8 Fantastic Stories

Hilary Gow is the CKG Judge for YLG South East

Hilary Gow

8 fantastic stories to read, enjoy and … assess.  I wonder if, like me, you find it hard to ‘judge’.  It’s easy to have favourites, to warm to books that resonate for you personally and to feel cool about those that don’t.  Judging the Carnegie goes beyond this.  I’m sure you have all encountered the judging criteria which guide you to focus on style, plot and characterisation.  There is also the over-riding requirement that the winning story should be a work of ‘outstanding literary quality’.  I have been trying to work out just what this means.

Outstanding (in the sense used here) is fairly easy as – according to the online Oxford dictionary – it means ‘exceptionally good’

Literary is a little more slippery … the Oxford online dictionary defines it as ‘Concerning the writing, study, or content of literature, especially of the kind valued for quality of form’

Quality can have the meaning of ‘The standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something’

So – judges need to measure each of the works, taking account of how they do in terms of the style of the writing, the use of the plot and the way the characters have been revealed to us, the reader.

I’ve re-read all the books again (multiple times) now but I have little idea which one will take the winner’s prize.  All of them have already shown themselves as worthy of winning by being shortlisted.

I wonder what you think?


Shadow Girl

Jenny Hawke is the CKG judge for YLG South East and is the Library Supervisor at Petts Wood Library, Kent.

Jenny Hawke

Apart from reading and judging so many amazing books the thing I love the most about the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals is Shadowing. Since I started working for Bromley Libraries in 2008 I have been actively shadowing both awards with all the reading groups I run for children and young people. One person who has accompanied me on this 10 year journey of shadowing is Hannah, who joined my Books Aloud group when she was 5 and is now in Petts Wood Bookworms which is my group for teenagers aged 14+.


Hannah has always enjoyed reading and was integral to the shadowing process throughout all the groups she has joined. This is Hannah’s story:

I really enjoyed the Kate Greenaway 2014 shortlist. I remember particularly enjoying ‘I Want My Hat Back’ by John Klassen the most. The illustrations from ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ were also memorable as they were really well drawn and some were quite funny. I liked how the crayons were personified and given facial expressions.  

Jenny 1

I read all of the books on the Carnegie 2016 shortlist and really enjoyed them. The characters I remember the most were Grace and Tippi from ‘One’ as they were unique, and the book had a very different writing style from any other book I have read. I empathised with the characters from ‘The Rest of Us Just Live Here’ as they were very close to my age, and they were still in school. ‘Lies We Tell Ourselves’ really resonated with me as it really opened my eyes to how ethnic minorities were treated during and before the civil rights movement. Most books I’ve read when shadowing the Carnegie shortlist have taken me elsewhere, but especially ‘The Bone Sparrow’ as the plot was really interesting and the descriptions were well written. I engage more with books that are plot driven as I find they are usually more suspenseful, fast paced and interesting.

Jenny 2

I remember meeting all the authors at the Awards Ceremony in 2014 and learning about how they get their inspirations for their books, and how open and friendly all the authors were.

Jenny 3

Shadowing has always been a fun way to express my opinions about the books I read and it has taught me how to effectively summarise and write my opinions on different books. I remember doing Carnegie Bingo, which I found really fun as there were book based questions, but it was also partially luck based. I would say that shadowing is a really great way to discover new books you haven’t read before, or may be out of your preferred genre, and it’s a good way to find new books you may love. I talk about Carnegie out of school to some of my friends as they also share a love for reading and are also open to new books and genres.

The library has been really important to me as it has always been more than a place to borrow books. It has been a place to have fun and make friends, which gave a sense of community. It had also been a place where I have learnt, and built my confidence.

Jenny 4

I would like to thank Hannah for sharing her experiences of shadowing and her involvement in the process over the past 10 years.

For more information on shadowing the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards go to: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/shadowing.php

A gargantuan 44,377 pages

Amy Powell

Amy Powell is Librarian for Children and Young in Telford

and is the West Midlands CKG Judge.

As a second year judge I desperately tried to continue the pace of my reading as soon as the winners for 2017 were announced, with the aim of familiarising myself with as many eligible titles as possible before nominations even opened.  I was so glad that I had taken this approach when a mammoth 121 books were nominated for the 2018 Carnegie Medal and 116 for the 2018 Kate Greenaway medal.

Meaning in total 237 books were been nominated for 2018, that’s a gargantuan 44,377 pages!  To read all of these books in such a short amount of time, with Christmas in the middle, is a huge challenge- needless to say I found myself reading every spare waking moment!

