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