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.

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