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.


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.

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.


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!


Sioned Jacques, Chair of Judges 2016

What next?

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.

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

Sweet Treats with CKG

Tanja Jennings is the Northern Ireland YLG Judge,

she is the librarian at Wellington College, Belfast..


There is nothing better than curling up with a great book and a sweet treat so that got me thinking about the delightful concoctions that could be crafted from the delectable CKG list.

As a tester a Northern Irish shadowing group at Wellington College Belfast made their own delicious tribute to Frances Hardinge’s sinister Victorian mystery thriller The Lie Tree.



This involved constructing a trunk, branches and a soil base. Students melted Dairy Milk bars, added shredded wheat cereal and dipped, mixed and coated the grains for maximum effect.  Using the cover art as inspiration, the gooey mixture was then transferred to an enlarged template of a tree from the internet and covered with grease proof paper. Porridge oats were used for the base and buns (to represent the fruit of The Lie Tree) were made from the remaining chocolate. In the story, the more lies the tree is told the more Faith’s life spirals out of control, so sweet wrappers around WCB’s tree contained bluffs and truths about the Victorian Age to tie in with the context of the book.

To celebrate other titles on the list shadowers might like to try out more recipes to showcase and enjoy at their CKG Awards’ parties.

In One by Sarah Crossan, on pages 130-134, Grace and Tippi make Apple Pie from windfalls:

“Tippi makes the flaky pastry

while I core, peel and slice the apples,

and together we bake a pie

stuffed with cinnamon and sugar and definitely

better than anything you could

buy in a store.”

This book is a poignant and beautifully observed love poem to united twin sisters coping with extraordinary circumstances so what better way to honour it then bake an Apple Pie together with friends or family.

The Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley is set in America in 1959 at the height of wars over the integration of schools. It is a searing portrayal of racism, forbidden love across the divide and injustice. In one scene Linda and Sarah meet in the back room of Bailey’s diner, where their friend Judy works, to discuss a homework assignment. While they are there an altercation occurs over two dirty milkshake glasses, with the racist owner believing Sarah has drunk from one of them. Cherry Floats, Ice Cream Sodas, Malteds and Milkshakes were all popular drinks in 1950’s America. Use scoops of vanilla and chocolate ice cream and mix them with milk, carbonated water, fizzy lemonade or coca cola in a tall glass to make your own float. Top with chocolate syrup and double whipped cream for extra flavour. If you fancy a fabulously frothy toast to Talley’s book mix cherry juice with cola and ice cream.

For There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake, which is a gripping mystery thriller full of devilish twists and turns set in Arizona and the environs of the Grand Canyon, you could create a deep red velvet cake the colour of the desert to reflect the landscape of Shelby’s turbulent journey. Lake’s imagery is vivid comparing this famous landmark to “a painting by a madman with only a couple of colours in his paint set.”  Coyote and elk shaped sugar cookies using pastry cutters (wolf and deer shapes) to represent the mythological dream sequence of the protagonist’s inner world could also work.

Patrick Ness’s The Rest of Us Just Live Here also focuses on serious issues but it is cleverly crossed with a witty parody of supernatural teen reads in the chapter headings. The engaging leading character Mikey suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder. His friends and siblings are grappling with messy personal problems too. The last thing they need is Immortals threatening to blow up the high school before they can go to the prom, find love and graduate. Mikey’s best mate Jared works with him at Grillers, a steak house where they often all get together for cheesy toast and blueberry lemonades. For a sweet pizza bread twist why not whip up pizza sugar cookie slices using yellow icing. You could decorate them with smarties, sugared almonds or chocolate flakes depending on your mood. For a fizzy accompaniment, serve blueberry or raspberry lemonades by mixing up pureed fruit, freshly squeezed lemon juice, sugar and water. Top with ice cubes to chill.

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick is a change of pace. It is both historic and futuristic revelling in exploring the infinite mysteries of the universe. Themes in this ambitious novel include madness, superstition, communication and space travel. The reader is challenged to read its four segments in a different order which rotate around the central concept of a gyre. Spiral imagery appears throughout whether in the form of a spiralling falcon, the frond of a fern, the spin of a top or the turns of a staircase.

If you are feeling brave you could attempt to create caramelized sugar corkscrews, used for decoration on fancy desserts. For an easier option you could fashion strands of liquorice boot laces into spiral shapes.

Kate Saunders’ emotionally stirring sequel to E. Nesbit’s classics, Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet and The Story of the Amulet, Five Children on the Western Front, blends fantasy with harsh reality. Featuring the grumpy sand fairy, the psammead, from the original stories, the book explores the changing social realities of Anthea, Jane, Bob, Cyril and the Lamb along with their little sister Edie (a new character who works beautifully). The older boys are now at an age where they are compelled to face the horror of the trenches while their sisters are responding to different challenges. Saunders’ powerful story stays true to the spirit of E. Nesbit but transcends her amusing wish fulfilment fantasy capturing a world she could not have foreseen. It portrays the rifts in families caused by the savagery of World War One while expertly weaving in the redemptive journey of the tyrannical sand fairy (now a fully fleshed character). In keeping with the theme of the novel and as a mark of remembrance you could make cupcakes topped with poppy shapes.  For this you could roll out red sugar paste, imprint it with flower cutters (overlaid four petal shapes), use a dab of liquorice for the centre and green pastry for the leaves. Check https://cakealogue.wordpress.com/ for more ideas.

