Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.

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"A human being with no daemon was like someone without a face, or with their ribs laid open and their heart torn out: something unnatural and uncanny that belonged to the world of night-ghasts, not the waking world of sense."

His Dark Materials: Book 1 Northern Lights

Carnegie winner: 1995
Author: Philip Pullman

Instantly alive with insatiable curiosity and blazing energy, Lyra bursts from the page fully formed into the minds of readers as they accompany the headstrong heroine headlong into her adventure.  Growing up under her Uncle’s care, Lord Asriel of Jordan College, Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon overhear and are able to thwart an attempt to poison hm.  Listening to the lecture he presents upon dust, particles with an unusual affinity towards adults, they find themselves privvy to new and potentially dangerous information.

Roger, one of Lyra’s friends is abducted by Gobblers and in endeavouring to search for him.  In so doing, she finds herself in the throes of the seductive, though sinister, Mrs Coulter.   Living with the Gyptians, on the canal, Lyra makes a discovery about Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter that has huge repercussions for how she sees herself and the influences the wildly different approaches the pair exert upon her. 

With the threat of children’s disappearance increasing, Lyra and he Gyptians set off to the Arctic in the belief this is where the Gobblers are holding the children.  During the voyage, Lyra meets Iorek Byrnison of the panserbjorne, a genus of armoured bears.  Lyra assists Iorek in locating his missing armour thereby creating an ally of him and the party continue on their expedition uncovering horrifying information about the fate that has befallen the missing children.

The book closes on a massive climax, the release of a huge quantity of energy that emerges following a brutal act.  This energy creates an opening into a new universe that Lyra walks through with a steely determination to ensure no future acts of this kind are carried out again…

The first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy features an impressively expansive sense of the world and the varied and diverse creatures and characters that populate it. One of the exceptional qualities in the novel is the exploration of knowledge, learning and belief which captures the vigour and verve of innovators like Galileo and Darwin. An unforgettable read at the start of an important trilogy that touches upon childhood, belief, goodness and fundamentally, what it is that makes us human.


daemons / fantasy / other worlds / oxford / religion / spooky /


Why we chose this book ...

"This was an amazing book, and I hadn't read anything like this before. It was traumatic in places - but it was also full of action and fantasy. Perfect!"