• Verse novels and poetry feature strongly in longlist for the UK’s oldest children’s book awards

  • The centenary of the suffrage movement inspires books appearing on both Medal longlists

  • Longlisted books reflect contemporary themes, helping children navigate important topics including grief, mental health, human rights and individuality / #CKG2019 / #bestchildrensbooks

Today (Tuesday 19th February 2019), the longlists for the prestigious CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, the UK’s oldest book awards for children and young people, are revealed. Celebrating the best in children’s writing and illustration respectively, the Medals are unique in being judged by children’s librarians. The 40-strong list of titles for the 2018 Medals (20 on each longlist) were selected from a record total of 254 nominations, read by an expert team of 14 volunteer Youth Librarians from across the UK.

The Awards’ mission to recognise a diverse range of voices and perspectives is reflected in this year’s longlist, with books portraying the experiences of children and young people across the globe: from a Syrian refugee living in the UK (The Boy at the Back of the Class, Onjali Q. Raúf) to a Dominican-American growing up in Harlem (The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo); a girl living on a Thames sailing barge in Essex (Mud, Emily Thomas) to a Filipino boy whose tribe is at risk from an American invasion (Bone Talk, Candy Gourlay); a Taiwanese-American in search of her mother’s roots (The Astonishing Colour of After, Emily X.R. Pan) to a boy making the hazardous sea-crossing from North Africa to Europe (Illegal, Giovanni Rigano). This year’s list spans multiple forms; including fiction, graphic novels, verse novels, poetry and a novella – reflecting contemporary issues as wide-ranging as depression, assisted suicide, controlling behaviour, grief, gender conformity, the refugee crisis and women’s rights, and helping young people to navigate these important issues.

In the wake of the centenary celebrations of the suffrage movement, books reflecting the fight for women’s freedom feature on both Medals longlists. Sally Nicholls’ novel Things A Bright Girl Can Do sees three courageous women face the true cost of freedom, while Suffragette: The Battle for Equality, illustrated by David Roberts, marks the centenary with the true and moving retelling of the women and men who fought for the vote. They are joined by another anniversary-inspired title, in Kate Greenaway-longlisted Mary’s Monster, written and illustrated by Lita Judge to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein.

Two books are in the running for both Medals: The Lost Words, written by Robert Macfarlane and illustrated by Jackie Morris, and Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki, written by Kevin Crossley-Holland and illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love.

Books with a charitable back-story, or inspired by a need to create a new narrative, are strongly represented across both lists. Proceeds from books including Nicola Davies’ The Day the War Came illustrated by Rebecca Cobb, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie MorrisThe Lost Words go towards charities including Help Refugees and Action for Conservation. Maria Gulemetova’s Beyond the Fence aims to help children vocalise issues around controlling behaviour with teachers and therapists, whilst Jessica Love’s Julian is a Mermaid plays with gender stereotypes and celebrates individuality and acceptance. Illegal, written by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, and longlisted for the Kate Greenway Medal for Giovanni Rigano’s illustrations, contains interviews with the survivors of the crossing from North Africa to Italy, as told to charity initiative, Women for Refugee Women. Onjali Q. Raúf, founder and chief executive of the human rights charity Making Herstory, approaches the topic of the refugee crisis in The Boy at the Back of the Class, while Brian Conaghan explores the controversies of assisted suicide and young carers in The Weight of a Thousand Feathers. The Family Tree, a posthumously published novella by Mal Peet, illustrated by Emma Shoard, tells the story of a family touched by depression, whilst mental health and friendship are at the heart of Marion Deuchar’s Bob’s Blue Period.

In addition, first-time contenders from authors Kwame Alexander (Rebound), Sophie Anderson (The House with Children Legs), Paul Jennings (A Different Boy), Hilary McKay (Hilary MacKay’s Fairy Tales) and Jason Reynolds (Long Way Down) compete with established Carnegie Medal-winning and shortlisted alumni including David Almond (The Colour of the Sun), Sarah Crossan (Moonrise), Frances Hardinge (A Skinful of Shadows), Sally Gardner (My Side of the Diamond) and Philip Reeve (Station Zero).

2014 winner Jon Klassen (The Wolf, The Duck and the Mouse), 2007 winner Mini Grey (The Last Wolf) and 2016 shortlistee Ross Collins (This Zoo is Not for You) also appear on the Kate Greenaway Medal longlist, joined by newcomers Aaron Becker (A Stone for Sascha), Allison Colpoys (If All the World Were), Eric Fan and Terry Fan (Ocean Meets Sky), James Mayhew (Mrs Noah’s Pockets) and Poonam Mistry (You’re Safe with Me).

Alison Brumwell, Chair, CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, comments:

“As Chair of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal 2019 judging panel, I am overwhelmed by the calibre of this year’s longlists. The authors and illustrators recognised this year for their outstanding achievements have produced works which entertain, challenge, inspire, and even outrage. The forty books selected by judges offer intimate insights into family life, superb world-building and thoughtful, incisive explorations of complex themes and issues. Young readers have the opportunity to encounter characters in a diverse range of narratives who both reflect their own experiences and build empathy for different ways of living. This year’s shadowing groups will have plenty to debate and discuss!”

A fuller blog by Alison Brumwell on the longlisted titles can be found here .

The shortlists for both the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals 2019 will be announced on Tuesday 19th March 2019, with the winners being announced on Tuesday 18th June 2019 at a special daytime event at The British Library, hosted by Konnie Huq. 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.

