Awards · Books

Kate Greenaway Medal 2016: The Longlist

Last year, we showed you some of the best work by artists shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal. We’ve looked at the longlist ahead of the tonight’s nominations, and placed our bets below- how many of these illustrators will make it through to the next round?

Anthony Browne

Nominated for: Willy’s Stories

Read: Voices in the Park (BOOK ZONE 649.58 BRO)

anthony browne

Some artists paint flowers. Some prefer landscapes; some are obsessed with the naked female form. Anthony Browne has chosen a slightly different subject: apes! Willy the Chimp first fought with Buster Nose and his gorilla gang in 1985. Though he had to bulk up a bit, Willy kept his gentle nature- unlike most chimps, he loves to read and daydream, and gets to do both in his new book Willy’s Stories. Once a week Willy walks through an unassuming door into any one of a thousand magical worlds. You might recognise a few: a rabbit hole, a desert island, a pirate ship….Willy is in the library, of course, and with a little imagination, he gets to star in all his favourite stories. Willy was a poster child for National Libraries Day, and the librarians here would love to see him on the Greenaway shortlist. Voices in the Park is a slightly darker story, featuring no less than four gorillas. Each character takes the same route through the local park, and as they encounter each other, we get to hear their own perspective on what is taking place. Dad, who is depressed and out of work, unwittingly disturbs his daughter’s game as her new friend Charles’ mother believes that Dad looks like a “frightful type”. The illustrations help to show how each one views the world- on their way to the park, Dad drags his daughter past a beggar and his chalk graffiti. On the way home, once Dad’s mood has lightened, the paintings seem to dance beneath the streetlights. Voices in the Park is typical of Browne’s work- you should notice something new and unexpected each time you read it (which means you can read it again, and again, and again…)

Bob Graham

Nominated for: How the Sun Got to Coco’s House

Read: How to Heal a Broken Wing (BOOK ZONE 649.58 GRA)

When it gets light outside, it’s time for Coco to get up and play. It’s also time for Kosha to go to market, and time for Alika to leave the mountain and head to the village. The sun has a tight schedule to keep in the latest book by Australian author-illustrator Bob Graham. Graham’s earlier book The Silver Button lasts only a couple of seconds: a child in a high-rise takes its first steps while a man below buys bread and a grandmother heads to the park nearby. Their lives are separate, but together they form the patchwork that comprises their bustling city. The characters in …Coco’s House live miles apart, but they all look out of their windows each morning to greet the sun. The uniting factor in How to Heal a Broken Wing is an injured pigeon who is almost trampled before a small boy stops to take him in. The pigeon ruins the family’s plans for dinner, but forces mum and dad to concentrate on something other than themselves.  On one page, the pigeon is carefully bandaged in front of the TV, which is broadcasting scenes from a war. The small act of kindness portrayed in …Broken Wing is a great example of an author using a little story to highlight a much bigger theme.

Emily Gravett

Nominated for: The Imaginary

Read: Wolves (BOOK ZONE 649.58 GRA)

emily gravett

Wolves is the book within the book which won the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2005. A rabbit borrows Wolves from the library, perhaps in an attempt to calm his nerves. He devours the book (which claims to follows the “National Carroticulum”) and learns some dubious facts about the shadowy creature that lurks around the edges of the page. Wolves uses ambiguity for comic and frightening effect- has the rabbit really failed to notice the wolf? Perhaps the claws and paws are just a product of his anxious mind. Reviews suggest that this book comes with two possible endings: one is happy, the other is not. The Imaginary, written by AF Harrold, is also lacking in cuteness. Rudger is an imaginary friend who is forced to stand alone against the villainous Mr Bunting, a man who not only sees “imaginaries”, but eats them for breakfast! Gravett uses grey for the objects that everyone can see, and colour for the things that are visible only to Rudger. This shows the reader exactly what is at stake: if Rudger loses the fight against Mr Bunting, grey will be the only colour left. A number of frightening tales have been shortlisted for the Greenaway Medal, including 2012 winner A Monster Calls, so it’s not hard to imagine Gravett running off with the prize.

Jackie Morris

Nominated for: Something About a Bear

Find her in: We Are All Born Free (BOOK ZONE 341.48)

julie morris

Something About a Bear is the second book on bears by Jackie Morris. This blog post explores the inspiration for the book, and includes useful links to animal charities (Jackie’s bears have previously starred in Greenpeace literature). You can see how her careful studies of bears in the wild inform her final watercolour paintings; Morris is perhaps the most traditional artist on the longlist, and uses a palette of greens and browns to recreate the bears in their tropical forests. We Are All Born Free is an illustrated version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a set of laws adopted after World War II. Artists assigned themselves one line each, and Morris chose to paint her daughter reading in a hammock to represent the right to “rest from work, and play”. Chris Riddell, another artist on the longlist, used a destructive dinosaur to represent the need for “proper order”! Profits from the sale of We Are All Born Free are donated to Amnesty International, and the artists featured chose to waive their fees. If you would like to purchase your own copy, you can do so here– an audio version is amongst the resources available for teaching staff.

