And today's announcement! I'll be helping judge the prize with fellow author Phil Earle. (You can follow him on Twitter as @philearle.)
Read the rest of the article here on the Sainsbury's website.
About Sainsbury's... Now, they haven't asked me to give them a plug or anything, but I'm actually really glad it's them, because that's my local shop. I don't buy books there - our branch doesn't stock many books - but I get almost all my food there. A combination of Sainsbury's supermarket and Delia Smith sort of played mother to me when I first moved to Britain and didn't know how to cook much more than scrambled eggs and eggy toast. The woman who worked behind the fish counter gave me a little impromptu class on how to de-bone a fish. The kindly elderly man in the booze section helped me pick out something cheap-but-decent for dinner. Another floor clerk rolled her eyes only ever-so-slightly when I complained to her that I couldn't find 'seasoned flour' on the shelf, and explained it to me. (Delia, Americans don't know what 'seasoned' means! Ah... sprinkled with salt and pepper.) And whenever my friends would visit from abroad, they'd always want to go there, as a tourist destination, because it had all the food we'd couldn't get back in the US, but had read about a lot in books, such as crumpets, elderflower cordial, treacle, trifle sponge, golden syrup, jammie dodgers, Jaffa cakes, Hob-Nobs, oatcakes, and a whole aisle of tea.
I find Sainbury's is a sort of comforting presence. When the bombs went off in 2005 and my husband was working right in central London in a government building, I couldn't get through to him on the phone. It just rang and rang, as many people's phones did that day. There wasn't anything I could do, and I hardly knew anyone then, but I was too freaked out to sit at home. So I walked over to Sainbury's, on the pretext of getting some milk. There was an old man riding his mobility scooter around the wine section, blasting ethereal classical choral music from his speakers. He pulled up behind me in the checkout, where I had a brief chat with the checkout girl, mentioning the bombings. When I finished my purchase, he pulled up to me, gave me a kindly look, and handed me a stick of gum. "Here you go, you look like you could use this." It was such a welcome gesture, I almost burst into tears right there in the shop. Stuart turned out to be fine, and I saved the gum wrapper as a bookmark for years.
It's where I got my packets when I first tried Angel Delight.
Stuart swears by their Taste-the-Difference Scottish whole-rolled porridge oats, it's kind of His Thing. He takes it when we go on holiday, because he doesn't like other porridges as much. He panics a bit when the shop stock is low, but if there are only two bags, he won't take both because he's worried someone else will not be able to get their porridge.
So I feel a warm sort of glow when it comes to Sainsbury's, and I'm really glad I get to work with them on children's books; two worlds coming together.