Jan Foss is the South West CKG Judge, she is a Children’s Librarian in Guernsey.
Well, the time has finally arrived and very soon we will discover who has won the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals for 2016. I remember last year arriving at the British Library for the awards ceremony feeling very nervous. The impact and, therefore, the responsibility of the judges’ decisions suddenly became very real!
This year, deciding on the eventual winners was no easier than in 2015. The shortlists for both medals were so strong; each book would have been a worthy winner. I was recently visiting a Carnegie shadowing group, and the members of the group had read most of the shortlist. When it came to choosing their personal winners, each person chose a different book. This really confirmed to me that the shortlist was outstanding; each student could see the strength of their chosen book, and it also brought home to them how difficult the judges’ job is! So whilst not everyone might agree with our choices, I hope that all shadowers have enjoyed their experience of reading, discussing, arguing and (perhaps) settling on a personal winner.
With reference to the title of this blog: what next? For me and 5 other judges, the experience is over. On the plus side, I can now read whatever I like without feeling guilty and hearing that nagging voice in my head telling me to ‘read a potential for next year’. The down side is the realisation that the most amazing and wonderful privilege has come to an end and it is time to hand over the reins. Yes it has been extremely hard work, and in those dark January days it felt like I would never get to the end of the nominations list. But, oh the joy of having read so many books that I would never otherwise have done! The honour of being part of a group of such passionate, dedicated colleagues makes this a very special experience.
A former judge told me that I will never read a book in the same way again; the criteria are so ingrained that they will always be lurking in the brain! That may be so, but one thing I do know is that I will never stop reading, never stop being passionate about children’s and young adult literature, and will always look to inspire young people to engage with reading. If you have been shadowing these awards (and even if you haven’t), don’t stop reading! Take a look at the archive on the shadowing website and try one of the previous winners, or read shortlisted books for other awards. Use the treasure trove that is your local library and ask a Librarian for advice. We are extremely fortunate to have such a wealth of superb authors and illustrators at our fingertips in our libraries. Long may this continue.