At the end of our shared journey: a special thank you to shadowers

A special  letter to  shadowers from Helen Thompson, Chair of the 2014 judging panel

Helen Thomson - Chair of Judges

Helen Thomson – Chair of Judges

Well, here we are at last! What a journey, from being presented with the list of nominated titles – 76 for the Carnegie, and 61 for the Kate Greenaway – to the final, exhausting, judging meeting where the winners were finally identified. Every step of the way we, the judges, have felt your presence through your reviews, magazines and pages.

It is wonderful to be able to share the excitement of exploring these amazing books with you, to hear your passion, and to know that Shadowing Groups all over the world are spreading the joy of reading.

I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to you for taking part in this year’s shadowing, and helping to make the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards so very special. I very much look forward to meeting some of you as judges in future years!

The 2014 CILIP Carnegie Award goes to Kevin Brooks for ‘Bunker Diary’. An uncompromising book that explores the darkest heart of humanity, and shines a light on the strength and unflinching morality that lies within us all, should we choose it. The judges chose ‘Bunker Diary’ for its incredible characterisation and completely credible plot. Kevin Brooks refuses any easy solutions, and maintains the diary format throughout – creating a real world for the reader to inhabit fully. ‘Bunker Diary’ is undeniably a book that transports the reader to a place that, at the time ofreading, feels very real. It is a book that can be read and reread without losing any of its power, and we feel that it should join the canon of previous winners as a new classic.

The judges chose ‘This is Not My Hat’, by Jon Klassen, as the winner of the 2014 Kate Greenaway Award. Klassen uses colour and simple, clear shapes to transport the reader deep beneath the surface of a vast lake. Synergy between text and illustration is effortless, witty and very satisfying. The sense of movement, tension and comic timing created by tiny bubbles, eyes and deadpan text perfectly balanced by the illustrations is outstanding. ‘This is Not My Hat’ works on many levels, and is a satisfying visual experience that can be shared again and again.

I hope that you have enjoyed your shadowing experience, and that you will join us again next year. Who knows what delights are being written and published in readiness for nomination? Go along to your local library, and explore their new books. Can you identify any that might appear on the nominations list in November? Next year’s judges are doing just that – why not join them?

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Nearly finished the exhausting process of deciding on my own winner

Alison BrumwellAlison Brumwell is a librarian for Booksplus, Leeds and Director of the Morley Literature Festival. She blogs here about her role as a judge for the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards.

I am heading into the home stretch with my re-reading of short listed titles for 2014 judging. Everyone has their own opinion about the Greenaway contenders; my colleague Gina has already announced that Jon Klassen should win this year!

Shadowing has begun in earnest in Kirklees, well ahead of Easter for some of our schools. Amanda Raby, the LRC Manager at Whitcliffe Mount Specialist College, is focusing on Greenaway shadowing this year, with a group of Year 9 pupils mentoring 12 Year 1,2 and 3 pupils from neighbouring Howard Park Community School. Their early favourite is ‘The Paper Dolls’, though Amanda shares Gina’s view that ‘This is Not My Hat’ is a strong contender. Olivia Barnden, who leads our Greenaway shadowing project in Kirklees, says ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ is “an engaging, innovative picture book, whose quirky, intelligent illustrations  make it a winner”.

In terms of Carnegie re-reading, I have accumulated quite a folder of notes and page references and am nearly finished the exhausting process of deciding on my own winner; a tough decision when all eight short listed titles meet the criteria but are completely different in terms of theme and structure. I have to admit squeezing Marcus Sedgwick’s first adult novel, ‘A Love Like Blood’, into my reading ‘schedule’; a wonderful novel. Think Mary Shelley meets Umberto Eco meets Carlos Ruiz Zafon, if that makes sense! I am also heading off to London Book Fair next week, which is always invigorating; am hoping to see Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman and to meet other freelancers.

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It’s a relief not to have to read in secret any more

Alison BrumwellAlison Brumwell is a librarian for Booksplus, Leeds and Director of the Morley Literature Festival. She blogs here about her role as a judge for the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards.

Our Kirklees Carnegie and Greenaway shadowing groups are gearing up for action and there is already a buzz about what was shortlisted and what wasn’t. From my own vantage point, it’s a relief not to have to read in secret any more. I managed to furtively re-read both ‘The Bunker Diary’ and ‘Rooftoppers’ under my mosquito net in Mbale, but haven’t dared to risk CKG reading on the Leeds to Huddersfield train!

It was heartening to find that the Carnegie and Greenaway Medals are widely supported in the U.S. and are seen as being just as relevant as the Newbery and Caldecott Medals.

My visit to the New York Public Library was one of the highlights of my recent trip; I had a wonderful discussion about the medals, my CKG reading experience and children’s fiction in general with Louise Lareau, the librarian who manages the Children’s Centre at 42nd Street.

Their current exhibition of illustrated children’s books is stunning; plenty to inspire me and reflect upon. In fact, Patience and Fortitude, the twin recumbent lions outside the library’s main entrance, are for me emblematic of the whole Carnegie and Greenaway Medal judging process: plenty of each is required to read in depth all the nominated titles. As my third year as a judge (and possibly best yet) winds down, the experience continues to be one of the most rewarding I have ever had.

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