Rediscovering Gems

Anne Thomas is the CKG Judge for YLG Wales and is a librarian in Llandudno.


I am Anne Thomas and I’m getting to the end of my first year as a judge, representing Wales – from Holyhead to Cardiff and everywhere in between. Reading the nominations list was interesting and great fun and I’m enjoying having the chance to re-read the shortlisted titles, but hadn’t realised how much had been missed the first time round- so many gems to rediscover is really exciting.

The best part though has been hearing pupils talk about what they thought of the books. It makes it all worthwhile, so thanks to the shadowing group at Ysgol John Bright, Llandudno for all your contributions – you are an inspiration!

I’m sure we are all looking forward to the announcement of this year’s winners in June and it will be great to see what next year’s nominations will bring.

To keep you going till then, I have a question:

If you read all the shortlisted titles for both medals, how many pages would you have read?

Appreciating Pictures

Jennie Hillyard is a special collections librarian from Newcastle upon Tyne, she is the CKG judge for YLG NE.



This is my second, and therefore last year of being a Carnegie-Kate Greenaway judge and the big change I will take away from doing CKG is a new appreciation and focus on picture books, graphic novels and illustrated books.

I was already an avid reader before I agreed to do CKG, (frankly, you would be mad to agree to do it if you weren’t), but what I hadn’t looked at for years was picture books.  It’s understandable; if they don’t have a child, how many adults would think to look for their reading in the under 5s section?

Looking at 116 of them this year alone has certainly made me appreciate the range and diversity of graphics within each sub-genre of illustrated books.  I am more aware of the different techniques authors use, particularly thanks to the author videos on the shadowing sites where they describe their working methods which I have found fascinating.

I have even managed to find links from picture books to my day to day working career at the Mining Institute Library; on this year’s shortlist we have “Town by the Sea” which features a mining community in Cape Breton and highlights the dangers faced by the miners underground and “King of the Sky” is set in a mining village too against “clanking towers…soup and coal dust.”

Even illustrated books aimed at older age groups have never naturally been something I would pick up but I have to say I have been converted by Luke Pearson’s “Hilda and the Stone Forest” from this year’s nominations and I’m looking forward to catching up from the beginning of Hilda’s story when I am free to read what I like once judging is over!

The beautiful Jim Kay illustrated editions of Harry Potter have also brought a fresh new dimension to a set of stories I already loved and I will certainly be continuing to collect those as the series continues although I am intrigued to see how they will handle the increasing thickness of the volumes…

I have hugely enjoyed giving picture books away too; my friends’ children are supplied for Christmas and birthday presents for a few years to come.  As I was reading each one, I found myself unconsciously matching the books to the children I know in my mind.  The bulk of the Greenaway books I have gifted to a local primary school in a deprived area where their school library budget has been cut to zero for the last two years.  The teacher leading the library was overjoyed to get new stock of such high quality for the school and she sends a huge “thank you” to all the publishers and the CKG Awards.

I hope I will continue to pick up new picture books and enjoy them, now without having to make notes about why…  I know I will definitely be involved in Kate Greenaway medal shadowing at our fantastic CILIPNE “Picture Books in the Pub” events in Newcastle.  A wide range of Librarians come along and see it as a really unusual CPD event where they can use different skills to critically analyse the titles against the criteria with the help of our NE Chair, Paula Wride from Seven Stories.  Taking part without giving anything away as a judge has been challenging; I’m looking forward to being able to freely share my views next year with no constraints!

The Ankh Morpork City Watch Shadowing Group

Caroline Fielding is the CKG Judge for YLG London and is the librarian at Charlton Park Academy.

Caroline Fielding

Terry Pratchett, who would have turned 70 this year on 28th April, was extremely proud of having won the Carnegie medal in 2001 for The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents and often spoke of his love for libraries and the books and people therein. My dad is his doppelgänger, prompting me to buy him a book with his photo in the back cover sometime in the 90s, sparking a family-wide passion for the Discworld that never waned. My sister and I own more than 150 Pratchett novels between us (he didn’t write that many, we have 3 editions of some titles) and his death hit us all like one of a member of the family. So, I thought it would be appropriate for my blog post this year to be in his memory, and I’ve decided to recommend the shortlisted Carnegie and Kate Greenaway titles to some of his characters*.

*Those of you who don’t know the Discworld may want to look away now**.

**You must rectify this immediately (after reading the CKG shortlists obv).


  • Downspout, the first Gargoyle member of the City Watch, would really savour ‘King of the Sky’…it would definitely make him hungry as he enjoys eating the occasional carrier pigeon.
  • Sergeant Detritus and his paramour Ruby are childless, but I imagine if they did they would feel for their child as Nick’s troll mother does for him in ‘A Song From Somewhere Else’.
  • Lady Sybil Ramkin, the wife of Sam Vimes, would adore the illustrations in ‘Night Shift’ because she understands how difficult it can be to control dragons, and that it is impossible to tame them.
  • ‘Town is by the Sea’ could be the childhood of any of the dwarfs that have moved into the city of Ankh Morpork, or indeed of those that still live in the mines, I’m sure Sergeant Cheery Littlebottom will enjoy it.
  • Sergeant Angua would find ‘Under the Same Sky’ very calming, bringing together her wolf and human sides.
  • Rincewind the Wizzard would probably find ‘A First Book of Animals’ useful in his travels.
  • Reading ‘Thornhill’ would make Susan Sto-Helit (granddaughter of Death and governess) rage over the treatment of those girls.


  • Constable Visit (full name Visit-The-Infidel-With-Explanatory-Pamphlets) from the City Watch hopefully wouldn’t go as far as Father John in ‘After the Fire’, but would probably approve of some of the rules.
  • Commander Sam Vimes, on the other hand, would be raising his fist in support of Starr, the strong protagonist of ‘The Hate You Give’, as she draws attention to the inequalities in society.
  • ‘Wed Wabbit’ would probably secretly amuse Drumknott, the Patrician’s secretary, who would probably relate strongly to the Greys.
  • ‘Rook’ would definitely hook Quoth the Raven, as would ‘Where the World Ends’. It is important to see yourself in stories, even if the Death of Rats is hovering over your shoulder waiting to see if the birds die…
  • Captain Carrot has things in common with Crow from ‘Beyond the Bright Sea’, with no memory of where he came from, but rumours that he may be descended from royalty are never confirmed while Crow’s heritage becomes clearer.
  • Not an Ankh Morpork resident, but ‘Saint Death’ would definitely interest The Lady, “The One who will desert you when you need Her the most – and sometimes She might not…“, the most powerful goddess on the Disc. But would she help Arturo?
  • Finally, another non-resident is the Queen of the Elves, ruler of Fairyland, who would be very scathing of the Queen that gets herself caught up in human affairs in ‘Release’.