Tower Hamlets Book Award 2017

 And the winner is…

a library of lemonsJo Cotterill and Phillip Reeve joined pupils from 33 primary and secondary schools at the 2017 awards finale, which was kindly hosted by Canary Wharf Group. Jo was speechless (mostly) as she accepted the award for the fantastic A Library of Lemons which had really captured the imaginations of readers.

Phillip took a well-earned third place with Railhead with Katherine Rundell’s Wolf Wilder coming second.

Jo Award
Jo is presented with her award for A Library of Lemons by Gillian Harris, head of the Schools Library Services

Eight schools – St Annes Primary, Arnhem Wharf Primary, Morpeth Secondary, Sir John Cass Secondary, Guardian Angels Primary, Cyril Jackson Primary, Blue Gate Fields Juniors, and St Johns Primary all put on fantastic performances based on the shortlist, and it was Blue Gate Fields that took the prize for best performance with their take on Wolf Wilder.

BGF performers
Pupils from Blue Gate Fields Junior School celebrate a well-deserved win

The Schools Library Services would like to thank all of the teachers and librarians who encouraged so many children to take part in the award, all of the staff at Canary Wharf Group, East Wintergarden and Ampersand Catering and of course Phillip and Jo for being fantastic competition judges and for being wonderfully inspiring.

Philip signing Jo signing







The books are…


Cast your vote!

  • [media-downloader media_id=”22548″ texts=”Download the ballot paper”]

Online voting is now closed. Finale attendees should bring all completed ballot papers with them.

Pupils are entitled to their own vote as long as they’ve read at least one of the books!

  • [media-downloader media_id=”21430″ texts=”Download a PowerPoint presentation of the shortlist”]
  • [media-downloader media_id=”21432″ texts=”Download award timeline and guidelines”]
Cotterill, Jo A library of lemons Calypso has shut herself away in books and stories since her mother’s death. So has her father who has been growing ever more distant and needing more care than Calypso can give. When she discovers the sad secret hidden in his library, she knows that there is something wrong. Perhaps her new friend, Mae, and her family hold the key to fixing both their lives.
Hargrave, Kiran Millwood The girl of ink & stars The world beyond Isabella’s island is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Setting off to find her friend, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.
Leonard, M G Beetle boy Darkus Cuttle can’t believe that his father is the sort of man to just ‘disappear’. He also can’t believe it when a giant beetle seems to want to communicate with him – how can a boy be friends with a beetle? And can the beetle help him find his father?
Rundell, Katherine The wolf wilder Wolf pups can fetch a thousand roubles and are said to bring luck to a household, but they can never be truly tamed. Feodora is a wolf wilder, who takes wolves when they outgrow their household and teaches them to be as strong and as wild as the country where they were born.
Roy, Nilanjana The Wildings Prowling, hunting and fighting amidst the crumbling ruins of one of Delhi’s oldest neighbourhoods, are the proud Wildings. These feral cats fear no one, go where they want and do as they please – but change is in the air…
The Wildings trailer

Reeve, Philip Rail head The Network Empire. A star-spanning web of rails traversed by sentient trains, ruled by rival families. Just the place for a lowlife thief like Zen Starling to meet his destiny…

Your FREE set of the shortlist courtesy of Canary Wharf Group have now arrived at your schools (addressed to the school librarian or literacy coordinator).


If your school is following the award, please email so that we can keep in touch with you about the award and any extras on offer. If you want to attend the finale, please fill in the form below.

Competition time!

Click here for competition details

Every year we hold a creative competition based on the shortlisted books.

  1. Pupils should choose one (or as many as they like!) of the categories below
  2. Create something fantastic!
  3. Send the entries to us (details below) by Monday 20th November for judging
  4. The best pieces will be on display at the Grand Finale where the winners will receive their prizes.


  • Write a haiku poem or an acrostic poem based on one of the 6 books
  • Make a character portrait of any character from one of the 6 books
  • Illustrate a favourite scene from one of the 6 books
  • Design a bookmark promoting next years Tower Hamlets Book Award (one side only) Template -right click and save the image.


  • All entries will be checked for plagiarism!
  • Artwork must be entirely the pupils’ own work. Tracing, copying, cut ‘n’ paste from the internet, clip art and stickers will not qualify for a prize.
  • Entries must be received by the Schools Library Services, PDC 229 Bethnal Green Road, E2 6AB by Monday 20th November.

Good luck!

Grand Finale

Canary Wharf Group have very kindly allowed us to invade the East Wintergarden again this year! As usual, the finale will be a celebration of the award with performances by pupils (max 8 groups), quizzes and of course, the voting for the best book!

Friday 24th November | 43 Bank Street, London E14 5NX, |12.30pm to 3pm

Confirmed guests this year:

Image result for philip reeve

Philip Reeve

Author of the Railhead series, the Mortal Engines series (to be released in December 2018 as a film by Peter Jackson), the Goblins series (shortlisted for the 2013 Tower Hamlets Book Award), and Oliver and the Seawigs and Pugs of the Frozen North (with Sarah McIntyre).


Jo Cotterill

Author of A Library of Lemons, a Storm of Strawberries, the Electrigirl series (longlisted for the book award this year)  and Looking at the Stars.





About the Book Award

“Children need to be enthused to read and if they are, this will become a springboard for their achievements throughout the curriculum.”

(Report of the Inquiry into Overcoming the Barriers to Literacy, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Education, 2011)

The award is just one of the exciting events made possible by subscriptions to the Tower Hamlets Schools Library Services, and is a free event for subscribing schools.

The Book Award is for pupils aged 10 to 13. The aim is to encourage children to read, to bring children together to enable debate and discussion about books and to encourage children to share the pleasure of reading.

 Why join in?

Because the award bridges primary and secondary schools, it encourages pupils from different phases to share in reading events and work together.

Schools who have taken part in the award have found it to be highly beneficial in encouraging children to broaden their reading range and develop their literacy – not just in reading but also in speaking and listening, as a core part of any book award is discussion and debate.

The award, and the primary and secondary book lists, encourage pupils to make their own choices about what they read, and to discover new and exciting authors and stories.

Schools have the opportunity to attend the grand finale, meet authors and generally have a great time.


David, Joanna, Ross and Sally had the tricky job of choosing the best presentation
The 2016 Award finale at Canary Wharf. Authors David Solomons, Joanna Nadin, Ross Welford and Sally Nicholls had the tricky job of choosing the best school presentation

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Opening Times

Opening times

Please note that the PDC building is currently closed for access. The library will not be open during this time but staff can be reached via email or the web form.

We will update the website once the library re-opens which we expect to be from Monday 4th December.

Term time Monday – Thursday: 9am to 5pm

Fridays and holidays: 9am to 4:30pm