The best things about being a Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal judge

Alison Brumwell is a librarian for Booksplus, Leeds and Director of the Morley Literature Festival. She blogs here about her role as a judge for the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards.

Alison Brumwell

Last week was my final week of being a CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal judge; nearly three years of reading, followed by discussion and deliberation has culminated, for me at least, in the awards ceremony on Monday 23 June.

I had another chance on Thursday to Skype chat with a Carnegie shadowing group, this time from Croydon Girls’ High School; ten in total and all Year 9 pupils. They had obviously given a great deal of thought to framing their questions and were lovely to speak to. It was another opportunity for me to highlight what makes the medals, and the shadowing process, truly unique in the work of children’s book awards. I had to give some very vague answers to the more specific questions and we discussed the importance of judges maintaining strictest confidentiality throughout the whole seven+ month process,along with the importance of the judging ctiteria.

One of the questions I could answer quite frankly was what was the best, and the worst, thing about being a Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medal judge. The best in my view has been the reading; I normally read a lot, and quite widely, but there are books I would never encountered outside my reading as a judge. This has been a real treat. A close second would be the chance I have had to speak to young people about books and reading, and to share my passion with them; also, to meet the adults who support them, like Karen Abrams at Croydon Girls’ High School

I have also had the opportunity to champion books and authors I feel very strongly about, not just during judges’ deliberations but further afield. Authors like Sonya Hartnett, who was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 2012 and whose latest novel, ‘Children of the King’ is subtle and so beautifully crafted. And books like ‘The Double Shadow’, ‘The Scorpia Races’ and ‘Far Far Away’, which didn’t make the shortlists in three very competitive years, but which are well-worth reading (and re-reading). Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to talk openly about what I was reading with anyone apart from other judges, and it will be a relief when everyone knows who are the winners this year (this is definitely the worst thing about being a judge!).

Finally, I have had the chance to meet authors I admire and to work with and to get to know an amazing team of people; Joy Court, Amy McKay and the CKG working party and my fellow judges. Not to mention Rachel Levy, Karen Robinson and Helen Thompson who have been three superb Chairs. 2015 will be another outstanding year for children’s and young adult fiction: expect to see Sally Gardner, Meg Rosoff, Marcus Sedgwick and Patrick Ness leading the way along with some wonderful debut novels. I was recently asked by one shadowing group member what my ‘long shot’ would be for next year, which really made me think. So, you’re reading it here first: Tanya Landman’s ‘Buffalo Soldier’, which is every bit as compelling as ‘Apache’.

 

Find out more about:

the other judges
the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards
the shadowing scheme
our latest news on Twitter

At the end of our shared journey: a special thank you to shadowers

A special  letter to  shadowers from Helen Thompson, Chair of the 2014 judging panel

Helen Thomson - Chair of Judges

Helen Thomson – Chair of Judges

Well, here we are at last! What a journey, from being presented with the list of nominated titles – 76 for the Carnegie, and 61 for the Kate Greenaway – to the final, exhausting, judging meeting where the winners were finally identified. Every step of the way we, the judges, have felt your presence through your reviews, magazines and pages.

It is wonderful to be able to share the excitement of exploring these amazing books with you, to hear your passion, and to know that Shadowing Groups all over the world are spreading the joy of reading.

I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to you for taking part in this year’s shadowing, and helping to make the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards so very special. I very much look forward to meeting some of you as judges in future years!

The 2014 CILIP Carnegie Award goes to Kevin Brooks for ‘Bunker Diary’. An uncompromising book that explores the darkest heart of humanity, and shines a light on the strength and unflinching morality that lies within us all, should we choose it. The judges chose ‘Bunker Diary’ for its incredible characterisation and completely credible plot. Kevin Brooks refuses any easy solutions, and maintains the diary format throughout – creating a real world for the reader to inhabit fully. ‘Bunker Diary’ is undeniably a book that transports the reader to a place that, at the time ofreading, feels very real. It is a book that can be read and reread without losing any of its power, and we feel that it should join the canon of previous winners as a new classic.

The judges chose ‘This is Not My Hat’, by Jon Klassen, as the winner of the 2014 Kate Greenaway Award. Klassen uses colour and simple, clear shapes to transport the reader deep beneath the surface of a vast lake. Synergy between text and illustration is effortless, witty and very satisfying. The sense of movement, tension and comic timing created by tiny bubbles, eyes and deadpan text perfectly balanced by the illustrations is outstanding. ‘This is Not My Hat’ works on many levels, and is a satisfying visual experience that can be shared again and again.

I hope that you have enjoyed your shadowing experience, and that you will join us again next year. Who knows what delights are being written and published in readiness for nomination? Go along to your local library, and explore their new books. Can you identify any that might appear on the nominations list in November? Next year’s judges are doing just that – why not join them?

This summer, shadowers can continue their reading journey..

Alison Brumwell is a librarian for Booksplus, Leeds and Director of the Morley Literature Festival. She blogs here about her role as a judge for the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards.

