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 rage seized him. He flew at the first two scarecrows. Pushed them with all his might. Rocking, they resisted; he could feel the weight of the earth of the field, around their sticks. Then the earth cracked,the red earth, and they fell together with a soft rustling and crackling, the man on top of the woman. They looked like victims in a road accident, or on a telly-news from Norther Ireland. No they didn't. They still looked alive and well. Like they were... making disgusting animal noises; in the middle of the day, in the middle of a field, in broad view of everybody."

The Scarecrows

Carnegie winner: 1981
Author: Robert Westall

Returning from boarding school brings into sharp focus jut how much life has changed for Simon's family since his father's death.  His mother now has a new partner and both she and his sister seem to have settled well, almost as though they have forgotten his father actually existed.  This angers Simon, who finds a place of solitude in an old abandoned mill that lies across farmland behind the house.  Extracting himself from his home situation, thoughts begin to twist and turn to malevolence however...

Simon is not as alone in the old mill as he first might have thought.  The site is haunted by the spectres of an uneasy past involving the miller, his wife and her lover.  History almost seems to be repeating itself for Simon and his family and there's a lingering sense of foreboding as the control he is able to exert over the blurred lines between rage and grief becomes more and more difficult for him to manage.

There's a psychological preoccupation about the relationship between his mother and soon-to-be-step father, fuelled in parts by the emerging sense of Simon's own sexuality which manifests itself through disturbingly through his anxieties and through the scarecrows that populate the nearby fields.  This is gritty, complex and, at points deeply uncomfortable, in its presentation and is profound in its comments about adolscent mental health concerns.

An intense exploration of memory, change and the difficulty that can be had in contending with this. The book captures the boundless and overwhelming nature and force of young emotion and loyalty with incredible efficacy.


fear / stepfamilies /