A week ago I was in a very sunny London at The Booktrust Best Books Bash to celebrate this new prize and – da-da-dah! – hear the winners announced. (And, no – sob – it was not me.*)
But it was a fantastic event, hosted by Mel Giedroyc, who was one of the judges for my section, and with lots of starry guests from the world of children’s books.
Yes, I chatted to Michael Morpurgo and stood right next to children’s laureate Malorie Blackman for a whole two minutes. I saw the actual beard of Philip Ardagh live and watched Chris Riddell draw wonders on the art wall.
I also met a number of the other shortlisted authors and illustrators, including Kate Cain and Jonathan Stroud, my UK rivals in the age 9-11 category.
And an amazing total of 307 children and teenagers came to the bash, from a range of participating schools all over the country, while others watched the ceremony live-streamed into their schools.
It was all very thrilling. The children roamed freely, hunting down favourite authors and gathering autographs. As Mel said from the podium of a particularly excited group, ‘I wouldn’t want to be their coach driver on the way home!’
*If you must know, Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck won Best Story Book for 9-11s on the readers’ vote.