CKG Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Here we are at last! The day the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medal winners for 2018 are finally announced, as well as the Amnesty CILIP Honours, and we can’t wait to see which books have been chose to receive the top prizes in children’s literature.

The shortlists this year have been outstanding as always, and we’ve really enjoyed reading and reviewing the shortlisted titles. This morning we round off our reviews with Emma’s thoughts on The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which is shortlisted for the Carnegie award.

What the publisher says…

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. 

http://www.walker.co.uk/The-Hate-U-Give-9781406372151.aspx

The Hate U Give

 

What we say…

The Hate U Give gave me bags under my eyes! I just couldn’t stop reading until I finished it (at 3am!). The book addresses some really big issues, such as police shootings of unarmed black people and white privilege, through telling the story of one ordinary girl, Starr Carter, who finds herself in an extraordinary and horrific situation, having witnessed the fatal shooting of her unarmed friend by an officer. 

 It is the characters and the relationships between them that make this a truly exceptional book for me. The balance of the awful things Starr is having to deal with and the everyday teenage-ness of her character is perfect and the strong family dynamic of the Carters is a joy to experience.

Emma

See Angie Thomas talk about The Hate U Give here: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=13

View the full CKG 2018 shortlists here:

http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/carnegie-current-shortlist.php

http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/greenaway-current-shortlist.php

 

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CKG review: A First Book of Animals – illustrated by Petr Horacek

Not one, not two, but three reviews in one day! We’re so close to he CKG winners announcement now – and so close to getting all our reviews of the shortlisted titles posted! Here are Lizzie’s thoughts on A First Book of Animals from the Greenaway list, which sees Petr Horacek shortlisted for his stunning illustrations.

What the publisher says…

Nicola Davies, the award-winning author of A First Book of Nature, presents a spellbinding treasury of poems about the animal world, illustrated in breathtaking detail by Petr Horacek. … From blue whales to bumblebee bats and everything in between, A First Book of Animals takes you all over the planet to visit all kinds of different creatures. 

http://www.walker.co.uk/A-First-Book-of-Animals-9781406359633.aspx

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What we say…

It’s impossible to tell which came first here – the text or the illustrations – as both work so perfectly together to create an outstanding work of vivacity and exuberance. Nature bursts from the page in abundance. Petr Horacek’s double page spreads allow Nicola Davies’ poetic text to dance across the page whilst his jewel-like colours and textured collages express the remarkable diversity of the natural world on a grand scale. Clever layout and design, with the occasional nod to works of natural history from yesteryear, make this a book which works on several levels with appeal across a wide age and ability range, A true treasury!” 

Lizzie

See Petr Horacek talk about A First Book of Animals here: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=4

View the full CKG 2018 shortlists here:

http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/carnegie-current-shortlist.php

http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/greenaway-current-shortlist.php

 

CKG Review: The Song From Somewhere Else illustrated by Levi Pinfold

The reviews are coming thick and fast today as we prepare for tomorrow’s medal ceremony. Here Lizzie tells us her thoughts on The Song From Somewhere Else….

What the publisher says:

A poignant, darkly comic and deeply moving story about the power of the extraordinary, and finding friendship where you least expect it. Written by the author of the critically acclaimed The Imaginary and illustrated by award-winning illustrator Levi Pinfold,

https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-song-from-somewhere-else-9781408853368/

The Song From Somewhere Else

What we say: 

‘Dark, eerie and beautiful’ and ‘magical, earth-like and majestic’ both apt summations of this atmospheric book from my shadowers.

Indeed, it’s a book that’s captured a lot of attention within our shadowing group with lots of them clamouring to read it after looking at just the first few pages of illustrations (we used the Session 1 outline from the wonderful CLPE teaching sequence). For me it’s a book that I’ve continued to think about long after putting it down – and I think that the illustrations have a huge part to play in the way it’s lingered with me. The slightly smaller format, subtly gleaming front cover, nettle covered endpapers (even nettled covered boards if you have the hardback edition) and swirling title pages all tell you that you are reading something very special.

Immersive and atmospheric double page spreads communicate both the sense of wonder and dark menace that the story pivots on. There’s a filmic quality to the composition of many of the illustrations with pools of light and dark adding a frisson of danger and a use of scale which positions Frank so that she looks swamped by her surroundings – this is a town where the very sky looks like it could fall down and engulf you. Shadowy threats leach onto page edges and roll across the page – details which all sustain the atmosphere and tension.

