Tir na n-Og Awards 2009

The 2009 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 Welsh background for children and young people.

The 2009 English Award was won by Graham Howells for his book for young people, Merlin's Magical Creatures, published by Pont Books. The volume is a directory of magical creatures which inhabit the otherworld just beyond our own.


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.

Alan Lee, the Oscar winning concept artist for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy said in a review of the book:

'Merlin would have been proud of this cornucopia of world Welsh wonders.'

Graham Howells was born in Antwerp, Belgium. His father was in the army and the family moved around the world with him. When he was ten, the family moved to Pembroke Dock, where he attended Bush Comprehensive School. He now lives in Llanelli.

He soon discovered that Pembrokeshire was magical and when he went to Art College he found he could take the magic with him.

The first book that he wrote and illustrated was Merlin Awakes, Pont Books, in October 2004.
He has since written and illustrated a number of books including:

Hiding Hopcyn, Captain Dan and the Ruby Ann, Fabulous Celtic Beasts, Rebecca's Daughter, Spellmakers, Stories of the Stones, Fairy Tales from Wales. Many of his books are also available in Welsh.

Graham Howells said, 'It was a privilege just to be short-listed alongside the likes of Simon Weston, and Malachy Doyle, so to find out that I'd won was a bit of a shock to say the least. Magic.'

Menna Lloyd Williams, Head of the Children's Books Department at the Welsh Books Council said, 'There was a wealth of books to be considered, reflecting the high standard of books for children. It is with great pleasure that we warmly congratulate the winner and the publisher.'

The 2009 Welsh Tir na n-Og Award

The Welsh Books Council has announced the names of the winners of the Welsh Tir na n-Og Awards 2009, 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 Institute of Library and Information Professionals) and the Welsh Books Council, were presented to the authors in a special ceremony at the Urdd National Eisteddfod, Cardiff Bay.

Primary Category

The winner in the primary category is Bownsio, is a novel for 10–11 year-old children about a teenage girl who discovers that her mother is not dead after all. It is a novel which deals with private hope and the harsh reality of life. According to panel members, this is a powerful story which breaks new ground.


Emily Huws is a retired teacher living at Caeathro, Gwynedd. She has won the Tir na n-Og Award four times in the past and also the prestigious Mary Vaughan Jones Award for her contribution to children's books for a considerable period of time.

Secondary Category

The winner of the secondary category is Lleucu Roberts for Annwyl Smotyn Bach (Cyfres y Dderwen), Y Lolfa.


A novel for older teenagers set in the future in which Big Brother keeps an eye on everything; it tells the tale of a pregnant young woman who attempts to escape and break free from the regime. Panel members were of the opinion that this was a powerful and challenging novel which gave us an insight into the fate of our country.

Lleucu Roberts was born at Llandre, Aberystwyth, but lives now at Rhostryfan, Gwynedd, with her husband and four children. This is her third novel, but this is the first one for young adults.

Efa Gruffudd Jones, Urdd Gobaith Cymru's Chief Executive added: 'We are delighted to welcome the winners of the Tir na n-Og Awards on stage at the Urdd National Eisteddfod this year. Children's authors and illustrators make an outstanding contribution to life in Wales and we welcome this opportunity to honour them. We hope that children who visit the Eisteddfod will enjoy reading their books.'

Gwerfyl Pierce Jones, Director of Welsh Books Council added: 'This is the ideal setting to honour the authors of the best Welsh-language books for children and young people, and we are grateful to the Urdd for making it possible to present the awards in the company of so many young readers.'


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