The authors and illustrators were only allowed one award each at this week's Nestle Smarties Book Prize ceremony at the British Library; the pupils of Great Dunmow primary in Essex collected two. Faye Miller's Year 1 class won the Young Judges award for work inspired by books on the shortlist in the under-fives' category; the same award for books for six to eight-year-olds went to the Year 3 class shared by Julie Fuller and Catherine Finn. For the first time, one school presented the gold, silver and bronze awards in two categories. The Great Dunmow pupils had just two weeks to read the shortlisted books, choose a winner and produce displays for the Young Judges award - with half term in the middle.
"We didn't abandon the curriculum but we focused everything on the books and read them in class reading time," Julie Fuller said. "The children also used their maths to do their own tallying."
The Gold Award winners were: Under-fives, The Witch's Children and The Queen by Ursula Jones and Russell Ayto; 6-8, Varjak Paw by S F Said; 9-11, The Fire-Eaters by David Almond. The Countess's Calamity by Sally Gardner won a special award from Kids' Club Network.