Announced today, the shortlists for the oldest and most prestigious children's book awards in the UK reveal that Sally Gardner and illustrator David Roberts may see 'Tinder', their haunting reworking of the Tinderbox fairytale, scoop both the CILIP Carnegie Medal for children's literature, and the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration in children's books. The double was first achieved by Patrick Ness and Jim Kay in 2012 for 'A Monster Calls', with Ness also returning to the Carnegie shortlist this year.
However, while Gardner faces the possibility of her second Carnegie win (after 2013's 'Maggot Moon') two of the shortlisted authors are up for unprecedented third wins – Ness in the Carnegie for 'More Than This', and Chris Riddell in the Kate Greenaway for 'Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse'. Ness previously won in 2011 and 2012, while Riddell's victories came in 2001 and 2004.
Challenging themes including war, sickness and adversity, run through both shortlists. Gothic fantasy 'Tinder' begins with its central character, young soldier Otto, narrowly giving Death the slip, while 'More Than This' starts with the drowning of its hero, a boy named Seth. Elsewhere in the Carnegie shortlist, Dylan, the Tourette's sufferer of 'When Mr Dog Bites', believes he faces death in the not-too distant future, and the titular 'Buffalo Soldier' of Tanya Landman's novel, an ex-slave now serving in the post-Civil War US army, feels Death is "so close you can smell his breath." The devastation of World War One looms large in Frances Hardinge's 'Cuckoo Song', whilst Geraldine McCaughrean's 'The Middle of Nowhere' begins with a child losing her mother to a snake bite in the Australian Outback. Finally, Elizabeth Laird's 'The Fastest Boy in the World' sees the eleven-year-old Solomon facing a marathon run to seek help for his beloved grandfather.
The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are the oldest and most prestigious children's book awards in the UK, with the first winners announced in 1936 and 1956 respectively. The titles on the shortlists are contenders for the highest accolades in children's literature, with previous winners including legendary talents such as Arthur Ransome, C.S Lewis and Mary Norton for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and illustrators Quentin Blake, Shirley Hughes and Raymond Briggs for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.
In the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist, books for older children outnumber traditional picture books. As well as the previously mentioned 'Tinder' and 'Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse', there are the jagged lines and deep black inks of John Higgins and Marc Olivent's work in the graphic novel thriller, 'Dark Satanic Mills', and William Grill's non-fiction study, 'Shackleton's Journey'. The muted tones early on in Laura Carlin's 'The Promise' make the eventual burst of colour all the more effective, and Shaun Tan's colourful paintings are the perfect match for the subversive text of 'Rules of Summer'. Alexis Deacon brings the dream world of a sick child to life in 'Jim's Lion', while it is left to Catherine Rayner's 'Smelly Louie' to offer some traditional picture book naughtiness as an unnecessarily clean dog seeks his lost scent.
Agnès Guyon, Chair of this year's CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, believes such dark themes make moments of hope and optimism shine even brighter: "There's no doubt our writers and illustrators do not shy away from difficult, often painful imagery and themes. There is darkness here, illuminated by the bright light of optimism. These incredibly strong shortlists are not just a showcase of talent, but of the skilful ways our greatest writers and illustrators introduce young readers to big ideas, always instilling hope as they set their characters against the harshest challenges."
Dawn Finch, CILIP Vice President, YA author and school library consultant, said: "It is essential that authors and illustrators feel that they face no barriers when they enter into the creative process. It is clear that the shortlist have thrown off any such restrictions. Adversity is never far from the characters in our Carnegie novels, while the Kate Greenaway shortlist showcases a wild and stunning variety of styles, from William Grill's coloured pencils to Catherine Rayner's riot of ink. The titles chosen for both lists are assured, memorable, dazzling and brave. The books demonstrate a huge range of extraordinary talent, and through their pages and via the imaginations of their creators, we are taken on a voyage that has been both thrilling and unforgettable."
The winners for both the CILIP Carnegie Medal and the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal will be announced on Monday 22nd June at a lunchtime ceremony at the British Library in London. The winners will receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library and the coveted golden Medals. Since 2000, the winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal has also been awarded the £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize.
The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2015 shortlist in full:
The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2015 shortlist:
Source: The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards Press Release