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English language Tir na n-Og winner 2024 announced

17 May 2024 4 minute read
Where the River Takes Us by Lesley Parr is the 2024 winner of the Tir na n-Og English-language Award for children and young people’s literature

Author Lesley Parr has won the Tir na n-Og English-language Award with Where the River Takes Us, a pacy 1970s adventure set in a Welsh valley, published by Bloomsbury.

The winning book was announced at a lunchtime ceremony today, Friday 17 May, at the CILIP Cymru Wales conference in Cardiff, by singer, actor and presenter Miriam Isaac.

Second win

This is the second time Lesley has won the Tir na n-Og English-language Award, following the success of wartime novel The Valley of Lost Secrets in 2022. This year’s winning novel is set in 1974; a time of strikes, hardship and the three-day week, but it is also a story full of humour and friendship:

February 1974. Whispers echo through the valley – tales of a wild beast roaming the mountains. When a reward is offered for proof of its existence, Jason and his friends are determined to find the creature first.

But for Jason it’s more than a quest – the money is a way for him and his brother to stay together. So the four friends set off, following the river north, not realising that this journey will push them to their limits. An extraordinary adventure awaits …

Lesley Parr said: “I’m over the moon that Where the River Takes Us has won the Tir na n-Og Award in the English Language category. I love to write about my kind of Wales; ordinary people doing extraordinary things against a backdrop of working-class Welshness. To receive an accolade at this level – and from my own country – is a very special thing.”

Established in 1976, the annual Tir na n-Og Awards celebrate the best books for children and young people in Wales. They are organised by the Books Council of Wales and sponsored by CILIP Cymru Wales.

The Chair of the judging panel, Simon Fisher, said: “Congratulations to Lesley on winning this year’s Award. Where the River Takes Us is a beautiful and genuine portrayal of friendship and family strife. Action-packed and brilliantly written, this pacy tale of 70s hardships and the hunt for a wild cat is totally gripping and lots of fun.”

Jamie Finch, Chair of CILIP Cymru Wales, said: “On behalf of CILIP Cymru Wales, we are delighted once again to support the annual Tir na n-Og Awards, which showcase some of the most inspiring and entertaining books penned for children and young adults in Wales.

We are grateful to the Books Council of Wales for organising these awards, and, of course, to the judging panels who have the unenviable task of picking the winners.”

Shortlisted titles

The other shortlisted titles for the English-language category were:

  • Vivi Conway and the Sword of Legend by Lizzie Huxley-Jones (Knights of Media)
  • The Ghosts of Craig Glas Castle by Michelle Briscombe (Candy Jar Books)

Where the River Takes Us has also been announced today as the winner of the English-language Readers’ Choice Award. This is a special award chosen by children and young people who took part in the Tir na n-Og Shadowing Scheme and nominated their own winner from the shortlisted titles.

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, said: “Warmest congratulations to Lesley on her achievement winning the English-language Tir na n-Og Award for the second time, and for also winning the Readers’ Choice Award this year. Thank you to everybody involved in this year’s awards, with special thanks to the librarians, teachers and booksellers who play such a vital role helping young readers discover these wonderful books.”

The winners of the two Welsh-language category Tir na n-Og Awards 2024 will be revealed at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Meifod at 1pm on Wednesday 29 May 2024.

Further details about the awards and the titles can be seen on the Books Council’s website.

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