A Four Letter Word

Tracey Frohawk is the East Midlands YLG CKG judge and is the

librarian at Weston Favell Academy, Northampton.  

Tracey suggests you listen to What Do I Know by Ed Sheeran  whilst reading her post.

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I HATE you!  Some words are unbelievably strong, whether they are used in a good or a bad way; they have a huge amount of emotion attached to them and once said, they can’t be unsaid.  We don’t realise how hurtful we can be by voicing these words, the damage they cause can last a lifetime.

I LOVE you!  This humble word can change everything once uttered from your lips.  It is incredibly strong and will stop you in your tracks for that split second whilst you delight in the feelings it inspires; the emotions it causes within your body and soul.

Quite often we don’t realise how many times we will hear these words during a day whilst working in a school library.  The most common phrase will be either of these:  I HATE reading or I LOVE books.  It’s incredibly sad to hear a child say they hate reading, as reading for me is a complete pleasure and I am able to immerse myself in another world, losing all sense of time and surroundings.

Occasionally we all face dark times in our lives, so having the option to be briefly transported to a different universe can help us find the strength to deal with reality afterwards, even if it’s not pleasant.  Reading gives us the capacity to connect with characters, recognising our own emotions by identifying similar experiences we share with them in the books we read.  We can appreciate we are not alone as the characters can often become our friends or enemies; we all love to hate an archetypal villain like Dolores Umbridge!

The first novel I remember reading by myself was The Adventures of Pip by Enid Blyton, I was whisked away on wonderful adventures and my love affair with books began.  One of my favourite series was The Chronicles of Narnia; I was convinced I would meet and marry Aslan!

When I became a children’s librarian the first YA book I read was Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by the late Louise Rennison: I loved it!  I was instantly transported back to my teenage years and reminded of the emotional angst a teenager has to deal with in a hilarious yet believable way.

I am delighted to say my love affair with reading and children’s literature has continued and evolved over the years. Being a CKG Judge has been a privilege and honour.  I will never fall out of love with reading, even if the subject matters are difficult or emotive; I embrace the journey even if I don’t love the destination. What I love might be something you hate, but that’s OK: books have always caused controversy and that’s wonderful, because it’s the sign that they inspire powerful feelings in us.

 

Achieving the impossible

Jennie Hillyard is a special collections librarian from Newcastle upon Tyne who has always loved children’s fiction, despite not getting to work with it.  “I became a CKG judge to have an excellent excuse to spend more time reading children’s and YA fiction and discovered that it was certainly that!”

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Everyone’s first reaction when you tell them how many books are on the nominations list is “204 books in 118 days – that’s impossible!”

Yes – it is!  That’s why we don’t wait to start reading until the nominations are released….  After all, as members of CILIP, we all get to nominate too so, we need to read books ahead of the deadline so that we can choose titles too.

To make it possible, we have a “Possibles List” which is created by the Working Party and regularly  updated, and includes children’s and YA books published in the UK within the timeframe – 1st September to 31st August.  There are no guarantees that any of these books will be nominated; they are simply “possibles” due to their publication date.  It’s always up to the wider CILIP membership to ensure books which deserve to win get nominated (hint, hint!).

I felt the need to get through as many of the Possibles List as possible in advance of nominations closing because I hated the thought of a deserving book missing out.  In reality though, I learnt that it’s impossible and you have to trust that other people will read the ones you can’t find in time.

My main initial problem was a zero budget for buying potential books from the list.  I personally almost never buy a paper book I haven’t already read.  Only deeply loved books make it onto my overcrowded shelves; everything else comes from libraries.  The few books I do buy are usually second hand from charity shops too – and as these are recently published books not many titles had made it to the second hand market yet.  I am very lucky to have the Lit and Phil Library in Newcastle with their members-led book request system who bought a number for me and Gateshead Libraries with their truly excellent YA collection close at hand.  Tracking down the possibles list also meant I also used Newcastle Libraries, North Tyneside Libraries, Wakefield Libraries, County Durham and Darlington and although I didn’t buy a single book I admit that I did incur a few library fines…

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The Lit and Phil Library, Newcastle

It was interesting to see which books were held by the most library authorities and which were held by none.  Sepetys’s “Salt to the Sea” proved to be particularly elusive in the North East.  Getting hold of such recently published books via libraries alone was challenging and they are otherwise expensive, especially in hardback. It is of course equally difficult for librarians who want to choose titles to nominate, but don’t have the book budget to buy a wide range of new titles.

As judges, we get free copies delivered of all the nominated books, and once some publishers know you are a CKG judge, they do start sending some lovely packages of proofs and ARCs too so your second year judging is easier.  (Although you then can’t voice your opinion about their book in public so all you can say is “Thank you – looking forward to reading it!”)  It would be impossible to wait for the publishers to send the copies though for the nominated titles – you would then have to achieve the 204 books in 118 days and you would have no input to the nominations process.  As some books didn’t arrive from the publishers until January this year, it would be a very stressful way to be a CKG judge!

