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 second of three parts in which we spend 10 minutes with a judge from the North West. The first post was an interview with Jake Hope but in this post, part two, we talk to Lizzie Ryder…
(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)
Lizzie is a school librarian in Bury, where reading copious amounts of YA fiction is happily part of the job description. That said, her heart truly belongs to the world of the picture book. Lizzie is currently treasurer and manages publicity for 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 so privileged to have made a little history by being part of the judging panel that awarded both the Carnegie Medal for fiction and the Greenaway Medal for illustration to Patrick Ness and Jim Kay for ‘A Monster Calls’. It was the first time a book has won both awards in their 75 year history.
I also saw Patrick Ness win his first Carnegie medal in 2011 with ‘Monsters of Men’ and Grahame Baker-Smith win the Greenaway with his stunning ‘FArTHER’.
- What made you want to be a Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judge?
That’s tough to answer because my immediate reaction was who wouldn’t want to be one! But I think that my romance with the CKG Medals probably began as a graduate trainee at MMU. The shortlists are ordered each year and kept as part of the University’s Children’s Book Collection. I was working in the technical services department which orders, processes and catalogues stock across all the University’s Libraries and I can remember the first time I came across the shortlists in the processing pile. They stood out like shining treasure in amongst all the academic tomes and I’ve been hooked ever since!
- What was the most rewarding aspect of being a Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judge?
Being a Carnegie Greenaway judge has been the best thing I’ve done both personally and professionally – it’s made me into a better librarian but also a better reader too. My book knowledge has increased tenfold and I feel so much more confident recommending books to our young readers.
The networking aspect of the judging process shouldn’t be underestimated either. It’s introduced me to some amazing people – librarians who I am professionally in awe of but who are just thoroughly nice people too!
- What were the challenges of being a Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judge?
The reading is intensive – I think I ended up reading about 220 books across the two years (some of them twice, maybe three times!). There are some sacrifices that need to be made to accommodate this – Matt Imrie jokes on this year’s Judges Blog that “personal hygiene becomes optional, a full night’s sleep becomes a thing of the past and forget about sympathy from significant others ‘You chose to read all those books so don’t come crying to me!’”. I couldn’t have put it better!
- How do you promote the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals in your day job?
I’m in a school so in lots of ways I’m lucky to have a ‘captive’ audience. We have several groups shadowing both awards but I’m constantly recommending past and present shortlisted books to students. In fact this is probably the biggest promotional tool I have – simply talking about the books! That’s really what the shadowing scheme is all about – the discussion and sharing of these stories. Whether they love them or hate them, the fact that young people are engaging with and trying books that they wouldn’t otherwise have picked up in a million years is a truly amazing thing.
- Do you read the shortlisted books every year even when you’re not involved with judging the medals?
I do, or I try to! I’ve missed a few here and there but I feel a bit of a cheat promoting them to our readers if I haven’t read them myself. Plus the shortlists still push me out of my own comfort zone – I’ve read and LOVED books that I know I would otherwise have passed by. So it’s still a pretty edifying process from a personal point of view.
- Do you have any career advice for aspiring Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judges?
Read, read, read, then read some more and keep in touch with your regional YLG committee because you never know when an opportunity may arise!