There are only seven weeks until the end of another school year, which has made me reflect not only on my time as a Carnegie and Greenaway medal judge but also upon the huge positive impact reading can have on a child’s life. Learning isn’t just about what happens in a classroom; there are so many other ways for librarians, teachers and parents to inspire a love of language and story.

Public libraries across the country are geared up to support reading through a variety of initiatives, including Chatterbooks reading groups and this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. Mythical Maze launches in July, with fantastic illustrations by Sarah MacIntyre, and offers plenty of opportunities for children to read for pleasure during the summer holidays.

We are extremely fortunate in West Yorkshire to have year-round access to Cliffe House outdoor learning centre, a lovely venue in which to share reading and deliver outreach sessions. This week, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the picture book classic ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, with storytelling and an outdoor bear trail through the extensive gounds. Sessions themed upon the 2014 Greenaway short-listed book ‘Where My Wellies Take Me‘ will be delivered later on this summer, bringing the words of Michael and Clare Morpurgo and the illustrations of Olivia Lomenech Gill to life.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

 

 

Find out more about:

the other judges
the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards
the shadowing scheme
our latest news on Twitter

My Year 11’s book club: reading, chocolate and revision!

Hannah Thomson is a Learning Resource Centre Manager at Foxford School and Community Arts College. She blogs here about her role as a judge for the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards.

This month I have been in overdrive and although my reading for this year’s Carnegie and Kate Greenaway awards is coming to an end, I am now catching up with all of the other delicious books that I have missed out on whilst Hannah Thomsondistracted by this year’s shortlist!

I have really enjoyed meeting with secondary school students. The Yr. 11 girls within my own reading group have been moving into exam season and our book clubs have been full of reading but also chocolate fuelled and revision led!

I was also invited to speak with two reading groups from Staffordshire University Academy earlier this month, to talk to them about the judging process and the shortlisted CKG titles. We had a great time (and I LOVED it!) it is always a huge treat for me to speak to young people and I love hearing their own views and opinions about books.

They were incredibly enthusiastic and it really was quite refreshing to hear their viewpoints after all of the discussions and tweets that I had been reading. They had very definite perspectives on some of the titles, and views that were always fresh and thoughtful. I hope that I inspired them as much as they inspired me!

Meeting and listening to students helps me to believe that whatever the subject matter, a book is always a safe place. I believe that this year’s shortlist has very much allowed them the opportunity to ask questions and form opinions and viewpoints about experiences outside of their own. Isn’t that why we all, as readers, keep going back for more?

 

Find out more about:

the other judges
the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards
the shadowing scheme
our latest news on Twitter

 

My skype session with the British School of Brussels

Alison Brumwell is a librarian for Booksplus, Leeds and Director of the Morley Literature Festival. She blogs here about her role as a judge for the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards.

European shadowers, the British School of Brussels

European shadowers, the British School of Brussels

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of skyping the Carnegie Medal shadowing group at The British School of Brussels. The group is quite large and includes Y7 – Y9 pupils, with sessions led by Barry Sayer and Carolyn Baker.

As I rarely Skype, our discussion required some practice beforehand on my part, supported by my daughter. Thankfully there were no technical glitches on the day and we had a very lively group conversation for about 40 minutes. The group sent me some questions in advance, which were extremely well thought out. Questions ranged from the issue of confidentiality for the judges to the criteria we apply during the judging process. I felt it was important to point out that the criteria are really what unify and inform judges’ debate about books we’ve read when we meet as a group. We all have our own individual ways of reading a text; some of us take more notes than others; some of us read reviews throughout the process, including those on the shadowing website and some (like me) avoid them until after our final meeting. And we all have our own favourite authors, which can make judging such a challenging enterprise; “loving” a particular author or a particular book has no place when we decide on our shortlists and, ultimately, our Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal winners. As I explained to the group, it’s all about which shortlisted book best meets the criteria and is deemed theAlison Brumwell outstanding book of that particular year.

It was a treat for me to hear group members speak about their favourite authors and novels, which ranged from ‘Ketchup Clouds’ by Annabel Pitcher to ‘Private Peaceful’ by Michael Morpurgo. And they are all big Katherine Rundell fans, as she is an alumnus of the school! Perhaps the most interesting question was whether there should be two Carnegie Medal categories to accommodate the increasingly wide range of novels that are nominated each year, something I feel would dilute the impact of the award.

I am really looking forward to finding out what The British School of Brussels Carnegie Medal shadowing group choice is for 2014. They will be casting their own votes this Friday and will find out on 23 June who the winner(s) are. I was disappointed not to be able to speak to all members of the group, but many thanks to Barry and Carolyn for organising the session and special thanks to the very articulate Matthieu, Margot, Ewan, Tara, Konrad, Izzy, Jack, Aditya, Michael and Lafika.

 

Find out more about:

the other judges
the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards
the shadowing scheme
our latest news on Twitter.

Large piles of books stacked upside down in my living room

Kathryn Flagner co-ordinates and runs children’s activities across Cumbria Library’s West Group as Deputy Area Library Manager. She blogs here about her role as a CKG 2014 judge.Kathryn's Carnegie list

I have wanted to be a Carnegie/Greenaway judge for a number of years and this year I got to do just that.  It all started in October when I got to meet the other judges, which was great, and we were given the list of nominations, 70+ for Carnegie and 50+ for Greenaway, all to be read within 3 months!

