Wednesday, 30 June 2010

And the winners are...

This is not to do with the tennis which is now completely wide open, but with children's book award winners - certainly not a simpler set of awards to predict!

Now many of you will be aware of the winners already, I am rather late with my report due to an arm injury making typing rather a challenge!

Nevertheless the Carnegie and Greenaway awards have been announced for 2010 with Freya Blackwood winning the Kate Greenaway Medal for her picture book illustrations in the gorgeous Harry and Hopper whilst Neil Gaiman won the Carnegie Medal for his deliciously dark Graveyard Book.

These awards are for some, the highlight of the year and they are certainly very highly regarded by authors, publishers, librarians and even children as well as a wide reading audience. The difference with these awards is that the winners are chosen by adults, librarians, whilst children form shadowing groups to read the titles for themselves and discuss the pros and cons of each, selecting their own winners.
Gaiman and Blackwood are both very worthy winners having produced exceptionally good stories that have a strong and wide appeal. Gaiman's Graveyard Book follows the adventures of Bod, a young boy who would be completely normal if it were not for the fact that he lives in a graveyard being raised and educated by ghosts! His adventures and the dangers that he faces, particularly from the man who murdered his family make turn this from a good story into a gripping and exciting adventure. Neil Gaiman has done a double with this book, also winning the prestigious Newbery Medal in America. He explained that he was inspired to write this story when his young son rode into a graveyard on his tricycle yet the echoes of Kipling's Jungle Book must also have been an inspiration. It was certainly an inspired and unusual choice for a story and Gaiman has applied his undoubted skill making it into a brilliant and exciting story.

Freya Blackwood's illustrations in Harry & Hopper on the other hand are based on personal childhood memories. She says that when she read the story she was in tears, it bough back memories of her own whippet dog who met a very sad end. This on its own proves that picture book stories are powerful and have the ability to move even adults before the pictures are even added. Blackwood was certainly inspired in her illustration and was the ideal choice of illustrator for this story. Her illustration is muted in colour, suiting the story. It makes excellent use of space and perspective, drawing the reader in and helping them to connect personally to what they are reading and seeing. The story is handled in a very sensitive style and the visual is strong.

Two excellent and very worthy books have been awarded prestigious medals that are well deserved in the 2010 Carnegie Awards. Features on both will appear in the September issue of Armadillo magazine, int he meantime there are two very good books to read and an author as well as an illustrator to investigate further. Enjoy reading and sharing these stories, whilst we offer congratulations from all at Armadillo.

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