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Winning author announced for Two Cities Book Award

The winner of the 2023 Two Cities Book Award has been announced.

Luke Hemmings (2023 BBC young reporter winner) and Iona Mandal (2022-2024 Birmingham young poet laureate) present the award to A.M. Dassu

A.M. Dassu was named the winner in a ceremony that brought together 150 young readers from Wolverhampton and Birmingham, including guests from King Edward's School, King Edward VI High School for Girls, Wolverhampton Grammar School and Perton Middle School.

Over the last month, hundreds of 14 to 18-year-olds from across Wolverhampton and Birmingham have been voting for a winning author from a shortlist of four fictional works.

They were When Shadows Fall by Sita Brahmachari (Little Tiger), Fight Back by A.M. Dassu (Scholastic), Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber (HarperCollins) and The Last Whale by Chris Vick (Bloomsbury).

The finalists, Chris Vick and A.M. Dassu, attended the final at Wolverhampton Grammar School in partnership with Authors Aloud UK to share their works with the audience.

The remaining shortlisted authors, Sita Brahmachari, Catherine Doyle, and Katherine Webber, sent special video messages.

Zoe Rowley, head librarian for WGS, Chris Vick, A.M. Dassu, Luke Hemmings (2023 BBC young reporter winner), Iona Mandal (2022-2024 Birmingham young poet laureate), Annie Everall (Authors Aloud UK), Julie Welch (Authors Aloud UK)

Also inspiring the audience were Luke Hemmings, 2023 BBC young reporter winner for the West Midlands, and Iona Mandal, 2022-2024 Birmingham young poet laureate, who also had the honour of presenting the award to A.M. Dassu.

The Two Cities Book Award is a partnership between King Edward’s School in Birmingham and Wolverhampton Grammar School, created in 2022 by Wolverhampton Grammar School head librarian Zoe Rowley to inspire young adults to read for pleasure.

Jamila Gavin’s moving Second World War drama, Never Forget You, was chosen as the inaugural winner.

Ms Rowley said: "The Two Cities Book Award Ceremony has united Birmingham and Wolverhampton students to share their passion for reading.

"It's a very special award, as 14 to 18-year-olds decide on the shortlist and the winner.

"We are delighted that so many young people voted for Fight Back by A.M. Dassu as their winner, especially as it is an empowering story that celebrates the power of individuality, kindness and community.

"Young people left the event with signed books, memories that will last a lifetime and a renewed enthusiasm to read for pleasure."

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