I decided back in July that I had to be very disciplined in only reading books which were eligible – this meant not only no adults fiction, but also no other children’s and YA books and, hardest of all, no re-reading old children’s fiction.  Normally, re-reads are a big part of my reading habit.  I find I remember a small section from a book then it inspires me to re-read the whole book and stepping away from that almost automatic habit has been very strange.  I did give myself a pass for newly published titles from my favourite cosy crime series Bellingwood which I justified by being very quick reads….  It also was particularly hard not to be able to borrow books from friends because I couldn’t give myself the time to read them.  I love personal recommendations and I am storing them up for autumn 2018.

My advance reading paid off and when nominations were announced I discovered I had already read 59 of the 114 Carnegie books.

I think people underestimate how much reading you can fit in.  For me it was about using the small bits of time during the day when perhaps before I would have been catching up on social media – the time while you’re eating your breakfast, whilst you’re waiting for your tea to cook, on trains and in hospital waiting rooms.  If I had the books as audio or kindle books I could have utilised my driving and washing up time too….  I got through a huge number of coloured sticky tabs which I used to highlight key lines for quotes.  My wife got very frustrated at finding the used tabs stuck to the floor, sofa, bin and all other surfaces.

The hardest thing by far I found was not being able to discuss my opinions of the books with other people – physically or digitally – although I was almost discussing them with myself whilst I made notes for each title against the criteria.  It usually came out to 2-4 typed A4 sides which, being a hybrid girl, I then printed out for a paper folder.  I’m not quite fully digital!

It was also odd to be reading so much about topics outside my usual realm (football and beetles not being subjects that would usually make me pick up a book).  Never since formal education had my reading choices been dictated by an external force; with the additional ruling that I must finish every book and explain my arguments around it.

Going back to all paper books was a strange shift too, almost like going back in time.  Back to a time when I needed to take four books on a weekend away and consider which would be the lightest options.  I quickly divided books into “read at home on a weekend” (thick and/or hardback and picture books) and “commuting books” (paperback).  My main lesson from this year is that I should have started my Greenaway picture book reading sooner – they were very awkward to read on the bus in January…

 

 

Words shape our lives

Jake Hope

Jake Hope is the Vice-Chair of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medals.  Throughout 2017 to mark the anniversary of the awards, Jake will be blogging about each past winner, exploring their themes and writing.  You can follow these blogs here .  There are opportunities for groups to adopt one of the past winners and read this.  The list of past winners make for fascinating reading with an incredible breadth and range of themes and styles, something to suit all tastes, interests and abilities, find out more and sign up for one of the exciting titles here.

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Words shape our lives.  They give definition to who and what we are.  Words lend structure to the experiences and memories that constitute our past.  They build our present through the communication and commitment we have with all that lies around us and they help to determine the paths we make from past and present into our possible futures.  Words are powerful.  They hold the opportunity to bind and to bridge, but also to divide and destroy.  How we use words holds an immeasurable force – that usage links us to past ideas, associations and accrued levels and weight of meaning.  Words flock as flecks and flicks on pages coalescing and grouping to form sentences and stories providing accounts of our experiences and emotions, guiding us, letting us know that we are never alone.

Many of the stories we encounter as children leave a lasting impression on our lives.  Some are carried with us as we grow, develop and make choices about our future.  Parts might challenge or comfort us in our views and decisions.  One thing is certain, the best books change us, often in small and subtle ways, but in ways that nonetheless alter how we think, feel and approach aspects of our lives.  These stories are literally outstanding because they affect us deeply.

Since its inception, the CILIP Carnegie Medal has sought to recognise and reward outstanding literature for children.  In so doing, it has contributed to creating a bedrock of classic titles – stories, characters and ideas that every reader should encounter, that offer a rich reading experience that lasts long after the final page has been turned.  The list of previous winners offers snapshots of particular times and preoccupations, it guides us through ideas of how our concepts and understanding of childhood and maturation has changed and adapted.

Reading through every winner feels an incredible experience, one that sparks myriad memories and thoughts and this is what the best stories do… they connect our ideas joining individual points together and creating a gossamer web of ties and threads that increase our awareness of the awe-inspiring complexity and sophistication of life.

From Arthur Ransome’s  Pigeon Post, the inaugural winner in 1936, through to Sarah Crossan’s One, last year’s winner, the CILIP Carnegie Medal offers outstanding writing and outstanding reading experiences.  Though tomes and tones may differ, these words have pushed boundaries, have innovated, illuminated and inspired.

Being able to explore each title and try to entice new readers to delve into their depths and fathoms feels incredibly exciting and a real journey.  I hope you might be tempted to join me on some of this, to try something different or new and to encourage others to do likewise.  Literature lives when it is not only in the hands of readers, but in their hearts and minds too.  Let’s make this anniversary an exciting one, let’s look forward to this year’s eventual winner when it is announced in June, but most of all let’s rejoice in the words of winners and challenge ourselves to write and speak new words about these…

 

Once Upon a Time…

Tricia Adams

This is where every story starts so please, let me introduce myself.  I am a librarian, Tricia Adams, and have been lucky enough to have been one for my whole career – though the jobs I have had are like chalk and cheese in many respects!  Having said that, my passion has always been to get people reading and I am often to be seen recommending books, arriving with parcels of books – on loan of course – for sick friends and relatives, and giving books to any children who come into my sphere!  And, then there’s the day job, which is all about supporting people who work in school libraries through the School Library Association – of which I am the Director.  School libraries are a key enabler in helping kids find the books they need and, working in partnership with public libraries, provide the lifeblood of our reading future.

