For me, spring doesn’t mean basketball “madness”, or chicks and bunnies, but the arrival of the new short list for the Carnegie Medal. I spend the time from late March, when the list appears, until June, when the winner is announced, deliciously immersed in reading the best of the best in children’s literature. The CILIP Carnegie Medal is the British equivalent of our ALA Newbery Medal. The winner is chosen by a panel of twelve children’s librarians.
What sort of book wins? From their website, here is what they are looking for:
”The book that wins the Carnegie Medal should be a book of outstanding literary quality. The whole work should provide pleasure, not merely from the surface enjoyment of a good read, but also the deeper subconscious satisfaction of having gone through a vicarious, but at the time of reading, a real experience that is retained afterwards.”
I couldn’t have said it better! The short listed books are always varied but top-notch.
Here, then, is this year’s list. Please note that I have omitted only one book from the CILIP list as that book won’t be published in this country until July 2013.
The books I have read so far:
1. A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle - Irish writer, Roddy Doyle, has won a Booker prize for one of his adult novels. In this book, four generations of females (a twelve-year-old, her mother, her dying grandmother, and the ghost of her great-grandmother) take a midnight road trip to what was once their family farm.
2. Wonder by R. J. Palacio - August ("Auggie") was born with a rare genetic facial deformity that required many surgeries through his younger years. During that time, he was homeschooled. He is finally going to enter fifth grade at a private school, and this novel tells of his year there. I love the way his story is told through the eyes of different characters, and the ways in which the reader is given insights into each character's own personal struggles.
3. A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton - This has got to be one of the quirkiest books I have ever read. The title really says it all. Why is a boy traveling along in a boat rowed by a bear? Where are they headed? I don’t know. The adventures along the way are lots of fun though. Could their journey be a metaphor for life itself? Hmm….here’s a book to make you think.
4. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - Two British young women from different social classes meet during World War II. One is an airplane pilot, the other a spy. They become best friends and are sent on an undercover mission into occupied France. To say much more could ruin it for you. Let’s just say, this is a real thriller that will keep you awake reading late at night, and which you will be thinking about for weeks after you close the book. Earlier this year, it won a Printz Honor (which is awarded by ALA for excellence in young adult literature).
Here are the books I will be reading in the coming weeks:
1. Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
2. In Darkness by Nick Lake - This one won the Printz Award this year.
3. Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
Won’t you read along with me? As C. S. Lewis said,
“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.”
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