My skype session with the British School of Brussels

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.

European shadowers, the British School of Brussels

European shadowers, the British School of Brussels

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of skyping the Carnegie Medal shadowing group at The British School of Brussels. The group is quite large and includes Y7 – Y9 pupils, with sessions led by Barry Sayer and Carolyn Baker.

As I rarely Skype, our discussion required some practice beforehand on my part, supported by my daughter. Thankfully there were no technical glitches on the day and we had a very lively group conversation for about 40 minutes. The group sent me some questions in advance, which were extremely well thought out. Questions ranged from the issue of confidentiality for the judges to the criteria we apply during the judging process. I felt it was important to point out that the criteria are really what unify and inform judges’ debate about books we’ve read when we meet as a group. We all have our own individual ways of reading a text; some of us take more notes than others; some of us read reviews throughout the process, including those on the shadowing website and some (like me) avoid them until after our final meeting. And we all have our own favourite authors, which can make judging such a challenging enterprise; “loving” a particular author or a particular book has no place when we decide on our shortlists and, ultimately, our Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal winners. As I explained to the group, it’s all about which shortlisted book best meets the criteria and is deemed theAlison Brumwell outstanding book of that particular year.

It was a treat for me to hear group members speak about their favourite authors and novels, which ranged from ‘Ketchup Clouds’ by Annabel Pitcher to ‘Private Peaceful’ by Michael Morpurgo. And they are all big Katherine Rundell fans, as she is an alumnus of the school! Perhaps the most interesting question was whether there should be two Carnegie Medal categories to accommodate the increasingly wide range of novels that are nominated each year, something I feel would dilute the impact of the award.

I am really looking forward to finding out what The British School of Brussels Carnegie Medal shadowing group choice is for 2014. They will be casting their own votes this Friday and will find out on 23 June who the winner(s) are. I was disappointed not to be able to speak to all members of the group, but many thanks to Barry and Carolyn for organising the session and special thanks to the very articulate Matthieu, Margot, Ewan, Tara, Konrad, Izzy, Jack, Aditya, Michael and Lafika.

 

Find out more about:

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

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Summing up my 2014 experience as 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. 

From November to January I read for over 303 hours,

18,200 minutes,

22,500 pages,

Karen Horsfield, CKG 2014 Judge

Karen Horsfield, CKG 2014 Judge

millions of words,

125 million letters.

That was 10% of my life.

Someone told me that I needed to get a life.

So I told them that I’d seen

thousands of lives,

in hundreds of illustrations,

in countless characters,

and dozens of plots.

 

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.