This year sees the introduction of a new award to sit alongside the two Medals categories. The Shadowers’ Choice Award, which will be announced alongside the two Medal winners in June 2019, will be voted for and awarded by the children and young people who shadow the Medals. This award has evolved out of CILIP’s recent Diversity Review, which identified opportunities to empower and celebrate the young people involved in the Medals through the shadowing scheme by giving them a more significant voice and visible presence in the process and prize giving.

Amnesty International UK continues to support the Medals in partnership with CILIP. From 2016-2018, Amnesty International awarded the Amnesty CILIP Honour commendation to one book on each Medal shortlist, that most distinctively illuminated, upheld or celebrated human rights. From this year onwards, rather than awarding the Honour commendation, Amnesty will focus on strengthening its educational and training offer around human rights awareness and learning for shadowers, group leaders and shortlisted authors and illustrators. Amnesty will continue to create human rights-based materials for all the shortlisted books to aid reflection and discussion in classrooms and libraries.

The 2019 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are sponsored by Peters and ALCS, and funded by Carnegie UK Trust.

2019 CILIP Carnegie Medal longlist (alphabetical by author surname):

1. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (Electric Monkey)

2. Rebound by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile (Andersen Press)

3. The Colour of the Sun by David Almond (Hodder Children's Books)

4. The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli (Usborne Books)

5. The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan (Bloomsbury)

6. Moonrise by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)

7. Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki by Kevin Crossley-Holland, illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love (Walker Books)

8. My Side of the Diamond by Sally Gardner (Hot Key Books)

9. Bone Talk by Candy Gourlay (David Fickling Books)

10. A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children's Books)

11. A Different Boy by Paul Jennings, illustrated by Geoff Kelly (Old Barn Books)

12. The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris (Hamish Hamilton)

13. Hilary McKay’s Fairy Tales by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb (Macmillan Children's Books)

14. Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls (Andersen Press)

15. The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan (Orion’s Children's Books)

16. The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf (Orion’s Children's Books)

17. Station Zero by Philip Reeve (Oxford University Press)

18. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Chris Priestley (Faber & Faber)

19. The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders (Faber & Faber)

20. Mud by Emily Thomas (Andersen Press)

2019 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal longlist (alphabetical by illustrator surname):

1. A Stone for Sascha written and illustrated by Aaron Becker (Walker Books)

2. The Day the War Came by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb (Walker Books)

3. This Zoo is Not for You written and illustrated by Ross Collins (Nosy Crow)

4. If All the World Were... by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Allison Colpoys (Frances Lincoln First Editions)

5. Bob's Blue Period  written and illustrated by Marion Deuchars (Laurence King)

6. Ocean Meets Sky written and illustrated by Eric Fan and Terry Fan (Lincoln Children’s Books)

7. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill (Bloomsbury)

8. The Last Wolf  written and illustrated by Mini Grey (Jonathan Cape)

9. Beyond the Fence written and illustrated by Maria Gulemetova (Child's Play Library)

10. Mary's Monster written and illustrated by Lita Judge (Wren & Rook)

11. The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Walker Books)

12. Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki by Kevin Crossley-Holland, illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love (Walker Books)

13. Julian is a Mermaid written and illustrated by Jessica Love (Walker Books)

14. Mrs Noah's Pockets by Jackie Morris, illustrated by James Mayhew (Otter-Barry Books)

15. You're Safe With Me by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Poonam Mistry (Lantana Publishing)

16. The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris (Penguin General)

17. Suffragette: The Battle for Equality written and illustrated by David Roberts (Two Hoots)

18. Illegal by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin – illustrated by Giovanni Rigano (Hodder Children’s Books)

19. Animals with Tiny Cat written and illustrated by Viviane Schwarz (Walker Books)

20. The Family Tree by Mal Peet – illustrated by Emma Shoard (Barrington Stoke)

For media requests, please contact Katy MacMillan-Scott or Hephzibah Kwakye-Saka at Riot Communications: 020 3174 0118

Notes to editors

About the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals

The Carnegie Medal, awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children, was established in 1936 in memory of the Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). A self-made industrialist who made his fortune in steel in the USA, Carnegie’s experience of using a library as a child led him to resolve that “If ever wealth came to me that it should be used to establish free libraries.” He set up more than 2,800 libraries across the English-speaking world and by the time of his death over half the library authorities in Great Britain had Carnegie libraries.

The Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1955 for distinguished illustration in a book for children. Named after the popular nineteenth century artist, known for her beautiful children's illustrations and designs, the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded annually for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people.

The full list of past winners of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals can be found here.

About the Awards Shadowing Scheme

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 and get involved in reading related activity in groups and online. Free shadowing educational resources include visual literacy teaching notes, talking points, human rights teaching notes produced by Amnesty, activity ideas and video interviews with the shortlisted authors and illustrators. Shadowing groups are encouraged to publish their own creative response to the books online including reviews, blogs, and videos.

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) of CILIP works in a ‘pressure group’ role 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 elects a YLG 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 2019, the judging panel includes 14 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 can be found here.

As part of CILIP’s action plan for the Awards, 2019 has seen the introduction of an equality, diversity and inclusion advisory panel, who will work alongside this year’s judges to help ensure diversity and inclusion are embedded throughout the Awards process. The expert panel, chaired by Jake Hope (children’s book consultant and YLG National Chair), includes: Darren Chetty (academic and writer); Nyandavoh Foday (poet); Pete Kalu (writer and Co-Director of Commonword); Melanie Ramdarshan Bold (academic and writer); Karen Sands-O’Connor (academic and writer) and Megan Quibell (blogger and Inclusive Minds Ambassador).

About Amnesty International UK

Amnesty International is the world’s leading human rights organisation with more than seven million supporters worldwide.