Run by Essex County Council’s School Library Service, the Essex Book Award is a county-wide scheme aimed at encouraging school pupils between the ages of 11 and 14 to enjoy wider reading and foster a passion for fiction. The award was again sponsored this year by Micro Librarian Systems.
The novel tells the story of Ben, who receives an unusual present for his 13th birthday – a baby chimpanzee called Zan. Boy and chimp quickly grow close, but ‘Project Zan’ is set to turn family life upside down.
Based on controversial true events the book asks questions about the family, humanity and love. Young Essex readers voted overwhelmingly for the book as their favourite this year.
Essex School Library Service librarians chose a shortlist of six novels from a huge range of newly-published books for young people. Encouraged throughout by the librarians in their own schools, pupils were able to cast individual votes for their favourite book. Overall, 27 Essex, Southend and Thurrock schools took part in the award.
All participating readers will be invited to meet the winning author at a presentation ceremony in the summer term.
Councillor Stephen Castle, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Education and the 2012 Games said: “The Essex Book Award is a wonderful way to get young readers inspired by fiction and encourage them to develop their own views and opinions. We are thrilled to announce Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel as the winner of the sixth Essex Book Award, a clear favourite and inspiration to those pupils involved in the decision-making.”
Also shortlisted for the sixth Essex Book Award were:
- Flip by Martyn Bedford
- Hidden by Miriam Halahmy
- Sky Hawk by Gill Lewis
- A Beautiful Lie by Irfan Master
- Trash by Andy Mulligan