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

Continuing our look at the 2019 Kate Greenaway shortlist…

Julian Is A Mermaid - Jessica Love

Julian Is A Mermaid – Jessica Love

The colours and the fluid lines really capture what this books is about – we thought it was utterly joyful. Using minimal text, much of the story is revealed via the illustrations -Julian’s tramway dreaming prefiguring the books ending (note the patterned fish and the gifted necklace). This book was a clear favourite on the night!

Our highlight was: the body language as a way of communicating the emotional narrative of the story. We especially liked Nana’s inscrutable face.

IMG_0411

You’re Safe With Me – Poonam Mistry (written by Chitra Soundar)

Visually arresting and intricate illustrations make this stand out stylistically – it’s unlike anything else on the shortlist. Though highly patterned each page or spread is different – colour is used very effectively to change the tone.

Our highlight was:  the use of the whole page – colour and pattern run to the very edges with the text seamlessly integrated into the pictures.

IMG_0412

The Lost Words – Jackie Morris (Written by Robert Macfarlane)

It’s clear from the moment that you open this book that it is something very special – we spoke about the size and format itself being totally immersive and how clever it is to achieve the depiction of the loss of something – the absence of it. The ‘triptych’ of images for each poem and the gold leaf evoked something iconic – as if this were a reliquary for these words.

Our highlight was: The fact that the impact of the illustrations builds – each lost word is addressed with 3 illustrations: one showing the absence of the word, one accomanying the poem and showing a detailed image on gold leaf and finally a double page spread showing the ‘lost word’ in it’s natural setting – as it should be.

IMG_0410

Suffragette: The Battle For Equality – David Roberts

The attention to detail in this work is astonishing. Avoiding the replication of images we may already be familiar with because we’ve seen them in photographs or posters, Roberts offers an intimate look at this moment in history. The use of different styles: the cross stitch samplers, the period portraits, the cataloguing of ephemera such as badges, weapons and flags, as well as action shots of pitched battles, marches and general ‘brouhaha’ make for an intoxicating mix.

Our highlight was: The determination on the women’s faces – even as they are being dragged away by police or eyes closed trudging through the rain – the illustrations make very clear something of the character of these women and the magnitude of the battle they took on.

picturebooksinthepub

For those wishing to join in the fun, our next meeting will take place on the 2nd April, 6.30pm, at The Bank pub (Manchester). You can find out more about the Greenaway shadowing scheme on the Awards website https://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/shadowing.php

 

Advertisements

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.

untitled-e1553095026916.jpg

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.

IMG_0413

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!

CKG Review: Release by Patrick Ness

The clock is ticking – it’s a mere five days until we find out the winner of this years’ Carnegie and Greenaway Medals and here at YLG North West we’re still busily beavering away to review all of the shortlisted titles before the announcement on the 18th June.

Today we bring you Lizzie’s thoughts on Patrick Ness’s Release from the Carnegie shortlist…

What the publisher says…

The most personal and tender novel yet from Patrick Ness, the twice Carnegie Medal-winning author of A Monster Calls. It’s Saturday, it’s summer and, although he doesn’t know it yet, everything in Adam Thorn’s life is going to fall apart. But maybe, just maybe, he’ll find freedom from the release. Time is running out though, because way across town, a ghost has risen from the lake… This uplifting coming-of-age novel will remind you what it’s like to fall in love.

http://www.walker.co.uk/Release-9781406331172.aspx

Release Patrick NessWhat we say…

Taking its literary inspiration from Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway with a healthy dose of Judy Blume’s Forever thrown into the mix, this is the story of Adam Thorn. Trapped in rural small town America, son of preacher parents and weighed down by their expectations, the novel’s title looms large over the narrative.

Interwoven with Adam’s story is the otherworldly tale of a murdered girl and a mythical Queen who move through our reality seeking answers, revenge and their own particular brand of ‘release’. I really loved this element of the narrative – though the connection between Adam and the Queen is glancing, the two narratives accelerate in harmony, propelling one another towards the day’s final denouement.

It’s genius plotting and pacing and ultimately allows for a more nuanced reading of Adam’s situation: In Adam’s world the belief that a particular revelation might bring your world crashing down around you has additional edge given that we see it being played out alongside a story of truly mythical proportions. Read in tandem the two narratives allow us a glimpse of the extraordinary undercurrents which underpin the everyday – a way of appreciating the world stopping or world just beginning possibilities of a single day.

