First Impressions: The 2019 Kate Greenaway Shortlist (Part I)

Last night was the inaugural meeting of our ‘Picture Books In The Pub’ group – an informal shadowing group for adults looking at the books shortlisted for this year’s Kate Greenaway Medal.

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We were very lucky to have regional judge Emma on hand to introduce each of the shortlisted books and tell us a little bit about why these eight books in particular stood out for the judging panel. Naturally lots of discussion and oohs and ahhs ensued. We even managed to brainstorm ideas around the kind of activities we could run with shadowers based on each book (headdresses and mermaid tails here we come!).

We will, of course, be revisiting each book in detail (and with the medal criteria firmly in mind) over the coming weeks but to whet your appetite and in the spirit of the shadowing scheme we’d like to share some of our first impressions with you…

The day The war Came - Rebecca Cobb

The Day The War Came, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb (written by Nicola Davies)

We were particularly impressed with the use of colour and texture here – the contrast conveying all the “smoke and fire and noise” that the narrator “didn’t understand”. The use of panelling in some of the spreads and the wide double pages gives a real sense of the enormity of the journey undertaken and the all encompassing nature of the war.

Our highlight was: the endpapers – we loved the fact that the book begins with empty chairs but ends with each one occupied by a happy and smiling child.

Ocean Meets Sky

Ocean Meets Sky – The Fan Brothers

We all wanted to spend more time poring over these immersive, enchanting illustrations. Each page offered so much to investigate: fish bellied boats, sea monsters and pirates, castles in the air and even a guest appearance from the Titanic.  We loved all the details and felt very pleased with ourselves when we spotted that the lands Finn sails through all echo the curios left on his grandfather’s desk.

Our highlight was: The use of scale and the change in perspectives – the double page spread showing the carp, boat and jellyfish from above eliciting several gasps of admiration.

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Beyond The Fence – Maria Gulemetova

We really like the low, wide format of this book – it enhanced the expansive vistas and their promise of freedom just as much as it intensified the creeping sense of claustrophobia in some of the interiors.

Our highlight was: The final spread – the change of colour and saturation makes a bold contrast to the rest of the book and invites the reader to imagine just what lies on the other side.

The Wolf, The Duck  & The Mouse - Jon Klassen

The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse – Jon Klassen (written by Mac Barnett)

We loved the textured backgrounds in this one and spoke about them being stylistically reminiscent of works from the 60s/70s. Broad brushstrokes, crayoned lines and inky spatters evoke both the earthy darkness of the wolf and the moonlit wash of the nighttime forest. We were particularly drawn to the contrast between light and dark and wondered how this had been achieved: creatures and objects are almost luminescent in the dark of the wolf’s belly.

Our highlight was: The scenes inside the wolf’s belly – it seems such a bold choice to fill the page with such dark colour and the way that the mouse and the duck are foregrounded by a bold white outline made these spreads really stand out.

We’ll be back with the final four shortlisted books in our ‘First Impressions Part II’ post tomorrow!

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