‘Shell’ – the well-deserved winner of the Hampshire Book Award 2019

Author Paula Rawsthorne with pupils from Bohunt School, Thornden School and Romsey School with Felicity Roe from Hampshire County Council

Paula Rawsthorne’s novel, ‘Shell’, has been voted the winner of this year’s Hampshire Book Award by the county’s young readers, in Hampshire County Council’s annual competition.

The County Council’s Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage, Councillor Seán Woodward, said: “Promoting literacy, and a love of reading among young people, is one of the core priorities of our Library Service. Our book award aims to encourage teenagers to read, think in depth about the issues raised, and enjoy discussing their ideas. This year’s result clearly showsHampshire’s young readers are not shying away from reading and debating books with serious and emotive storylines.” 

As part of the annual award process, Year 8 pupils from 49 secondary schools across Hampshire read and evaluated six shortlisted books. At the beginning of July, pupils met across the county to vote for the overall winner – ‘Shell’. 

‘Shell’ explores the question of ‘what if you thought you had died, only to wake up in someone else's body? Paula’s plot follows Lucy, a teen diagnosed with terminal cancer. She wakes up cancer-free, it should be a dream come true. But faced with a life she didn't choose and trapped in a new body, Lucy must face the biggest question of all . . . How far would you go to save the one you love? 

One of the judges, a pupil at Hounsdown School in Totton, said: "What I enjoyed most about the Hampshire Book Award is that I was able to read books that I normally wouldn't choose in the library. There was a lot of material in the books to discuss, and even though in our group we had a real mixture of opinions, we all could see why the books were shortlisted. I enjoyed attending the voting day and it was good to see all the other schools involved with the scheme. I would definitely recommend students take part in the Hampshire Book Award as you will be introduced to authors and themes you may not usually know about." 

Pupils from various participating schools attended the award ceremony held by Hampshire Library Service at the Middle Brook Centre in Winchester on 15 October,  where they had the chance to meet Paula.  

Paula said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that Shell has won the Hampshire Book Award. To receive an award that has been voted for by students across the county is such an honour.   

“I’m a massive advocate of getting teenagers reading for pleasure and the Hampshire Book Award does just that. I’d like to thank Hampshire Library Service, the County Council and all the students who took part.” 

Councillor Woodward added: “It was great to see so much energy and passion for reading. The children were thrilled to meet Paula, and our congratulations go to her for her latest award.” 

Copies of ‘Shell’, along with Paula’s other books, are available to borrow for free from Hampshire County Council’s libraries in print and audiobook formats.   

Find out more about Hampshire School Library Service

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