Fire Colour One is about art, love, loss, bereavement, greed and redemption. Its language is wonderfully evocative and Valentine skilfully crafts her eccentric characters. It is a surprising novel putting the reader on a path of discovery leading up to a climactic twist. Fire is a central theme tied in with the artist Yves Klein and the troubled psyche of Iris. Red Velvet Cupcakes iced with the main protagonist’s name would reflect the spirit of the novel. Alternatively you could make a batch of fairy cakes and use red icing with wavy lines to represent tongues of fire.

The delightfully energetic, creative, witty and playful There’s a Bear On My Chair by Ross Collins should definitely be read aloud and enjoyed with mouse and bear shaped cookies dipped in melted chocolate. If it appeals you can add icing to recreate the Fair Isle jumper pattern or write endangered to reflect the polar bear’s status. You can even experiment with an Elvis style quiff on the top of your biscuit!

Anthony Browne’s Willy’s Stories celebrates the library as a portal to adventure. The pages engage the reader directly by building up tension and offering intriguing intertextual clues and endless treasure trails to follow. It is a book to be enjoyed together and works on multi-literate levels. A chocolate cake in the shape of an open book with CLASSIC STORIES iced along its spine or a Bundt cake which can be filled with different flavours (to reflect different genres whether they be fantasy, swashbuckling action, fairy tale or anthropomorphic fun ) would be a good partner for this read.

Chris Riddell’s exquisitely illustrated unconventional Gaiman fairy tale The Sleeper and the Spindle deserves a Sleeping Beauty style cake with a Gothic edge. For inspiration you can look at Goth Girl and the Fete Worse than Death. Why not use purple and black icing for dramatic effect? Don’t forget to reflect his signature trademarks of gold leaf and skull motifs. You could also spin sugar to represent spindles or craft thorny branches to surround your creation.

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, according to Sam from Pilgrim’s School, Hampshire (thank you for your letter) enables the reader to “dig through their imagination.” It is superbly inventive, playing with its physicality and the perceptions of its readers. After their arduous tunnelling journey all Sam and Dave want to do is eat animal biscuits. Half shortcake and half chocolate, they are an ideal treat to go with this book. As the characters determinedly dig a hole, you could eat frosted doughnuts or a Bundt cake as a tasty alternative.

Oliver Jeffers’ quirky Once Upon an Alphabet which, according to Chapel School shadowers, is full of “ingenious and colourful” vignettes, is also an alliterative and comical odyssey through the alphabet, introducing unusual characters with lessons to teach.  Alphabet cookies topped with chocolate buttons would be a fun accompaniment to this book.

Captain Jack and the Pirates illustrated by Helen Oxenbury is an elegiac and imaginative portrait of a day at the beach. It fuses full bleed colour with gentle black and white vignettes. Skull & Cross Bone shaped shortcake biscuits peppered with chocolate chips and iced with red and white polka dots would be right for this story or you could just have some ice cream like Jack, Zack and Kaspar do at the end of the story.

In Footpath Flowers, illustrated by Sydney Smith, every picture tells a story. It is about how small kindnesses can brighten our lives. Playing with different perspectives and experimenting with a distinctive colour palette, it tells the tale of a little girl’s walk home and how her world changes as she discovers the beauty of nature and resolves to use it to make others happy. Her surroundings transform as she delivers small bunches of flowers. You can have fun cutting out shortbread cookie flower shapes and icing them with yellow, red and the other shades you find as you turn the pages.

Jackie Morris’ beautifully expressive There’s Something About a Bear introduces the reader to different bears in exquisitely painted portraits celebrating their uniqueness with a mixture of verse and prose.  To create a Panda Bear cake you can make a moist chocolate sponge and immerse it in buttercream coated with white fondant. Another idea is to make his head and body out of chocolate rice crispies then use fondant and food colouring for the distinctive monochrome look. You can even paint on bamboo fronds in green. For something entirely different you could try a Sloth Bear using liquorice for its curved claws, a Polar Bear, a Spectacled Bear (using circles of maltesers to create its trademark circles around its eyes) or an endangered Moon Bear(using white fondant or whipped cream for its creamy ruff). It sounds difficult but the internet has many cake craft tips. Visit Pinterest and Twitter for more solutions.

Adieu. I hope you enjoy our scrumptious shortlists and get the time to experiment with some sweet treats.

Who are we?

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

We are the ones that select many of the books that you see on the shelves in the library.

Matt 1

We are the ones whom you approach when looking for a book to encourage your son/daughter/grandchild/niece/nephew to read when you have no idea where to begin.

Matt 2

We are the ones that encouraged you to pick up the book that may have turned you into a reader as a child.

Matt 3

Individually we may not know or have read EVERY book in the library but when you put us together our knowledge spans the centuries.

Matt 4

We are Librarians

This is what you get when the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Judges get together to consider the books nominated for the medals.

We nominate what we have read and we read what has been nominated. Not once, not twice but repeatedly…

Matt 5.png

…and yet, and yet there are observers of the awards that voice the opinion that adults cannot and should not judge awards that are given to books for young readers. That somehow we lack an understanding of what young readers want or would like to read.

This position is formed from out of a fundamental misunderstanding of what the CKG Medals are for. I will come back to the medals another time as I want to discuss the judges.

Above our qualifications and beyond our professional knowledge we are passionate about recognizing and celebrating outstanding literature for young people.

Matt 6.png

We are the small threads that bind together outstanding illustration and writing over the years and through the decades. We remain largely anonymous, for when gazing upon the tapestry of the awards over the years only the outstanding books that were awarded the medals annually are remembered.

This is how it is and how it should be for when taking up the mantle of a judge we know that our personal views and ambitions come second to the process that recognizes greatness in books for children and young people.