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CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Award Winners

By Michaela O’Callaghan, Aimee Haldron and Rosie Burgoyne

The Carnegie Medal is an award given annually to an outstanding new English-language book for children or young adults. Awarded by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), it is considered one of the oldest and most prestigious awards for children's writing. Established in 1936 by the British Library Association, the award is named after philanthropist Andrew Carnegie who founded more than 2,800 libraries in the English-speaking world. In 1955, the Kate Greenaway Medal was established alongside the Carnegie to give recognition to a distinguished illustrated book for children in the English-language. This year's awards ceremony took place on the 16 June via a virtual event livestreamed from The British Library. Let’s look at the worthy winners of these prestigious awards.

Carnegie Medal Winner: Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (Knights Of, 2019)

Taking the children’s book market by storm since its release, American author Jason Reynolds’ Look Both Ways has become a Sunday Times Bestseller, New York Times Book of the Year and Times Magazine Book of the Year, just to name a few of its many accolades.

Having now been announced as a Carnegie winner for 2021, this special story, aimed at ages 8–14 captures in vivid detail the experience of middle school life through the eyes of children as they walk home from school. Featuring ten stories, one per each block passed through by the “walkers”, Look Both Ways manages to strike the right balance between hilarious anecdotes, entertainment and more serious moments, which are handled with care and sensitivity.

Kate Greenaway Award Winner: Small In The City by Sydney Smith (Walker Books, 2019)

It is often the careful combination of imagery and words that makes messages and stories within picture books resonate with younger readers. However, often illustrators are not given the recognition that they deserve. The Kate Greenway Medal is an important award that recognises the outstanding work of an illustrator in a book for children. This year, it is author and illustrator Sydney Smith who has won this renowned award with Small in the City published by Walker Books.

Smith has won this award once before in 2018 with his illustrations for Town is by the Sea written by Joanna Schwartz. Like in Town is by the Sea, in Small in the City Smith demonstrates his artistic brilliance through stunning illustrations of the world around us. In Town is by the Sea, it is the stunning contrast between the seaside and the mining undergrounds that captured the hearts of readers and reviewers alike. In Small in the City, Smith immerses readers in the urban backdrop of New York as a child walks through the city, reminding us that it is okay to feel small in the city, and offers tips to survive the often hostile and overwhelming landscape. The scenes of wintery snow are beautiful in this picture book and the illustrations play such an important role in conveying the rhythms and noises of a bustling city. Without giving too much away, there is a twist at the end that is both moving and honest. A beautiful and deserving winner.

Shadowers’ Choice Awards

Alongside the two main awards, tens of thousands of young people in schools and libraries across the UK and overseas shadow the judging process, also reading and debating over the shortlists and voting for their favourite to win the Shadowers’ Choice Awards. The Shadowers’ Choice, now in its third year, evolved out of CILIP’s diversity review which wanted to create opportunities to empower and celebrate the young people involved in the medals. With the stresses of the past year, judges praised the shortlist for “offering hope and escapism during lockdown” with the shortlist boasting stories of exploration, the great outdoors and journeys through the natural world.

The Shadowers’ Choice for the Carnegie Medal is Run, Rebel by debut author Manjeet Mann (PRH Children’s), a book, interestingly written in verse, about a girl who runs away to escape an arranged marriage. Mann’s debut has also been shortlisted for a host of other awards including the Branford Boase Award and the UKLA Book Award. The Shadowers’ Choice for the Kate Greenaway Medal was Starbird, illustrated and written by Sharon King-Chai (Two Hoots), a mythical story of a singing starbird caged by a moon king, teaching children the importance of standing up for what is right.

We would like to say a big congratulations to all winners and all those shortlisted!


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