Tir na n-Og Awards 2008

The 2008 English Tir na n-Og Award

The Welsh Books Council has announced the name of the winner of the prestigious Tir na n-Og English Award which recognises the exceptional quality of books with an authentic Welsh background for children and young people.

The 2008 English Award was won by Frances Thomas for her novel for young people, Finding Minerva, published by Pont Books. The award is sponsored by CILIP Wales (The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals). The award was presented to the author at a special reception held at the CILIP Cymru annual conference at Llandrindod, Powys.


Finding Minerva is a fast-moving thriller, set in a modern Britain still ruled by the Roman Empire. Action starts on page one and doesn’t flag until the end. Livia Marcel can’t believe it when she learns that her friend Max is wanted by the police for murder! When she receives a mysterious note, warning that she, too, is under surveillance, Livia’s in fear for her life.

Frances Thomas has produced an exciting, intelligent story with great characters and a real sense of danger. There is a touching love story between Livia and the one person she meets she can trust, Cai. The way modern life and the ancient Roman Empire have been blended is convincing, intriguing and very well handled. Livia is an excellent heroine, brave but realistically shocked and frightened by all that is thrown at her.

According to the reviewer on gwales.com:

‘All in all, this is a gripping, hugely enjoyable novel, and I would highly recommend it to everyone.’

Frances Thomas was born during the war in 1943 in Aberdare where her mother had gone to escape the bombs. Her mother’s family was Irish and English, her father’s Welsh. Later the family moved back to south London where Frances Thomas grew up.

Being an only child she read lots of books, and when the books ran out she made up stories, a habit she’s never lost.

She was educated at a convent school and later read English at London University and took a teaching course. She married the historian, Professor Richard Rathbone and has two grown-up daughters.

According to Frances Thomas’ her most interesting work, apart from writing, was working with dyslexic people.

This is not the first time for Frances Thomas to win the Tir na n-Og Award. She has won the award three times in the past:
in 1981 for her first children’s book The Blindfold Track
in 1986 for Region of the Summer Stars
in 1991 for Who Stole a Bloater?

She writes for children and adults but especially enjoys writing for children and has won the Scottish Arts Council’s award for a picture book for young children.

After living for many years in north London, she and her husband decided to come to live in mid-Wales where they used to spend their family holidays.

Frances Thomas said, ‘I’m very pleased and proud to have won this award’.

She is now learning Welsh (ond mae mor anodd!), and enjoys walking on the hills, writing and painting.


The Welsh Books Council has announced the names of the winners of the Welsh Tir na n-Og Awards 2008, presented by the Welsh Books Council for the best books for children and young people.

Two awards of £1,000 each, sponsored by CILIP Wales (The Chartered Institutes of Library and Information Professionals) and the Welsh Books Council, were presented to the authors in a special ceremony at the Urdd National Eisteddfod, Conwy.


The winner in the primary category is Y Llyfr Ryseitiau: Gwaed y Tylwyth, Nicholas Daniels (Dref Wen).

Nicholas Daniels

Gwiddan is celebrating her thirteenth birthday and her father buys her a new pair of trainers and gives her a gift from her mother who died when she was a little girl – Y Llyfr Ryseitiau (the recipe book).

The story bubbles with excitement and Panel members felt that this novel breaks new ground in Welsh writing for children, with the world of the old Welsh folk-tale of Llyn y Fan Fach blending in successfully with a magical world similar to that of Harry Potter.

Y Llyfr Ryseitiau: Gwaed y Tylwyth, is Nicholas Daniel's fifth book for children. A native of Llangennech, Llanelli, he is Deputy Head of Ysgol Evan James, Pontypridd. This is the first time that he has won the prestigious Tir na n-Og Award.


The winner of the secondary category is Gareth F. Williams for his novel Eira Mân, Eira Mawr (Cyfres Whap!), Gwasg Gomer.


This is a skilful and frightening novel which demonstrates that one must face the consequences of their actions, however dreadful these consequences may be. The lives of Anna, Marc and Ows Bach changed drastically on their way home from the pub one snowy Christmas eve.

According to Panel members, this powerful novel pushes the boundaries of teenage fiction in Welsh.

Gareth F. Williams has won the Tir na n-Og Award three times previously:

* in 1991 for O Ddawns i Ddawns
* in 1997 for Dirgelwch Loch Ness
* in 2007 for Adref Heb Elin

Gareth F. Williams is a full-time author. A native of Porthmadog, he now lives in Cardiff.

Efa Gruffudd Jones, Urdd Gobaith Cymru's Chief Executive added:
"We are extremely happy to welcome the winners of the Tir na n-Og Prize to the Urdd Gobaith Cymru National Eisteddfod stage. The Urdd magazines, from Cymru'r Plant to Cip, as well as the Eisteddfod literary competitions, have made a significant contribution to Welsh children's literature, and we are proud to be able to honour the winning authors this year."

Gwerfyl Pierce Jones, Director of Welsh Books Council added:
"We are extremely proud to honour the authors this year at the Urdd National Eisteddfod. It is very encouraging to be able to announce during the National Year of Reading that so many books of a high standard are published for young readers and it shows the wealth of material that is available on the market today."


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