Tracey Frohawk is the East Midlands YLG CKG judge and is the librarian at
Weston Favell Academy, Northampton.
“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…..help 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!