The Carnegies

Well the latest news took me by surprise, actually it seems to have taken a lot of people by surprise, it may just be me but the name “The Carnegies” sounds more like a soap opera or sit-com – but wait, I am getting ahead of myself here.

Let’s rewind back to February of this year when the news broke that CILIP & Yoto had entered into a partnership for Yoto to become the headline sponsor of what was then known as the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards, and that they were being renamed the Yoto Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals.

Being an inquisitive sort and having what may kindly be described as a possessive attachment to the awards (an affliction that most ex-judges seem to have) I reached out to the press people with some questions (see below) that I had put together after reading the press release several times.


  • How did the idea of a partnership between CILIP & Yoto with regards to the Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards come about?
  • How will this partnership work with books that do not have audio versions? Take for example, the 2020 Carnegie winner Lark by Anthony McGowan which is published by Barrington Stoke who do not currently offer audiobooks.
  • If no official audio versions are available, is there a deal with Calibre Audio or the RNIB Talking Books to offer the audio versions they make available for print disabled readers through Yoto?
  • If the answer to the previous question is yes, how will this affect the rights of copyright holders?
     Will CKG shortlisted titles available on Yoto be sold via the official book suppliers Peters or will they be exclusively available via the Yoto store?
  • Does CILIP endorse Yoto Player as the “official” audiobook device for the Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards in any way?
  • With fuel, transport & food costs skyrocketing across the UK is there a concern that the price of the Yoto Players and smartcards may be a barrier to equitable access?
  • How does CILIP envision Yoto being “able to engage and include more young people in reading the best books for pleasure”?
  • How will “audio content for promotion through point of sale for retail, libraries and schools” work? Will there be excerpts of the books available to download, interviews with authors/illustrators etc?
  • What does the Yoto Player offer to CKG Shadowing that audiobooks via digital library services like Overdrive and Playaway or CD audiobooks do not?
  • How will Yoto actually work with promoting the Kate Greenaway Award? It is a Medal for an “outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people” being a screen free device, the Yoto Player will not be able to show the best of the works nominated for it?
  • Do audiobooks downloaded onto the Yoto Player stay on the device until they are deleted or do they have to be redownloaded periodically?
  • Will Yoto smartcards be available through Public & School Libraries?
  • If no – why not?
  • If yes will there be a limit on the number of times each item is able to be loaned?

I was put in touch with Jake Hope, the Chair of the CKG Working Party and, after several e-mails back and forth we were able to arrange a date for a skype chat to discuss the sponsorship news.

The long-term battering that Public Libraries in the UK had been experiencing brought up the question of the awards sustainability and that they (CILIP) had been looking for sponsorship for quite some time, and, working with Agile Ideas to find new opportunities of spreading the messaging of the awards and increasing their reach they had been connected with Yoto. Jake stressed during the interview that it was less a partnership and more straightforward sponsorship deal. In Yoto CILIP had found an organization that was as driven by a passion for promoting reading for pleasure that matched the passion held by those that worked in driving the CKG awards forward.

Neither CILIP nor the CKG Working Party would endorse the Yoto Player as an official device, rather they see it as a new element of accessibility, joining the options already offered by their RNIB & Calibre Audio partners.

All in all Jake felt that the positives of the (not) partnership far outweighed any potential negatives and would make the awards sustainable for years to come.

I always enjoy chatting to Jake and for years have found him to be a nigh-inexhaustible well of information and great stories about the medals and librarianship in general. However, he was not able to answer any of the Yoto specific questions I had, the biggest one (in my mind anyway) being: How will Yoto actually work with promoting the Kate Greenaway Award? It is a Medal for an “outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people” being a screen free device, the Yoto Player will not be able to show the best of the works nominated for it?

Sadly, when I reached out to the Yoto, their press officer declined to participate in an interview or answer the questions I had via email as (and I am quoting here): Given that we worked closely with Jake on his kind replies to your recent enquiries, we feel we’ve responded to the queries as best we can at this stage.

They did however offer to send me a Yoto Player and some cards. It is a fantastic device and very child friendly – I will be posting a review of it in due course.

Unfortunately the questions I had for Yoto still remain unanswered – except for a clarification coming over the future of the Kate Greenaway Medal tht came out of the news today, and, sad to say, I think my concern was justified.

Now back to the news that broke today of the rebranding of the Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals as “The Carnegies” I found the documentation very interesting, but what caught my eye was this sentence in the Q&A document: The three-year sponsorship deal with Yoto Player, was secured on the basis that the brand would be refreshed

Was deemphasizing the Kate Greenaway Medal and making it just one of “The Carnegies” the price that CILIP and the working party had to pay to close the deal with Yoto? Instead of “elevating the illustration medal” as they claim, does this not just make it harder to stand out from the medal for writing? The medal for writing has historically always had a higher profile, but the awards were in no way dependent on each other. This is just my reading of it and I welcome being corrected, but my concern that an audio device sponsoring an illustration medal did not make complete sense seems to be borne out, it is easier to overlook it as the Carnegie Medal for Illustration than it was when it was the separate Kate Greenaway Medal.

The Carnegie Medal and the Kate Greenaway Medal were always two distinct awards and now the line between has been blurred and I feel that with this rebrand something is being lost.

It also looks as if The Carnegies are being positioned to appeal more to children. Historically the awards previously known as the Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals were awarded to writers for an outstanding book & artists recognizing distinguished illustration in a book (both for children). In the past judges have seldom voted for the popular choice, and many librarians who ran shadowing schemes complained that the books awarded the medals were often a hard sell to young readers who often selected other titles as shadower’s choices.

My feeling looking to the future is that there will be more changes coming down the pipeline, possibly splitting the Carnegie Medal for Writing into an older & younger award. This has always been rejected by the Working Party and everyone involved with the awards, but with the scale of the current changes, it remains impossible to rule out.

The muted response to this news on social media is also very telling; in the past, updates and changes to the awards have been hotly debated and discussed, but this refresh appears to have been received with little warmth, however, only time will tell as the news trickles down to everyone with an interest in the awards.

Something else I have noticed, the website for the Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals as they were ended in a indicating that it was a not-for-profit organization or charity. The address now points to  a new website ending in –  denoting a commercial domain address more commonly used by businesses. The address currently remains unclaimed.

Only time will tell if these changes will lead to a watering down of the awards and if they will move in a populist choice direction, becoming one of many book awards or if they will maintain their position as “the one that all authors and illustrators want to win. Indeed throughout their history the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals have provided a literary standard by which other books are measured…

I may be wrong, it is possible that I have been involved with the awards for so long that I am unable to see the good things that this may bring. Do you disagree with me? Let me know via

Also if any of of past and present awards judges from YLG that participated in the consultation group are interested in chatting to me (in confidence) please drop me an e-mail

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