I’m delighted to announce that The Uniform, my second book for utterly brilliant publishers, Barrington Stoke, has won the Hackney Short Novel Award!

Here’s what the official press release had to say…

The votes are in….and Hackney pupils have declared ‘The Uniform’ by Tommy Donbavand the winner of the 2011 Hackney Short Novel Awards!
Now in its second year, the Awards sees pupils from secondary schools in Hackney reading and reviewing a shortlist of five novels and voting for a winner. The Short Novels Awards scheme is the result of a collaboration between The Learning Trust, the publishing house Barrington Stoke, local bookshop Victoria Park Books and the Ministry of Stories in Hoxton.

The winning novel was announced at an event held at Hackney Town Hall on Thursday (26 May) with close to 60 pupils in attendance from the five participating schools – Bridge Academy, Cardinal Pole Catholic School, Petchey Academy, Skinners’ Academy and Stoke Newington School.
Commenting on his win, author Tommy Donbavand said: “I’m thrilled that The Uniform was chosen as the winner of the Hackney Short Novel Award. I’d always wanted to write a spooky story without any zombies, werewolves or other creepy characters – just real people in a terrifying situation – and The Uniform was that story. To hear that people are enjoying reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it is simply wonderful!”

The critically acclaimed writer for children and teenagers Pete Johnson hosted the event and awarded prizes to pupils for their hard work throughout the entire judging process which began in late March/early April.

This year’s shortlisted titles were: ‘The Mountain’s Blood’ by Lari Don, ‘The Uniform’ by Tommy Donbavand, ‘The Dying Photo’ by Alan Gibbons, ‘The Fix’ by Sophie McKenzie and ‘Dream On’ by Bali Rai. All of the novels are published by Barrington Stoke.

Pupils described the day as “fun” and “exciting” Jumna Singh, a pupil at Bridge Academy, said her favourite thing about the day was “that I got to meet an author…and noticed he had good books!” The day ended with every pupil writing a personal reading pledge. Elliot Huntley from Stoke Newington School pledged to “read more books I have not read and be more adventurous.” Prior to the event, the Ministry of Stories ran dynamic, hands-on workshops for groups of pupils to help them hone their reviewing skills.

The Learning Trust’s Catharine Wensley, an advisor to school leaders and managers across the borough on teaching and learning, concurs that, “The Short Novel Awards celebrates the power and enjoyment of reading for students who have found renewed interest and confidence through taking part in The Lit Programme in Year 7 at our schools”.

The Learning Trust’s Lit Programme sees children coming together to read and explore texts by making predictions, asking questions, clarifying and summarising them. Katie Hayward, who leads the literacy programme at Cardinal Pole Catholic School, said: “This scheme has been extremely successful in boosting standards of literacy amongst our pupils with some jumping from a Level 3 to a Level 5 in less than a year.”

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