Posts Tagged ‘Carnegie And Greenaway Awards’

Carnegie and Greenaway Awards 2013

It’s that time of year again; The Carnegie and Greenaway shortlists are out. For those that don’t know, these are two of the most prestigious book awards in the country. The Carnegie Award looks at books published for children over the past year, The Greenaway Award will be looking for the best illustrator of a picture book. Last year the fantastic ‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness and illustrated by Jim Kay won both awards. Over the country thousands of school students will be shadowing the award, so we at Big Book Little Book had to get in on the act too. It’s quite a special time of year for me, as a school librarian I get to see lots of students trying books that might not otherwise have tried, widening their reading choices and getting involved in debates about the books. Awards like this really encourage children to read. I’ve also been more excited this year largely thanks to the buzz on Twitter and I think this will only get greater as more of us read the books and start discussing who we want to win!

So the shortlists, firstly Carnegie. This is the award out of the two that I really love, normally the shortlist comes out and I haven’t read any of them. This year I have read five. There are a couple of surprises on the list and a couple that most expected to be on there. What’s nice about this list is that all age groups should enjoy the books. In recent years there seems to have been a shift towards books for older children. This year it is mixed but most should be suitable for all secondary children to read, some are suitable for younger children too. Here are some of my initial thoughts on the books; reviews will follow in the coming weeks, before the winners are announced in June.

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan– A lovely simple read I was initially quite surprised this was on the list, I shouldn’t have been. This book is written in verse, something I normally dislike, but I didn’t really notice that in this case and really enjoyed the book.

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle– I haven’t read this one yet and judging by other comments it is one of the surprise inclusions.

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner– Set in a dystopian past this one was always going to make it onto the shortlist and it well and truly deserves it place there. Winner of the Children’s Costa Award I think it is probably one of the favourites for Carnegie too.

In Darkness by Nick Lake– At times incredibly dark, this book told in dual narrative at different points of Haiti’s history really draws you in. It was no surprise that this book was chosen to be on the shortlist.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio– Another that I haven’t yet read. Not because I haven’t wanted to but because it’s been so popular that the book hasn’t been there for me to read. I’m looking forward to reading it now we will have more copies.

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick– Now I’m a bit of a Marcus Sedgwick fan girl so I’m not entirely sure that my opinion can be taken as impartial. I’m so happy that this book is on the list, I think it is possibly my favourite of his yet. I read it over a year ago, so may well need a reread before I review it, what a shame…

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton– The third book on the list that I’m yet to read and another that seems to be a bit of a surprise. I’m looking forward to reading it though and it sounds like a book that I’ll be able to share with my primary aged children which is always good.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein– This book has been raved about by librarians and bloggers alike. I knew it would be on the list but the first time I read it I didn’t even finish it. Now on my second read and keeping an open mind I’m hoping that I can see what everyone else has loved about the book.

So all in all a very strong list. Last year the winner was obvious from the outset. This year it’s all a little bit harder to predict.

At Big Book Little Book we don’t neglect the books for little (and not so little) people too. We’ll also be reviewing the books shortlisted for the Greenaway Award. I’ve not read any of these yet but the list does include some authors and illustrators that I know and love so I can’t wait to get started on reading these books too.

Lunchtime by Rebecca Cobb
Again! by Emily Gravett
Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Pirates ‘n’ Pistols by Chris Mould
King Jack and the Dragon by Helen Oxenbury (illustrator) and Peter Bently (author)
Black Dog by Levi Pinfold
Just Ducks! by Salvatore Rubbino (illustrator) and Nicola Davies (author)

Check back next week for the first round of reviews!

Post by Alison

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Carnegie and Greenaway Awards: Wrap Up

And the winner of the Kate Greenaway Award is…

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Jim Kay (illustrations)

And the winner of the Carnegie Award is…

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Jim Kay (illustrations)

Patrick Ness has done it again.  He also won the Carnegie Award last year with the final instalment of his Chaos Walking Series ‘Monsters of Men’.  This is also the first book to win both the Carnegie and Greenaway Awards, though it is Jim Kay who wins the Greenaway for his illustrations.

This wasn’t my favourite in either category but it is an exceptional book and is therefore a worthy winner. I do have quite a few very happy students, which is unusual when it comes to winner’s announcement time!

