Books v. Films

Tracey A

The above cartoon has been pinned on the wall in our staff kitchen for a while, and every time I see it I smile. Then I think about the meaning and wonder about the relationship of books and films.

Personally, I usually find the film based on a book disappointing because they usually leave so much out or change it until it is almost unrecognisable. Equally, if I read the book after seeing the film I find that my internal video has been pre-set to that of the film. Characters can be described completely differently to the actor who plays them, but I still see the actor in my head as I read. Is it just me?

Anyway, I have now learned from experience to either read the book, or watch the film, but not to mix the media. That way I avoid disappointments and frustrations all round. There are exceptions of course. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Harry Potter films having already read the books, but then the films were so close to what is in the books.

Reading is a pastime for just one person but I love to think of the other people who may be reading the same book at the same time as me. I think it’s probably a side-effect of my job, though it is just as likely because I am very nosy, but I also love to look at what other people are reading. When I’m travelling I have to see what books other passengers are reading. Is it something I’ve read, something I could read myself later, or something I wouldn’t be interested in at all? Have a look around you to see what your friends, your teachers and your family are reading. You might be surprised at the ideas it gives you for something to try yourself.

Being a judge for the Carnegie and Greenaway Medals has given me the opportunity to share my reading with the other judges. Getting together and talking about what we’ve all read is fascinating. It’s great to talk about so many fantastic books and compare notes and ideas.

I am thoroughly enjoying my experience as a judge, though the length of the nominations list was intimidating to say the least. Reading and re-reading the books is a pleasure as there are such great stories to be told in such a way that it takes my breath away. Choosing a winner will be a tough decision. I just wish I could write like that. I suppose I can dream….


 Tracey Acum is the CKG Judge for Yorkshire & Humber YLG and a librarian at Hull Central Library.

The Loneliness of the Long-distance Reader

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

Matt Imrie

October:  “Oh you have started reading for the CKG Awards?”

November: “Wow you have a lot of books to get through –

don’t you think you should read some more?”

December: “What? Still reading I thought you would have finished by now?”

January: “Our friends are asking why you don’t want to hang out any more!”

February: “Haven’t you already read that one?”         

March: “You hate me don’t you?”

April: “I swear you have already read those!”

May: “Look at me! How many times will you read the same books?”

June: “Hey you look different, I didn’t recognize you without a book stuck in your face!”


Much like marathon running, reading for the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals is a solitary pursuit that can try the patience of even the most understanding of significant other.  Trust me, if you have one and are going to be a judge, sit them down and explain to them that life as it has been will be disrupted for quite a while and while there will be bigger than usual piles of books lying around it will not be forever (the last bit may be a lie).

It is very unwise for a new judge to wait until the nominations list is made public to start reading – that is similar to waiting for the day of a big race to actually do any running. While no-one can truly know which books will be nominated it is good to start reading as early as possible so by the time the nominations list is unveiled the judge will have read at least a few of them.  This makes a big difference and may prevent panic reading, which can lead to reader fatigue.

Make no mistake, as awesome as being involved in the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals is (and it is truly amazing) it can be isolating – you will need time to yourself to read the books, compare them against the criteria and read them again. The only people who will understand your feelings and what you are going through are your fellow judges.  Past judges will look at you with a mixture of relief and envy in their eyes; relief that they don’t have to go through what you are experiencing again and envy because once experienced the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals process gets into your blood and the rush never truly leaves.

We run alone, apart from those all too few times when as judges we meet for training, long-listing, short-listing and final judging, when we choose the most outstanding titles from a pool of outstanding books.

At the end we will look back and see that while we read the books alone, we chose them together. If you are a first year judge you will feel a mixture of excitement and trepidation knowing that you have another year to run, to read, to choose and to lead new judges who will be standing in the starting blocks, and you hope that you learnt enough from the second year judges who guided you in your first steps.

But at the end you know everything will be fine, because while you read on your own, as a judge you are never alone!


anatomy of carnegie judges

Hooked on reading

Ellen Krajewski is the judge for Eastern YLG and is the librarian at The Hemel Hempstead School, Hertfordshire.


Martha (YLG Wales) talked about her literary firsts and it got me thinking about the books that influenced me as a child.  What was the book that got you hooked on reading?  For me, that’s an easy question, it was Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I have vivid memories of sitting on the carpet in the afternoon in first year infants (now Year 1) and listening, enthralled, as our teacher read to us.  I was instantly transported to another time, another place; I was Laura’s shadow as she and her family travelled across the undeveloped wilds of America in a covered wagon.  How exciting it was to be sleeping under that canvas, coyotes howling in the distance, never knowing how close you were to Indians, Pa protecting his family with his shotgun, and little Jack the dog sleeping on guard underneath the wagon.  Of course, life for Laura and her settler family was, in reality, not at all glamorous, but I was hooked.  I still have my original set of Little House books but my daughter, who also grew up with those stories, has warned me not to attempt to take them down from the shelf as they are likely to disintegrate!  So I have bought a new set so that I can reread them for the millionth time!

