Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Kate Greenaway Medal for Children's Literature

As I have written on this blog before children's literature awards are given in many countries each year (see related links to other awards below). In the United Kingdom, the key award for children's illustrated books is the Kate Greenaway Medal. This award was established in 1955 for distinguished illustration in a book for children. It was named after the popular nineteenth century artist known for her wonderful children's illustrations and designs. The medal is awarded by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).

The winner receives a golden medal and £500 worth of books to donate to a library of their choice. Of course, the prestige of winning the award guarantees significant international sales and helps to establish the career and reputation of the winners. As well, since 2000, the winner has also been awarded the £5000 Colin Mears Award which is possible due to a bequest from the person after whom the awards are named - Colin Mears.

The 2009 shortlist announced

The following books have been nominated for the medal in 2009. The winner will be announced on the 25th June.

1. Angela Barrett (text by Paul Gallico), The Snow Goose, Hutchinson (Age range: 10+)

Paul Gallico’s classic story is set in the years running up to the evacuation of Dunkirk during the Second World War. It tells the story of Fritha a young girl who finds a wounded snow goose, and a recluse by the name of Rhayader who nurses it back to health. Barrett's understated illustrations have a softness that woks well and reinforces a strong sense of place.

2. Marc Craste (text by Helen Ward), Varmints, Templar (Age range: 7+)

This is a very unusual text by Helen Ward with stunning artwork from Marc Craste. It is a mysterious tale of a world that is in need of protection, and those who love it enough to try to ensure its renewal. Its almost surreal illustrations and haunting text seem to work at various levels.

3. Thomas Docherty, Little Boat, Templar (Age range: 3+)

Little Boat is small but independent and determined craft that sails bravely on no matter what dangers he faces. Docherty uses a simple palette of colours and style but manages to create a strong sense of a small boat in an ocean of changing moods.

4. Bob Graham, How to Heal a Broken Wing, Walker (Age range: 3+)

Will is the only one to notice when a bird lies injured on a crowded city street. He stops and helps, and in the process learns how to heal a broken wing. Graham always uses simplicity to express strong emotions. Once again he succeeds in creating a wonderful book where text and illustrations support each other effortlessly. Bob Graham was born in England and now lives in Australia and so this book is also shortlisted for the Australian Children's Book Council awards as well (see here). You can read my review of his work here.

5. Oliver Jeffers, Oliver the Way Back Home, Harper Collins (Age range: 3+)

A small boy finds himself stuck on the moon; but perhaps he is not alone. Is there an alien nearby who is about to eat him? But the twist is that this alien is friendly and they need each other if they are both to get back to their homes. Somehow with very simple stick-like figures Oliver Jeffers conveys rich emotions in some lively illustrations.

6. Dave McKean (text by David Almond), The Savage, Walker (Age range: 10+)

This is David Almond's story of Blue Baker, a young boy whose father dies of a heart attack. The school counsellor, Mrs Molloy, encourages Blue to use writing to help deal with his grief. But Blue doesn't find this helpful. Instead, he begins writing creatively the story of 'The Savage', a wild boy living in the woods who has many adventures and wins out against bullies. He begins to realise that sometimes the boundary between life and fiction is rather blurry. The illustrations by Dave McKean add greatly to Almond's text with contemporary drawings that capture your attention.

7. Catherine Rayner, Harris Finds His Feet, Little Tiger Press (Age range: 3+)

Harris is a small hare with huge feet who goes out with his Grandad and finds out how to hop way up into the sky, climb the highest mountains and run extremely fast. This is a simple text for preschool children with an effective text with illustrations that are simply beautiful.

8. Chris Wormell, Molly and the Night Monster, Jonathan Cape (Age range: 3+)

Molly wakes up in the middle of the night and hears sounds on the stairs; her imagination is running away with her. Is it a bear, a crocodile, a hippopotamus or a monster? Molly learns to be brave to solve the problem. Using stunning blue colours to communicate the night and a varied sense of light Wormell achieves what few illustrators would attempt, a brilliant effect using an unusual technique.

Related Posts and Links

The full list of previous Kate Greenaway medal winners can be found here.

Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) shortlist for 2009 (here).

Newbery & Caldecott Winners 2009 (here).

All my previous posts on children's literature (here).

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