Sally Gardner, who is severely dyslexic and only learnt to read at the age of fourteen, has won this year’s Nestle Children’s Book Prize for her book
I, Coriander. Her fantasy tale of murder, magic and romance set in 17th century London, captivated the 2005 judges and won a gold medal for the best book in the nine to eleven years category.
The award was made today, December 14th, at the British Library, London, in front of an invited audience of some of the 4,500 schoolchildren who were this year’s judges.
Sally’s own childhood was severely affected by undiagnosed dyslexia. She was once told she was uneducable and was sent to a school for maladjusted children before discovering a talent for illustration and storytelling. She always wanted to illustrate children’s books but once admitted: „I honestly never thought it would be possible to write because of my dyslexia“. While Sally has published other children’s books as an illustrator and storyteller, I, Coriander is her first book consisting of words alone.
Two other books also scooped gold in their age categories. Oliver Jeffers‘ Lost and Found took the honours in the under five age group while The Whisperer by Nick Butterworth won the gold medal in the six to eight years category.
The Nestle Children’s Book Prize, formerly known as the Nestle Smarties Book Prize, is now in its 21st year. This year some 55,000 schoolchildren took part in the Prize, which celebrates the nation’s best children’s books as voted for by children themselves.
Julia Eccleshare, chair of the adult judging panel commented: „Children are the toughest critics of all, so winning this award is a wonderful accolade for any author. Each year the Nestle Children’s Book Prize showcases the very best in children’s books and today, I’m happy to say that children’s literature looks in better shape than ever,“ she said.
Denise Kennedy, Community Relations Manager at Nestle UK said: „At the heart of the Nestle Children’s Book Prize are the children involved. This year 1,865 classes took part with more taking part every year. Good children’s books fire the imagination, and we are proud that the Prize helps to develop a life-long love of books, reading and learning“.
The Nestle Children’s Book Prize has helped launch the careers of many of Britain’s best-loved writers including JK Rowling, Jacqueline Wilson and Dick King-Smith. It is administered by Booktrust, an independent charity which promotes books and reading. Further information can be found at: http://www.booktrusted.com.