Jan Foss is the South West CKG Judge, she is a Children’s Librarian in Guernsey.
I live in Guernsey where we have our own government, distinct from that of the UK, and we are currently in the middle of a General Election. Unlike the UK, we have no political parties and each candidate stands independently. I have had to plough through a lot of manifestos from hopeful men and women standing in my district, trying to work out which candidates will be the best for the job.
It occurred to me that the process for judging the Carnegie and Greenaway is very similar. Each nominated book stands on its own, independent from all the others. In our political election, I have to evaluate how each candidate stands up to my own personal criteria. The Carnegie and Greenaway ‘candidates’ are put through rigorous criteria and it is not easy to reach even a longlist of 20, let alone the 8 shortlisted titles for each medal.
At the husting meetings, the candidates are questioned by members of the public and our shadowing groups are doing a very similar thing with the shortlists! Across the UK and beyond, groups are avidly reading, questioning and discussing each book, assessing whether or not it should be the winner. Discussions are often robust and can sometimes become heated, but that is a reflection of the quality of the literature and the passion of the readers.
In Guernsey we are voting for a total of 38 people to represent us in our Government. As judges we have to choose one winner from 93 candidates for the Carnegie Medal and from 69 candidates for the Kate Greenaway Medal. As already stated, it was difficult enough to reach the shortlists, so I think we have a real task on our hands to choose winners out of so many outstanding books. Every single book out of the 16 is a potential winner and although the decisions that need to be made are daunting, we are undoubtedly privileged that we have so many talented authors and illustrators creating books that will be read and loved for many years to come.