The lists didn’t faze me and I started calmly by re-reading some of those I already had at home.  However, within a week or so copies of titles from both lists started arriving, and very quickly formed large piles in my living room.  It was the books’ physical presence that made me realise the immensity of the task I had undertaken.

I am normally a distracted reader; as soon as a book I want to read comes along I start it, even if I am already reading something else.  I knew this wouldn’t work for the judging, as I was going to have to concentrate on each book and apply the criteria as I read.  To discipline myself I stacked the books upside down, so I couldn’t see the title, and just picked from the top, finishing one book before starting the next.  I even worked out how many books I needed to read a week to meet the deadline. Then settled down to read, and did nothing else for months.

Now all the reading and judging is done and I can hardly wait for the presentation.  What do I do now?  Read books that will eligible to be nominated for next year of course!

Find out more about:

the other judges
the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards
the shadowing scheme
our latest news on Twitter.

 

 

Summing up my 2014 experience as CKG Judge

Karen Horsfield manages Resources for Learning at Somerset’s Schools’ Library Service. Here, she blogs about her role as a judge for the 2014 Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards. 

From November to January I read for over 303 hours,

18,200 minutes,

22,500 pages,

Karen Horsfield, CKG 2014 Judge

Karen Horsfield, CKG 2014 Judge

millions of words,

125 million letters.

That was 10% of my life.

Someone told me that I needed to get a life.

So I told them that I’d seen

thousands of lives,

in hundreds of illustrations,

in countless characters,

and dozens of plots.

 

Find out more about:

the other judges
the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards
the shadowing scheme
our latest news on Twitter.

CKG Judge FAQ

Victoria Barton is SLS Librarian, Leicestershire. She blogs here about her role as a judge for the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards.

CKG Judge Victoria busy reading...

CKG Judge Victoria busy reading…

Here are the questions I have been asked since I started CKG Judging and my answers. 

Why were you so busy?

I had to read the entire nominations list of 77 children’s books and 61 picture books in 3 months, to a strict deadline and make notes.  No ifs, no buts…I had to read more books in a shorter time frame than I would normally read in a year.  It was a massive challenge.  I then re-read and made notes on the short listed titles.  The up side was that my thoughtful husband acted as CKG butler and brought meals, tea and blankets when needed!

How did you fit it all in?

I would return from work every day, install myself on the sofa and read at least one book, sometimes two.  At weekends, I would read about seven books during Saturday and Sunday.  I did nothing else.  As you might imagine, my Facebook status updates became quite repetitive and my waist line somewhat less trim than it had been.  Next year, I am going to follow the advice of previous judges and get myself an exercise bike, then I can read and cycle at the same time.

You volunteered to do this on top of a full time job.  Why would you do something like that to yourself?

It is a real honour to be involved in awards as important as Carnegie and Kate Greenaway.  I learned so much about current children’s literature and publishing as well as being able to indulge myself in a universe of dramatic, funny and frightening stories and shy, angry and amenable characters.  Judging the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards has been on my bucket list since I first saw the winner’s medal printed on the front of my favourite books.  I have fulfilled a life time ambition…Not to mention taking the time to talk about books (my favourite thing) with other librarians (very interesting people).

Why do you think that the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards are so important?

The awards recognise the most outstanding children’s books and most distinguished illustration, working to clear, transparent criteria.  Authors and illustrators call the awards ‘the ones they want to win’.    Writers, illustrators and publishers produce more original and incredible books the next year.  Creativity and excellence in children’s literature and illustration is acknowledged, nurtured and encouraged by the awards.  The outcome of the awards is that excellent, interesting, unusual and amazing books get into the hands of children across the country and that, I think, is the most important thing to a librarian.

How did you remember what happened in all the books you read?

I made lots of notes but I disappointed myself because I didn’t refer to all those notes as much as I thought that I would.  I found that when I saw the cover of the book, the story, the characters and the way it was written would come back to me.  I think this is because I am a very visual learner.  It sounds clever but in what I haven’t said is that in the mean time, I was forgetting lots of other things in order to make room in my brain for all the stories I had lived through and the characters I had met in the books I was judging.

Is there a common theme running through the short listed books?

People often see patterns or common themes in the short listed titles.  However, this is purely coincidental.  We only judge the books according to the criteria published on the CKG website, we do not judge in any other way.  Our Chair of Judges keeps us on track, judging to the criteria at all times.  The answer is ‘no’, there is no intentionally chosen common theme running through the short listed books.

It sounds like a lot of hard work.  Are you going to be a judge again?

Judges are voted in by their local YLG committee for two years and this is my first so yes, I will be doing it all again.  We don’t get paid to be a judge so it’s all voluntary.  I learned so much this year and the experience was unforgettable so even though it is hard work, I am excited to be a judge again, next year.

 

Find out more about:

the other judges
the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards
the shadowing scheme
our latest news on Twitter.