Poet entertains 1,500 Doncaster school pupils at awards launch with homework excuses routine

Around 1,500 children descended on the Doncaster Dome as the nominations for the Doncaster Children's Book Awards were revealed.

The youngsters were treated to routines by two high profile figures from children's literature, as schoolteacher and awards committee member Phil Sheppard revealed the 20 new books on the list, as well as six classics.

Poet Paul Cookson with youngsters from Town Field Primary School at the Doncaster Book Awards launch

The new books are those most borrowed from Doncaster's children's libraries, and the winner will be announced next year, after children have voted for their favourite.

After a stage performance by the Tailgate Theatre Company which included a conjuring performance involving one of their case climbing into a box, which then had swords put through it, famous poet Paul Cookson treated the youngsters to an long performance of poems and stand-up comedy, which had his young audience roaring with laughter and taking part in some of his routines, including a poem about excuses for not doing your homework.

An afternoon session later saw the former Children's Laureate, author and illustrator Chris Riddell, entertain the young audience

Paul later signed books for newly acquired fans, and praised the awards.

Youngsters from Edenthorpe Hall Primary Academy at the launch of the Doncaster Book Awards

He holds a number of positions, including be the poet to the National Football Museum.

He said: "I got asked to be involved as I'm a local author, coming from Retford. The long list for the awards looks great, although as a poet I would have liked to have seen more poetry on there. But it is an exciting list.

"I think it's great that it is decided by children, rather than well meaning adults saying what they should be reading."

"It is great to be here at an awards."

Youngsters from Edenthorpe Hall Primary Academy with actors from the Tailgate Theatre Company at the launch of the Doncaster Book Awards

Nicola Bennett, a teaching assistant at Castle Hills Primary School was among those in the audience, with a group of pupils from her school. Her pupils described the show as hilarious entertainment.

Nicola said: "I think it really helps to have something like this to get the children to read more. it will encourage them to read."

James Worthington, of the Doncaster based Tailgate Theatre said his organisation will be taking part in events related to the book awards over the next few months.

"We've been helping the awards with workshops," he said. "We've been involved for the last six years. "The awards are brilliant - they are self-funding and it is a great way to get children interested in books."

Andrea Clarke, literacy manager at Sir Thomas Wharton Academy, in Edlington, had brought a group of youngsters to the launch.

She said: "The awards are brilliant. We have been involved for a year and done a lot of activities. We may not have been able to work with the Tailgate Theatre Company if we'd not got involved.

"It definitly helps get the children interested in reading, and we've linked it with competitions."

But she said she would like to see more secondary schools involved in the scheme, as most of the schools previously involved had been primary schools.

Hunt for 'reading champions'

Officials at the Doncaster Book Awards are recruiting youngsters to become 'reading champions'.

The will be recruited from year four classes in the borough and would be involved in promoting reading in their schools.

They would be invited to attend the awards' events with the year five and six pupils that usually take part, as well as taking part in other special events.

Meanwhile, the organisers are also planning to run a poetty competition.

The long-list of books

The classics on this year's long list are:

How to Train Your Dragon,

The Neverending Story,

the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe,

The Shepherd's Crown,

Northern Lights

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

The Primary School list is:


Letters from the Lighthouse

Who let the Gods Out

Skulduggery Pleasant Resurrection

Podkin One Ear

The Fox and the Ghost King

Pugs of the Frozen North

My Gym Teacher is and Alien Overlord

The Goldfish Boy

The Midnight Gang

The secondary school list is:

Alex Rider Never Say Die,

I Have No Secrets



One of Us is Lying

Silence is Goldfish

Tales of the Peculiar

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child


What Not to Do if You Turn Invisible

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