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 list 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.
So, the titles…so many of them this year. Happily, I have discovered that many of my favourites have made the lists and also many that I have intended to read but have not yet got round to doing so. This is one of the things I love about the nominations, they act as a prompt for me to both increase and broaden my reading of books for children and young people.
The Kate Greenaway Medal Nominations
The full list of titles can be seen on the official website. What a fabulous range of books are included; much loved favourites and previous winners such as Chris Riddell, Jon Klassen, Shirley Hughes, Anthony Browne, Mini Grey and Emily Gravett and newer but already much loved illustrators including, David Litchfield, Alex T Smith, Britta Teckentrup and Emily Sutton.
Although books are selected on the basis of fulfilling the award criteria rather than a book the judges have ‘loved’ I wanted to mention some on the list that have made an impression on me.
The Lost Words – Illustrator Jackie Morris, Author Robert McFarlane.
This remarkable, beautiful book probably needs no introduction such has been its impact. Nominated for both the Greenaway and the Carnegie awards this is truly a collaboration. A gloriously illustrated work of art, a collection of magic spells and most definitely a book to treasure this is a book for all ages and for all types. The Lost Words brings together poetic literature, fine art and a fascination with nature. Most importantly this is a book to share so that its message can grow, spread and work as its creators hope it will. I have written more about the background to this book here.
Mrs Noah’s Pockets – illustrator James Mayhew, Author Jackie Morris
The heavy rains, Noah building his ark and the animals going in two by two to be saved. This most familiar of stories has been retold time and time again but not like this. This time there is twist and someone else quietly takes centre stage. When Mr Noah builds the ark, he makes two lists – one for all the animals who will come on board and one for those troublesome creatures he will leave behind. Meanwhile, Mrs Noah gets out her sewing machine and makes a coat with very deep pockets. Lots of pockets.
I loved this gorgeous story and Mrs Noah as a quiet rebel has become my heroine. The stunning illustrations bring the story to life in way that makes the reader want to linger on each page. Those familiar with James Mayhew’s work from his Katie and Ella Bella picture books will notice a difference, as for this collaboration he has adopted a dramatic new style using a different technique. This works beautifully in conjunction with the text. An absolute delight of a book
The Snow Lion Illustrator Richard Jones, Author Jim Helmore
Caro and her mother arrive at their new home in darkness. Once inside, the house is white, bare and empty. Caro wishes that she has someone to play with and feels a little lost and small. Then one day she hears a noise and a gentle voice asking to play. She has a new friend and a very special one. The Snow Lion has appeared as if by magic to help Caro learn how to make friends of her own and maybe find the courage she has been hiding inside.
What makes this book extra special is the way in which the text and illustrations work together. The darkness of the opening pages as Caro and her mother arrive in the night and then the stark whiteness of the house in the first days help to convey the feelings of the characters so well. When the lion arrives he stands out on a page of warm orange. The Snow Lion himself although kindly and reassuring has a quiet dignity and authority about him too; a little like a wise and thoughtful parent. As Caro grows in confidence the colour spreads through the house and it starts to feel more like a home. There are other subtle touches such as the toy lion clutched in Caro’s hand in one picture and the family cat mirroring the lion on one page too. As Caro plays happily with her friends the Snow Lion quietly disappears and we can just glimpse his tail as he goes upstairs.
This would be a wonderfully reassuring story to share with young children and not only those who are moving house. There are many situations when children can feel worried or scared and this beautiful book provides a gentle reminder that all you need to cope is a bit of kindness, a good friend and sometimes a little bit of courage too.
Here We Are Notes For Living On Planet Earth Illustrator and Author Oliver Jeffers
A tender guide written to his newborn son to help him make sense of the world around him. This lovely book is also a short but thoughtful essay on what makes our global community work and would be treasured by older children and adults too. Gorgeous illustrations full of detail and double pages that you want to linger over and examine. It would be brilliant to use in primary school classrooms. My full review and links are here.
There are many other books on the list that I have enjoyed and would recommend including Space Tortoise by David Litchfield and Ross Montgomery, The Day War Came by Rebecca Cobb and Nicola Davies, Luna Loves Library Day by Fiona Chambers and Joseph Coelho, I Do Not Like Books Anymore by Daisy Hirst, The Grotlyn by Benji Davies and I want To Be In a Scary Story by Jean Julien and Sean Taylor to name just a few.
Top of my to read list prompted by the Greenaway nominations are: A Stone for Sacha by Aaron Becker, Ruby in The Ruins by Shirley Hughes, Up the Mountain by Marianne Dubuc and Sarah Ardizzone, La La La: A Story of Hope by Jaime Kim and Kate DiCamillo, You’re Safe With Me by Poonam Mistry and Chitra Soundar and Moon by Britta Teckentrup. That’s just the start!
So many fabulous books which we can read, share and discuss with young readers. I remain convinced that illustration is a vital part of children’s literature for all ages and am grateful that this annual event shines a light on the very best examples. It is a daunting task for the judges to narrow these titles down and I am looking forward to seeing which books will make it to the long list that is due to be announced in February 2019.