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It’s Carnegie Day

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.



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The Carnegie shortlist is out

Exciting times for the world of children’s literature; the Carnegie shortlist is out, and there are some very good books out there. In fact, one might call these rawther very good books indeed (thanks Eloise!). I’m always excited by this shortlist, as I am with every award list I come across, because they allow a chance to take the temperature of the children’s literature world. I’m perhaps a little bit more excited about the Carnegie because, as a member of CILIP, it is an award I’m eligible to vote in and I do. I very much do.

One of the things that has struck me over the past few years, and I suspect this is directly in relation to the continual swell of rawther very good books in the children’s literary world, is that there’s a recurrent discussion of the nature of the books nominated for the Carnegie – and winning. A brief, somewhat reaching and terribly sweeping, statement, would be to characterise the Carnegie as increasingly favouring the hard-hitting young adult novels and denying the reach of middle grade novels.  Reaching and terribly sweeping statements aside, I think this is a valid discussion to have and to also acknowledge that its a discussion that doesn’t solely apply to the Carnegie. It can’t. It doesn’t. Any award that deals with the apparently innocent and immensely complicated concept that is children’s literature can’t. Whilst this isn’t a piece around the definition of children’s literature, nor the death of the author, it is a piece that requires an acknowledgement of the reach of the discussion.

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The Carnegie longlist is out

A quick heads up to those of you who are looking for some timely and classy reading suggestions: the Carnegie longlist is out today and features a range of wonderful titles. I get to vote on the Carnegie because I’m a member of CILIP and it’s something which makes me very proud. It’s an award ripe with heritage, history and healthy controversy; a potenent mixture of the classics of children’s literature and those unpredictable joys that flare suddenly into existence and make you wonder how on earth we coped without them.

Also, to be frank, there’s not a title on that longlist that you’d go wrong with. How’s that for a marker of the state of children’s literature in the UK today?


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Sunday Catch Up

Hello! It’s been a while hasn’t it? I’ve been in France (pain! boursin! beaucoup de bandes dessinees!) and so this is a slightly bigger catch up than usual for it covers two whole weeks. Two weeks! Anything could happen in two weeks! Kirrin Island could get over-run by pirates! Julian could stop being a know it all!

So what’s been happening in the world of children’s literature?

1. The great children’s literature academic and writer Perry Nodelman has released one of his essays online, and it’s a must for anyone who is interested in picture books. Nodelman’s one of the most approachable and interesting writers I know, and his work is always thought-provoking and revelatory. “On the border between Implication and Actuality : Children Inside and Outside of Picture Books” can be read here.

3. On the subject of picture books, here’s a list of positive representations of disabled children in picture books. It’s a comprehensive and lengthy list, worthy of checking out.

4. This list of resources on book banning is excellent – it includes lesson plans, discussion resources and more. There’s a particular children’s literature connection with the discussion on teaching a book where the author has a very specific personal mindset – the example given is that of Orson Scott Card and his YA novel ‘Ender’s Game’.

5. Though it’s an oldie, it’s still worthy of substantial note. One of the first ever children’s literature resources I discovered on the internet (and one that made me realise that the Chalet School was ‘okay’ to be thought of in Proper Tones) was Ju Gosling’s brilliant Virtual Worlds Of Girls. Go. Go browse!  It’s Dead Good!

6. Did you know this ‘ere blog is also on that there Facebook? It’s true, come and like it if Facebook is your thing!

7. There’s a new chair for the Chair of the Working Party for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals (and yes, I had to copy and paste that wording..!) . Good luck Joy! 😀

7. And finally, I think this might be the topic of the next #kidbkgrp … what do you reckon?

See you next week!  😉

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Patrick Ness wins the Carnegie!

Patrick Ness has won the Carnegie Prize for Monsters of Men, the final book of The Chaos Walking trilogy. Which is nutso amazing. I talk about the Knife of Never Letting Go here and how my irrational fear of the popular books almost put me off it. Good job it didn’t as it’s a blinder.

The entire trilogy is outstandingly good. It’s massively competent, a world created with fear and love and complex moral issues that make you read two thirds of the book and realise you have no idea who you want to ‘win’ because you can’t with any sense of veracity choose the morally right side to root for. It’s complicated, harrowing and a piece of just massive writing.

Good lad.

And oh gosh but it was a stonker of an acceptance speech: