The Carnegie Medal has been given to outstanding children’s authors since 1936. Named for Scottish industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who funded almost 3,000 libraries with the money he made from American steel, the award includes £500 worth of books and an actual gold medal- you might have seen the award winner’s stamp on some of your favourite books. This year’s nominees were announced on 17th March, and four of them can be found in the Information Store:
Nominated for: Tinder
Read: The Red Necklace (823.91 GAR)
Sally Gardner is severely dyslexic, and didn’t learn to read until she was 14. Her latest book Tinder is a retelling of The Tinderbox by fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen. It features over 100 pages of drawings of werewolves, witches and chickens by David Roberts, who is nominated for a Kate Greenaway award for children’s illustrators.
Sally originally trained as a theatre technician, like the gypsy boy Yann in The Red Necklace. Yann is a masterful magician and ventriloquist, but may possess a power that makes him the real thing. He is compelled to return to France in the grip of the bloody Revolution to rescue Sido, an aristocrat’s daughter doomed to marry the murderous Count Kallivoski. Some reviewers were unimpressed by Sido, who is very much a damsel in distress, but her gilded cage offers a contrast to Yann’s life on the run. Will she die in the hands of the peasant class, or find her way to freedom?
Nominated for: The Fastest Boy in the World
Read: Crusade (823.91 LAI)
Elizabeth Laird collects Ethiopian folk tales, and was inspired to write The Fastest Boy after watching the Team Ethiopia in the 2012 Olympics. Eleven year old Solomon dreams of being an athlete and is undaunted by the prospect of a 20 mile walk, if it means he’ll get to see the national team in the country’s capital. On arriving in the city, his grandfather collapses, and Solomon has to get home to find some help. 20 miles with no shoes and a life hanging in the balance- will he make it?
The leads in Crusade are also up against the odds. Adam works for an English knight, intent on reclaiming the Holy Land. Salim is apprenticed to a Jewish doctor who serves the Muslim Sultan Saladin. Both are trapped in a siege that has already lasted a year and a half, with both the Christians and the Muslims convinced that God is on their side. Different faiths are still at war in almost every corner of the world, and Laird is not afraid of gory details- this novel takes a hard look at what it meant to be religious when religious leaders were decidedly immoral.
Nominated for: Buffalo Soldier
Read: Apache (823.91 LAN)
Another historical novel, this time set at the end of the American Civil War. Charlotte may be freed from slavery, but she is homeless, penniless and surrounded by men who want to see her dead. Her only option is to disguise herself and sign up with Company W, a regiment sent to pacify native tribesmen. “Charley” quickly bonds with the other black “Buffalo” soldiers, who are encouraged to view the Apache as savages, lower than slaves. But she can’t understand why the “Washington men” who freed her people are willing to break every promise they made to the natives, and starts to view her freedom as a broken promise too.
Buffalo Soldier can be read alongside Apache, Landman’s earlier novel set around the same time. Siki’s entire family are dead, and only warriors can avenge their families. After proving herself to be better at fighting than many young men, she travels across the Mexican border to meet with the tribe who murdered her brother and mother. Both Siki and Charley adopt traditionally masculine roles in order to cope with their loss. As well as their respective enemies, they both have to battle the notion that women are worth less than men, with black women worth even less. Apache was a Carnegie nominee- can Buffalo Solider win this year?
Nominated for: More Than This
Read: The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men (823.92 NES)
Seth drowns, then wakes up outside on his street in England. Strangely, Seth left England for America 8 years ago, and England seems abandoned and overgrown… Critics called this novel a ‘philosophical thriller’, and drew comparisons with Mad Max, Tron, The Maze Runner and Ness’ award-winning novel A Monster Calls. Little information is available online, and we won’t spoil you here, but the open door on the cover is supposed to be a clue.
The Chaos Walking trilogy is just as complex. Todd lives in a town without women, where everyone can hear each other’s thoughts. His adorable ‘talking’ dog Manchee (yes, we get to hear animal thoughts as well!) discovers the wreck of a spaceship and a single survivor, a silent girl named Viola. The books that follow feature a war on terror, an alien uprising and the arrival of a fleet of unconscious settlers. Occasional pages covered in scribbles show us exactly what Todd and Viola are up against- how can you plan a rebellion when you literally cannot hear yourself think? The violence is sometimes gratuitous (each book contains multiple heart-wrenching deaths) but we in the Information Store have yet to meet anyone who could put these books down! For what it’s worth, my bet is on Patrick Ness.