The Second Year Blues

Matt Imrie is the librarian at Farringtons School, Chislehurst and the YLG London judge.

Matt Imrie

At the end of the first year of judging I believe it is common to all judges to feel a bit of trepidation, or even fear at the thought of year two (or it could just be me). This can be due to a number of reasons – reading burn out (rare, but it does happen), or more commonly the thought that for the first year you have had plenty of time to read just about everything in the run up to the nominations, so that by the time the nominations list is made public you have already read a fairly large chunk of what is there.

Year two is different, as you are still reading the long and short lists so reading potential nominees is not usually an option.

This year of judging has been particularly challenging to me for one particular, baby-shaped reason – my new daughter Aggie. Her arrival coincided with the judges training in Scotland so I missed that (and the YLG Conference), handy tip for anyone considering becoming a judge for the CKG Medals – DO NOT MISS THE TRAINING – the first year is vital and the second year is just as important, I only realised this after the event as there is so much that gets forgotten in a year. Fortunately the judge moderation panel has been very swift in recapping things for me during the long-listing.

I had thought that having a baby would not be a problem as I could read in the wee hours when I was comforting my precious child if she was having trouble sleeping or needed a burp after a late-night feed. It would be magical, I could hold the light of my life and read at the same time.

I can hear the laughter from here!

Needless to say that did not happen, I got no reading done when my daughter was awake and I was holding her – who can read when the most beautiful being in creation is in your arms? Not me anyway!

The reading got done when she was asleep in my lap or on my chest, I got adept at holding a book in one hand and her hand in my other when she was in her crib. I read before school started, during my lunch-breaks and those times when I could not sleep and every other available moment that presented itself!

“But Matt!” I hear you cry, “this post is called the Second Year Blues, and so far it sounds wonderful – what do you have to feel blue about?”

Well, I will tell you! This is my second year as a judge, and judges only sit for two years. I realised it as I sat down to discuss the long-listing of the nominations with fellow library professionals – this task that we do, selecting the most outstanding books in a year is something bigger than all of us – in my almost two years involvement with the judging of the medals I have met fellow librarians I only previously knew via email or twitter and together we became a small part of the history of Children’s Books and I do not want to stop being involved.

There is something else to feel blue about: the public library service in the UK has been decimated:

I know what it feels like to have my post deleted out from under me (this happened at the beginning of the austerity cuts in 2011) but I was lucky and was able to find a new job pretty promptly but with more libraries closing or being shoved into the hands of volunteers the deprofessionalisation of the service is a major threat not just to public libraries as a whole but also to the future of the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Judging process – no libraries, no children’s librarians and no YLG Judges.

So if you have managed to read through to the bottom of this rather rambly post can I ask you to support the struggle to save the soul of the library service in the UK by supporting CILIP’s My Library by Right Campaign: and sign the petition to save libraries:

We all grew up with libraries and I want my daughter to have the same experience – come on do it for her!

Hello from the 2016 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Chair of Judges


Sioned Jacques, 2016 Chair of Judges

The 2016 Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards process has begun. As I write this the 12 regional judges are busy reading the nominations for this year’s awards.

To introduce myself, before I go any further, I’m Sioned, chair of this year’s judging panel. To be honest I’m so excited about this year. Firstly, for the personal reason of having a dream come true; the medals have been a part of my life since my childhood, many books I read as a child and teen were Carnegie and Greenaway winners.

Secondly, having recently started a new job that for the first time will give me the opportunity to lead a shadowing group rather than just give talks (which I also hope to continue!).

Thirdly, there are so many new things being introduced this year – a newly designed website coming in March and not forgetting the partnership with Amnesty and the launch of their award The CILIP Amnesty Honour.

Though I am Chair I consider myself part of a team. A team of talented judges you will all get to meet through this blog and through visits to your shadowing groups. This year a map showing which region of the country each judges represents will be available on the website and shadowers like yourselves will have the opportunity to contact them, and they may even be able to visit your school.

All of us have to read every book on the Carnegie nominations list and study the art work of all the Greenway titles thoroughly. I consider the task very much a labour of love. I read at every opportunity, at the breakfast table, on the bus to and from work, during my lunch break and all evening. Ask me what was on telly or happened on the news and I wouldn’t have a clue!

I have been a judge before, back in 2010/11 – an amazing experience. Before this year’s judging process I was lucky to be part of discussions around the new Amnesty Honour and was conscious that knowing about these awards must notaffect my reading for this year’s medals. The Honour will have its own judging panel and set of criteria, so has no influence over judging for the Carnegie and Greenaway medals. And actually I have been surprised, not once during my reading have I thought about the Honour. However, as Chair I am looking forward to sharing the stage with Amnesty at a joint shortlisting / launch party on the 15th March!

In the same way I am looking forward to working with twelve judges from across the nation and selecting a longlist, a shortlist and winner that will be as memorable and enjoyable to you shadowers as the many titles that were part of my childhood reading experience.