Matthew Fitt (2020)
Matthew is a novelist, poet and co-founder (with James Robertson) of the Itchy Coo Books imprint. You might be familiar with his poetry, or his soon-to-be-republished science fiction novel But'n'Ben A-Go Go (included in The List's '100 Best Scottish Books of All Time'), or have read one of his translations into Scots (including Asterix, Roald Dahl – with The Eejits reaching number one on the Waterstones charts - and Harry Potter). As the former National Scots Language Development officer he visited over a thousand schools and libraries across the country.
The Scottish Book Trust Awards panel praised Matthew's writing, his ability to enthuse non-Scots speakers. Panel members said that, 'Matthew is inspirational when he talks about language' and 'the simplicity, rhythm and humour has really captured the imagination of my children'. His work with Itchy Coo was described as 'a boon for bookselling'.
Matthew's tireless work representing Scotland and Scots internationally should also be acknowledged, as well the resources for children and adults that he has for several local authorities, Education Scotland and the General Teaching Council. As one of the panel commented, 'it is difficult to see how the rebirth of Scots language awareness might have come about were it not for the efforts of Matthew Fitt'.
Theresa Breslin (2019)
Theresa Breslin has been a stalwart of Scottish children’s books for 30 years and has published over 50 titles during this time, including folklore, fantasy, historical novels and modern issues. She tackles serious issues and difficult subjects, using fiction as a safe space to explore and understand many sides of a situation.
The experience gained in her former career as a youth librarian provides insight for her creative writing: the panel recognised that she has been a champion of professional librarians and vocal about the importance of school libraries over a number of years.
Theresa is an Honorary Fellow of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies, and was granted Honorary Membership of the Scottish Library Association for services to Children’s Literature. In February 2011 she co-ordinated the demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament to protest against the downgrading of library services and ask the Scottish Government to provide a nationwide policy. She was 2016 President of CILIPS and is a keen supporter of ‘Save Scotland’s School Libraries.’
Vivian French (2018)
Vivian French is an Edinburgh-based writer of picture books, fiction, non-fiction, plays and poetry for children and teenagers. Vivian has written over 270 titles for children – including the picture book Oliver's Vegetables and the Tiara Club series which have sold more than three million copies internationally. In 2012, Vivian set up Picture Hooks , a mentoring scheme to encourage emerging Scottish illustrators with Lucy Juckes.
The award panel was impressed by Vivian’s consistent hard work to promote books by other authors and illustrators. She is not only an inspiring figure to those in the industry, but has also acted as a mentor and offered support to budding authors and artists. Vivian is an active advocate for issues such as dyslexia and has had a positive influence on many working in the publishing sector.
You can hear more about Vivian's writing career, school visits and work with Picture Hooks in our author video.
Mairi Hedderwick (2017)
As the writer and illustrator of the phenomenally popular Katie Morag series, Mairi's work has enchanted children in Scotland since the first story was published in 1984. Since then, the Katie Morag stories have continued their national success, while also reaching international audiences with popular translated editions including Norwegian, Swedish and Chinese.
Speaking on the decision to honour Mairi Hedderwick, Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust and chair of our judging panel, said:
"The Katie Morag books are timeless because of this joyful, life-affirming quality. In the hands of a master artist and storyteller like Mairi, it shines through on every page and in so doing, illuminates us."
At our awards reception, Peggy Hughes, Chair of Literature Alliance Scotland, spoke about the impact of Katie Morag as a character:
"With the arrival of Katie Morag in Katie Delivers the Mail in 1984 to her Cbeebies TV debut in 2013 and subsequent stratospheric fame, Mairi Hedderwick has put the fictional isle of Struay on the map and gifted us an iconic heroine."