Monday, April 2, 2012

Kate Greenaway shortlist announced for best illustrated children's books

In Great Britain there are two major awards for children's books - the Carnegie Medal and the Kate Greenaway Medal (here). Both are run by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).
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. The standards for the award are very high. In fact, in the first year of the Medal, no award was made because no book was seen as worthy enough. The winner of the medal in 2011 was 'FArTHER' illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith and published by Templar. You can read my post on the winners in 2011 (here). The shortlist for the 2012 medal has just been announced.

'Wolf Won't Bite' by Emily Gravett and published by Macmillan (age 3-6 years)

Three cheeky little circus pigs make a wild wolf jump through hoops and perform many daring stunts. They even put their heads between the jaws of wolf, assuming that "Wolf Won't Bite!" . . . but can you push a wolf too far? This is a funny story that young readers will love. Emily Gravett won the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2008 with "Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears" and in 2006 for "Wolves". The judges commented that this book is:

"A book full of beautifully visualised comic touches. Every line works, and the more you read it, the more you see. The pigs are wonderful comic creations. The text is always part of the picture and the typography perfectly fits the action. Outstanding."

'Puffin Peter' by Petr Horáček and published by Walker Books (ages 3-6 years)

Peter and Paul are the best of friends, but Peter gets lost in a terrible storm. But with the help of a big blue whale, Puffin Peter sets off to find him. They find all kinds of birds that match Peter's description but none quite like Paul. Peter Horáček was born in Czechoslovakia but now lives in England (Worcestershire). He uses a variety of media in this book including collage. The judges describe this book as:

"A dramatically beautiful picture book full of movement. Layers of colour and texture capture the movement of water, and of light, and of Peter and Paul themselves. A thrilling visual adventure for children, with a tender message."

'A Monster Calls' illustrated by Jim Kay and written by Patrick Ness. Published by Walker Books (ages 9-11 years)

The monster shows up after midnight, not uncommon for monsters. But this isn't the one Conor was expecting. That monster was one from his nightmares, which had come every night since his mother started began treatment. However, this new monster is ancient, and is after something just as scary from him. It wants the truth. The book is based on an idea from Carnegie medal winner Siobhan Dowd who died from cancer before she could act on the idea herself. The judges describe this book as:

"Breathtaking, a perfect marriage of text and picture, in which the illustrations capture meaning and emotion completely. There are echoes of Charles Keeping in Kay's atmospheric, energetic inky illustrations. The depiction of light and shade is awe-inspiring and the illustrations extend the impact of the story."

'Slog's Dad' illustrated by Dave McKean and written by David Almond. Published by Walker Books (ages 7-11)

Slog believes in life after death. He reckons that the scruffy bloke sitting outside the pork shop is his dad come back to visit him for one last time. Slog's mate Davie isn't convinced, but does wonder how this man knows everything that Slog's Dad would have known. This is a different but stunning work, something which the judges commented on:

The different illustrative styles expand the text and the book's message; they amplify the emotions, producing a powerful impact on the reader. McKean uses different media so skilfully, and in such an effective and fluid way. The images illuminate and leave the reader full of hope. 

'Solomon Crocodile' by Catherine Rayner and published by Macmillan (ages 2-6 years)

This short story will delight readers as a read aloud book or captivate the beginning reader. Solomon is looking for some fun, but no one wants to play. His attempt to have fun with others seems only to annoy them and elicit the response, "Go away Solomon. You're nothing but a nuisance." The dragonflies tell him to buzz off, the storks get in a flap, and the less said about the hippo, the better! Somewhere there must be the perfect pal for a lonely crocodile? A like-minded crocodile fills the bill, but what will this mean for the others in this patch of jungle? Catherine Rayner won the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2009 for "Harris Finds His Feet". The judges in choosing it suggested that:

The depiction of the animal characters is superb, with Solomon the archetypal naughty toddler. The use of colour is exquisite throughout, and the book has a real sense of vibrancy and energy. There's such variety in the layout but the images follow on from each other perfectly.

'The Gift' illustrated by Rob Ryan and written by Carol Anne Duffy. Published by Barefoot Books (ages 4-7years).
Rob Ryan is famous for his amazing papercut art. This book is another fine example of the quality of his work. It is the story of one girl's life and the hopes and desires that shape it. One summer day a beautiful young girl visits the woods for a picnic. A wish forms in her mind and to her surprise a silver-haired woman appears, ready to grant it. The author, Carol Ann Duffy is the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, and is the first woman in the role in 300 years. The beautiful story touches on the wonder and mysteries of what it means to be human. In commenting on the papercut art, the judges commented:

The beautiful illustrations are not just decorative, they interpret the text for us and strengthen the story's impact. The frames and shadows perfectly reflect the fairy tale feel and the different emblems and details emphasise the message. A perfect depiction of the circle of life.

'There Are No Cats in this Book' by Viviane Schwarz and published by Walker Books (4+)

Cats Tiny, Moonpie and André are filled with the spirit of adventure – they want to see the world but they can't seem to get out of the book. They try pushing their way out, and jumping their way out but nothing works. Finally they decide to WISH themselves out with your help, the reader! This is a companion book to 'There are Cats in this Book'. The judges felt that this book:

"...perfectly expresses the power of the imagination! With an extraordinary sense of participation, this is book to play with as much as to read, and very much one to share. The illustrations are full of personality, the use of colour and blank space is brilliant. A book that works on lots of different levels."

'Can We Save the Tiger?' illustrated by Vicky White and written by Martin Jenkins. Published by
Walker Books (ages 5-9)

Conservationist Martin Jenkins and Vicky White celebrate some of the world's most endangered species in this book and show us why, though nothing is simple, we must try and save them. Martin is a conservation biologist and consultant for the UN conservation organisation WCMC. Vicky White had experience as a zookeeper at the Cheshire Zoo caring for great apes. This is Vicky's second book, her first was 'Ape'. The judges commended this book for:

The stunning portraits of the animals help the reader appreciate their beauty. Close-up observation and detail bring the animals to life. Flashes of colour are used sparingly but to great effect. The perspectives used, and the use of blank space, give this an extraordinary impact. A beautiful book.

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