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.
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.
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