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Ruth Thomson wins the 2012 ALCS Educational Writers' Award

4 December

Described as “unforgettable”, the winner of the 2012 ALCS Educational Writers’ Award is Terezín: A Story of the Holocaust by Ruth Thomson. The 2012 Judges described the winner as: “One of the finest children’s non-fiction books for many years”.

The result of this year’s Award was announced this afternoon by Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, on behalf of the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) and The Society of Authors at the All Party Writers Group (APWG) Winter Reception at the House of Commons. Ed Vaizey presented winner Ruth Thomson with a cheque for £2000 (pictured), and commented:

"My congratulations to the winner of the Educational Writers' Award, Ruth Thomson, and indeed to all the shortlisted authors on their outstanding writing for young people. I'm very pleased to support this ALCS & Society of Authors award which celebrates inspiring educational writing and encourages a spirit of enquiry in young people."

The 2012 Award focused on books for 11-18 year olds, published in 2010 and 2011. Terezín beat off strong competition from the other three titles shortlisted for this year’s Award. They were:

Really Really Big Questions about Faith Dr Julian Baggini, illustrated by Nishant Choksi (Kingfisher)

The Story of Britain Patrick Dillon, illustrated by PJ Lynch (Walker Books)

Into the Unknown: how great explorers found their way by land sea and air Stewart Ross, illustrated by Stephen Biesty (Walker Books)

Terezín: A Story of the Holocaust, published by Franklin Watts is an outstanding reference book for children of 11+, which tells the story of the Terezín/Theresienstadt fortified ghetto in occupied Czechoslovakia during the Second World War, where the Nazis imprisoned thousands of Jews, and from where they subsequently sent many to their deaths. Copiously illustrated, the book features first-hand accounts of life in the town, as well as many moving works of art from some of the artists who were incarcerated there.

This year’s judges - writer and former publisher, Simon Adams, secondary school modern languages teacher, Louise Trevelyan, and school librarian, Jenny Berggren - were unanimous in their praise for the winning title, describing it as:

"A quietly impressive and unforgettable book which shows exactly what good non-fiction writing should be about. Striking images from Terezín are powerfully combined with first-hand accounts from those who lived there, to tell a remarkable and harrowing story few us knew much about before. By investigating life inside one camp, the author lays bare the horrors faced by everyone caught up in the Holocaust. This is an exemplary winner, which packs a massive emotional punch. We’d go as far as to call this one of the finest children’s non-fiction books for many years."

The author of Terezín, Ruth Thomson is an educational writer who specialises in art and history. She has written titles and art packs for the National Gallery, the Tate Galleries and the Imperial War Museum, and her history books include a series about Victorian childhood, and books about the Plains Indians and the Aztecs. Her interest in Terezín was sparked during research for an educational pack on Holocaust
art for the London Gallery of Jewish Art. The gallery owns a powerful series of prints by Leo Haas, one of the artists featured in Terezín, and Ruth found herself compelled to find out more about the place that had inspired them.

The Educational Writers’ Award was established in 2008 by ALCS and The Society of Authors “to celebrate educational writing that inspires creativity and encourages students to read widely and build up their understanding of a subject beyond the requirements of exam specifications”. Previous winners of the Award include Bill Bryson, Ian Gilbert, and one of this year’s shortlisted authors, Stewart Ross.

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