Monday, August 1, 2011

Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals Awarded for 2011

In Great Britain there are two major awards for children's books - the Carnegie Medal and the Kate Greenaway Medal (here). The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) runs both awards. The winners of both 2011 medals have been announced.

The Carnegie Medal is awarded to an outstanding book for children and young adult readers. Nominated books must be written in English and should have been published first in the UK in the year before the awards. The Carnegie judging panel consists of 13 children's librarians from the Youth Libraries Group of CLIP. Nominated books are also read by students from many schools who send feedback to the judging panel.

The Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded for excellence in illustration. The 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. As if to set the standards very high no award was made in the inaugural year as no book was seen as worthy enough. 

The 2011 Carnegie Medal

'Monsters of Men' by Patrick Ness (Walker Books)

This is the third and final instalment written by Patrick Ness in the 'Chaos Walking' trilogy. The two previous books in the trilogy, 'The Knife of Never Letting Go' and 'The Ask and the Answer' were both shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal (2009 & 2010 respectively). It is the first time that all books in a series have been shortlisted. 

'Monsters of Men' tells of the power struggles of a world where all thoughts are audible. It is a fast-paced action novel centred on three characters, all with different points of view. The stage for this story is set with the opening line:
"War," says Mayor Prentiss, his eyes glinting. "At last."
Three armies are marching on New Prentisstown. Todd and Viola are right in the middle of the action, with no obvious way to escape.  As they face this predicament together, the relationship between them develops. And then another character '1017' enters focussed on revenge, a further complication. This novel will engage readers 14+ as it deals with varied themes including life, death and love. 

This fast-paced action is narrated by three individual characters Todd, Viola, and 1017, all with very different points of view, and all on different sides, but all fighting in the same war, a war for power.

Ferelith Hordon, chair of the 2011 judging panel commented at the awards ceremony:

"By any stretch of the imagination – and this is a book which profoundly stretches exactly that – Monsters of Men is an extraordinary achievement. Within its pages, Patrick Ness creates a complex other world, giving himself and the reader great scope to consider big questions about life, love and how we communicate, as well as the horrors of war, and the good and evil that mankind is capable of. It's also an enthralling read that is well nigh impossible to put down...this is a novel that both stands alone, and stands out".

Patrick Ness is an American but has lived in the UK since 1999. The son of a drill sergeant in the US Army, he spent his early years in Hawaii, before moving with his family to the state of Washington when he was six.

The full 2011 Carnegie Medal shortlist (here)

The Kate Greenaway Medal

'FArTHER' by Grahame Baker-Smith (Templar)

Grahame Baker-Smith has won the 2011 Kate Greenaway Medal. A father who had always dreamed of flying went off to war and didn't return. His son decides to make his father's dreams come true. The book tells the moving story of how the boy tries to fulfil his father's unfulfilled dream of flying. The story demonstrates the power of love and ambition when faced with seemingly impossible goals.

The story was inspired both by the author's own father, and by being the father of a son himself.  In an interview for 'Kids Book Review' he comments:

"FArTHER is the first book I’ve done that I feel has some real truth in it about the way I think about life and some of the complex relationships we all seem to insist on developing!"

Baker-Smith uses traditional media like watercolour, acrylic, pastel and ink, but he also uses fimo and other materials to create images. He then uses photography and Photoshop to create the unique images that make up this book. His unique style will excite young readers.

Like a number of recent books for children, 'FArTHER' has a metaphysical dimension to it which will also stimulate the imagination of readers. As the Chair of the judging panel, Ferelith Hordon, indicated:

"FArTHER is a beautifully conceived picture book with a dream-like quality that captures the imagination of readers of all ages. Its wealth of detail conveys both dark emotions: the storms of war and weather, and a powerful sense of loss and bereavement; but also a great sense of hope, particularly as vested in future generations".

Grahame Baker-Smith lives in Bath and has worked as an illustrator for over 30 years. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, he made a living as an illustrator of other people's work, doing book jackets, covers, and even advertising. He then wrote 'Jo-Jo's Journey' (a comic-style story), a version of 'The Velveteen Rabbit' and later, 'Little Pilot.' None of these sold in any great quantities.  He thought his career as an illustrator and author was over before it truly started, but then just five years ago, he evolved a new style. The first book in this style was 'Leon and the Place Between' and it was immediately shortlisted for the 2010 Kate Greenaway Medal. 'FArTHER' is the second book in this wonderful new style. This wonderful new book will stimulate the imaginations of children aged 7+.

Full 2011 Kate Greenaway Shortlist (here)

Related links
Other posts on children's literature awards (here)

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