Thank you from the 2019 Chair of Judges

I step down as 2019 Chair of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel with a mixture of pride and reluctance. This year, and indeed the previous year shadowing Jake Hope, the 2018 Chair of judges, has been a whirlwind of activity. I’ve read, reviewed, blogged and met authors, illustrators, publishers and book lovers of all ages. I’ve been fortunate enough to receive invitations to book launches and events and to arrive home from work virtually each day to parcels of every shape and size. These contained books which have inspired and entertained me, made me think and laugh and which I’ve been able to share with friends, family, colleagues…and my fellow judges. It’s been a joy and an honour to be part of the medals’ heritage and to have represented Yorkshire and the Humber as a regional judge from 2011-2014. My incredible journey is almost over; by the time my final blog goes live on the shadowing website, the 2019 winners of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals will have been revealed and we’ll all have had a chance to shout about the presentation of the inaugural Shadowers’ Choice Awards.

The Shadowers’ Choice Awards are one of the most special features of this medal cycle. Shadowing has always been at the centre of the medals; you, as readers, invest the process with its heart and vitality. You give it a future. The Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards shadowing scheme is unique among children’s book awards and it has been a treat to read your reviews, to look at the brilliant, creative entries for the video and certificate competitions and to meet some of you in person. I’m just as keen to discover which of the sixteen shortlisted titles you’ve voted for as your favourite written and illustrated books of the year. Will they be the same as the judges’ choices? You might appreciate some insight into our decisions; why did librarians select these two outstanding books as our Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal winners of 2019?

The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019 was awarded to Elizabeth Acevedo for The Poet X. The judges recognised The Poet X for its innovative verse structure, which follows Xiomara’s emotional odyssey and offers a powerful, unflinching exploration of culture, family and faith.  Xiomara comes to life on every page and shows the reader how girls and women can learn to inhabit, and love, their own skin. She rails, cries, laughs, loves, prays, writes, raps and, ultimately, offers hope. The Poet X is a powerful novel on every level and a memorable, multi-faceted read.

The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2019 was awarded to Jackie Morris for The Lost Words (authored by Robert Macfarlane). The Lost Words overwhelmed judges by the illustrator’s ability to celebrate life cycles of the natural world in vivid detail. Every tiny movement and variegated fleck of colour is rendered exquisitely and gives vibrance to Robert Macfarlane’s spells. Jackie Morris’ illustrations tested our acuity and made us all think on a much deeper level about scale, colour and proportion; also, about representations of loss and absence. This is an astonishing book, which we feel deserves recognition and the highest accolades.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your shadowing experience and that you join us again in 2020. There are some wonderful books which will be eligible next year. New novels by past Carnegie Medal winners, shortlisted authors and nominees; among them, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Patrick Ness, Sarah Crossan, Angie Thomas, Katherine Rundell, Marcus Sedgwick, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Muhammad Khan, and Savita Kalhan. Stunning debuts and poetry are likely to feature, not to mention some powerful illustrated texts from artists who span the globe: UK, Australia, United States, Ireland, Spain, Canada, Switzerland and Argentina.

Thank you on behalf of the judging panel for sharing your views and insights with us throughout the past few months. I am certain the 83rd and 63rd years, respectively, for the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals will continue to celebrate excellence, diversity and the power of reading!

Alison Brumwell
Chair of CKG Judges

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