My favourite illustrations, however, are those that depict Nick’s mother and her Troll music – she is both otherworldly and yet graceful – mountainous and delicate – and all the while surrounded by the wisps of her beautiful music. A beautiful depiction, regardless of her strangeness, of a mother.

All in all a perfect blending of words and pictures.

Lizzie

See Levi Pinfold talk about The Song From Somewhere Else here: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=16

View the full CKG 2018 shortlists here:

http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/carnegie-current-shortlist.php

http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/greenaway-current-shortlist.php

 

 

 

 

 

CKG review: Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick

With just 24 hours to go until the winners are announced, we continue our reviews of the CKG 2018 shortlisted titles. Here Emma shares her thoughts on Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick:

What the publisher says…

A potent, powerful and timely thriller about migrants, drug lords and gang warfare set on the US/Mexican border by prize-winning novelist, Marcus Sedgwick.

https://www.hachettechildrens.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9781444011258

Saint Death

 

What we say…

Saint Death is absolutely gripping from start to finish. It’s a pulsating narrative and the pace and urgency of the plot, along with the increasing desperation of the main character, Arturo, are perfectly reflected in the structure of the story, in which short chapters are interspersed with newspaper cuttings, quotations and thoughts.

The setting is one of the main things that really stood out for me with this book. Sedgwick is uncompromising in throwing the reader straight into the harsh reality of Arturo’s world.

Just as the city of Juarez (which pulses off the page) has an unceasing hold over Arturo, this book had a hold over me – I read it in a day and continued thinking about it long afterwards. This is a really immersive novel that highlights some big issues around immigration, inequality and hope / desolation; and definitely meets the criteria of “having gone through a vicarious, but at the time of reading, a real experience that is retained afterwards.”

Emma

See Marcus Sedgwick talk about Saint Death here: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=7

View the full CKG 2018 shortlists here:

http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/carnegie-current-shortlist.php

http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/greenaway-current-shortlist.php

 

CKG Review: Thornhill by Pam Smy

As we near the end of our series of Carngeie and Greenaway reviews, Ann warns us of the perils of reading Greenaway shortlisted Thornhill just before bed!

What the publisher says: 

As she unpacks in her new bedroom, Ella is irresistibly drawn to the big old house that she can see out of her window. Surrounded by overgrown gardens, barbed wire fences and ‘keep out’ signs, it looks derelict.

But that night, a light goes on in one of the windows. And the next day she sees a girl in the grounds.

Ella is hooked. The house has a story to tell. She is sure of it.

http://www.davidficklingbooks.com/shop/ItemDetails.php?pubID=185

Thornhill Pam SmyWhat we say:

I read this last night just before I went to bed, big mistake !

Using a hybrid format of diary entries and illustrated sequences, Thornhill tells the story of two lonely girls across dual timelines. Full of ‘bullies, ghosts and creepy dolls’ (as one newspaper put it) – this contemporary Gothic tale leaves you with much to think about.

The  illustrated sequences have an eerie quality: As Mary’s story is revealed in heartbreaking diary entries, Ella’s exploration of the modern day Thornhill is told in silent monochromatic freeze frame. The effect can be deeply disturbing.

Empty black pages separate the written and illustrated sequences and divide the past from the present. They create a nice pause in between the two narratives, preventing the reader from rushing too quickly through the developing mystery – as with all good creepy tales pacing is everything!

Smy’s bold illustrative style combines observational drawing with a strong design aesthetic. Her imposing facades and lingering images of overgrown gardens (particularly the images used on the front cover and the endpapers) sit comfortably alongside incredibly detailed interiors and expressive character studies.

The overall feeling is cinematic and ominous. The atmospheric and emotional illustrations ooze tension and reward the reader with a suitably ambiguous climax and chilling denouement.

I’ve never read a book like it – totally absorbing!

Ann

Watch Pam Smy speaking about Thornhill on the CKG shadowing site: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=15

You can view the full Carnegie and Kate Greenaway 2018 shortlists here:

http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/carnegie-current-shortlist.php

http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/greenaway-current-shortlist.php