QE boys’ awards for book reviews

Two Year 9 boys were among only a handful of prize-winners from a field of 150 young people at a literary review competition in London.

Fifteen QE pupils from Years 8, 9 and 10 took part in the WeRead event at University College School, Hampstead. The boys had to read and review at least one of six shortlisted books in advance.

“Manojj Mohanaranjan and Binu Perera both wrote really insightful reviews and are to be commended on their achievement,” said QE Librarian Ciara Murray.

Binu reviewed Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys: “After reading the first few lines of blurb, I wasn't exactly convinced that this book would be a good read, because personally I thought that it would be quite childish and predictable. I guess that that just goes to show that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.” He rated the book as 5/5 for its “unputdownability”.

Manojj reviewed Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan, also rating it at 5/5. “This book has not only shown me the insight into one life, but has taught me something about my own.

""Although things come together at the end, it is not how Apple expects, but that is one lesson of life. Life is what you make it and families come in many forms, like Apple’s. Finally, being human means we make mistakes and aren’t perfect, though we always try to be,” he wrote.

The day also afforded the boys the opportunity to meet the authors and hear about how the books were written, as well as to purchase signed copies as souvenirs.

“I was extremely pleased with the standard of all our boys’ reviews,” added Ms Murray. “One of the best things about WeRead is that it introduced the boys to books they might otherwise not have read. It was also a great opportunity to hear directly from the authors about how they wrote their books and the obstacles and pitfalls they had to overcome.”

In her presentation, the author of Shine, Candy Gourlay (pictured above), said she wanted her audience to take away the idea of how important structure was to telling a good story. After the talk, several of the boys were keen to buy her book, and to get it signed. “I really enjoyed Candy’s talk – she had so much enthusiasm,” said Saad Mahmood, of Year 10.

""After lunch, C J Flood (pictured right), author of Infinite Sky, which several of the boys had read and reviewed, gave a talk. In the Q and A session, Mipham Samten of Year 9 asked whether she considered the gender of her audience when she was writing. He pointed out that the cover of the book made it seem like as though it was aimed more at girls than boys. Flood replied that authors often do not get to make choices about their book covers. Given that two of her main characters were boys, and that they were responsible for driving much of the story, she felt there was a lot that her male readers could take away from the book.

“I asked her for tips, and she said to make sure you didn’t just take ideas from books you’ve read – that it was really important to put your own experiences into your writing,” said Naveen Weerasinghe from Year 10.