This year was very unusual in that very few students liked one book much more than the others. They all found picking a favourite really difficult and said that they would be quite happy for 3 or 4 of the books to win.  We also had more students finishing the whole list than ever before, a fantastic achievement given that there were 8 books on each list this year. There’s been lots of lively discussion and two friends very nearly fell out in a disagreement over ‘The Midnight Zoo’. As always, Carnegie has brought readers together and encouraged them to read and discuss books they normally wouldn’t have touched. This for me is the magic of the Award.

My Winners would have been ‘Between Shades of Grey’ by Ruta Sepetys and ‘There Are No Cats in This Book’ by Viviane Schwarz. This year, like the students I was actually happy for any number of them to win. That’s not because the standard was low, far from it.  This year the books were more readable and probably aimed at slightly younger children, something I don’t believe is any bad thing.  In past years students (and me!) have struggled to read most of the books but that wasn’t an issue this year which is a welcome change.

So now Carnegie is over it’s time for me to start looking at what I want to nominate for the local book award the Brilliant Book Award…

Post by Alison

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Carnegie and Greenaway Awards: Can We Save The Tiger?

Martin Jenkins and Vicky White (illustrator)

Tigers are big, beautiful and fierce. But, like many other animals, they are in danger of becoming extinct. With breathtaking illustrations this large-format picture book tells us about the threats to the many endangered species on our planet and the need to prevent their extinction.

This is a bit different to all the other reviews I’ve done as this isn’t a fiction book, but a non-fiction book. It’s a book that gives you facts and information rather than telling a story. But then that doesn’t quite sum it up either. The style of writing in this book does make it sound like the author is telling a story; it’s just in this case it’s true. I struggled to work out what age group this book is aimed at. There is quite a lot of writing and some of the words are quite complex, it’s not an early reader. The style however does seem to be aiming towards educating quite young children. I know if I read it to my pre schooler he would ask masses of questions (we are really going through the ‘why?’ stage at the moment), but then that could well be what the author intended.

That all being said this is a lovely book and I do think the style of writing makes it. It takes a difficult subject for little ones to understand and makes it interesting and fun. There are masses of facts held within the book and I know that I did learn at lot from it. The illustrations really complimented the words. Largely line drawn, they had fantastic detail whilst at the same time appeared very simple. Perfect for little ones and a great starting point for conversations about animals nearing extinction, it certainly made me want to go out and learn more, and as a librarian anything that may make children want to learn more about a subject definitely has the thumbs up from me. I found this a rare book, an information book that I actually enjoyed reading, one that I would turn to read for enjoyment rather than research.

Verdict: A lovely fact book on animals for young children that should really start the questions going.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: February 2011
Format: Hardback
Pages: 56
Genre: Non Fiction
Age: Early Reader, Middle Grade
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: None
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Carnegie and Greenaway Awards: The Gift

Carol Ann Duffy and Rob Ryan (illustrator)

In a quiet town, of a sort not found nowadays, lives a beautiful young girl. One summer day, she visits the woods with her mother and father. While her parents prepare the picnic, she seeks out buttercups and daisies for a flower necklace. As she does so, a wish forms in her mind – and to her surprise, a silver haired woman appears, ready to grant it.

This book looks at the whole life of a girl who one day went for a picnic, found a clearing and decides that this is where she wants to be buried. It sounds quite morbid but it really isn’t. It’s a book that celebrates life and all that happens within it. The story highlights the main event in the girl’s life, there is little to no character development, in fact we never even find out the girl’s name, but that doesn’t matter. Part of the magic of this book is that it could be about anybody. All through the book, and therefore her life, the girl returns to the clearing. She plants flowers and creates stone towers in order to really make the place her own, until she returns there last, in her dreams, on her deathbed. The ending to this book is really bittersweet. This is another that it’s quite difficult to put an age too. It is aimed at younger children, but I think it would take a certain amount of emotional maturity for them to really understand and enjoy it.

The illustrations are a delight. They are in a single colour on each page and the colour reflects the mood of the page, which almost gives it a dreamlike quality. Whilst there aren’t huge amounts of detail in specific objects and people there is so much going on within the pictures. This means the book can be read time and time again and the reader will still find new things within the pictures. This is a big plus point as the nature of the story means that it’s difficult to get really involved with it so it was good that I found that the pictures really brought it to life.

