2010s Medal Winners
Carnegie Medal Winners
2010 Neil Gaiman: The Graveyard Book | 2011 Patrick Ness: Monsters of Men | 2012 Patrick Ness: A Monster Calls | 2013 Sally Gardner: Maggot Moon | 2014 Kevin Brooks: The Bunker Diary | 2015 Tanya Landman: Buffalo Soldier | 2016 Sarah Crossan: One | 2017 Ruta Sepetys: Salt to the Sea
Kate Greenaway Medal Winners
2010 Freya Blackwood: Harry and Hopper (Margaret Wild) | 2011 Grahame Baker-Smith: FArTHER | 2012 Jim Kay: A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness) | 2013 Levi Pinfold: Black Dog | 2014 Jon Klassen: This is Not My Hat | 2015 William Grill: Shackleton's Journey | 2016 Chris Riddell: The Sleeper and the Spindle (Neil Gaiman) | 2017 Lane Smith: There is a Tribe of Kids
And now - the last lap - for now!
The astonishing Neil Gaiman was the first winner with The Graveyard Book, which also won the Newbery Medal, the foremost American book award for young people and a clutch of other awards. The American Library Association praised the book for its "delicious mix of murder, fantasy, humour and human longing", and spoke of its "magical, haunting prose". Evil Jack murders an entire family, but somehow misses the toddler upstairs, who crawls up the hill to a graveyard. He's found by ghosts, who not only raise him but teach him some very useful supernatural skills. Dull would he be of soul who didn't find this book a stunner from the first page to the last.
Patrick Ness won for the next two years running. In 2011 it was with Monsters of Men, a book that skilfully brings to an end Ness's Chaos Walking young adult science fiction trilogy. In 2012 he won again with the now even more well-known and successful novel A Monster Calls. This was written by Ness using an idea from Siobhan Dowd, who conceived the story while she herself was terminally ill with cancer. Thirteen year old Conor struggles to cope with the anxieties, fears and potential consequences of his mother's slide towards death, and the monster is a sort of tree creature who comes to him at night with stories. Jim Kay's wonderful illustrations for the book won the Greenaway - the first, and so far only, time that both awards have been won by the same book. And Ness himself wrote the screenplay for the very successful 2016 film.
Our next winner, Maggot Moon, is a curious one in that, if you ask two people to tell you about it, you may end up with two entirely different, and apparently conflicting, responses. Some describe it as a fascinating novel about an underdog child with dyslexia, and declare that the short chapters, and simple vocabulary and characters will appeal to younger readers. Others think of it as definitely a teenage read - a brutally dystopian (that means the worst of all possible worlds) novel of slavery, torture, hunger and violence. So a few of you might even be quite wary of seeing which of these two opinions matches your own.
The following year, 2014, brought a book that didn't divide opinion so much as cause a media storm. It's The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks. Linus Weems is a teenager who is kidnapped from the streets and imprisoned with an assortment of others in an underground bunker. The book's been called "vile and dangerous" and "uniquely sickening" and criticised for its pure nihilism. (Nothing is ever explained, and all of the characters except for the torturer above the bunker end up dying in horrible ways.)
The next year Tanya Landman won with Buffalo Soldier. Black American slaves are suddenly freed, and Charlotte ("Didn't no one never call me that.") is on her own. Masquerading as male, 'Charley' joins the army and ends up fighting Native Americans whose own fighting techniques are fierce enough, but who see the black American soldiers as so tough that they call them 'Buffalo soldiers'. (If you've not seen a buffalo recently in some old cowboy film, then take another look. They're massive - and you wouldn't want to tangle with one anywhere.) This is a brutally rough and realistic novel that glosses over neither the horrors of battle nor pretty well everyone of the period's hatred, contempt and violence towards those of other races. But the story, in its first person voice, is not just compelling, shocking and informative. It's touching too.
2016! Nearly our last report. And it's of Sarah Crossan's One. Grace and Tippi are conjoined teenage twins. Two lives, but one body joined at the waist. The author shows us almost everything about how this sort of life might be lived, the responses it evokes from others, the almost constant medical supervision - and, in the end, the giant, horrific risks. Their story is told by Grace, but most unusually she tells it in free verse. Does this unusual style limit the novel in any way? Most readers seem to feel it simply adds to the emotional punch. Give it a go.
I can't believe it. Our roller-coaster ride of books has brought us up to date with this year's winner: Salt to the Sea, written by Ruta Sepetys. This is the tale of refugees desperate to reach the ship they hope will take them away from war-ravaged Germany to a safer land. Four young people narrate their haunting and unforgettable stories. But the ship, the Wilhelm Gusloff, was sunk in port in early 1945 with over nine thousand souls on board and nearly all were drowned. This is a fine and true account of a tragic, and up till now poorly remembered story.
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Sadly, these next two Kate Greenaway Award winners are going to be the last we get to feature in this series.
The first I've chosen was also the first to win in this decade: Harry and Hopper, by Freya Blackwood and Margaret Wild. It's the story of the friendship between a boy and his dog, showing how Harry very gradually came to terms with the death of his beloved pet. Blackwood uses line to great effect to capture the boundless energy and movement of Hopper as a young puppy. There is an almost cinematic use of close-ups and pull-backs to show the world that Harry and his dog inhabit. A simply lovely, touching piece of work. Make sure you have a tissue or hanky to hand!
And the last of all?? So hard to choose, but let it be The Sleeper and the Spindle, written by Neil Gaiman, and illustrated by Chris Riddell - the first illustrator ever to win the award three times. Here is a story that intertwines the fairy tales The 'Sleeping Beauty' and 'Snow White', and, as the pen and ink illustrations prove yet again, Riddell is a master of draughtsmanship. The black and white, along with the use of gold, gives an eye-catching aesthetic, and I love the embellished drop capitals that help to build the idea of the text as an aged document. Don't miss the endpaper maps that instantly transport the reader to a fairy tale landscape of woods, mountains and enchantment.
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I've so enjoyed this - the briefest of canters through some of the very best books for young readers of the last seven decades. Don't forget that, in the main, these were the most cursory of descriptions, and sometimes the most personal of opinions. I do hope that over the next year at least some of you will reach out to the library shelves, muttering, "I recognise that title. Didn't she mention that?" and give one or two of these very, very different books a go. They didn't win our most prestigious children's book awards for nothing. Almost without exception, they are worth your time.
And don't forget. These prizes are awarded every single year. So when you've finished all of the books we've covered in the round up, there will be more.