Jake Hope, chair of the 2018 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, introduces this year’s longlists:
Each February, the arrival of the longlist for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, the oldest children’s book awards in the UK, causes a flurry of excitement within the literary world. There are the familiar names whose continued success year-on-year reflects their outstanding talent, as well as names that have burst through for the first time. Every year brings with it a different balance, but always a wonderful selection that will stimulate minds, imagination and conversation.
This year, the longlist of 40 (20 per medal) was whittled down from a record-breaking 237 nominated books, each diligently read by the 12 members of the judging panel between November and January. It is a vast undertaking, but one that I and my fellow judges – all librarians – do with pride. The extensive nomination list is testament to the strong state of children’s publishing. With writing and illustration as strong as this, it promises to be a vintage year for the awards!
Here is a run-down of the books we selected for the 2018 longlists – we hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did!
The CILIP Carnegie Medal
Offering something for readers of all tastes, the 2018 CILIP Carnegie longlist celebrates some of the finest contemporary writing with an impressive range of styles, genres and forms.
Many of the novels are influenced by real life issues and, through careful exploration of character and motivation, have a great deal to say to readers of all ages. These include by Geraldine McCaughrean, a historical novel set in the 18th century around the St Kilda’s Coastline. Similarly, Will Hill’s After the Fire draws on real life influences, touching upon the nature of belief and offering an unflinching insight into the ways trauma can impact upon lives. Encounters by Jason Wallace, based in Zimbabwe, focuses on six teenagers who all believe they have had an encounter with an unidentified flying object.
As well as exploring real stories from the past, the longlist looks at bang-up-to-the-minute subjects. A great example is Angie Thomas’ powerful and unflinching The Hate U Give, which subtly intersperses family with the ethical concerns fuelling the Black Lives Matter campaign. Contemporary politics and global events are also represented on the longlist with the inclusion of Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick, a timely novel looking at migration along the border of Mexico and the United States of America, and Elizabeth Laird’s Welcome to Nowhere, which offers a poignant glimpse at how global politics impinges on freedoms and childhood in Syria.
Joseph Coelho’s Overheard in a Tower Block shows the emotional capacity of poetry, with a narrative arc that explores parental separation and the gradual rites of passage for its protagonist. Separation is also implicit in Anthony McGowan’s Rook, a novel for less confident readers which carries a huge weight of emotion in its exploration of the relationship between brothers Nicky and Kenny.
Family relations are also featured in The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, whose protagonist Ami is separated from her mother when she is removed from her home, an island that serves as a leper colony. The writing is lyrical, with butterflies are used as a motif for hope. The writing in The Tale of Angelino Brown by David Almond is also beautifully wrought; there is a similar pervading air of hope running through this humorous magic-realist novel about a diminutive angel who exerts a positive influence on the lives of those around him. The transformative effects of music are explored in A.F. Harrold’s The Song from Somewhere Else, which touches upon friendship and difference.
Humour of a very different, far darker and more satirical kind can be found in Lissa Evans’ Wed Wabbit. Its playful language and its focus on play and the inner imaginative world of childhood make this a rich and very different reading experience. Huge imagination and innovation can also be found in the world-building of Black Light Express, a wholly immersive science fiction novel by past CILIP Carnegie winner Philip Reeve. A fresh take on the fairy world can be found in The Call by Peadar O’Guilin, an uncompromising dystopian take on folklore.
The energy and verve lying behind the creation of new worlds can also be found in Katherine Rundell’s The Explorer, a novel based in a richly imagined jungle setting from which hero Fred is desperately trying to escape.
Historical novels have fared well on the list, with the inclusion of Laurence Anholt’s The Hypnotist, which explores the deep-rooted prejudice of the Ku Klux Klan and Sarah Matthias’ A Berlin Love Song, which carries its readers on an evocative journey back to Berlin in the Second World War. Personal history and its impact upon sense of self comes to the fore in Crow’s story in Lauren Wolk’s Beyond the Bright Sea set on the Elizabeth Islands.