Now we have our amazing shortlist it’s time to reread each title that has reached this stage and add to the huge amount of notes on each, to make that all important decision of which books are going to be the 2018 winners!!


Amy P

Me with my reading piles of nominations for both the Carnegie and the Kate Greenaway Medals 2018!

Welcome to CKG 2018!

Jake Hope 

Jake Hope is a Reading Development and Children’s Book Consultant, and is Chair of Judges for CKG 2018.


After the excitement of this year’s nominations and the announcement of the longlist in February, we’re finally at the stage where the shortlist has been decided. This is always a favourite part of the awards, it’s the stage when others are able to read alongside the judges, bringing their own thoughts, ideas and experiences to the characters, themes and stories in each of the books. An open book is a portal to different worlds and ways of thinking and it’s at this stage when they are being devoured and deliberated upon by so many readers that the books begin to take on a life of their own… This is the point when lively discussions and debates begin, when across the country and indeed the globe, people start engaging in creative activities thinking about their own reactions and responses to the writing and illustration they have been encountering. All of this energy and activity builds up to an enormous crescendo in the final stages where the awards themselves are decided and announced.

Regardless of interests or age, there is something to enchant and enthrall all readers on this year’s shortlist. From fiction set in the past, to stories of the present, from real life to fantasies, from factual books about the world around us to richly imagined representations of the emotions and experiences familiar to children and young people from their everyday, the range of themes, styles and forms makes for a particularly vibrant and varied selection.

There’s always a sense of ownership in having read and thought around the shortlists in the lead up to the announcement of the winners. This makes the process feel all the more special and personal and there’s real pride in contemplating winners from a year where you’ve read and ruminated upon the shortlist. What a history and pedigree the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals hold too, stretching back for 81 and 61 years respectively! They form a roll-call for some of the greatest and most innovative writing and illustration this country has known.

Like dinosaur footprints of yesteryear, they show a journey through different stages and states of our cultural history, their impressions provide the shape of society’s views on childhood, on education, on learning and what it is to think and to feel. They shine a light upon the books that, as critic and author Italo Calvino put it, never finish saying what they have to say, stories that, whether composed of words or pictures, help us to better understand who we are and the world that we inhabit. Join with us in reading this exceptional and varied collection of books, feed in your ideas and views and let’s make this one of the most impressive, inclusive and immersive experiences around reading!


The results are announced, and a big thank you

Well, the results are announced and shadowing has ended for this year – or has it?  With two such wonderful winners, and such an amazing shortlist for both awards I do hope you have enjoyed the experience of shadowing the medals.  I know I have enjoyed reading some of your reviews and comments – I couldn’t read them all – there were too many for one person to get through!  But, a huge thank you for all your enthusiasm and comment, it was great to know that you were reading alongside me and all the judges.

The 2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal was awarded to Ruta Sepetys for ‘Salt to the Sea’  – a tragic story hidden away for many years, but brought to life for us in a totally enthralling story of a group of  refugees trying to escape during WWII.  It had many echoes for me of the plight of so many people across the world today, trying to escape persecution, starvation and fear.  We live with the characters through their weariness as they journey in hope, then worry as they try to get tickets to board the ship.  We share their feelings of claustrophobia on the overcrowded boat, and then the awful terrifying end as the boat is attacked.  But even then, there is a sense of hope at the ending of the book – some people cared and looked out for each other.  This is a read that will stay with me for a very long time.

The 2017 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal went to Lane Smith for ‘A Tribe of Kids’ which is a sheer delight of a book following a child as they explore the natural world; they journey through different habitats, meeting different groups of animals and actually almost mirroring the animals they meet, until the lonely child finds they are a member of the tribe of kids – all different, but all children.  The use of colour and technique in this book makes it a beautiful read.   There is warmth and wit in the play and imagination shown in the final spreads showing how the children are influenced and inspired by the world around them, suggesting ideas around the way nurture and environmental factors can be formative in growth.  A book I will keep and share with children for a very long time.

cilip-2017-ckg-medal-winners-1.jpg2017 CILIP Carnegie winner Ruta Sepetys and 2017 CILIP Kate Greenaway winner Lane Smith

But is it actually all over this year?  As this is our special celebratory year there are still things you can do in your shadowing groups. Have you been following the amazing Jake Hope’s special anniversary blog – covering all the past winners?  Why not try a few of them for your group?  You can even adopt a book for your group – have a look and choose a book for your group.

I do hope you will all have the opportunity to shadow again next year – I’m starting to read books that will be eligible and there are some fantastic stories out there already. Thanks again – see you next time.

