My Year 11’s book club: reading, chocolate and revision!

Hannah Thomson is a Learning Resource Centre Manager at Foxford School and Community Arts College. She blogs here about her role as a judge for the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards.

This month I have been in overdrive and although my reading for this year’s Carnegie and Kate Greenaway awards is coming to an end, I am now catching up with all of the other delicious books that I have missed out on whilst Hannah Thomsondistracted by this year’s shortlist!

I have really enjoyed meeting with secondary school students. The Yr. 11 girls within my own reading group have been moving into exam season and our book clubs have been full of reading but also chocolate fuelled and revision led!

I was also invited to speak with two reading groups from Staffordshire University Academy earlier this month, to talk to them about the judging process and the shortlisted CKG titles. We had a great time (and I LOVED it!) it is always a huge treat for me to speak to young people and I love hearing their own views and opinions about books.

They were incredibly enthusiastic and it really was quite refreshing to hear their viewpoints after all of the discussions and tweets that I had been reading. They had very definite perspectives on some of the titles, and views that were always fresh and thoughtful. I hope that I inspired them as much as they inspired me!

Meeting and listening to students helps me to believe that whatever the subject matter, a book is always a safe place. I believe that this year’s shortlist has very much allowed them the opportunity to ask questions and form opinions and viewpoints about experiences outside of their own. Isn’t that why we all, as readers, keep going back for more?

 

Find out more about:

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

 

Large piles of books stacked upside down in my living room

Kathryn Flagner co-ordinates and runs children’s activities across Cumbria Library’s West Group as Deputy Area Library Manager. She blogs here about her role as a CKG 2014 judge.Kathryn's Carnegie list

I have wanted to be a Carnegie/Greenaway judge for a number of years and this year I got to do just that.  It all started in October when I got to meet the other judges, which was great, and we were given the list of nominations, 70+ for Carnegie and 50+ for Greenaway, all to be read within 3 months!

The lists didn’t faze me and I started calmly by re-reading some of those I already had at home.  However, within a week or so copies of titles from both lists started arriving, and very quickly formed large piles in my living room.  It was the books’ physical presence that made me realise the immensity of the task I had undertaken.

I am normally a distracted reader; as soon as a book I want to read comes along I start it, even if I am already reading something else.  I knew this wouldn’t work for the judging, as I was going to have to concentrate on each book and apply the criteria as I read.  To discipline myself I stacked the books upside down, so I couldn’t see the title, and just picked from the top, finishing one book before starting the next.  I even worked out how many books I needed to read a week to meet the deadline. Then settled down to read, and did nothing else for months.

Now all the reading and judging is done and I can hardly wait for the presentation.  What do I do now?  Read books that will eligible to be nominated for next year of course!

Find out more about:

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

 

 

CKG Judge FAQ

Victoria Barton is SLS Librarian, Leicestershire. She blogs here about her role as a judge for the 2014 Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards.

CKG Judge Victoria busy reading...

CKG Judge Victoria busy reading…

Here are the questions I have been asked since I started CKG Judging and my answers. 

Why were you so busy?

I had to read the entire nominations list of 77 children’s books and 61 picture books in 3 months, to a strict deadline and make notes.  No ifs, no buts…I had to read more books in a shorter time frame than I would normally read in a year.  It was a massive challenge.  I then re-read and made notes on the short listed titles.  The up side was that my thoughtful husband acted as CKG butler and brought meals, tea and blankets when needed!

How did you fit it all in?

I would return from work every day, install myself on the sofa and read at least one book, sometimes two.  At weekends, I would read about seven books during Saturday and Sunday.  I did nothing else.  As you might imagine, my Facebook status updates became quite repetitive and my waist line somewhat less trim than it had been.  Next year, I am going to follow the advice of previous judges and get myself an exercise bike, then I can read and cycle at the same time.

You volunteered to do this on top of a full time job.  Why would you do something like that to yourself?

