Thursday 18th February 2021: The UK’s oldest and best-loved book awards for children and young people, the prestigious CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, today announced the longlists for 2021.
The Medals celebrate outstanding achievement in children’s writing and illustration respectively and are unique in being judged by children’s librarians, with the Shadowers’ Choice Award voted for by children and young people. 40 titles have been longlisted for the 2021 Medals (20 on each longlist) selected from a total of 152 nominations, read by an expert volunteer team of 15 children’s and youth librarians from across the UK.
Verse novels and poetry anthologies are well represented this year, with several examining mental well-being and coping with loss, a recurring theme within the longlist. Former winner Elizabeth Acevedo, who became the first writer of colour to win the CILIP Carnegie medal in 2019 with The Poet X, only the second novel written in verse ever to win (the first being Sarah Crossan’s One in 2016), is longlisted for Clap When You Land, about the devastation of loss and the difficulty of forgiveness. Manjeet Mann receives her first longlisting for verse novel Run, Rebel, about a girl who runs in quiet rebellion to escape her claustrophobic home life, alongside first time longlistee Aimee Lucido for In the Key Of Code, which weaves together the beauty of music, coding and language. Poetry collections also feature with Somebody Give This Heart A Pen by Sophia Thakur, exploring issues of identity, difference, perseverance, relationships, fear, loss and joy; and The Girl Who Became A Tree, a story of a girl struggling to make sense of loss; the only book this year to be in the running for both Medals. Performance poet and writer Joseph Coelho is longlisted with illustrator Kate Milner, who is also included on the CILIP Kate Greenaway longlist for illustrating It’s A No-Money Day.
Additional former Carnegie Medal winners returning are: two-time winner Patrick Ness (Monsters Of Men, 2011, and A Monster Calls, 2012) who is longlisted for Burn; and 2017 winner Ruta Sepetys (Salt To The Sea), longlisted for The Fountains Of Silence, a story of identity, love and the hidden violence of silence.Two previous CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal winners are again in the running: 2009 winner Catherine Rayner (Harris Finds His Feet), is longlisted for Arlo The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep alongside Sydney Smith for Small In The City, following his win in 2018 (Town Is by the Sea).
Debut novels make their mark on the longlist with Katya Balen’s The Space We’re In, a frank and honest exploration of life with a neuro-divergent child; and Danielle Jawando’s, And The Stars Were Burning Brightly, the story of a teenage boy whose world falls apart when his brother takes his own life.
Coping with death is also explored in My Nana’s Garden, illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, a rhyming text story about learning to deal with grief; and Tibble And Grandpa, illustrated by Daniel Egneus, about a grieving grandparent hiding away in his garden.Illustrator Eva Eland also examines handling difficult emotions in Where Happiness Begins, receiving a consecutive Kate Greenaway longlisting (When Sadness Comes To Call, 2020).
Girls’ voices are loud in this year’s list with young adult narratives driven by female perspectives in Beverly, Right Here, the conclusion of author Kate DiCamillo’s sequence of novels about the beloved Three Rancheros; Furious Thing, written by Jenny Downham, explores the ways a girl’s sense of self can be whittled away and what might happen when she fights back; and I Go Quiet, illustrated by David Ouimet, covers the themes of introversion, finding your voice, and the enduring strength of hope.
Curiosity and the joy of discovery feature in several longlistings including: Just Because, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, observes the innocent magic of an inquisitive child’s mind; Look Both Ways, written by Jason Reynolds, is ten intertwining stories about the unsupervised independence of the walk home from school; and The Misadventures Of Frederick, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark, is a playful tale about making friends and having adventures outside together.
Myths, legends, magic and folk tales loom large in the pages of several titles across both the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway lists this year including: The Girl Who Speaks Bear, a magical folk tale from author Sophie Anderson; The Deathless Girls,the untold story of the brides of Dracula, written by Kiran Millwood Hargrave; Deeplight from author Frances Hardinge, about a friendship as deep as the waters concealing relics of undersea gods; The Fate Of Fausto, a modern-day fable about a man who believed he owned everything, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers; Starbird, illustrated by Sharon King-Chai, a story of freedom and love about the Moon King and a legendary gift to mark his daughter’s birth; How The Stars Came To Be, a folk tale articulating a magical understanding of the night sky, from illustrator Poonam Mistry with her third consecutive longlisting (You’re Safe With Me, 2019 and You’re Snug With Me, 2020); and an ancient Irish legend is rewoven in On Midnight Beach, written by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick.
A variety of historical time periods are reflected in the longlists with The Short Knife, by Elen Caldecott, exploring Saxon Britain and the evolution of its languages; The Wind In The Wall, illustrated by Rovina Cai and set in eighteenth century England against a backdrop of a stately home; The Bird Within Me, illustrated by Sara Lundberg, about a young girl growing up in the Swedish countryside at the beginning of the twentieth century; Echo Mountain, written by Lauren Wolk, is set in 1933 and tells the story of a family who flee to a mysterious mountain to start a new life after they lose everything; and After The War, written by Tom Palmer, a moving war-time novel inspired by the true story of the Windermere Boys.