Verdict: A bittersweet story of the circle of life backed up by truly delightful pictures.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Barefoot Books Ltd
Publication Date: October 2010
Format: Hardback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book, Death
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British Book
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Carnegie and Greenaway Awards: My Name Is Mina


David Almond

There’s an empty notebook lying on the table in the moonlight. It’s been there for an age. I keep on saying that I’ll write a journal. So I’ll start right here, right now. I open the book and write the very first words: My name is Mina and I love the night. Then what shall I write? I can’t just write that this happened then this happened then this happened to boring infinitum. I’ll let my journal grow just like the mind does, just like a tree or a beast does, just like life does. Why should a book tell a tale in a dull straight line?
And so Mina writes and writes in her notebook, and here is her journal, Mina’s life in Mina’s own words: her stories and dreams, experiences and thoughts, her scribblings and nonsense, poems and songs. Her vivid account of her vivid life.
Mina is different. Not like other children her age. She tries to do as she is told in school but she can never quite manage it. The other children know she is different and mostly stay away. But Mina likes it like that, at least that is what she tells herself. Homeschooled and isolated, Mina starts a journal. One that talks of school, life and word. Lots of words. It also talks of a family who move in down the road and their son, a boy called Michael.

This is the prequel to ‘Skellig’. A book that I have yet to read, I almost read the book before I read ‘My Name is Mina’ but in the end decided not to, a decision I’m still not sure about. I do know something about the storyline in ‘Skellig’ and am now very much looking forward to reading. I have a strange feeling I may return to ‘My Name is Mina’ to reread when I have finished it.

I was told my another school librarian that this was perhaps a book about a child, but would be enjoyed more by adults. Whilst I do see her point I would be inclined to disagree. It isn’t for any child, I think it would take a more mature child to read and enjoy this, but they would get so much from it that it would be worth that bit more concentration we would need. Through Almond’s words we are transported into this world of a child who doesn’t quite fit. A child who sees the world in a very different way to the rest of us. Any child/ teenager will no doubt relate to parts of Mina’s personality and may well come away with a greater understanding of other facets of her personality. As an adult working in education I found it fascinating. I liked and admired Mina and hated the idea of her being ‘caged’ by the educational establishment, but at the same time understood how frustrating for the establishment to deal with Mina. A child who isn’t doing as she is asked because she wants to be difficult, or because she is lazy, but because she sees the world in such a different way that she doesn’t know how to do as she is asked. I hope that it will change the way I deal with young people, as I firmly believe that there is a little piece of Mina in all of us.

The journal format of the book, and parts of the way it is written meant that I sometimes found it difficult to follow. I had to go back and check which timeframe I was in sometimes, or even just read ahead and hope that it would eventually become clear. But this is part of the magic of the book, the darting around between time and subjects is part of what really helps you understand who Mina really is, someone who is different, not bad, not wrong, just different.

Verdict: Compelling reading for both children and adults who will come away having learnt a lot, maybe even about themselves.
Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Booksl
Publication Date: September 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304
Genre: Growing up, Issues
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British Book
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Carnegie and Greenaway Awards: Slog’s Dad

Author: David Almond and Dave McKean (illustrator)

Do you believe there’s life after death? Slog does. He reckons that the scruffy bloke sitting outside the pork shop is his dad come back to visit him for one last time- just like he’d said he would, just before he died. Slog’s mate Davie isn’t convinced. But how does this man know everything Slog’s dad would know? Because Slog says it really is his dad, that’s how.

I have mixed feelings about this book. Visually it is superb, the style very similar to ‘The Savage’, another Almond and McKean collaboration and I book that I adored. I love that some pictures look almost photographic until you look at the faces. I love the mainly green undertones that make the other colours stand out all the more. For once I also like that the pictures stand alone, with the story they tell told in an almost storyboard fashion. It is through these pictures that you see Slog’s pain at the death of his Dad, his hopes and dreams that one day he will return. This is made all the more poignant by the fact that the actual story is told by Davie, Slog’s best friend. The story told in words, is slightly more detached, it’s the pictures that give you an emotional context to the book.

It’s the story I have mixed feelings about. I think I understand the intention, but I found certain element quite creepy. This man looks nothing like Slog’s Dad and parts of Davie’s story seem to imply he is just indeed a random man. I think that the intention is just to show how someone can do something nice for a grieving small boy. That they can give them the comfort of knowing that there is something better out there. But I found the notion that someone could pretend in that way quite disturbing. This is a book set around 50 years ago however so maybe I placing my own more modern conception of mistrust unfairly in this case.

