First-Time Author Scoops Tir na n-Og Award
Carmarthenshire-based author Wendy White has won the annual Tir na n-Og award with Welsh Cakes and Custard, her début novel for children.
This award – organised by the Welsh Books Council, and sponsored by CILIP Cymru/Wales – celebrates the best English-language title with an authentic Welsh background. In a prestigious event held at Cardiff Central Library on 15 May, the award was presented to Wendy White for her book Welsh Cakes and Custard (published by Pont/Gomer).
Welsh Cakes and Custard, illustrated by Helen Flook, is a charming series of stories about two young children, Betsi Wyn and Emyr Rhys, who encounter new and sometimes alarming things for the first time. Both children spend a great deal of time with their grandparents, who are positive and encouraging role models for the youngsters.
The panel of judges agreed that Welsh Cakes and Custard skilfully showed aspects of contemporary life in Wales, introducing unforgettable characters in Betsi Wyn and Emyr Rhys, who are brimming with personality.
Lorna Herbert Egan, Chair of the Tir na n-Og English-language Panel, stated of the winner: "She is a perceptive author who understands young children, and her book will educate and entertain youngsters and sharing adults. Text and visual elements work well together, and the joyous illustrations by Helen Flook, the inclusion of both a recipe and traditional song lyrics in Welsh and English, produce a gem of a book which is warm, funny and curriculum-friendly."
Elwyn Jones, Chief Executive of the Welsh Books Council, said: "A number of exciting books were considered for this year’s Tir na n-Og Award, reflecting the quality and range of titles available for children. It is with great pleasure that we warmly congratulate Wendy White and Pont Books on their achievement."
Wendy White, a former teacher at Ysgol y Castell, Kidwelly, said: "I’m delighted to win the Tir na n-Og Award. It’s a great honour for me to win this important award with my first book, as it will certainly encourage me to keep on writing. I love writing about children, so it would be wonderful to have a second book published about Betsi Wyn and Emyr Rhys. I’m also writing a story for young adults and grown-ups about a six-year-old boy who is having a difficult time at home."
The Tir na n-Og English Award – which recognises the exceptional quality of books with a Welsh background for children and young people – is sponsored by CILIP Cymru/Wales (The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals).
The winners of the Welsh language categories of the Tir na n-Og award were as follows
Primary: Cwmwl Dros y Cwm by Gareth F. Williams (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch)
Secondary: Diffodd y Ser by Haf Llewelyn (Y Lolfa)
YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sObHh0cMUmA
Historical Novels Triumph at the 2014 Tir na n-Og Awards
In a ceremony held at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Bala, it was announced that the 2014 Tir na n-Og Awards have been won by two novels based on historic events.
The winner of the primary schools category is Gareth F Williams, for his novel Cwmwl dros y Cwm. Published by Carreg Gwalch, it is based on the fictional experiences of 13 year old John Williams, who moves to Senghenydd with his family from north Wales when his father decides to seek work in the south Wales coalfield.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Gareth noted: "The centenary of the Senghenydd disaster last year inspired me to write the novel. What happened there on 14 October 1913 – the background to the book – was shocking because of the enormity of the disaster. A total of 440 men and boys lost their lives that terrible morning. My aim with Cwmwl dros y Cwm was to bring their stories to life for a new generation of Welsh children, who know precious little about the disaster, and relay that tale through the eyes of a 13 year old boy who lived through it."
This is the fifth time for Gareth to win the Tir na n-Og Award, which is presented annually by the Welsh Books Council to the authors of the best books for children and young people published during the previous year. The awards were established in 1976 and, over the years, they have been presented to some of Wales’s leading authors of children’s books.
The winner of the secondary schools category is Haf Llewelyn, whose novel was also inspired by historical events. Published by Y Lolfa, Diffodd y Sêr is based on the Evans family of Yr Ysgwrn, Trawsfynydd, and their famous son – fallen World War I poet Ellis Humphrey Evans (Hedd Wyn) – whose story unfolds through the eyes of his younger sister, Annie.
Haf, speaking at the awards ceremony, noted: "I was inspired to write Diffodd y Sêr following a trip with friends to see the World War cemeteries at Ypres in Belgium, where we visited Hedd Wyn’s grave. It was an odd feeling to see row upon row of white gravestones with Welsh names etched on them, and the full realisation of how young those boys were really affected us. "After I got home I began to read many letters from soldiers on the front to their families, and vice versa. And that was it – I was caught up in the story, and had to start writing."
Elwyn Jones, Chief Executive of the Welsh Books Council, said: "It is a privilege to congratulate Gareth F Williams on winning the Tir na n-Og Award for a record fifth time which confirms his ability to write captivating stories for children. We also to congratulate Haf Llewelyn, who has also established herself as an author of excellent books for children and adults. The standard of the books on the short list was particularly high this year, reflecting the wide variety of the titles published. We warmly congratulate both authors, together with their respective publishers Carreg Gwalch and Y Lolfa, on their success."
The Tir na n-Og Awards are sponsored by CILIP Cymru/Wales (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals), together with Cymdeithas Lyfrau Ceredigion.
2014 Tir na n-Og shortlists
2014 Best English-language Book Category
The Seven – Steve Gladwin (Pont)
The Wild West Show – Phil Carradice (Pont)
Welsh Cakes and Custard – Wendy White (illustrated by Helen Flook) (Pont)
Best Welsh-language Primary Category
Ar Fferm Sgubor Wen – Caryl Lewis (Gwasg Gwynedd)
Dafydd a Dad – Manon Steffan Ros a Jac Jones (Y Lolfa)
Cwmwl dros y Cwm – Gareth F. Williams (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch)
Best Welsh-language Secondary Category
Haciwr (Cyfres Pen Dafad) – Hywel Griffiths (Y Lolfa)
Diffodd y Sêr (Cyfres yr Onnen) – Haf Llewelyn (Y Lolfa)
Pedwar (Cyfres Mellt) – Lleucu Roberts (Y Lolfa)
Full details and reviews of the books can be viewed on www.gwales.com