Posts Tagged ‘Ruta Sepetys’

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: Between Shades Of Gray

Ruta Sepetys

One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia.
An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope.
Lina hopes for her family. For her country. For her future. For love – first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose…Will hope keep Lina alive?

Lina lives a happy life in Lithuania, the daughter of a university professor she enjoys life as any teenager her age would at that time. But now Stalin has annexed Lithuania and all people who pose any kind of threat to his regime must be dealt with. Lina, her brother and Mother are woken one night by Soviet Guards, put into cattle cars on a train as their lives as they knew them will never be the same again.

This is a beautifully written story and I defy anyone not too need tissues at the ready by the end. The subject matter is bleak, undeniably, but there is such strength and hope held within the book too. Although the conditions within the work camps in Siberia are horrific and described as such, the focus within the book is on how people will band together and help each other, even when they have very little themselves. A book such as this could have quite easily focused on the darker side of human nature, yet here you are even left feeling some level of sympathy for one of the guards in the camp. The quality of the writing really brings the story alive and it is very obvious that a huge amount of research was done in writing the book, as it feels very real.

Lina is a really strong central character. She is very real and hasn’t been romanticised in any way. She is far from perfect and doesn’t always do the right thing. This only serves to make her more believable.

The only aspect that I found slightly disappointing was the ending. The theme of hope is carried through right to the end and the ending does give the reader hope that there is life at the end of the tunnel for these characters. I don’t feel that the epilogue was needed though. Those two pages on their own raised questions that I wanted answering, questions I wouldn’t have had had it not been included. I don’t know if there are plans for a second book, if there are it could explain the epilogues inclusion.

Verdict: Haunting and beautifully written. A bleak book that at the same time highlights the better side of human nature.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: April 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352
Genre: Historical fiction
Age: YA
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: None
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