This shouldn’t take away from the fact that this is a very moving story that speaks very eloquently of love and loss.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: September 2010
Format: Hardback
Pages: 64
Genre: Graphic Novel, Death
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British Book
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Carnegie and Greenaway Awards: Midnight Zoo

Sonya Hartnett

World War II, Eastern Europe: Tomas and his younger brother, Andrej, have fled their Romany encampment which has been besieged by the Germans; they carry Wilma, their baby sister, in a sack. In an abandoned, bombed-out town, the children discover a zoo. In it are a wolf and an eagle, a monkey, bear, lioness, seal, chamois and llama. The animals tell their stories to the children as they try to begin to understand what has become of their lives and, when they try to figure out a way to release the animals, what it means to be free.

Tomas and Andrej are brothers. Hiding in the forest they watched the Romany camp they live in be pulled apart and dragged off by Nazi soldiers. They carry with them their baby sister Wilma. They are lost and confused not understanding the world that they live in. Then they come across a zoo on the outskirts of a destroyed village, but this isn’t any old zoo, in this zoo the animals can talk.

I really struggled with this book. Had it not been on the Carnegie shortlist I’m not sure I would have finished it. It took me three weeks to read, an incredibly long time for me, especially as at 192 pages this is a really short book. I’m not sure why I struggled so much. This is a beautifully written, thought provoking book, from a distance I can tell that it is incredibly well written. That, however, I think may be the problem, I view this book from a distance. All through the book I felt emotionally detached; I didn’t ‘feel’ the storyline or the characters. I kept waiting for it to suddenly click, but it never did. It shouldn’t be a problem with the writing, this is a book that has been crafted rather than written so I’m assuming it’s the subject matter. I am not an animal lover so maybe it is that. I also found the idea of two young boys, at the ages of 10 and 12, looking after a baby fairly unbelievable. But then this may well appeal to the intended audience and after all this is a book where animals can talk so is based it a world out of the realms of the ordinary anyway.

The story does have a magical, almost dreamlike quality and this is highlighted by the very simple but beautiful illustrations. The copy that I read was in hardback (another thing I usually dislike!) but I can’t imagine how this would translate to a paperback. I’m assuming the publishers feel the same given the time lapse between the publication of the hardback and now. Visually this is a stunningly striking book.

Verdict: Beautifully written and visually stunning. A magical, dreamlike story that I just didn’t quite connect with emotionally.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: November 2010
Format: Hardback
Pages: 192
Genre: War
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: None
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Carnegie and Greenaway Awards: Small Change For Stuart

Lissa Evans

Stuart Horten – ten years old and small for his age – moves to the dreary town of Beeton, far away from all his friends. And then he meets his new next-door neighbours, the unbearable Kingley triplets, and things get even worse.
But in Beeton begins the strangest adventure of Stuart’s life as he is swept up in quest to find his great-uncle’s lost workshop – a workshop stuffed with trickery and magic. There are clues to follow and puzzles to solve, but what starts as fun ends up as danger, and Stuart begins to realize that he can’t finish the task by himself . . .

Stuart Horten is a very short boy with very tall parents who has just moved far away to the place where his father grew up. There he finds that his family have a long history. His great-uncle, the fabulous magician Teeny Tiny Tony Horton and his glamorous assistant Lily disappeared years ago and Stuart is convinced there was something mysterious about their vanishing. He becomes convinced that finding his great-uncles long lost workshop holds the key and starts on adventure, joined by his ten year old neighbour and a blind elderly woman, to find it.

This is a truly lovely book. It’s perfect for children of Junior School age, but there is also an innocence to it that should charm adults. Lissa Evans has done a fantastic job at getting into the head of a ten year old boy who feels slightly outside of the world of ‘normal’ ten year olds because he is small and has slightly odd parents. Stuart has a naiveté that should appeal to both adults and children. The story enters the realm of magic and fantasy based in the normal human world, but is never totally unbelievable. More you get swept along with the story and want to believe when you reach the only part of the story that delves into the fantastical.

This is a fairly short book at 288 pages, unsurprising given who it is aimed at. It’s written in such a way that makes it an incredibly easy read and I finished it in less than two hours. It is very definitely a children’s book, but it’s the kind of book that you want to be able to read to your children, just so you are able to share in the magic too. Still not my favourite Carnegie shortlisted book so far, that remains ‘Between Shades of Grey’, ‘Small Change for Stuart’ currently comes in as a very close second.

