This week Downside School hosted the Centurion Book Awards 2019. Over a hundred pupils from 11 schools in Bath and Somerset came together to celebrate books and reading. 

A trumpet fanfare heralded the announcement of Spellslinger as this year’s winner. Delighted author Sebastien de Castell sent a video acceptance speech from Vancouver saying, “I’m truly honoured.” Winning the award, he says, “gives me that final boost as I’m working on this final chapter in a series that has meant so much to me.”

During a fascinating Question Time session with shortlisted authors, pupils found out what life is really like for an author. Phyllida Shrimpton and Tracy Darnton talked frankly about their writing process, how they bring beauty out of the darkest things and even managed to describe themselves as a writer in only three words.

Mr B’s Book Emporium in Bath, who sponsor the event, attended with a pop-up bookshop, while fellow sponsors Bath Glass provided the elegant award. The authors’ workshops at the event were kindly funded by the School Library Association.

Books considered for the Centurion Book Award are chosen, shortlisted and voted for by school children in B&NES and this therefore one of very few prizes in the UK awarded based entirely on children’s choices. Sebastien is the tenth winner and he joins the ranks of writers David Walliams, Malala Yousafzai, R J Palacio and Alice Broadway.  

Schools attending: Chew Valley School, Downside School, King Edward’s School, Kingswood School, Hayesfield Girls’ School, Monkton Combe School, Norton Hill School, Ralph Allen School, Somervale School, Bruton School for Girls, Ansford Academy and Stanchester Academy.