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Carnegie & Greenaway winners announced

18th Jun 20


Anthony McGowan has won the Carnegie Medal for Lark (Barrington Stoke) while the Kate Greenaway Medal has gone to Shaun Tan for Tales from the Inner City (Walker Books), which he wrote and illustrated.


The awards were announced online last night as the traditional awards ceremony could not take place.

The winners of the Shadowing Scheme, in which young people read the shortlisted titles and nominate their own winner, will be announced on 9th October 2020, during National Libraries Week.

The winning books were chosen by 14 volunteer Youth Librarians, from a total of 162 nominations this year, as the very best in children's writing and illustration published in the UK.

This is the first time either author and illustrator have won a medal from this award, although McGowan has previously been longlisted and shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal for his earlier titles in this novella series - Brock, Pike and Rook, also published by Barrington Stoke.

Tales from the Inner City, the Kate Greenaway winner, is a sister volume to Shaun Tan's 2008 anthology, Tales from Outer Suburbia. Tan, who is of Australian, Chinese and Malay heritage, has worked as a theatre designer, a concept artist for animated films including Pixar's WALL-E, and directed the Academy Award-winning short film, The Lost Thing in 2011. Tan has also received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, honouring his contribution to international children's literature, in 2011.

This is the first Medal win for small independent publisher, Barrington Stoke, set up 21 years ago to support struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers to access books. In a statement, the publisher said, "This recognition of Anthony McGowan's remarkable work validates their belief that the length of a book is not an indication of the value of the story within. A short novel with an accessible layout can explore fundamentally important themes and deliver a story with huge emotional impact."

Both books use captivating words and images to explore humankind's relationship with nature, alongside themes of survival. Lark tells the story of two brothers, Nicky and Kenny, who set out for an adventure in the North Yorkshire Moors only to be caught in a precarious blizzard when weather conditions take a turn. Throughout the book, the brothers display a deep respect and understanding of nature, which ultimately grants them consolation as they wait to be rescued. McGowan's prose paints nature as a source of wonder and joy, but also peril.

Tales from the Inner City, a collection of 25 illustrated stories, was borne out of Tan's life-long love of animals and deals with the separation and tension between the natural and artificial world. Tan believes that many of the problems we face today may have something to do with the distance from nature in a post-colonial and post-industrial world, especially within urban spaces. Throughout the book, Tan reminds readers that we are all interconnected with nature.

Anthony McGowan said of his win, "Every writer for young people dreams of winning the Carnegie Medal. Its incredible history, the rollcall of the great writers who have won it and the rigour of the selection process, makes this the greatest book prize in the world. It is also a magnificent way of connecting with readers. The hundreds of shadowing groups in schools and libraries around the country provide that one thing that writers cannot do without: a living, arguing, debating, biscuit-munching population of brilliant readers!

"On one level, Lark is a simple adventure story. Two woefully ill-equipped teenage boys, and their old Jack Russell terrier go for a walk on the North Yorkshire Moors. A blizzard descends and their fun day out, their 'lark' turns into a desperate battle for survival. On another level, the book is about the unshakable love between two brothers, one of them with special needs, after enduring family break-up, poverty, bullying and cruelty. Lark is also a story about the power of stories and the way they weave through our lives. The book ends with the words 'Tell me a story,' and with those words we are led back again to the beginning."

Shaun Tan said, "I am surprised, delighted and then deeply honoured - what a wonderful thing to be! I am especially thrilled to receive the Kate Greenaway Medal in the fine company of so many brilliant artists and authors, many of whom inspired my own love of illustrated stories as a young West Australian scribbler.

"Tales from the Inner City is a strange book for strange times, suggesting that human frailty might well find expression in dreams of tigers, bears, frogs and lungfish reclaiming our cities. To know that I am not alone in enjoying such speculation - maybe even a bit too much - is no small thing. It is profoundly consoling, to feel part of a larger conversation about our relationship to this planet, particularly with younger readers, in whose imagination the future is already taking shape."

Julia Hale, Chair, CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, also spoke about each of the winning books:

"During challenging times, librarians believe books for children and young people are more important than ever. The best books provide adventure, solace, inspiration, comfort, escape, rich experiences and sheer enjoyment; they are a port in a storm, a reflective mirror and an entry to new worlds.

"Carnegie Medal winner Lark, by Anthony McGowan is a powerful standalone novella that brings the exemplary Truth of Things series to an emotional ending. Lark picks up the story of the close relationship between Nicky and elder brother Kenny, who after surviving trauma and poverty in their past, must now endure the extremes of nature at its cruellest. This novella was admired for its clear, simple storytelling; combining authentic characters and realistic situations in pared down prose with blunt humour, genuine tension and moments of pure poetry as fleeting and transcendent as birdsong. It is incredible that such a rich reading experience is in no way impeded by its short and accessible form, indeed it is a strength. The book leaves the reader with hope for the future; that through the bonds of love from friends and family things can and will get better.

"Every detail of the Kate Greenaway Medal winning Tales from the Inner City mark it as a masterwork of illustration that generates an outstanding experience for the reader in every detail. In a collection of 25 surreal short stories set in a semi-dystopian dreamscape where the boundaries between urban and wildlife are close to collapse, Shaun Tan conveys the tangled, intimate relationship between humans and animals with breath-taking technique and awe-inspiring invention. Double page spreads of oil on canvas give pause for necessary reflection and contemplation. Never have the bonds between us and the beautiful creatures we share the earth with been so exquisitely rendered with such prescience. The judging panel were moved, amused and astonished by the artistry and imagination of a stunning book that should be widely shared and celebrated."




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