Surprise Book Award For York Children’s Author

A children’s author from York has been named as the Gold Medal winner in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards for his debut children’s book, Ballistic Kids, almost a year to the day since it was published.

Thom Craigen, a father of two and former professional musician was awarded the Gold Medal in the 6–8-year-olds category of The Wishing Shelf Awards, an annual competition open to independent authors.

Entries are judged on editing, theme, style, cover and illustrations by children at primary schools around the UK. The awards are run by Edward Trayer, a successful independent author (who writes under the pen name Billy Bob Buttons) who established them to provide entrants with honest, in-depth judging and comprehensive feedback from the target audience, so there is value created for all entrants, not just the winners.

Thom published Ballistic Kids in April 2020, but the national lockdown meant that his plans for promoting its release all had to be put on hold.

He said “Writing and publishing the book took a lot of effort and was the culmination of several years’ work, so it was really difficult to accept that I couldn’t visit schools or attend book fairs and music festivals to share it with people. I entered the awards pretty much as soon as the book came out, but then so much happened due to COVID that I didn’t think about it for a long time. I was made redundant from my day job in 2020 and was pretty busy supporting my children with home-schooling during lockdown.”

Thom wrote Ballistic Kids to highlight the social and personal benefits of playing music, to introduce young children to rock music and inspire them to give it a go. It is something very close to his heart so he tried to find other ways to engage with parents and young readers online.

He created free activity sheets and videos to accompany songs from the book’s soundtrack, sharing them with parents and music-lovers on Facebook groups. Orders started to come through and positive reviews began appearing on Amazon, with one declaring “This book ROCKS!” and another even stating that Ballistic Kids “competes with Julia Donaldson on every level”. Then, almost a year after the book was released, Thom received an email telling him he’d won an award.

Thom said “I’ve always been proud of Ballistic Kids, but when I submitted it to the Wishing Shelf Awards, I didn’t know whether it had a chance of winning. When I received the email to say that it had been awarded the Gold Medal, it was a huge surprise!”

Copies of Ballistic Kids are available at priced at £9.99 plus P&P. Readers can get a discount code for 15% off the cover price by joining the mailing list on the website.