Playing with the titles

Written by North East Judge Lucy Carlton-Walker. Lucy is the Children & Young Person’s Librarian at Stockton Central Library, Stockton-On-Tees.


If you used all the titles of the books on the CKG shortlists what story would you come up with? This is mine….

Once upon a time, as the First World War ground on into another year, there were five children arriving to take up position on the Western Front. They had walked a long way to get there, trying not to tread on the footpath flowers along the way, and entertaining themselves by listening to some of Willy’s stories as they weaved their way along country lanes and over snow covered fields.

As they approached the trenches, a man caught sight of them and began to walk towards them. “Nice to meet you lads, I’m Captain Jack” he said, shivering as her turned his collar to the cold. “Those lads over there are part of your company, we call them the Pirates”. Just as the first of the boys opened his mouth to introduce himself, there was a tremendous bang, louder than thunder, followed by fire, the colour of brimstone and burning light. “Get down!” yelled Captain Jack, “It’s the Jerries!”. As the boys flung themselves to the ground the barrage intensified, deafening explosions and blinding flashes all around them. One of the boys thought to himself how he couldn’t have imagined something so terrifying; “Oh, the lies we tell ourselves” he thought.

When the barrage was finally over, Captain Jack, seeing that a horse had been killed by the shelling, shouted over to two of the boys, who had finally managed to introduce themselves. “Sam and Jack, you two get over there and dig a hole” he bellowed. Dusting themselves down, the boys walked towards two massive British field guns to collect some shovels. “A couple of beasts these two, don’t ya think lads?” called a surprisingly cheerful Scotsman who was stacking ammunition nearby. “That’s the Sleeper, and that’s the Spindle” he said, pointing to the guns, “Not long now ‘til we open up on ‘em ourselves now, then we’ll show ‘em, they won’t stand lads!” he cried, waving his fist over towards the German lines. Sam turned to Dave, slightly bemused: “so he gets all the action then does he? The rest of us just live here!” he laughed, as Sam rolled his eyes. “We’ll see our fair share of action soon enough, I don’t doubt” Sam cautioned.

Having finally found some shovels, the boys headed back to where they had left their rest of their company. As they walked, they past a truly terrible sight. There, curled up in a ball at the bottom of the trench, was a gaunt-faced figure, rocking slowly backwards and forwards, eyes staring bleakly of into some unknown distance. “Are you alright mate?” Sam asked, crouching down beside the eerie figure. Without shifting his gaze, the figure answered in a quivering tone “There’s a bear in my chair!… all the ghosts of heavenover there by the lie treeTHERE WILL BE LIES!” he screamed, grabbing Sam by the collar and shaking him violently, staring straight through him with his bloodshot, unblinking eyes. The soldier relaxed his grip, returning his gaze to the distance and Sam stood up. “What the heck was all that about?” Dave asked. “Something about a bear, I have no idea, but I think that chap has been out here too long” said Sam, making a mental note to tell Captain Jack of the man’s predicament when they got back to the company

Later on that evening, when the company had dug in and the boys settled down to get some sleep. Whilst the rest of the boys were snoring away, Sam couldn’t help but think back to the poor soldier he had spoken with before.  “Jeeze, I hope I don’t end up like him” he thought to himself, “What a truly awful place this is”. Sam’s mind spent the next hour racing back and forth, trying to make sense of all he had seen, all he had heard, all he had smelt on his first day in the trenches. “It’s going to be a long, miserable war this is” he thought. At that moment, he decided the only way he could deal with it was to try to survive each day, one day at a time, and to check them off in his head as he went. “One…”.

The power of stories

Jennifer Horan is the Network Librarian at Kemnay Academy, Aberdeenshire.

Jennifer Horan

Last week marked the twentieth anniversary of the Dunblane massacre, when 16 Primary 1 (Reception Class) children and their teacher were killed during a PE lesson by a gunman who had entered their school.  As a seven year old child myself at the time I have few memories of the event, but one memory that has stayed with me is a television interview with one of the bereaved mothers, who said she kept going by reading her deceased child a bedtime story every night for years after his death.  It struck me because it demonstrated the power of stories.

Through devastation, stories can be a light, an escape, a comfort.  Stories help us deal with grief, they give us characters who experience our emotions and show us a light at the end of the tunnel.  Fairy tales were written to teach us life lessons.  Reading gives us empathy, takes us to new lands, and lets us experience adventures we may never have in real life.  You are more likely to have a wider view of the world if you are a reader.

Awards like CKG highlight the importance of reading and sharing stories, and the publicity they generate can only be a positive thing for the book industry and its audience.  I hope the shortlists we’ve shared this week will bring some light into readers’ lives, let them escape to another world, or help them to cope in this one.

The Short Lists

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

Matt Imrie

The. Short. Lists. Three simple, one syllable words; harmless, forgettable even – and for a brief time each year they are the most powerful words in the world of children’s book publishing.