Verdict: Innocent and charming, a book that will take both children and adults on a magical adventure.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Corgi Children’s
Publication Date: April 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 288
Genre: Magic, Fantasy
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: Debut Author
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Carnegie and Greenaway Award: Wolf Won’t Bite

Emily Gravett

Take your seat in the front row and watch in wonder as three cheeky little circus pigs make a wild wolf jump through hoops (literally), endure feats of astounding derring-do, and even withstand perilous games of dress-up. Safe in the thought that “Wolf Won’t Bite!” they even put their heads between his jaws…but can you push a wolf too far? Sure to strike a chord with anyone who has both a pet and a young child, this is a very funny and playful story with a snappy ending!
Some pigs from a circus seem to have managed to get hold of a wolf, watch them tame the wolf in their circus act. Because of course Wolf Won’t Bite…Will it?

This is a picture book perfect in it’s simplicity. The illustrations are set against a stark white background using a colour scheme of black, pink and red. The colours that you may well associate with the circus. This makes the pictures very clear and they tell the story alone.

This is a picture book where the words are there to add to the pictures rather than the other way round. Child or adult you know how the story will end but you still want to carry on to see just how far the pigs can push the wolf. Its simplicity means that this could be read to a fairly young child and they could understand and enjoy it, but it’s also perfect for children a bit older too, the repetition of lines within the story should appeal to them. his is another one that will be coming home to read to the four year old when shadowing is finished.

Verdict: Simple yet stunning.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: MacMillian Children’s Books
Publication Date: February 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age:Picture book
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British Book
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Carnegie and Greenaway Awards: My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece

Annabel Pitcher

Ten-year-old Jamie Matthews has just moved to the Lake District with his Dad and his teenage sister, Jasmine for a’Fresh New Start’. Five years ago his sister’s twin, Rose, was blown up by a terrorist bomb. His parents are wrecked by their grief, Jasmine turns to piercing, pink hair and stops eating. The family falls apart. But Jamie hasn’t cried in all that time. To him Rose is just a distant memory.
Jamie is far more interested in his cat, Roger, his birthday Spiderman T-shirt, and in keeping his new friend Sunya a secret from his dad. And in his deep longing and unshakeable belief that his Mum will come back to the family she walked out on months ago.
When he sees a TV advert for a talent show, he feels certain that this will change everything and bring them all back together once and for all.

Five years ago Rose died. One moment that tore Jamie’s family apart. Now his Mum has left them, his Dad is an alcoholic and the only person there for him is his sister Jas, who was Rose’s twin. But nobody understands why he doesn’t cry for Rose, why he doesn’t miss her, because they remember her and he doesn’t, he was too young when she died. Now they have moved to the Lake District for a new start, to make things better, only it doesn’t seem to be working. Jamie still has deal with school bullies and his mother’s indifference. And just how does he explain to his father that his only friend is a Muslim, especially after Islamic terrorists killed his sister.

People have been telling me that I should read this book for months, that it is a heartbreaking, moving story that just deserves to be read. Yet I’d been putting it off because I hated the cover. Yep that’s right, me, a school librarian that tells kids daily that they shouldn’t judge a book by a cover was put off by a cover. I was so relieved when the Carnegie books were delivered and I found that they had changed the cover for the paperback. One I could get excited about reading it now and two the cover actually matches the story that I’d been told about.

And the story. I’m beginning to wonder if the Carnegie judges have shares in Kleenex this year as this is yet another shortlisted book that can’t help but move you to tears. I keep wondering if all the Year 7’s shadowing the Awards will give up due to the bleakness of some of the books but they are just so well written that they keep coming back for more. This is no exception. The book is written from Jamie’s point of view and by the end you feel as though you know him inside out. However this doesn’t stop you from getting to know other characters in the book just as well. Jamie is an incredibly perceptive character so you get to know characters close to him really well too. This book is about how death can tear a family apart and using a younger brother who barely even knew his dead older sister is a very effective way of adding enough distance to see the subtleties in characters behaviour yet keeping close enough to show the devastation that an event like this can cause.

Without going into details I loved the ending to this book. It had such an element of hope to it yet at the same time nothing was perfect, it wasn’t a happy ever after, as after all life isn’t like that. I may have been reluctant to read this book but I’m glad I did, it may have made me cry but it left me feeling that life may not be perfect, but it really isn’t all that bad.

Verdict: At time a laugh out loud story, a times a total tearjerker, a book that deals with the devastation of loss, but reminds you of all you have to live for.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Indigo
Publication Date: September 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 240
Genre: Family, Relationships
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British Book
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