On Monday afternoon the winners of the 2014 CILIP Carnegie Medal and Kate Greenaway Prize were announced, delivered to Kevin Brooks’ ‘The Bunker Diary’ and Jon Klassen’s ‘This Is Not My Hat’ respectively. While the latter seemed an almost logical choice- an illustrator whose work is greatly loved in our office- the awarding of the top prize to Kevin Brooks has been controversial, with the win garnering much attention in the national press. Much of the debate has surrounded the book’s gritty content and indeed its suitability in a text aimed at a young audience. That said, many of the nominated titles this year seemed to have a dark undertone, with perhaps ‘Liar & Spy’ and ‘Rooftoppers’ falling outside of this bracket.
The “darkness” of the shortlist was an issue raised at the shadowing session we attended on Monday morning. Taking place in the wonderful library at Litcham School, a group of year 9 students were joined by visiting pupils from Long Stratton High, all of whom had taken part in the shadowing scheme this year. After a brief quiz in which they were tested on their knowledge of the books selected for this year’s lists, the students were put into small groups and each of the titles were discussed. We were so impressed with the quality of their responses and the students had evidently thought hard about why they liked (or indeed, disliked!) each of the books.
The content of discussion was vast and ranged from how misleading a book cover can often be (in particular, the variations between the paperback and hardback covers of ‘The Child’s Elephant’) to the significance of centering a story around real life social, political and cultural history (‘Ghost Hawk’ and ‘The Wall’). The students’ impassioned reactions were brilliant to see and hear and we’d like to thank the pupils of Litcham School and Long Stratton High for sharing with us their thoughts!
To mirror the real announcements taking place in London, the students each cast a vote on which of the titles they would pick to win and the results were as follows:
- The Wall by William Sutcliffe: 5 votes
- Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell: 4 votes
- The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks: 3 votes
- All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry: 2 votes
- The Child’s Elephant by Rachel Campbell-Johnston: 2 votes
- Blood Family by Anne Fine: 2 votes
- Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper: 1 vote
- Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead: 0 votes
We were pleasantly surprised to see ‘The Wall’ come out on top and were even more impressed with how many of the students present mentioned the way in which the story had made them want to familiarise themselves further with the Israeli-Palestine conflict on which the story is based. The results of our poll were also interesting when compared to how we in the office had ranked the books: Julie Berry’s ‘All The Truth That’s In Me’ was our favourite to win, with ‘The Bunker Diary’ largely disliked.
The groups of students also looked at the Kate Greenaway titles and the vote for this was unanimous: ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers! However it was agreed that Jon Klassen’s work in both the Lemony Snickett collaboration ‘The Dark’ and in his own right (‘This Is Not My Hat’) would be worthy of any award, so his win came as no surprise!
Overall, we had such a wonderful morning and are already looking toward next year’s awards: what’s next for Carnegie?
Below are extracts from two of the reviews written by students from Litcham- we thought they were so great that they deserved to be shared!
Of Anne Fine’s ‘Blood Family’, Hannah wrote:
‘Despite the depressing subject matter, I really enjoyed Blood Family because I felt the storyline was very true to life and believable. This tale of an adopted child in a caring family made me realise how hard it is to live life to the full when you have a looming shadow of your horrific past hovering over you day and night.
I thought the book well written and easy to read and I couldn’t put it down. I particularly like the way the story was written from the perspective of different people so you can see how Eddie’s life and traumas impact on other people’s lives, and how they perceive what is going on.’
On ‘The Wall’, Eleanor wrote:
‘I found it both an adventurous and thrilling book. I thought it had an original story line and I liked the fact that it is based on something that us really happening now and so combines fact with fiction. I’ve learnt a lot from reading this book on a subject I didn’t know a lot about.
I loved the fact that the story is written through the innocent eyes of thirteen year old Joshua. I liked him as a character because he wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he thought was right and to help other people who he was told didn’t deserve it. he matured through the book from a boy who was kept in the dark to a man who wasn’t afraid to make his own decisions.’
What are your thoughts on this year’s winners? We’d love to know- we can’t stop talking about here!