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

 

Advertisements

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: Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean

Looking for some bank holiday / half term reading? If you haven’t already read them all, the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway shortlists are a brilliant place to look for inspiration.

Today we continue on our mission to review all the shortlisted titles for each award before the winners are announced on 18th June. Here Ros reviews Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean, from the Carnegie shortlist:

What the publisher says…

Every summer Quill and his friends are put ashore on a remote sea stac to hunt birds. But this summer, no one arrives to take them home.

Surely nothing but the end of the world can explain why they’ve been abandoned – cold, starving and clinging to life, in the grip of a murderous ocean. How will they survive?

https://usborne.com/browse-books/catalogue/product/1/11571/where-the-world-ends/

where the world ends

What we say…

Full disclosure – I am not a huge fan of Geraldine McCaughrean’s work as a whole. She’s a writer I appreciate, rather than enjoy, and so I was a bit trepidatious about reading this. I even had another book with me ready for when I gave up on it!

I did not give up on it. In fact, I could barely put it down. This story of a group of boys (and a few men) abandoned on a remote sea stac is full of tension and perhaps even more importantly, takes the time to develop the characters so that I genuinely cared about their fate. There are moments of humour amongst the grind of survival and when events took a bad turn at various points, I found myself almost holding my breath (and holding back tears).

This is based on a true story, although of course the actual events on the sea stac are fictionalised. McCaughrean manages to create an ending that feels almost like a beginning – full of hope for the future, but the author’s note about the actual reason for the group’s abandonment is devastating.

Ros

Watch Geraldine McCaughrean speaking about Where the World Ends on the CKG shadowing site: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=11

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

CKG Reviews: Rook by Anthony McGowan

Continuing with our series of reviews of the CKG shortlisted titles, today Amanda gives her verdict on Rook by Anthony McGowan, from the Carnegie list.

What the publisher says…

When Kenny and Nicky rescue a rook left for dead, Kenny is determined to keep it alive. Nicky doubts the scruffy bird will make it, but then Nicky has plenty else to worry about – a school bully, his first love, and the fact that everything is about to go very, very wrong.

https://www.barringtonstoke.co.uk/books/rook/

rook

What we say…

I have to admit, when I saw Rook was on The Carnegie Shortlist I was a little skeptical. It was a Barrington Stoke book and I always believed them to be much easier reads without much substance (this was of course because I hadn’t read any!)

The first two pages did put me off a little as it described the birds fighting, but as soon as Kenny and Nicky came flying onto the page I thought – I’m going to enjoy this.

I loved the way Nicky looked out for his brother and really felt his pain when he was dealing with his issues. I feel a true testament to how powerful the writing was, was me thinking – if I was at the school I would sort out those boys!  And having to remind myself – its not real.

The topics were all dealt with sensitively and with realism and I would highly recommend this book to every student as it was very relatable.

Even though it was the third one about the boys it didn’t make the story incomprehensible, it simply made me want to read the earlier novels, Brock and Pike, which I now have.

One of my students in the shadowing group stated she liked it as it was realistic the way the school children were with each other but she was confused where mum was. I have suggested she reads the others.

A great read.

Amanda

You can see what Anthony McGowan has to say about Rook on the Carnegie shadowing site: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=1

CKG Review: The Smell Of Other People’s Houses – Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

What The Judges Say:

Not a word is wasted. The four protagonists are subtly and so convincingly developed it’s difficult to imagine they are not real people… There is a total balance between a sense of urgency and great reflection’ – Judging panel

Smell Of Other People's Houses

What We Say:

We often talk about reading being able to take you to other places, to transport you to other worlds and perhaps to allow you to walk in another person’s shoes for a while– my goodness does this book do that! Set in the Alaska of the 1970s, Bonnie- Sue Hitchcock tells a delicately interwoven story of four teenagers and shows how their lives are transformed when their paths intersect.

However, this is not your average coming of age story. Though the story is shared between the four first person narratives of the teens, it is actually the location that really dominates. Looming large over the narrative, Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock shows us an Alaska that is both strange and beautiful but simultaneously harsh and unforgiving. It is undeniably ‘home’ for these characters – they’re woven into the very web of it. The way they navigate the land – their personal journeys through it – does much in the way of character development, ultimately revealing their self sufficiency, grit, humility and generosity.

I’ve seen it described as a ‘quietly beautiful’ book – and I think that’s a pretty accurate summation having now read it. It has a slightly somber quality that enables the sense of ‘great reflection’ that the judges talk about. It’s certainly a book that I’ve thought about many times and certain scenes in particular have stayed in my head long after I’ve put the book down – Orcas, cranberries and red ribbons have taken on almost totemic qualities for me.

In short, sophisticated plotting, a superb sense of place and a pleasantly uplifting ending make this a great Carnegie contender.

From The Horse’s Mouth:

You can watch Bonnie-Sue talking about her book and reading an extract here: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=18

Bonnie-Sue