The book you must be looking for… QE boys’ literary reviews win awards at Barnet schools reading festival

The book you must be looking for… QE boys’ literary reviews win awards at Barnet schools reading festival

Two Year 8 boys won awards for book reviews written in advance of a special Barnet event to promote reading.

Thirteen boys from Years 7 & 8 made the trip to Wren Academy for the 2018 Read4Barnet – a festival of reading that grew out of a collaboration partly spearheaded by QE librarian Ciara Murray.

Read4Barnet delegates from the eight schools taking part were either nominated by their English teachers or were part of their school’s team of librarians. In the build-up, they had firstly to read one book from a list of seven titles that have recently been published and nominated for children’s writing awards, and then to write a 500-word review of their chosen book.

QE’s Dylan Domb and Ardavan Hamisi won awards for the high quality of their reviews, earning themselves a £10 book voucher each. The book Dylan reviewed – a short novel called Rook about growing up and family – was written by Anthony McGowan, who was one of the four authors taking part in the day.

Head of English Robert Hyland, who accompanied the QE boys, said: “Our students attended the talks by Anthony McGowan and Ruth Eastham, where the writers talked through their creative processes and how they found inspiration; Ruth Eastham said hers came primarily from historical events, whereas Anthony McGowan took inspiration from classic literature and his own teenage years. Both encouraged the boys to keep on reading and writing, with Ruth Eastham advising them to: ‘Read like a butterfly, write like a bee.’”

Ruth Eastham’s reviewed book was The Warrior in the Mist. The other authors involved, with their books selected for review, were Non Pratt (Unboxed) and Nat Luurtsema (Lou out of Luck). All the writers attended an author panel where they answered questions from pupils. They also made themselves available for book signings at lunch. Nat Luurtsema won the popular vote to win the Read4Barnet best author award.

  • Dylan’s review began: “Seeking a novel overflowing with an abundance of emotions, from exasperation to love, or hopelessness to hopefulness? The book you must be looking for is Rook.” Ardavan’s 500 words were on Will Hill’s book, After the Fire, which was inspired by the Waco siege in Texas 1993 when 82 members of the Branch Davidian sect and four US government agents died after a long siege. Ardavan particularly appreciated the way in which Hill gave “the perspective of an individual, where, at almost all points, the reader is smarter and is aware of more than Moonbeam [the main character] is”.