The best things about being a Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal judge

Alison 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.

Alison Brumwell

Last week was my final week of being a CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal judge; nearly three years of reading, followed by discussion and deliberation has culminated, for me at least, in the awards ceremony on Monday 23 June.

I had another chance on Thursday to Skype chat with a Carnegie shadowing group, this time from Croydon Girls’ High School; ten in total and all Year 9 pupils. They had obviously given a great deal of thought to framing their questions and were lovely to speak to. It was another opportunity for me to highlight what makes the medals, and the shadowing process, truly unique in the work of children’s book awards. I had to give some very vague answers to the more specific questions and we discussed the importance of judges maintaining strictest confidentiality throughout the whole seven+ month process,along with the importance of the judging ctiteria.

One of the questions I could answer quite frankly was what was the best, and the worst, thing about being a Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medal judge. The best in my view has been the reading; I normally read a lot, and quite widely, but there are books I would never encountered outside my reading as a judge. This has been a real treat. A close second would be the chance I have had to speak to young people about books and reading, and to share my passion with them; also, to meet the adults who support them, like Karen Abrams at Croydon Girls’ High School

I have also had the opportunity to champion books and authors I feel very strongly about, not just during judges’ deliberations but further afield. Authors like Sonya Hartnett, who was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 2012 and whose latest novel, ‘Children of the King’ is subtle and so beautifully crafted. And books like ‘The Double Shadow’, ‘The Scorpia Races’ and ‘Far Far Away’, which didn’t make the shortlists in three very competitive years, but which are well-worth reading (and re-reading). Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to talk openly about what I was reading with anyone apart from other judges, and it will be a relief when everyone knows who are the winners this year (this is definitely the worst thing about being a judge!).

Finally, I have had the chance to meet authors I admire and to work with and to get to know an amazing team of people; Joy Court, Amy McKay and the CKG working party and my fellow judges. Not to mention Rachel Levy, Karen Robinson and Helen Thompson who have been three superb Chairs. 2015 will be another outstanding year for children’s and young adult fiction: expect to see Sally Gardner, Meg Rosoff, Marcus Sedgwick and Patrick Ness leading the way along with some wonderful debut novels. I was recently asked by one shadowing group member what my ‘long shot’ would be for next year, which really made me think. So, you’re reading it here first: Tanya Landman’s ‘Buffalo Soldier’, which is every bit as compelling as ‘Apache’.

 

Find out more about:

the other judges
the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards
the shadowing scheme
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This summer, shadowers can continue their reading journey..

Alison 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.

There are only seven weeks until the end of another school year, which has made me reflect not only on my time as a Carnegie and Greenaway medal judge but also upon the huge positive impact reading can have on a child’s life. Learning isn’t just about what happens in a classroom; there are so many other ways for librarians, teachers and parents to inspire a love of language and story.

Public libraries across the country are geared up to support reading through a variety of initiatives, including Chatterbooks reading groups and this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. Mythical Maze launches in July, with fantastic illustrations by Sarah MacIntyre, and offers plenty of opportunities for children to read for pleasure during the summer holidays.

We are extremely fortunate in West Yorkshire to have year-round access to Cliffe House outdoor learning centre, a lovely venue in which to share reading and deliver outreach sessions. This week, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the picture book classic ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, with storytelling and an outdoor bear trail through the extensive gounds. Sessions themed upon the 2014 Greenaway short-listed book ‘Where My Wellies Take Me‘ will be delivered later on this summer, bringing the words of Michael and Clare Morpurgo and the illustrations of Olivia Lomenech Gill to life.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

 

 

Find out more about:

the other judges
the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards
the shadowing scheme
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Shadower Imogen: Hoping to detect the perfect book!

This post has been submitted by Imogen Bowen, a year ten pupil at Shelley College and an avid CKG shadower in  judge Alison Brumwell’s region.

I’ve been involved in Carnegie Shadowing since year 7 when I joined the Scissett Middle School Book Group. We followed a haphazard system where everyone read whichever books they wanted and somehow we all managed to have conversations about each book we had read. In both my years involved with this group, none of our favourite titles actually won, but here’s hoping that this time I might be a bit better at detecting the perfect book!

I’m now a year ten pupil at Shelley College and regrettably, juggling revision and homework has had me reading a lot less than I would like. However, our book group have finally been provided with numerous copies of the shortlisted books this year and we are all keen to start reading! At the minute I am reading The Wall by William Sutcliffe and enjoying it more than I originally thought I would (always a pleasant surprise), and my eyes are set on The Bunker Diary for my next read.

As I said, I’ve been short on reading time so had little chance to read many of the originally shortlisted books when they were announced. I had already read and thoroughly enjoyed Ketchup Clouds by Annabelle Pitcher, but was new to the novel All The Truth That’s In Me which was also on the longlist. I can safely say it is one of the best books for young adults that I’ve read in a while and easily surpassed any of my expectations. So far, for me, it’s the one I’m betting on to win, but there’s still time and 7 more books before I can safely say it is, The One. My only criticism was that the paperback cover is a much worse representation of the powerful story it is and for me (a self-proclaimed book-cover-judger) this is a VERY big deal.