It is a real honour to be involved in awards as important as Carnegie and Kate Greenaway.  I learned so much about current children’s literature and publishing as well as being able to indulge myself in a universe of dramatic, funny and frightening stories and shy, angry and amenable characters.  Judging the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards has been on my bucket list since I first saw the winner’s medal printed on the front of my favourite books.  I have fulfilled a life time ambition…Not to mention taking the time to talk about books (my favourite thing) with other librarians (very interesting people).

Why do you think that the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards are so important?

The awards recognise the most outstanding children’s books and most distinguished illustration, working to clear, transparent criteria.  Authors and illustrators call the awards ‘the ones they want to win’.    Writers, illustrators and publishers produce more original and incredible books the next year.  Creativity and excellence in children’s literature and illustration is acknowledged, nurtured and encouraged by the awards.  The outcome of the awards is that excellent, interesting, unusual and amazing books get into the hands of children across the country and that, I think, is the most important thing to a librarian.

How did you remember what happened in all the books you read?

I made lots of notes but I disappointed myself because I didn’t refer to all those notes as much as I thought that I would.  I found that when I saw the cover of the book, the story, the characters and the way it was written would come back to me.  I think this is because I am a very visual learner.  It sounds clever but in what I haven’t said is that in the mean time, I was forgetting lots of other things in order to make room in my brain for all the stories I had lived through and the characters I had met in the books I was judging.

Is there a common theme running through the short listed books?

People often see patterns or common themes in the short listed titles.  However, this is purely coincidental.  We only judge the books according to the criteria published on the CKG website, we do not judge in any other way.  Our Chair of Judges keeps us on track, judging to the criteria at all times.  The answer is ‘no’, there is no intentionally chosen common theme running through the short listed books.

It sounds like a lot of hard work.  Are you going to be a judge again?

Judges are voted in by their local YLG committee for two years and this is my first so yes, I will be doing it all again.  We don’t get paid to be a judge so it’s all voluntary.  I learned so much this year and the experience was unforgettable so even though it is hard work, I am excited to be a judge again, next year.

 

Find out more about:

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

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
the shadowing scheme
our latest news on Twitter.

My visit to BBG Academy

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.

I have already tweeted about my invitation to visit BBG Academy and their Carnegie shadowing group. We met Alison Brumwelllast Thursday and wow! What a group of articulate and lovely Year Seven pupils (led, very expertly, by LRC Manager Karen McKirgan). The 2014 shadowing group is all-girl: Alice, Iara, Natalia, Orla, Sophie and Alicia. We had quite a lively discussion about whether a plot-driven or character-driven novel is more memorable. They all voted for character-driven novels, so well-done girls! A whizzy, innovative ‘Dan Brown’ plot is great, but reading a plot-driven novel is a bit like eating a bag of Maltesers. Reading the Carnegie short-listed titles is like slowly consuming a hand-dipped truffle; if you take the time to savour each word you are rewarded with a memorable experience. And if you want to know what the BBG Academy Carnegie shadowing group read and recommend, here is their list of titles:

Entangled – Cat Clarke

A Sea of Stars – Kate Maryon

A Spoonful of Jam – Michelle Magorian

Looking for Alaska – John Green

Ketchup Clouds – Annabel Pitcher

Sorrowline – Niel Bushnell

Violet Wings – Victoria Hanley

Mr. Stink – David Walliams

Try reading one this summer!

 

Find out more about:

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

 

My life…A reading marathon!

Sophie Hawkey-Edwards is Senior learning and development officer in West Dunbartonshire libraries and museums, Scotland.  She blogs here about her role as a CKG 2014 judge.  

