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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