The winners of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, the UK’s oldest book awards for children and young people, were revealed on 19th June.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (Electric Monkey) won the Carnegie Medal for writing, while The Lost Words, illustrated by Jackie Morris and written by Robert Macfarlane (Hamish Hamilton), was awarded the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration. The winners were chosen by 14 volunteer Youth Librarians, from over 254 nominations this year, as the best in children’s writing and illustration published in the UK.
It is the first time in the history of the awards that both winning books have been written in verse: in The Poet X, in verse influenced by slam poetry; in The Lost Words, in the form of spells. Only one verse novel has previously won the Carnegie Medal: Sarah Crossan’s One, in 2016.
Chair of judges Alison Brumwell said: “2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The right to an education and to be able to read are fundamentals. We know how much power a book holds between its covers. This year’s two Medals winners are a case in point, each offering a rich, layered reading experience and an enduring power to inspire.
“The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo offers a searing, unflinching exploration of culture, family and faith within a truly innovative verse structure. We follow the emotional odyssey of its heroine, Xiomara, as she rails, cries, laughs, loves, prays, writes, raps and, ultimately, offers hope. Xiomara comes to life on every page and shows the reader how girls and women can learn to inhabit, and love, their own skin.
“This is a powerful novel on every level: its vivid evocation of a Harlem neighbourhood, the challenges, disappointments and often misdirected love of motherhood and intimate glimpses of a young woman’s interior life are laid bare for the reader. The novel’s inventive use of language celebrates life and Dominican heritage.
“In The Lost Words, illustrated by Jackie Morris, life cycles of the natural world are celebrated in vivid detail. Every tiny movement and variegated fleck of colour is rendered exquisitely and gives vibrance to author Robert Macfarlane’s spells. The illustrations test our acuity and make us all think on a much deeper level about scale, colour and proportion; also, about representations of loss and absence. We are invited to ‘read’ on more than one level and to reflect upon a world in which change can mean irreparable loss, impoverishing both language and the environment. This is an astonishing book, which deserves the highest accolades.”
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