19 April 2007

Wonder of wonders, Carnegie of Carnegies

I've mentioned the Newbery Medal a time or two. It's awarded annually to the author of "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children," as chosen by the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association). The first medal was presented in 1922, for The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik Willem van Loon; this year's winner was The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron.

The Brits have a similar award: The Carnegie Medal, which is presented annually by The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) "for an outstanding book for children and young people." It was first awarded in 1937 for Pigeon Post, by Arthur Ransome; last year's winner was Tamar, by Mal Peet. (The shortlist for this year's award was announced recently, and the winner will presumably be announced sometime soon.)

(Incidentally, both medals are presented for the best children's book of the previous year. However, the American medals are referred to by the year they were awarded; thus, the book which was written last year and received the medal is referred to as the 2007 winner. The Brits, however, seem to refer to them by the year of publication, so the book which was written last year and will receive the medal is referred to as the 2006 winner.)

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Carnegie Medal, and CILIP are selecting a "Carnegie of Carnegies" - the best book of the 70 best books. A panel of judges have selected a shortlist of ten books from amongst the medal winners, and are asking the public to vote for their choice. ZUI this article from The Independent:

One is a cosy bedtime read about a family of tiny people who live beneath the floor; another takes you into the world of a 14-year-old heroin user; and a third enacts an elaborate fantasy of demons and witch-clans.

They are among 10 books today nominated as the most important children's novels of the past 70 years, and encompass gritty themes of murder, war and illness as well as the deeds of fairies, angels and strange beings.

Philip Pullman's Northern Lights was chosen alongside classics such as Mary Norton's The Borrowers and Alan Garner's The Owl Service by judges of the CILIP Carnegie Medal for children's literature, as a kind of "Carnegie of Carnegies" to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

The list includes Melvin Burgess's Junk, about young heroin users who run away to live in a squat, which won the Carnegie Medal in 1996.

Other groundbreaking novels include Eve Garnett's 1937 novel The Family From One End Street, the first book of its kind to portray a working-class family.

The complete list can be found here in the CILIP press release. I'm still trying to figure out how to actually vote, though.... (Just for the record, I've read six of the 67*, and two of the 10.)

Incidentally, there are parallel awards for the best picture book published each year. The American award is the Caldecott Medal, first given in 1938 for Animals of the Bible, A Picture Book, illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop with text selected by Helen Dean Fish.

The British Kate Greenaway Medal was first presented in 1957 for Tim All Alone, by Edward Ardizzone.

H/T to Big A little a.

* There have been three years - 1943, 1945 and 1966 - when no prize was given, because "no book was considered suitable."

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