This is why I am so honoured, and just plain thrilled, to be chairing the judging panel in this important anniversary year for the Carnegie and Greenaway Awards.  The fantastic involvement of both school and public libraries in shadowing the awards is so important in involving students in reading, not only in reading for pleasure, but also in placing the very best texts in front of students and encouraging them, perhaps to stretch themselves, to read something they may never have otherwise picked up – and possibly, just possibly, discover a whole new passion!  I do hope so.

I had the pleasure of being Chair of Judges back in 2008, we had a fantastic year, I am looking forward to an even greater year this year!  The judges have already committed an enormous amount of work and effort to their reading – this year we have had the most nominations in the history of either award – 114 Carnegie and 93 Greenaway.  They have worked, and continue to work really hard to produce a Longlist, with the then unenviable task of judging these titles again, to create the Shortlist (published 16th March).  The judges make up a team who fight hard for the books they think deserve to gain the high distinction of being on the Longlist and Shortlist – and every book has had its time in the spotlight.  The quality of nominations was such this year that it was an incredibly hard process to arrive at the Longlist.

The celebrations this year do mean that shadowing will have even more resources available for groups.  There are already historical review pieces on the website that might create jumping off points for discussion.  My Vice Chair Jake Hope is creating a wonderful anniversary blog covering all the winners over the year.  The packs for the Shadowing Groups will have additional anniversary, celebratory materials included in them – and no, I’m not going to tell you what they include, that would spoil the surprise! Make sure your group is registered to Shadow and join in all the fun. Keep watching the website – and I know I shall be looking out to see which books shadowers find the most involving.

Keep reading and discussing – talking about books is almost as important as reading them!

Tricia Adams, Director – School Library Association, Chair – Youth Libraries Group & Chair – Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Award

A message from the 2016 Chair of Judges

Well it’s a couple of weeks since the ceremony and shadowing has ended for another year. I hope that you enjoyed the experience of reading, reviewing, and discussing the shortlisted books as much as I did!  I would like to thank you all for your involvement this year, it was lovely to know you were passionately reading alongside me and the judges.

The 2016 CILIP Carnegie Award goes to Sarah Crossan for One. Sarah’s book is poignant and thought-provoking, each chapter a poem that is a work of art in its own right, while collectively they create a highly emotive and engaging story. The judges found it deeply moving, beautifully observed, unusual but perfectly crafted – the sort of book that will stay with the reader long after the final page.

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The judges chose The Sleeper and the Spindle, by Chris Riddell, as the winner of the 2016 Kate Greenaway Award. We were blown away by Chris Riddell’s work in The Sleeper and the Spindle; he is surely at the height of his powers. His illustrations lift this re-told tale into high art, offering sumptuous pleasures on every page. The more one looks at his pictures the more one notices: subtlety and complexity, the clever use of such a limited palette, the daring use of solid black areas – no space is wasted. Some 15 years after Chris first took home a Kate Greenaway Medal he shows no sign of slowing down – he remains a thrilling, prolific and prestigious talent.

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I hope that you will join us again next year. Have a lovely summer and don’t forget to visit your local library and explore their new books – maybe you’ll spot next year’s winner! Above all though wherever you are, whatever you do and whatever you choose – keep reading!

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Sioned Jacques, Chair of Judges 2016

What next?

Jan Foss is the South West CKG Judge, she is a Children’s Librarian in Guernsey.

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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.

Dear authors…

Matt Imrie is the librarian at Farringtons School, Chislehurst and the YLG London judge.

the passion of the carnegie judge

Dear authors & illustrators

It has recently come to the attention of followers of the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals that some of you* have been making regular appearances on the long and short lists over the years.

These watchers of CKG have approached me and asked me to have a word with you about this; I explained to them that it is not possible for judges to disallow your books from being listed on the basis that you made it on last year (and in some cases previous years too) without bringing the Awards into disrepute. We then went on to discuss that while there have been first-time authors & artists that have won the medals, the main purpose of the Awards is to recognize outstanding work in writing and illustration rather than to introduce new writers & artists or boost sales of the books although they are welcome side-effects.

Now I know that you (as do all writers) do your damnedest to produce the best work you are capable of and (through no fault of your own), the material you produce is of consistently high quality so your books get recognized, read and submitted for nomination, as do the works of many other excellent writers and artists for children and young people.

There is some concern that you will be the recipient of a Medal and I just want to let you know that we will scrutinise your work as carefully as we do the works of other authors and when we come to select the most outstanding books from short lists of already outstanding titles we will do so without fear or favour. They are worried that the works of established writers & artists overshadows the work of newer creators, some of whom will no doubt go on to be selected on the basis of their outstanding work now or in the future.

Anyway the reason I write this is to say hi, thank you for amazing work and please continue to do what you are already doing so well!

All the best

The CKG Judges (2016)

 

 

 

*You know who you are