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CILIP Carnegie/Kate Greenaway medal shortlist released

On 1st April, the shortlist for the Prestigious CILIP (The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medals was announced.

The Carnegie medal is awarded for outstanding writing, and the Kate Greenaway medal for outstanding illustration. Nominated by children’s librarians, the judging process is uniquely shadowed by a schools and libraries around the country, with around 90,000 children participating.

A list of nominated titles follows. For detailed synopses of each nominated book, see the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway website.

In 2010 the Carnegie medal was won by Neil Gaiman for The Graveyard Book, a reworking of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, and the Kate Greenaway awarded to Freya Blackwood for her illustrations in Harry & Hopper by Margaret Wild. This year the standard is extremely high, but were it up to me I’d have Antony Browne’s Me and You for the Kate Greenaway medal, and Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Death Defying Pepper Roux for the Carnegie.

CILIP Carnegie Medal Shortlist for outstanding writing in a children’s book

BRESLIN, THERESA PRISONER OF THE INQUISITION
Doubleday (Ages 12+)
ISBN: 9781406310276

McCAUGHREAN GERALDINE THE DEATH DEFYING PEPPER ROUX
Oxford Children’s Books (Ages 10+)
ISBN: 9780192756022

NESS, PATRICK MONSTERS OF MEN
Walker (Ages 14+)
ISBN: 9780385617031

ROSOFF, MEG THE BRIDE’S FAREWELL
Puffin (Ages 12+)
ISBN: 9780141383934

SEDGWICK, MARCUS WHITE CROW
Orion (Ages 12+)
ISBN: 9781842551875

WALLACE, JASON OUT OF SHADOWS
Andersen Press (Ages 14+)
ISBN: 9781849390484

CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal Shortlist for outstanding illustration in a children’s book

BAKER-SMITH, GRAHAME FArTHER
Templar (Ages 8+)
ISBN: 97848771260

BROWNE, ANTHONY ME AND YOU
Doubleday (Ages 4+)
ISBN: 9780385614894

GRAHAM, BOB APRIL UNDERHILL TOOTH FAIRY
Walker (Ages 5+)
ISBN: 9781406321555

GREY, MINI (text by Hilaire Belloc) JIM
Jonathan Cape (Ages 6+)
ISBN: 9780224083676

JEFFERS, OLIVER THE HEART AND THE BOTTLE
HarperCollins (Ages 5+)
ISBN: 9780007182305

OFTEDAL, KRISTIN (text by Carl Norac) BIG BEAR, LITTLE BROTHER
Macmillan (Age range: 3+)
ISBN: 9781405051989

RAYNER, CATHERINE ERNEST
Macmillan (Age range: 3+)
ISBN: 9780230529199

WIJNGAARD, JUAN (text by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham) CLOUD TEA MONKEYS
Walker (Age range: 8+)
ISBN: 9781406300925

 

Something Amis(s)

If I had a serious brain injury I might well write a children’s book‘ says Martin Amis, ‘I would never write about someone that forced me to write at a lower register than what I can write’.

In just a few words, Amis misses the point of writing for youngsters by a mile. To write for children is not to write at ‘a lower register’, it is to write for a different audience. One with a different world-view, a different set of concerns. But one with just as critical an eye.

A child of seven is sitting up in bed reading Oliver Twist. When her Daddy comes to tuck her in she says ‘Mr Brownlow has let Oliver go out, but I think Bill Sykes is going to get him!’ She speaks with fear in her voice. She is concerned for the fate of a character so well drawn that she has come to care for him. In short, she has reacted to the words on the page in the same way as an adult reader. She has lifted the overt and covert messages in the text, processed and understood them. She is an adult reader in embryo. She is me, 20 years ago, incidentally, and this is one of my father’s favourite dinner-table anecdotes.

There is a complexity in writing a novel, a story, for a child audience that is (understandably) absent from adult literature. A children’s author must understand characterisation, plot, voice, narrative value and a host of other issues that face the adult author, and at the same time they must address a child without patronising them. Perhaps Mr Amis lacks this skill. As Mark Haddon said;

Writing for children is bloody difficult. Books for children are as complex as their adult counterparts, and they should therefore be accorded the same respect.

Neil Gaiman, author of the beautiful children’s fantasy novel The Graveyard Book which won the CILIP Carnegie Medal in 2010, will probably agree. Like Angela Carter, Arthur Conan Doyle and myriad others, he is as successful in children’s literature as he is in adult literature. And he does both remarkably well. Take that Mr Amis.