The CILIP Carnegie Medal: is it time for a discussion about splitting the medal?

The short-list for the 81st CILIP Carnegie Medal was announced yesterday and it started up the discussion about splitting the Medal into a YA and younger fiction award due to a number of YA titles containing unsuitable content for younger readers.

I set up a 24 hour poll on Twitter to gauge how people feel about the idea of splitting the medal.

I must admit that in past discussions with friends and colleagues the majority of people I have spoken to have favoured the one medal for all approach as it is currently run. The results of the poll surprised me, I honestly expected them to be more evenly matched.

You can see the results below, if you click on the tweet you can read the entire, fascinating conversation that it spawned.

One of the major successes of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards has been the Shadowing Scheme allowing thousands of students in schools across the country and the world to follow the judging process, read along with the judges and have the opportunity to speak to members of the judging panel about the judging process. This is one of the positive extras that the Medals offer; but when younger readers are excluded due to the mature content of many of the short-listed titles it starts becoming of limited value to primary schools and the lower years of senior school.

The Shadowing Scheme is not the main purpose of the awards nor is it to recognise an ideal book for all readers. The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book written in English for children and young people. This most outstanding book is chosen through a rigorous judging process and I do not want that to change.

However the strength of feeling engendered by the question among librarians, authors, publishers and other interested parties plus the growing ease of identifying YA books and other children’s books may make splitting the award less onerous than it may have been in the past.

Speaking personally, I am, at present, in favour of the one award for all but I am not against participating in a discussion about the future of the awards and recognising outstanding works for young people. Are new medals required to recognise age-specific books for young readers or will the Carnegie (and possibly the Kate Greenaway) survive in multiple incarnations?

This decision is, fortunately, not one that I can make, the only people able to do that are CILIP and the CKG Working Party who administer the medals.

One of the strengths of the Awards is that the decision-makers do listen to outside voices, and if the suggestions made have merit then changes are effected to make them more inclusive, relevant and open.

As I stated in my initial tweet, the poll was informal, but the message it sends is that perhaps it is time to revisit to conversation about splitting the medals, as the voices of dissent are only going to get louder.

#TeenLibrarian Monthly March 2018

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Only You Can Save mankind by Terry Pratchett

As the mighty alien fleet from the latest computer game thunders across the screen, Johnny prepares to blow them into the usual million pieces. And they send him a message: We surrender.

They’re not supposed to do that! They’re supposed to die. And computer joysticks don’t have ‘Don’t Fire’ buttons . . .
But it’s only a game, isn’t it. Isn’t it?

Often overlooked in favour of his Discworld series, Terry Pratchett’s Johnny Maxwell trilogy is nevertheless an amazing set of books that desrves its place in the sun.

First published when I was 17, Only You Can Save Mankind was the fourth non Discworld book that I had read (the other three were the Bromeliad trilogy).

Now re-jacketed, re-illustrated (by Mark Beech) and re-released, Only You can Save Mankind more than holds up 26 years later. It is as magnificent as I remembered it the first time I read it – an anti-war novel that is also about friendship, fitting in, the importance of talking and a reminder that abuse and neglect can happen anywhere.

Look I should not have to sell you on a Terry Pratchett book – he was a phenomenal author and is still my favourite story-teller and one day I will have read all his works but that day is not today! Today marks the third anniversary of his passing and on this day if you have not discovered his work why not make a start with Only You Can Save Mankind?

My last post about World Book Day

As anyone who knows me or follows my blog and twitter account will know, I have had a bit of a problem with World Book Day – not the celebration of books, bookshops and reading but what I perceived as missteps in their organisation of WBD 2018 (and also some issues with WBD 2017). Rather than rehashing what I have already written, you can read my thoughts here and here.

I did try and engage with the organisation on social media in an attempt to have a public discussion about my concerns but to no avail, so on the 19th February I sent them an e-mail. You can read it below.

To whom it may concern

I have a number of conflicted feelings about World Book Day, on one hand I am a massive supporter of getting young people reading and into bookstores but on the other hand I feel that World Book Day ltd has made a number of missteps recently, some of which which I have publicly criticised on TeenLibrarian and via social media.

I dislike the idea of criticism without allowing a response and not having been able to engage with you via social media I wondered if a representative from WBD would be able to answer some questions regarding the issues I feel have arisen?

My questions are below.

Firstly, the YA offer this year

Why did it take three months for the YA titles to be announced instead of during “the coming weeks” as reported in the Guardian? (

Regarding the £1.50 YA premium on top of the WBD voucher, I am aware that they are full novels and are still considerably cheaper than a non-WBD branded copy book would cost; but do you not think that this will further alienate young people from impoverished backgrounds*; not to mention the young people go to a participating bookshop or supermarket to pick up a book with their voucher and find out when they get to the till that they have to pay.

I also note on your website that the YA ‘special editions’ will be available in participating retailers only – will these retailers be listed to help shoppers find the books they are looking for? Are you not concerned that this will exclude older readers who wish to participate in World Book Day but do not live near a participating store?