So, I’ve nailed my colours to the mast: I loved this otherworldly element to the writing! However…. I’ve spent a lot of time discussing this with readers both as part of shadowing groups and at the issue desk and I’m aware that not everyone might feel the same….in fact it’s turned out to be a bit of a marmite situation: you either love it or you hate it. As I began writing this piece, I asked some of our shadowers again what they made of the secondary story line and was met a chorus of ‘meh’ noises and murmurs of ‘I didn’t get it’. They didn’t object to it per se but for the most part failed to see the relevance to Adam’s story (with which they were all completely engrossed).

In amongst the ‘mehs’, however, one girl did say ‘it’s very Patrick Ness’ – and it’s true, it is! Actually, that comment somehow encapsulates so much – love it or hate it, the fact that my shadowers stuck with and ultimately loved what is a pretty ambitious and literary novel is testament to the quality of writing and the sensitivity with which Ness handles his subjects. Patrick Ness novels make you sit up and pay attention – devastating, optimistic and above all truthful you always know just how good the writing is. In fact, in a recent poll (part of a local book award which had also shortlisted Release), our shadowers voted it the one readers were ‘most likely to read again’. That really told me something – even if they ‘don’t get it’ it still spoke to them; it still held meaning that they wanted to go back and decipher.

That is surely a sign of truly outstanding writing.

Lizzie

Watch Patrick Ness speaking about Release on the CKG shadowing site: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=21

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

Shadowing The Greenaway: Our 5 Top Tips

Top tips for shadowing the Greenaway shortlist 2018

Sometimes playing second fiddle to its older sister the Carnegie Medal, the Greenaway should not be overlooked as an amazing way to engage readers regardless of age. With its focus on artistic quality and the visual experience of reading it is perfect for both toddler and teen.

We have five top tips for getting the most out of your shadowing experience.

Look CloserI cannot recommend the Reading Resources on the shadowing homepage enough. If you are new to  Greenaway Shadowing these should definitely be your first port of call. The Visual Literacy Guides are an excellent tool for guiding your shadowing group to look more closely at the illustrations as well as offering opportunities to explore the books within the context of the wider world. The reading prompts and questions will gently steer shadowers towards assessing the books against the judging criteria. With additional ideas for further research as well as creative prompts, you really can’t go wrong. Continue reading

Review: Beyond The Wall – Tanya Landman

9781406366273The Blurb: From Tanya Landman, author of the 2015 Carnegie Medal winner Buffalo Soldier, comes a heart-stopping tale of love, corruption and the power of choice.

Blood on her lips. Blood on her tongue. Blood that is not her own. Cassia does not fear to die, but for her – for a slave who has maimed her master – there are worse things than death. Yet the mighty Roman Empire has its limits. Beyond her master’s estate, beyond the river, far to the north stands Hadrian’s Wall. And beyond the wall? Freedom. With dogs on her trail and a bounty on her head the journey seems impossible. But then Cassia meets Marcus – slick, slippery, silver-tongued – a true and perfect son of Rome. And her only hope.

The Review:

I’ve thrown myself into the list of CKG nominations this week and selected Tanya Landman’s Beyond The Wall as my first read. It’s no surprise that I went for this one first – I spent many lunchtimes in my school library closeted away with Rosemary Sutcliff and Henry Treece – so this felt like comfort reading of the highest order. And yet it’s not really a comfortable read – with a less benign outlook than Sutcliff, Tanya Landman’s version of Roman Britain is definitely aimed at an older YA audience.

It’s the story of ‘a runaway slave and her journey through the murky underworld of Roman Britain’. There’s action aplenty as Cassia flees from the repugnant landowner Titus Cornelius Festus but this is not simply about a slave’s desire for freedom; the oppression Cassia is fleeing from is very specifically violent and sexual. Landman deftly interweaves a thorough examination of the position (read oppression) of women at all levels of society through her fast paced and perilous plot.

It left me thinking two things:

1) Just how good and varied Tanya Landman’s historical fiction is – Beyond The Wall is so different from Carnegie winning Buffalo Soldier and yet reading the author’s note at the end it was very clearly born of the same creative process.

2) The second thing is really more of a lament – Why are there not more YA books set in the Roman world? After the heyday of Sutcliff et al it seems that Rome has fallen out of favour (or fashion) and yet Landman shows that it’s just as pertinent a backdrop for YA fiction now as it ever was. Through Cassia and Marcus we traverse tricky ideas about freedom from oppressive rule, foreign occupation, materialism, a return to a way of life more connected with the natural world as well as investigating female sexuality and ideas of consent – all topics which wouldn’t feel out of place in one of today’s newspapers. Landman takes all these threads and throws them together to make a thrilling and emotionally intelligent adventure story – Not a bad way to kick off CKG 2018 I reckon!

Lizzie