Tricia Adams
Chair of CKG Judges

Shakespearean Shortlists

Tanja Jennings is the Northern Ireland YLG Judge,

she is the librarian at Wellington College, Belfast.


When you are juggling rehearsing for an amateur production of Macbeth and being a CKG judge simultaneously, as I currently am, your head is filled with wonderful imaginings. Every book is a phantasmagorical garden of delights to be explored and enjoyed. To be part of celebrating sixty years of fantastic illustrations and eighty years of wondrous words is even more magical and a great honour. But what happens next following the intense deliberations?


When shall we twelve meet again?

At Kate and Andrew’s celebrations

When all the judging’s done

When awards will be given

That shall be ere the set of June

Where the place?

In London town

There to meet with creators


Words are fair and art is fine

Hover through the delightful design


Twice the judgements have been made

Twice and once Amnesty weighed

Harpier cries T ’is time, T ’is time.

Round about the stories go

In the magic mixture throw

Badger tidying leaves,

working for what he believes.

Oops. The forest has gone.

Can Pete’s work be undone?


What’s next? Here’s another one.


Powerful animals from the North

leaping forth

from amazing pages

crafted in geometrical stages.


Meet Lobo,

He’s no slow Mo.

King of the Wild West,

as a protector, he has no rest.


What to do?

Need to look at journeys too.

A boy seeks his place in life

as refugees run from strife.


Or what about a mesmeric theatre tale?

Don’t forget Harry’s magical trail.

Finish it all with a great big cuddle.

Now we’re in a huddle.


Selznick, Smith, Gravett and Grill

Sanna, Braun, Kay and Riddell

all in the Greenaway Medal mix.

Which great artist shall we pick?


Here comes Double the Trouble

As Carnegie enters the Struggle


Fillet of an Alaskan deer.

Bluebells in whisky bottles are near.

Sparrow of bone, and

Toe of Sputnik, hide of wolf

And Hive Monk’s gulf

Alice’s words and Manny’s heart

Destined to never be apart

For a powerful story spell

A recipe for all shadowers to tell


Sinking of Gustloff

Hollow of wolf

Betty’s cruelty, Annabelle’s fear.

More stories to hear.

Poison Ivy digg’d I’ the dark.

Beck’s life is no walk in the park.


Zen and Nova.

What a palaver.

Who can they trust?

Why is stealing the Pyxis a must?



Subhi and Jimmie

under the wire

telling stories

to fulfil their desire.


Add thereto fate, fear, guilt and shame

from a salty name

for our magic story cauldron.


What a mix of exciting contenders.

There will be so many lenders.


By the pricking of my thumbs.

Here the judges this way come.


Give a resounding cheer

for the best books of the year.

The Lament of a Former Judge

Matt Imrie is the librarian at Farringtons School, Chislehurst and he was the 2015 – 2016 YLG London judge.

Matt Imrie

The announcement of the judges selections  for the 80th anniversary Carnegie Medal and  the 60th anniversary Kate Greenaway Medal is on Monday. This has stirred the cravings that I had more or less managed to suppress.

It started in October when the nominations lists were published, I gazed upon them and knew that I had not been ready to leave the judges panel even though I had sat my two year term. Sitting on the panel is addicting, the feeling you get working with other passionate, book-loving library folk who get what you say and contribute thought-provoking points of view about books you love and loathe is almost impossible to replicate elsewhere.

The nights I have lain awake wondering if (based on my memories of when the panels met) the judges were meeting to discuss the long and short lists are burned into my memory. The secret shame of envying my friends and colleagues is hard to bear! I am not hubristic enough to believe that I am needed on the panel – I know those who sit in judgement are talented, professional and just as dedicated as I was (if not more so).

One of the things I have learned is that it is incredibly hard to read the nominations list in time if you have to buy them or borrow them from a library yourself. So yeah – that did not quite work out.

I asked myself the question I think most ex-judges ask when the long and short lists were announced – “Would those have been the books that would have been chosen had I been on the panel?” (impossible to answer accurately but probably).

I think that running shadowing groups is a coping mechanism for many judges that are suffering from CKG withdrawal symptoms. We get to read the books with our students, compare them against the criteria and discuss them with excitable and passionate young readers.

They say that the first step in any recovery is admitting you have a problem but I love reading books and discussing them critically with friends and colleagues – we should all be so lucky to have such problems.

In the mean time I am happy to act as judge support – cheering the lists and authors on social media, educating students and other readers about the importance of the medals and celebrating quality writing for young readers of all ages.

Also I am planning for the day that I return to the judging panel – oh it may not be any time soon but I will make my way back on somehow… someday…