Sophie Hawkey Edwards

Sophie Hawkey-Edwards

From November 2013 to January 2014 my life became a reading marathon! I read in bed, I read on the train to work, I read on my lunch breaks, I read in the bath, I read on my sofa, my Ma’s sofa, my friends’ sofas … I read in the back of cars, I read in the supermarket, I read on the bench by the zoo, I read everywhere! I even appeared to be reading in my sleep. In all I think we had about seventy-five young adult and junior books to read and nearly seventy picture books. I never knew reading could be hard work! Don’t get me wrong; it was hard locking myself away and trying to make sure I gave each book the attention it deserved and I missed seeing my lovely friends as often as I might have but it was a great experience and it was good to get some lively discussions going with fellow library folk at the first judging meeting. Now it’s almost time to head back to the judging chamber and decide who wins the fabulous Carnegie and Greenaway medals. I suspect it will be a difficult decision, possibly with a few frustrated tears along the way and will most definitely involve far too much coffee and cake. And some more reading …

Find out more about:

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

 

CKG Secrets

Kara Orford is Community Librarian for Denbighshire Libraries and recently achieved Chartered status. She blogs about her experience as a 2014 Carnegie Greenaway judge.

When I embarked upon this quite marvellous judging journey, the thing that I was most Kara Orfordworried about was the sheer amount of reading that I knew came with the territory.  Everyone tells you about it, previous judges prepare you for the fact that you are quite possibly going to have to put your life on hold for a good few months and bunker down (I know that ‘hunker down’ is what I really mean, but I couldn’t resist a cheeky Kevin Brooks reference!)

Anyway, panicking about reading ALL of the nominations is par for the course so that didn’t come as a surprise at all –I just stocked up on chocolate, used up an awful lot of annual leave from work and spent a lot of time in my pyjamas! What I was quite unprepared for though, was the responsibility as a judge to quite simply keep schtum! To keep it ‘zipped’ and to keep hush when it came to lots of elements of judging – That, I wasn’t quite so prepared for!

Working with Sarah, the fabulous School Librarian, I run a CKG shadowing group in a nearby high school and once the longlist was announced, our little group began diligently making our way through the 20 titles.  Now, the time came when myself and the rest of the judging panel had whittled this longlist down into a rather stonking shortlist that had yet to be announced.  There was something of a gap before the list was released and all the time I had to listen to my lovely group saying things like “Well I think that one will DEFINITELY make the shortlist” or “There’s no way that will be on the shortlist, it’s absolutely rubbish!” all the time I was thinking  ‘BUT I KNOW IT IS!!!!!!  AGHGGHGH I KNOW, I KNOW, I KNOW!!!’ I was bursting at the seams but couldn’t tell a soul. For a chatter box like me, this was difficult!

I enjoyed following the debate on Twitter as librarians, publishers & all round eager beavers predicted what the shortlist might look like, all the while staring at my screen thinking ‘You’re WRONG!  You’ve missed off Julie Berry!’ or some such.  I wanted to talk about it, I wanted to natter about my first years’ experience of judging  to anyone who would listen.  I wanted to explain how vigorously we had debated the nominations and longlist, I wanted to tell people about the books that proved most controversial in our discussion, I wanted to spill the beans on just how close some books had come to making the shortlist and how hard some judges had battled to earn them a place there.  But I couldn’t.  Not yet.  I couldn’t say a thing.

You see the thing is, keeping secrets is part and parcel of being a judge, it says so on our job description!  (Bet you didn’t know we had a job description, but we do!)  Right there on the list of our responsibilities as judges it says in black and white “To maintain confidentiality.”  Well I’ll let you in on a secret of my own…

When I feel like I’m about to POP with excitement from judging and all of the Carnegie Greenaway that I have fizzing through my brain, I hotfoot it over to tell my friend Fin ALL about it.  I go on and on and on and on, giving him the juiciest gossip and the most controversial of insights and the best thing of all is, I know he won’t tell a soul!

Cara Orford and Fin

Kara and Fin!

You see Fin is only 5 months old, and whilst he seems to be more of a Greenaway fan than a Carnegie enthusiast at the moment, he listens to every word I say.  I get to share my secrets with someone and know 110% that he won’t let the cat out of the bag! Phewee, what a relief!

To be honest, I think Fin will be relieved when the winner is announced – Keeping these secrets is a lot of pressure for the both of us!  ; )

 

Find out more about:

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

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?

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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