AWARD-winning writer Guy Bass has officially declared Portsmouth ‘my happy place’ after his book was judged best shorter novel by a discerning crowd of more than 1,500 primary schoolchildren.
Ecstatic cheers rang out from the Kings Theatre auditorium as the author got on stage to accept the Portsmouth Book Award for Dinkin Dings and the Double from Dimension 9.
It is the second year in a row that Mr Bass has won the accolade. Last year, his first Dinkin Dings instalment also claimed the Blue Peter Book Award.
He said: ‘I am so chuffed.
‘The book is the last in the series, so I really wasn’t expecting to win.
‘Portsmouth really is my happy place. As a writer I spend a lot of time at home squeezing ideas out of my head, with no idea whether anyone will like them or not.
‘Seeing so many children who are reading my books and others is both humbling and inspiring.’
The event, organised by the city’s school library service, attracted votes from 1,559 year fives who read a short list of five books including Daren King’s Frightfully Friendly Ghosties, Andrew Norriss’ Aquila 2, Jeremy Strong’s Batpants! and Jeanne Willis’ Silly Cecil and Clever Cubs.
At the ceremony, two pupils were awarded ‘Reader of the Year’ certificates and a group of young actors from Court Lane Juniors presented a drama based on the book.
They were followed by a choir from Cottage Grove Primary who sang a tune on the same theme composed by head Polly Honeychurch.
Louis Holbrook, ten, from St Swithun’s Primary in Southsea, said: ‘It’s great children my age have a voice and can vote for their favourite book.
‘I’ve had a great time today. Even though Batpants! which I chose didn’t win, I enjoyed reading all the books which were imaginative and fun.’
Zac Smith, nine, from Victory Primary in Paulsgrove, said: ‘When Guy Bass’ name was called out I was over the moon. I thought his book was by far the best.’
Sophie Harris, ten, a pupil at Highbury Primary in Cosham, said: ‘I’ve had the best time today. I voted for Aquila 2 but am very happy with the result.
‘I love reading. It transports me to another world.’
· Other Book Award winners were Paul Dowsell’s Auslander for longer novel (year 8/9 judges) and Angela McAllister’s My Mum Has X-Ray Vision for picture book (year 1 judges).