First time longlistees include illustrator Richard Jones for The Child Of Dreams, about a little girl who wants to know where she came from and why she doesn’t have a father; illustrator David Litchfield for Lights On Cotton Rock, about a little girl who wants to go to Outer Space; Hike, illustrated by Pete Oswald, is an appreciation of the wonders of the wilderness and the importance of sustainability; Hidden Planet, by illustrator Ben Rothery, reveals the secrets of the animals across our planet; Dandelion’s Dream, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka, tells the story of a flower that blooms into a real lion who can explore the world without roots; and writer Akwaeke Emezi for Pet, a monster tale set in a future where evil is said to have been eradicated.
Ellen Krajewski, Chair, CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, comments:
“The talent and imagination on display across 2021’s longlist is truly inspiring. The variety of stories, the creativity in how those stories have been lovingly crafted, and the relatability of the characters and their experiences has been a joy for all the judges to behold. The Awards’ mission is to empower the next generation to shape a better world through books and reading, which is undoubtedly what this longlist helps to achieve, inviting children stuck indoors during lockdown to open the door to a myriad of fun and exciting places and be transported. Congratulations to all the authors and illustrators for their exceptional and transformative work.”
The shortlists for both the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals 2021 will be announced on Thursday 18th March 2021, with the winners announced on Wednesday 16th June 2021. Covid-19 guidelines permitting a socially distanced special daytime event will be held at The British Library and live-streamed online.
The winners will each receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library, a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize.
Now in its third year, the Shadowers’ Choice Award – voted for and awarded by the children and young people who shadow the Medals – will be announced alongside the two Medal winners in June 2021. This award has evolved out of CILIP’s Diversity Review, which identified opportunities to empower and celebrate the young people involved in the Medals through the shadowing scheme.
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About the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards and Shadowing Scheme
The CILIP Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to a children’s book author whose writing creates an outstanding reading experience. It was established in 1936 in memory of the Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). The Kate Greenaway Medal, established in 1955, is named after the popular nineteenth century artist, known for her beautiful children’s illustrations and designs. The Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded annually to a children’s book illustrator whose artwork creates an outstanding reading experience.
Each year thousands of reading groups in schools and libraries in the UK and overseas get involved in the Awards, with children and young people ‘shadowing’ the judging process. They read, discuss and review the books on the shortlists, get involved in reading related activity in groups and vote for their favourite books to win the Shadowers’ Choice Awards.
About CILIP, the library and information association
CILIP is the leading voice for the information, knowledge management and library profession. Our goal is to put information and library skills and professional values at the heart of a democratic, equal and prosperous society. CILIP is a registered charity, no. 313014. The Youth Libraries Group (YLG) is a special interest group of CILIP who work to preserve and influence the provision of quality literature and library services for children and young people, both in public libraries and school library services.
YLG has 12 regional committees covering all of the UK and each committee advertises and democratically recruits a judge to represent them on the panel of judges. Each judge serves a two-year term and each year the panel is a unique mix of new and experienced judges led by the Chair of Judges. Following the independent diversity review of the Awards, CILIP introduced a co-opting procedure so that if this recruitment process does not result in a sufficiently diverse and representative judging panel, up to two judges will be co-opted to join the panel.
In 2021, the judging panel includes 15 volunteer judges from CILIP’s Youth Libraries Group. Find out more about this year’s judges here
About the CILIP Equality and Diversity Action Plan
An independent Diversity Review, chaired by Margaret Casely-Hayford, took place throughout the 2018 Medals cycle. CILIP announced the review of Medals – as part of the organisation’s wider Equality and Diversity Action Plan – following concerns raised about the lack of BAME representation on the 2017 Carnegie Medal longlist. The Review informed the annual evaluation process and long-term planning around the Awards and accompanying shadowing scheme. The full final report (2018) and a progress report (2019 & 2020) can be found here.
About CILIP’s Awards Partners
Launched in 2013, Inclusive Minds is a collective for people who are passionate about inclusion, diversity, equality and accessibility in children’s literature and are committed to changing the face of children’s books. In February 2020 Inclusive Minds became a Community Interest Company (CIC) with a team of Ambassadors with lived experience as directors.
This year Inclusive Minds CIC are lending their expertise to the 2021 Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards. The panel of Judges will have access to the Inclusive Minds Ambassador Network, who will help to bring a broad range of voices and perspectives on the books in contention for the Awards.
Royal National Institute of Blind People RNIB and Calibre Audio Library will be producing the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal shortlisted books in accessible formats (compatibility permitting), including braille, giant print and audio books.
Centre for Literacy in Primary Education and the English and Media Centre create expert teaching resources for the shortlisted books.
Amnesty International is the world’s leading human rights organisation with more than seven million supporters worldwide. Amnesty’s partnership with CILIP focuses on strengthening its educational and training offer around human rights awareness and learning for shadowers, group leaders and shortlisted authors and illustrators.