The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals 2019

On Tuesday the 2019 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals were awarded to the most outstanding books as selected by the judging panel, assisted by the advisory panel.

These were the first medals awarded since the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards Independent Diversity Review Final Report was published in September last year. As a long-time observer (and one-time judge) of the Medals I was excited to see how the CKG process would play out this year and I was not disappointed.

Most of the changes to the Medals involved behind the scene stuff – although the majority of the processes are not hidden from public view. The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals have some of the most transparent processes in literary medals anywhere; from how the judges are selected, how the eligible titles are nominated and how the entire judging process works. The only thing that is done behind closed doors is the actual process of choosing the long and short lists and the most outstanding titles for each of the medals.

You can read about the changes that were made to the processes here.

The most publicly visible change to the medals is the addition of the Shadower’s Choice Awards – voted for and awarded by members of the 4,500 school reading groups who shadow the Medals. This is important, as for years people (myself included) have called for the involvement of the shadowing groups to be more visible and to recognise their choices in some way. Going forward, future participants of the shadowing process can join in knowing that their views will be listened to and acted on.

What is also amazing is that this year the Shadower’s Choice Awards and the official medals went to the same books! When I heard this it gave me a frisson of excitement as for years in conversations with colleagues and friends online and face to face, many have complained that the judges never choose the books that their students love, thus showing that the awards are out of touch and out of step with popular reading.

Jackie Morris won the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for her frankly amazing artwork in The Lost Words, a spell-book of poetry about words from nature that we are losing, written by Robert MacFarlane. I knew from the first moment that I delved into this book that Jackie was going to win – and it is a well-deserved recognition. I don’t often say this but The Lost Words is as close to perfect a work of art that is a book can be and I never tire of losing myself in its pages!

Elizabeth Acevedo won the CILIP Carnegie Medal for her verse novel The Poet X. Elizabeth wrote the most outstanding book for children and young people as chosen by the judges in accordance to the judging criteria of the Carnegie Medal, and, is also the first writer of colour to win the medal in its 83 year history. There was a lot of excitement over her win in certain parts of the US kidlit twittersphere, this cheered me as it is not often that book folk outside of the UK take such an active interest in the medals.

I have said this before and will reiterate it here, the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are a living and vibrant part of the literary landscape in the UK and abroad. For being such well-established awards, with a pedigree of winners, the organisers of the awards are able to effect changes fairly swiftly and respond to criticism and advice from all quarters. This bodes well for the future, and not just of the medals but also, (hopefully) publishing in the UK; seeing BAME writers winning high-profile awards will give agents and publishers the push to find new authors and stories that will give more young readers the opportunity to see themselves represented on the page and open the minds and eyes of others to a wider, more vibrant world.

In closing I would also like to say a massive thank you and well done to the judges.

Judging the awards is never an easy task, especially at this time, after the often critical scrutiny the medals and judging panel have faced over the past several years. Often the biggest criticism the judges get when the most outstanding books are announced is that they have “got it wrong” and that observers and critics know which book should have won.

This year, as they have done every year, following the criteria, the judges have made the only choices they could and made the right choice in selecting the most outstanding books for children and young people!

By Matt Imrie on June 20, 2019 · Posted in Carnegie, Kate Greenaway

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