Lastly, corporeal and psychological elements of the self are drawn together in extraordinary, strongly conceived ways in rites of passage novels by Irfan Master’s Out of Heart and two-times CILIP Carnegie winner Patrick Ness’ Release.
The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal
The 2018 CILIP Kate Greenaway longlist continues to challenge people’s perception of an award for picture books and pre-school or early primary readers. The trend of producing books which are beautiful physical objects continues, and this is particularly the case with information books. There are three wonderful, vibrant and colourful books about the natural world on the list, whose sophisticated and stylish design lends itself to exciting learning. Lots: The Diversity of Life on Earth, Wild Animals of the South and A First Book of Animals – illustrated by Emily Sutton, Dieter Braun and Petr Horácek respectively – will certainly provide information fans with a lot of pleasure.
The illustrated novel remains popular, with an increased number featured on this year’s longlist. The technicolour world of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is newly imagined and gloriously brought to life by Jim Kay, whilst Pam Smy uses wordless images to tell more than half of the story in dark, gothic tale Thornhill – a technique familiar to those fans of Brian Selznick, shortlisted last year for The Marvels.
Past winner Levi Pinfold has two books on the longlist each for different publishers: The Song from Somewhere Else and The Secret Horses of Briar Hill. Previously known for his sumptuous painted picture books, these novels are illustrated in monochrome and evocative pencil sketches, adding enormously to the reader’s experience. Emma Shoard’s stylish, free flowing watercolours really bring the characters and landscape of Ireland to life in Siobhan Dowd’s powerful novel The Pavee and the Buffer Girl. These books give older readers a real visual experience too.
The more traditional picture book is alive and well too, with some joyous examples from past winners Jon Klassen, Mini Grey and Lane Smith. We Found a Hat, the final book in the ‘hat’ trilogy, is resonant with Klassen’s wit and distinctive muted palette, but with a less fatal denouement this time! Smith’s Penguin Problems humorously celebrates individuality among the monochrome flock in beautiful Arctic settings. Mini Grey’s anarchic entertainers in Bad Bunnies’ Magic Show are captured in her detailed colourful cartoon-like pastels. Using a clever mix of collage, layering and cut-outs, the deceptively simple Under the Same Sky by Britta Teckentrupp can be enjoyed on many levels, as can the traditional storytelling of Storm Whale, where Jane Tanner uses a glorious mix of pastel and pencil to create beautifully evocative images of the seashore rescue mission. For slightly older children, debut artist Júlia Sardà’s sophisticated, highly stylised images and graphic elements add greatly to the telling of the quirky tale of The Liszts. An early foray into the world of graphic novels can be found in The Secret of Black Rock, where Joe Todd-Stanton’s intense colour palette and use of layout and format give real movement to the story.
The longlist also contains books which use the picture book format to offer thought-provoking and stimulating content for readers of any age. Sydney Smith’s thick coal-black outline and incredible use of light and shade to contrast the deep mine and the freedom of the childhood above make the reader very aware of the burdens of a mining community in Town is by the Sea. Similarly, Laura Carlin’s King of the Sky, with its free sketchy pastels, evocatively portrays beautiful birds, powerful emotions, an industrial landscape and an unlikely friendship. Pages full of dark, atmospheric pastels by Cathy Fisher tell an empowering story of grief and reconciliation in The Pond, while Debi Gliori’s bold charcoal smudges and flashes of colour in the stunning Night Shift deepen the understanding of depression in a manner that is accessible for all ages. Finally, Oliver Jeffers – the most shortlisted illustrator, yet to win the Medal – gives us A Child of Books, a co-creation with debut artist Sam Winston. Using collage and drawing, the books visualises the importance of books and reading to everyone’s life: the perfect summary of what the 2018 Greenaway longlist can offer readers!
The shortlists for the 2018 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals will be announced on Thursday 15th March 2018. The 2018 winners will be announced on 18th June 2018. For more information on this year’s longlisted books, visit www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk.
Visit peters.co.uk/ckg to order your longlist sets with 35% off and free jacketing. You can also pre-order the shortlisted titles to receive them on Thursday 15th March 2018.