Despite some mild disappointment over Ketchup Clouds not making the shortlist and one of my favourite authors, Maggie Steifvater, not making it past the nominations, I think this year’s Carnegie Medal Shortlist is a fair representation of plenty of genres and styles, some of which I wouldn’t normally read.”

Imogen Bowen

Imogen..

Find out more about:

the CKG 2014 judges
the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards
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I gave up my rights to become a CKG judge!

Karen Horsfield manages Resources for Learning at Somerset’s Schools’ Library Service. Here, she blogs about her role as a judge for the 2014 Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards. 

Karen Horsfield, CKG 2014 Judge

Karen Horsfield, CKG 2014 Judge

I have a poster on the wall in my office – ‘The rights of the reader’ by Daniel Pennac, illustrated by Quentin Blake which has left me wondering how those rights apply to me with my CKG hat on.  For the three months between November and January when I was reading the nominated titles, I think I gave up most of them (alongside my family, friends, cinema, TV, swimming, meals out and life in general)!  

‘The right not to read’.  I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I have read every last word of each nominated title at least once.  This means that the second and third reader’s rights, ‘the right to skip’ and ‘the right not to finish a book’, went straight out of the window too!  No skipping pages and no unfinished endings.

The right to read anything is something else that can’t apply to a CKG judge whilst working their way through the nominated titles.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.  I will admit to some sneaky reading of a couple of magazines and Christmas letters from friends but generally was unable to choose what I wanted to read.  It didn’t stop me compiling a wish list which also includes DVDs of the films I missed out on as well!

‘The right to mistake a book for real life’ is a failing of mine.  I do this all the time, the characters become my friends and united we combine to vanquish villains and thwart antiheroes even though I have absolutely no control over the outcome of the plot.  There are times when having finished a book, I am unable to pick up another because I cannot say goodbye to the characters whom I have grown to love.  (Not when CKG reading though.)

‘The right to read anywhere’ A CKG judge has to take full advantage of this.  In order to get through all the titles in the allotted I time read anywhere and everywhere attracting annoying comments like, “Get your nose out of that book” (mainly from my family).  I am sure this phrase will be engraved on my book shaped headstone!   I read in bed, over meals, on buses, in breaks, while waiting for meetings to start, in the queue for the checkout, while waiting for my daughter, in the ‘little room’, in the bath, while cooking dinner.  You name it!

I would have liked to have exercised my right ‘to dip in’ as a way of selecting the order in which the nominated titles were to be read.  However, I knew I would read all my favourite authors first.  The books were stacked in the spare room and I was most strict about not cherry picking those I was desperate to read, making myself pick from the top of the pile.  The only concession was that I allowed myself to select half a dozen slimmer volumes to read during Christmas week.

‘The right to read out loud’?  No chance!  I can read a million times faster in my head and speed is of the essence for a CKG judge.

‘The right to be quiet’.  I prefer to snuggle up quietly in a nest on my sofa.  However, I found I developed an ability to read in the midst of chaos and confusion and the hustle and bustle of life simply to ensure I got through the titles.

I am pleased to say that since having completed the CKG list of nominated titles life has got back to normal.  I am not going to read a book for book group simply because I just don’t fancy it.  I skip articles in the paper and I may not finish the book currently in my bag because life is too short to read something I am not enjoying.  I am going to enjoy reading all the CKG shortlisted titles again and particularly relish the one where I was so scared I felt as if I was one of the characters.  I’m going to continue to read anywhere and everywhere and dip into poetry all of which was written to read aloud.

However, a word of warning from Daniel Pennac.  ‘Don’t make fun of people who don’t read – or they never will’.  But how do I deal with people who make fun of me because I do read?

Books, tea and sunny weather – what more could you want?

Cath Skipper is librarian at Campbell College, Belfast. She blogs here about her role as a judge for the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards.

Cath Skipper blog

Cath Skipper blog

The Easter holidays are finally here, and so I am writing this from a campsite just outside Aberystwyth in sunny Wales. I have little light reading with me in the form of the CKG shortlists; a supply of teabags and biscuits; and sticky notes and pencils to keep track of my thoughts. Along with a few walks with the dogs, what more could you need for a perfect holiday?!

My first year of being on the panel of CKG award judges has been hugely enjoyable so far. As an already out-of-control book addict, the opportunity to be part of such a prestigious book award is very exciting, and although reading every nominated book in a very short space of time was hard work, it was also very rewarding.

I’ve really enjoyed seeing the reactions to both the long and shortlists, not least from my book group at school who were fizzing with excitement to find out what would make the cut. Having just taken part in our local book awards, the Northern Ireland Book Award, it’s really nice to be able to keep their enthusiasm for reading going towards the end of the school year with Carnegie shadowing.

On re-reading the shortlisted books, I am even more convinced that there really is something for everyone on the lists. All of the contenders are very strong, and I really have no idea how we are going to decide a winner… Time for another cup of tea, I think!

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Find out more about:

the other judges
the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards
the shadowing scheme
our latest news on Twitter.