Helen Oxenbury

Nominated for: Captain Jack and the Pirates

Read: Farmer Duck (BOOK ZONE 649.58 ROS)

helen oxenbury

Helen Oxenbury is one half of Suffolk’s most famous literary duo- her husband John Burningham is the creator of picture book hero Mr Gumpy, who drives a motorcar packed with animals around the English countryside! Helen’s own books include Farmer Duck, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and The Quangle Wangle’s Hat– all are perfect for reading aloud, and most librarians can recite at least one by heart… Farmer Duck is suspiciously like Animal Farm– a hardworking duck labours under the rule of a lazy farmer, and when he can take no more, incites the animals to rise up and evict him! “How Goes the Work?” is not as memorable a catchphrase as “Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad”, but reviewers have praised the story’s “socialist values” and “Hegelian dialectic”! Captain Jack and the Pirates is similar to …Bear Hunt: Jack’s boat is made from sand and the pirate crew is only Dad and Grandad! Lots of illustrators use watercolours to paint nostalgic scenes, and Oxenbury’s day at the beach could take place now or in the 1950s: the dads wear knotted hankies and the kids dive into rockpools in their underwear. Captain Jack… might be the most relatable book on the longlist- will it bring home the treasure in 2016?

Chris Riddell

Nominated for: Goth Girl and the Fete Worse than Death and The Sleeper and the Spindle

Read: The Graveyard Book (QUICK READS 823.91 GAI)

chris riddell

We love Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, and we are thrilled that he has earned not one, but two nominations for the Greenaway Medal. The Graveyard Book, just one of his collaborations with author Neil Gaiman, has already been featured on Between the Lines, and Goth Girl… and The Sleeper… are both in the same gothic style. The Sleeper and The Spindle made international news for featuring (spoilers!) a kiss between a sleeping Princess and a Queen. Black and grey ink drawings are accentuated in regal gold, from the Princess’ solid gold hairbrush to the skulls that adorn the Queen’s tapestries. Riddell’s characters have long, straight hair and sloping foreheads not unlike the Lady of Shalott, an artistic decision which places The Sleeper… within the English tradition. Goth Girl… also draws on English art and literature, parodying Frankenstein, Gormenghast and Wuthering Heights as well as modern TV shows and celebrities. Ada Goth is an original creation of Riddell’s, named after Ada Lovelace, the daughter of poet Lord Byron. A born Romantic (identifiable by her wild hair, galumphing boots and empire waist) she is also a talented acrobat, fencer and medium. Goth Girl… fulfils the award criteria that states a book must represent a “complete package”- from the embossed silver cover to the tiny books hidden within, …Goth Girl is like a relic from another period (albeit one visited by Nigella Lawson, Mary Berry and Gordon Ramsay!)

David Roberts

Nominated for: The Bolds

Read: Cinderella: An Art Deco Love Story (BOOK ZONE 398.2 ROB)

david roberts

This blogger believes that David Roberts was ROBBED of the Greenaway Medal last year- his collaboration with Sally Gardner, based on the Hans Christian Anderson story, featured gothic illustrations in red, black and white, making Tinder the perfect story for a winter’s night. The Bolds by comedian Julian Clary has more in common with Octodad than any dark fairytale: a family of hyenas have managed to conceal their furry nature from all but one of their neighbours. Mr Bold has even found his perfect job- writing Christmas cracker jokes! Will their nosy neighbour make good on his threats and tell the police about their non-stop laughter? Or will a trip to the local wildlife park convince the Bolds to go back to the Savannah? The Bold’s disguises- 80’s glasses, three-piece suits and spotty socks- only emphasise their animal attributes, and the supporting cast of ‘naked’ animals are equally expressive. With a change of costume, the Bolds would feel at home in Roberts’ version of Cinderella, which has a cameo from ‘20’s heroine Josephine Baker and her pet cheetah Chiquita. Cinderella is set in New York at the height of the art deco movement (picture the Chrysler Building and the Rockefeller centre) where princesses wear shift dresses, feathered tiaras and long false eyelashes. Roberts is equally adept at conveying horror and comedy, and we think he deserves the same fame as Julian Clary!

The Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist will be announced sometime today. Has your favourite artist made the cut? Tell us who you think should win over on our Facebook page.



Browne, A (2015) Inspiration for Willy the Wimp Available at: (Accessed: 15/03/2016)

Vernon Barford School Blue Chamelion [Arabic] accessed at on 15/03/2016

Morris, J (2011) Amnesty International, We Are All Born Free Available at: (Accessed: 15/03/2016)

Wong, T Helen Oxenbury accessed at on 15/03/2016

Gaiman, N (2015) Have I Actually Been Eaten By A Bear? Available at (Accessed: 15/03/2016)

Roberts, D (2016) Dinner time at the Bolds house ! Available at (Accessed: 15/03/2016)





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