Welcome back to Readalong with Sally. I’m having lots of fun sharing Pearl Verses the World with readers old and new, and I hope you’re enjoying it too. Thanks to all who have posted on previous posts and on social media. My post about the covers got lots of responses over on my Facebook page as well as Instagram. It seems the Australian cover was unanimously the favourite.
Today I’d like to talk about the reception the book had when it was published. It wasn’t my first book, but the response from readers, reviewers, schools and booksellers was unlike anything I’d experienced with my earlier books. I may have commented (more than once) that it took 20 years to become an overnight success story – but gosh it was fun, and still is.
One thing that happened that was really unexpected was that Pearl hadn’t long been out when it started being shortlisted for, and even winning, awards. First was the children’s category of the Indie Award, 2009. Later it was an Honour Book in the 2010 CBCA Awards, Best Book of the Year for Upper Primary in the Speech Pathology Awards, Winner of the Young Readers Category of the Family Therapy Award, and was shortlisted for both the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards and the WA Premier’s Literary Awards. It was an amazing year. So much love for my little book. My book was an award winning book! And I was an award winning author.
Awards mean a lot because they let an author know that their book has been judged by a group of experts, against some strong criteria, as being worthy of a trophy, or a certificate, sometimes a cheque, and often a sticker for the front cover. They can boost sales figures, because librarians, teachers and parents will often purchase based on awards. And they say to publishers that they have done a wise thing investigating their time and money into that author, that book.
So, yes, I have enjoyed the awards. But the ones that have meant the most have perhaps gathered the least publicity.
In 2010 Pearl won both the Hoffman Award, in the West Australian Young Readers’ Book Awards (WABYRA) and the Children’s Book Council Junior Judges Children’s Choice Award.
What was so special about these awards? Easy! These awards were won because young readers – the people I write for – read and voted for Pearl. When the target audience likes your book enough to vote for it against some pretty stiff competition, you know you’re doing something right.
Awards aside, though, stickers and trophies and certificates and votes mean a lot. But over the eleven years since Pearl was published there have been hundreds of moments when I’ve realised that my book has been read and loved: chatting to a young reader at a festival or school visit; seeing a girl hugging a copy of Pearl she’d just bought; emails and letters from readers; stories from parents & grandparents about connections made. Every one of those moments feels like an award of its own.
Thanks for dropping by.