There is a pause, and if you listen carefully you may hear a faint drawing-in of breath as authors, publicists, librarians, bloggers and other members of the book-loving community lean in towards their computer screens willing the appointed time to hurry nearer and the short lists for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals to appear.

If you turn your eyes towards social media at this time you may see fevered speculation as to which books and authors will make the lists. In these discussions the potential short listees may say that they are sure it is not them and it has been an honour to appear on the long lists with such amazing authors and illustrators.  Or they remain silent, much like the judges except that we know the names that will appear and in the short time since we made those decisions we have returned to the books and the criteria to start the process of identifying the most outstanding of the incredible titles on those lists.

The unveiling of the short lists is the lighting of a fuse that will burn through libraries, schools and thousands of discussion & Shadowing groups. It will ignite passionate debate, inspire young readers to become writers and illustrators themselves and set the judges on a journey to meet as many groups as possible to discuss the medals, the judging process and answer as many questions as humanly possible.

From Year 1 to 2 in the world of a CKG Judge

Elizabeth McDonald is the South East YLG Judge, she is Reader Development Officer for Young People and Families at Wokingham Library.

Last week children up and down the country celebrated the joy of reading and value of books with World Book Day.  Children were inspired by amazing and brilliant books that they love.  The past list of Carnegie and Kate Greenaway winners is astonishingly brilliant and they are still being read and enjoyed. My first year as a CKG Judge led to my 7 year old becoming obsessed with Shackletons’ Journey, so much so that I arranged for the fantastic Kate Greenaway medal winner, Will Grill to visit. Will came and spoke to over 500 children at schools across our borough, and my son got to meet him and explore some of Will’s sketches and inspirations for future projects.

EM Will

This was then followed by attending the Diversity, Variety and Choice conference in Glasgow run by the Youth Libraries and Community, Diversity and Equality Group, which was inspiring and challenging. It really did make me think about how we get the right books into the right hands.  It also launched the Amnesty CILIP Honour award.

The new award will help children, teachers and librarians to better understand our freedoms through the outstanding books shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals.  It will show how great children’s books encourage empathy and broaden horizons.  All of this year’s shadowing groups will also have access to resources and teaching notes to help group leaders and readers to explore the human rights content of each shortlisted book.

CILIP will announce the shortlisted books on 15 March 2016, with shadowing officially starting on 16 March 2016.

After the excitement of the conference, the real task of starting to read all of the books began, the parcels started to arrive…


…and I started to analyse the books against the criteria.


Writing up and analysing each book for both the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway means that a lot of your normal life gets put on hold. I had the slight issue of moving house in between which was traumatic enough but also very satisfying to get all of my books arrange on the new shelves! I also received a fantastic house warming present from my colleagues which was very apt, “So many books, So little time” bookends, which are currently holding my books to be read after judging:


I’m looking forward to promoting the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Books to the shadowing groups that I will be visiting, and we will be running some sessions within my libraries as well.

My family have been very patient with me, and my friends and work colleagues supportive of my reading and full of encouragement. Being a representative for the South East is a huge privilege and I have enjoyed my time as Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Judge.

Don’t forget that as a CILIP member you can join your regional committee!  They are always looking for new members to support regional activities.  We will be hosting a YLG Unconference in Winchester on May 6,  it is aimed at people with an interest in how we can bring stories to life and encourage reading for pleasure to children and young people.  There will be authors, poets and illustrators galore full details here:



Hello Shadowers!

Tanja Jennings

Welcome to CKG  2016. My name is Tanja Jennings and I am a School Librarian at Wellington College, Belfast in Northern Ireland. I am delighted to have the honour, privilege and pleasure of being a CKG judge this year. After delving into a cornucopia of richly illustrated texts and vibrant, breath-taking and imaginative reads, the judges have decided upon two stellar longlists which we all hope you will enjoy exploring.

With these books you will travel through fantastical landscapes, the raw emotions of believable characters, countries decimated by the horror of war, teenage lives altered by surprising circumstances, injustice, dark dreams and treacherous lies. As the stories unwind you will discover how important it is for the protagonists to be true to themselves and establish their own identity as they make difficult choices and battle many obstacles. The authors featured showcase a dazzling array of different styles and genres, conjuring wonderful words that produce lyrical language and startling imagery. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes thought-provoking, they will enrich your vocabulary, challenge your mind, set your imagination on fire and, perhaps, inspire you to be writers of the future.

Turning from the Carnegie to the Greenaway, you will experience playful, humorous, emotional, evocative, clever, colourful and exquisitely creative texts, which you will want to reread to appreciate the sheer skill involved in creating them. From bears to  hyenas to pandas to reinvented sleeping princesses to gothic adventures to pirates to complaining crayons to journeys, the books sparkle with moments that celebrate fairy tales, friendship, family, art, reading, culture, nature, the animal world and human kindness.

Have fun blogging, vlogging and reviewing these astounding creations. What will make your shortlist?