The nominations have been announced for two prestigious literary awards. The CILIP Carnegie Medal is awarded for an outstanding book written for children and young people and the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded for distinguished illustration. This year, 254 books have been nominated for the 2019 Medals; 137 books for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and 117 for the Kate Greenaway Medal. This year, in addition to CILIP members, those able to nominate included bodies such as, BookTrust, CLPE, Commonword, IBBY, Inclusive Minds, National Literacy Trust and RNIB.
Following controversy last year over the lack of BAME authors on the long lists a review was carried out by CILIP and an action plan implemented which included enhanced diversity training for the judges and an equality, diversity and inclusion advisory panel to support and advise on the Awards process. Initial reactions to the nominations would suggest, I think, that some progress has been made regarding this and there are also titles that are English translations.
The Carnegie Nominations
Each year I find that I have read more of the Greenaway list than the Carnegie. As a primary school librarian I have always tended to concentrate on picture books, younger and middle grade fiction and out of habit and sometimes preference that is what I continue to do. Therefore my assessment of the nomination lists will reflect that. It is wonderful to see such a wide range of titles nominated for the Carnegie this year and there are several that I have read and enjoyed very much. There are also many that I am now determined to move up my enormous reading pile to find out why they are highly regarded by others.
The full list can be viewed on the official website. Here is just a quick taste of some of my favourite books, not based on any judging criteria, but on my own enjoyment.
Moonrise by Sarah Crossan
Having said that I concentrate on middle grade fiction Sarah Crossan is a YA author that I always make an exception for. For me, she makes poetry accessible for all and her wonderful books always have an impact on the reader. I simply could not stop reading this until I finished it and read the book in one sitting. It is a remarkable, important and deeply affecting story. If you read it I have a feeling you will never forget it. The story is a poignant examination of the death penalty and leaves the reader deeply affected by the loss and trauma experienced by the two brothers, Ed and Joe, around whom the story centres. If I was a betting type I would put money on Moonrise making it to the shortlist.
The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day by Christopher Edge
I love it when a book surprises me and this definitely did. This is a different but very satisfying read. The world of science combines with the unbreakable bonds of true family love in a well written story. The parallel timelines work brilliantly in my opinion and the reader is left guessing right until the end. Link to my review and teaching resources here.
The Goose Road by Rowena House
Historical fiction set in France during World War 1 this debut is beautifully told and provides a window on the lives of civilians living there at the time and how the war affected them. I first met Angelique in the author’s short story for The War Girls collection and loved and admired her persistence in that and again in this novel. The book tells the story of her epic journey across France in a desperate attempt to save the family farm for her brother who is fighting at the front. Despite the sadness this is definitely a story of hope. It would be a great WW1 read for KS3 & mature YR6 readers too.
Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone
I am delighted to see this book on the list. Having followed Abi’s progress from the early days of a proof copy of The Dream Snatcher I have seen the way in which her stories touch children. Sky Song typifies why children’s books matter. Courage, kindness, acceptance & hope are wrapped up in a thrilling adventure. My favourite of all this author’s books so far. You can read my full review here.
Kick by Mitch Johnson
When I read this earlier this year I thought that it was an extremely impressive debut. It has at its heart a lead character with whom readers will readily engage. An important story told in an accessible way, endorsed by Amnesty International and is highly recommended for Yr6+.
As a lover of historical fiction for all ages I am so pleased to see Emma Carroll featured on the list. Not once but twice!
The Secret of the Sun King
This is an exciting adventure with heart bringing history to life for young readers. The two linked stories, one in 1920s London and the other in ancient Egypt, have themes that weave the two together in a satisfying whole. Friendship, secrets and efforts to correct past mistakes are part of an absorbing and well plotted adventure that moves at a pace sure to keep readers engrossed until the very last page. Here is a link to my review and some teaching resources.
I loved Sky Chasers. It is fabulous fiction for children aged 8+ and is full of intrigue, thrills, bravery and loyalty. Set in 18th century France this is a period not often covered in fiction for this age group. Historical events are made to feel fresh and relevant for today’s readers. You can find out more by reading my review.
There are many other wonderful titles that have been nominated and it is great to see a mix of established authors, previous winners and debuts from new voices too.
Among the many books that I hope to read before the long list is announced in February are Worry Angels by Sita Brahmachari and Jane Ray, Jelly by Jo Cotterill, Bone Talk by Candy Gourlay, The Muslims by Zanib Mian and The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf.
The judges have a staggering task with so many books to read before a long list can be produced. A huge thank you to them all for their time and commitment.