Secondly the proliferation of the World Book Day logo on advertising costumes on posters in malls and in supermarkets. Contrary to popular belief I am not against dressing up to celebrate one’s favourite books for World Book Day, but is not using your logo to sell costumes a contravention of the style guide usage policy which states that the logo should only be used on materials promoting books?

I also fear that the dress-up aspect of the day is occluding the celebration of reading which forms a central part of World Book Day. An online search for “World Book Day” returns mostly news articles on where to find the most affordable costumes and news that a Welsh language book will be available for the first time.

Thank you for taking the time to consider these questions

Matt Imrie
Editor: Teen Librarian

*There were 3.9 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2014-15. That’s 28 per cent of children, or 9 in a classroom of 30 and this number is projected to rise by 2020 [source:]

I received a response on Friday the 9th but owing to a school trip and family obligations over the weekend I only received it today. You can read it in full below

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I appreciate the Director Kirsten Grant taking the time to personally respond to my questions, it made for interesting reading and while my fears have not been completely allayed (or answered fully) I look forward to seeing what happens with WBD in the future.

Love, Simon

LOVE, SIMON also stars Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Miles Heizer, Keiynan Lonsdale, Logan Miller, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel and Tony Hale and is directed by Greg Berlanti.

The film is an adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s bestselling 2015 YA novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

The Smoke by Simon Ings

Humanity has been split into three different species. Mutual incomprehension has fractured the globe. As humans race to be the first of their kind to reach the stars, another Great War looms.

For you that means returning to Yorkshire and the town of your birth, where factories churn out the parts for gigantic spaceships. You’re done with the pretentions of the capital and its unfathomable architecture. You’re done with the people of the Bund, their easy superiority and unstoppable spread throughout the city of London and beyond. You’re done with Georgy Chernoy and his questionable defeat of death. You’re done with his daughter, Fel, and losing all the time. You’re done with love.

But soon enough you will find yourself in the Smoke again, drawn back to the life you thought you’d left behind.

You’re done with love. But love’s not done with you.

The Smoke crept in through my eyes and settled under my skin, setting up an itch each time I put the book down, the only scratch that soothed it was picking it up and losing myself in this strangely different earth.

There was a problem though, for me The Smoke was not a book I could read while tired, Simon Ings’ text is richly descriptive, beautiful and compelling but each evening as I lay in bed with my eyes devouring the text, I found myself reading and rereading pages because my weary mind was having difficulty absorbing the story.

So I made a decision to read The Smoke during the day in my lunch hours and during library lessons where I encouraged students to pick a book and read it. Selflessly I read The Smoke to show them how easy it is to sink into an amazing book! How quickly those moments fled when I was immersed in the world that Simon had created, I grew to dread the sound of the school bell ringing signalling the end of my break or the end of a lesson, but I persevered and managed to spend time in this compelling, strange new world and do my job.

The Smoke is a book to take your time with, it’s story will reward you if you do not rush through it!

The Smoke is the kind Science Fiction I love and look out for when I have the time.

The Smoke, written by Simon Ings and published by Orbit Books is out now! I think you should buy it or request it from your local library!

#TeenLibrarian Monthly February 2018

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Blog Tour: A Library Miscellany by Claire Cock-Starkey

Claire Cock-Starkey will be speaking about A Library Miscellany (and The Book Lovers’ Miscellany) at the Oxford Literary Festival on March 20th at 12pm

Visit Claire’s website and follow her on Twitter @nonfictioness

A Library Miscellany FRONT ONLY

Mine by S.A. Partridge

On stage, Fin is Thor. Angry and invincible. Yet for all his potential, people always leave him. Kayla is the only girl he’s ever met who’s worth loving. The only one he’s ever wanted to be worth something for.

Kayla knows she’s weird and unlovable. But she wants to believe there is no reason to be sad anymore.

In each other Fin and Kayla find the only place they’ve ever belonged. Until the ghosts from the past come to break them apart.

This book is something else!

I could tell you that Mine by Sally Partridge is one of the best YA novels I have read this year. Or I could explain (at length) how she has captured the very essence of young love and toxic high school relationships.

Maybe I could try to convince you that this book will resonate with anyone who has been, or is, in love and will recognise the feelings of desire, insecurity and fear that well up as we try to second-guess what the object of affection is thinking or feeling at any given time.

I could, but I won’t – instead I will just say that this book should be an essential part of any YA selection in libraries or in private ownership! Buy it, read it and share it – you will, laugh, you will cry, you will get angry and at the end you will say “Jesus I did not see that coming!” (well that is what I said anyway), I am still not over it – thanks Sally!

Told from the point of view of Fin and Kayla in alternating chapters their passion for each other is so raw and real that it almost hurts to read their story. It is testament to Sally’s skill as a writer that even when our main characters are portrayed at their worst and most unlikable that we never lose the feelings of sympathy and hope for their future.

Mine is a beautiful, broken love story that will remain with you long after you have finished reading.

Mine is published by Human & Rosseau in South Africa and is available now

The Moderately Large World Book Day Quiz 2018


A number of colleagues have mentioned that they are not able to access the slideshare quiz so I have made the powerpoint downloadable below:

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