It’s a landmark day in British children’s literature today; it’s the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway awards and for those of you who aren’t quite sure of what that means, they’re pretty much the bookish equivalent of the Oscars. Between them, these awards have recognised some of the very best in British children’s literature in its day, and the past winners list for both awards is well worth a read in its own right.
Congratulations to the winners! Sarah Crossan and ‘One’ won the Carnegie, whilst Chris Riddell took home the Kate Greenaway for The Sleeper and The Spindle. Whilst I’m yet to read the latter in full (though I’m in full and frank adoration of the parts I’ve read), One is quite something. One is one of those books that sings of craft; it’s so very gracefully and precisely written.I described it as “a book about the space in between the words and around them, as much as it is about them” and I’d urge you, so much, to read it. Crossan is very definitely making a mark with a very distinct and very welcome voice.
A very welcome part of this year’s ceremony was the introduction of the Amnesty Honours. These awards went to ‘Lies We Tell Ourselves’ by Robin Talley, and ‘There’s a Bear on My Chair’ by Ross Collins. As part of the ceremony, we watched (via the joys of an online stream, thank you CILIP) groups of students discussing both titles. The teenage girls discussing Lies We Tell Ourselves were beautifully erudite and, to be frank, moved me to tears with their summation of the book. The class of primary pupils discussing There’s A Bear On My Chair reminded me of one of my great loves in life: tiny children talking about books and giggling with the word ‘pants’. Such joy.
I was struck by the tone that the ceremony had this year. I’m a passionate livestream watcher of this ceremony because it means a lot to me. It’s a marker of what we stand for as a profession; this vital, important urge to hand a book to a child and to enable them to change worlds. The speakers at the ceremony spoke of the importance of empathy and of how stories enabled a child to ‘shape the world’. That’s more important than ever these days; and it’s something I will continue to subscribe to.
I’ll end this with one of my most popular, and increasingly over-excited, live-tweets of the event. Literacy matters. Community matters. People matter. And here’s to all the people that believe in that.