With the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals winners being announced on the 22nd June, this year’s panel of judges are in the midst of deliberations. At the Youth Libraries Group North West branch we have past judges and a present judge currently on the committee and thought it an appropriate time to ask them about their experiences judging the country’s most prestigious children’s book award.
This post is the first of three parts in which we spend 10 minutes with a judge from the North West. Interviews with Lizzie Ryder and current judge Kathryn Flagner will follow in the coming weeks but in this post, part one, we quiz our current Chair, Jake Hope…
(If you have been a Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judge in the past and would like to feature on the blog, please get in touch email@example.com)
Jake is a freelance reading development and children’s book consultant. He reviews for numerous publications, has judged the Carnegie, Greenaway, Blue Peter and Diverse Voices awards and is a passionate advocate and commentator on children’s literature and reading. He is also current Chair of Youth Libraries Group North West.
- Which years were you a Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judge and what were the winning titles that year?
I was the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway judge for the North West in 2009 when Siobhan Dowd’s ‘Bog Child’ won the Carnegie Medal and Catherine Rayner was winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal with ‘Harris Finds His Feet’. I also judged the award in 2010 when Neil Gaiman won the Carnegie Medal for ‘The Graveyard Book’ and Freya Blackwood won the Kate Greenaway Medal with the illustrations that accompanied Margaret Wild’s text for ‘Harry and Hopper’.
- What made you want to be a Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judge?
Literature for children and young people has always been my passion. It’s a field that is constantly developing and evolving and so it feels massively motivating to be involved with it. Each year I would eagerly await the announcement of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals. The awards played a huge role in my decision to work in libraries, beckoning me into the sector! I well remember the sense of excitement at being able to nominate when first becoming a member of the Youth Libraries Group, knowing that your reading and your views counted was amazing. When I actually became a judge, in all ways, it felt like a dream come true. I regard it as the highlight of my career thus far.
- What was the most rewarding aspect of being a Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judge?
The United Kingdom has a great association with some of the most exciting and innovative children’s literature, the history and prestige of this is second to none. The Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals themselves remain exciting and innovative both because of the evolving work that’s undertaken around children’s reading development and engagement through the shadowing scheme, but also because the awards are inclusive and open to authors and illustrators who do not reside here, as such they are a great barometer of the global scene. Knowing that the reading, thought and understanding that you contribute as a judge is part of that feels enormously humbling.
- What were the challenges of being a Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judge?
The reading! It’s definitely a double-edged sword, there is *nothing* quite like reading so many books by such a range of different authors and in so many varied genres and styles, it really widens reading tastes. At times though it can be overfacing and some of the decisions can feel difficult and even emotionally traumatic!
- How do you promote the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals in your day job?
A lot of my work as a consultant involves recommending and finding access routes into books that will inspire and capture the minds and imaginations of children and young people. There are few better places to start than with the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway winners, I regularly refer to these and actively look out for books by past winners and shortlisted authors and artists.
- Do you read the shortlisted books every year even when you’re not involved with judging the medals?
Every year it is a bit of a personal challenge to try to read all of the shortlisted books, sometimes other projects interfere with this but normally I’m able to read most. It’s always fascinating to see which of them have already been read, those which have made it onto one’s radar and also to see if there are any that have crept up on one unaware…
- Do you have any career advice for aspiring Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judges?
The biggest and best advice is to read! Read widely beforehand, try to familiarise yourself with past winners and the types of innovation that has occurred and has been recognised previously as that’s great preparation. Also read around what’s currently being published. Read closely, read hard and be willing to voice your opinions and keep those targeted to the books and you won’t go far wrong.