Having caught the reading bug I worked my way through the children’s section in my local library taking in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Secret Seven, St Clare’s and Malory Towers, then moving on to Little Women, What Katy Did and Pollyanna.   My love of historical fiction was borne out of Ian Serraillier’s The Silver Sword and Eric Williams’ The Wooden Horse.  In my second year in secondary school I had a young inspirational English teacher who handed out reading lists for the summer.  This was heaven to me and I made it my mission to read every book on the list.  It meant I could venture into the absolutely silent adult section of the public library, where I was mesmerised by the sight of hundreds of books that were there for the reading, just waiting for me, competing for my attention, tempting me into their worlds.  I worked my way through Catcher in the Rye, Animal Farm and Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War.  I discovered other authors on nearby shelves and explored books that I really shouldn’t have been reading that young, by Harold Robbins and Jackie Collins, not literary greats but forbidden fruits to an early teen.  As class texts I discovered Fifth Chinese Daughter by Jade Snow Wong and Graham Greene’s Travels With My Aunt, quite a risqué choice for a convent grammar school in the 1970s.

I was asked recently to nominate ten books that had touched me, not necessarily great literature but books that had stayed with me.  Having made my choices, I could have made another list immediately.  My son questioned why I had not included The Gruffalo, Hairy Maclary and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Included in my list was at least one Carnegie Medal winner, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.  I was privileged to be part of the judging panel who chose that winner and I consider it to be an extraordinary honour to be back on the judging panel this year, faced with the incredibly difficult task of choosing a winner from the outstanding shortlist.  Every book on the shortlist is highly deserving of its place there and every book on the shortlist has the ingredients to be this year’s winner.  Will Patrick Ness become the first author to win a third Carnegie Medal?  Will Marcus Sedgwick, shortlisted so many times, finally be crowned the winner? Will Sarah Crossan be successful on her third shortlisting? Or will the accolade go to the debut author, Robin Talley?  Will Frances Hardinge add the Carnegie Medal to her Costa success?  Or will it go to previously shortlisted Kate Saunders, Jenny Valentine or Nick Lake?  That is the unenviable task facing the judges shortly and it is an honour, a pleasure and a privilege to be part of that process.

Don’t Judge…………Me

Tracey Frohawk is the East Midlands YLG CKG judge and is the librarian at

Weston Favell Academy, Northampton.

Tracey Frohawk

“Who? Me? You mean I can be a Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Judge?  Has there been some mistake?”  Those were the thoughts that went through my mind when I found out I was going to be a CKG Judge.  I was so excited, but also really scared and I felt sure a mistake had been made. After all I’m JUST a school librarian who’s passionate about all things reading related; from following authors and publishers on social media, inviting authors into school, attending conferences and networking with like-minded people.  I’m always happy to chat about books – work avoidance?  How rude!

Each and every one of us makes judgements throughout the course of a day.  It starts when we wake up in the morning – “what’s for breakfast?” – and carries on until we fall asleep – “just one more chapter!”.  You might want to call them decisions, but I guess they are judgements: every action has a consequence.  I was scared senseless that I would make a wrong decision whilst reading all of the books that had been nominated.  What if I didn’t like the author or the book I was reading, how could I be impartial and objective? Never fear… was at hand and I’m going to let you in on the secret!

The nominated books were announced in October and the judges had to attend training sessions beforehand.  Oh my!  This opened up a whole new world to me and I learned very quickly that everything I liked or loved about reading had to be wiped from my memory; I know, I thought it was VERY harsh!  However this proved to be the most useful and mind-blowing training I had ever received.  I was able to read with an open mind and not make judgements based on things that were stuck in my mind or which authors I liked the most!

Whilst reading all of the nominated books the judges have to follow strict criteria and I couldn’t believe how much this changed the way I read.  It really was a great experience to be able to read and enjoy every single book with a clear mind.  I was able to use the criteria, annotate and know I was making the right judgements.

We all have our favourite authors and books; we turn to them in times of trouble, they fit like a comfortable pair of shoes, a baggy jumper, favourite PJs or they can even be a great big hug.  We read and re-read them throughout our lives and they become our best friends, because they ‘know’ how we feel!

My advice to you would be to keep your favourite books and authors in your heart, they will ALWAYS be there, but open your minds and try to read something out of your comfort zone, or a book or author you have never read; a classic, a modern classic, a picture book, all of the shortlisted books – both Carnegie & Kate Greenaway, because honestly, they are all totesamazeballs!