- Third time lucky for British author Anthony McGowan, who clinches the CILIP Carnegie Medal with the fourth book in his series of short novellas
- Academy Award-winning artist, writer and film maker Shaun Tan is the first illustrator of colour to win the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal
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Today (Wednesday 17th June 2020), the winners of the prestigious CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, the UK’s oldest book awards for children and young people, are revealed.
Lark by Anthony McGowan (Barrington Stoke) scoops the Carnegie Medal for writing, whilst Tales from the Inner City written and illustrated by Shaun Tan (Walker Books) takes the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration. 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. The winners will each receive £500 worth of books to donate to a library of their choice, a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize.
This is the first time both McGowan and Tan have won a Medal in either category. British author McGowan has previously been longlisted and shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal with three out of the four books from this novella series Truth of Things (Brock, Pike and Rook). The last book in a series to win a Carnegie Medal was Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness in 2011, the final book in his Chaos Walking trilogy.
Australian author and illustrator Tan, who is of Australian, Chinese and Malay heritage, is the first illustrator of colour to win the Kate Greenaway Medal. Tales from the Inner City is a sister volume to Tan’s 2008 anthology, Tales from Outer Suburbia. He 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. In the same year, Tan received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, honouring his contribution to international children’s literature.
This is the first Medal win for small independent publisher, Barrington Stoke, while 35 years later, Tales from the Inner City marks Walker Books’ 12th Kate Greenaway Medal since its first win in 1985.
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:
“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.”
With relatable stories that show children a range of perspectives and lived experiences, the 2020 Medal winners reflect the Awards’ mission ‘to celebrate and represent a diverse range of experiences’.
Julia Hale, Chair, CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, commented:
“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. In an unprecedented year for all of us, we are delighted to reveal the two extraordinary winners of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals that highlight our connection and co-dependency with the natural world.”
“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.”
CILIP will celebrate the conclusion of the Shadowing Scheme by announcing the winners of the Shadowers’ Choice Award – voted for and awarded by the children and young people who shadow the Medals – on 9th October 2020, during National Libraries Week.
CILIP Carnegie Medal 2020: Lark by Anthony McGowan (Barrington Stoke)
When Nicky and Kenny head for a trek across the moors to take their minds off of everything, a series of unforeseen circumstances leaves the brothers in a vulnerable and very dangerous position. There might even be a chance that this time they won’t all make it out alive.
Anthony McGowan is the author of many critically acclaimed YA novels and won the 2006 BookTrust Teenage Prize, the 2007 Catalyst Award and has been shortlisted for a raft of other major children’s literature prizes, including the Carnegie Medal for Rook in 2018. McGowan was born in Manchester, attended school in Leeds and now lives in London.
“A painful though uplifting conclusion. The moment at which Nicky … hears the “mad, ecstatic music” of a lark’s song is especially transporting” Imogen Russell Williams, Guardian
CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2020: Tales from the Inner City written and illustrated by Shaun Tan (Walker Books)
A young girl’s cat brightens the lives of everyone in the neighbourhood. A woman and her dog are separated by time and space, awaiting the day they will be reunited. A race of fish build a society parallel to our own. And a bunch of office managers suddenly turn into frogs but find that their new lives aren’t so bad.
Shaun Tan grew up in Perth and works as an artist, writer and filmmaker in Melbourne, best known for illustrated books that deal with social, political and historical subjects through dream-like imagery. Shaun has also worked as a theatre designer, a concept artist for Pixar and won an Academy Award for the short animated film The Lost Thing.
“When it comes to originality and genius, Tan is in a league of his own. This collection of stories and poems with an animal-in-the-city theme are intriguing, thought-provoking and at times baffling, asking as many questions as they answer, and the illustrations are sublime. One for quirky teens (or adults) who love art.” The Irish Independent