content for our children and young people. The awards also reflect the subjects that are important to this audience and address some of the burning issues of the day – from eating disorders and mental health problems to questions around diversity, broadening horizons and respect for others. This is a further indication of how reading can support our health and well-being, as well as developing skills and being a delight in itself.”

The names of the winners will be announced in May 2020 and further details about the shortlisted books are available on the gwales.com books website.