Awards · Books · Competitions

The Carnegie Longlist: Part One

We really feel for the judges who had to narrow the Carnegie Medal longlist down to just eight novels. You can find books by eighteen of the nominated authors in the Info Store, and since we lack the judges’ discernment, we’re going to share all of them! You can find out more about the Carnegie Medal and read students’ reviews of the final eight shortlisters here.

John Agard

Nominated for: Book

Find him in: A Caribbean Dozen (BOOK ZONE 649.58 AGA)

Book is a book narrated by….a book! If you’ve ever wondered how we got from paintings on cave walls to the Amazon Kindle, check out this thought-provoking paperback (that has been 16 years in the making!) As well as poems by the author and his friends, you can find extracts from playwright Bertolt Brecht (who criticised the Nazi’s book-burning policy) and illustrations from medieval manuscripts. John Agard is perhaps most famous for his poem Half-Caste, which is studied at GCSE. He appears alongside BAME poets like Grace Nichols in A Caribbean Dozen, which is written partly in Jamaican patois. Each of the 12 poems is written to evoke the author’s childhood, and food and fairy tales are both popular subjects. You can watch John Agard reading his poetry here.

John Agard

John Agard reads his famous poem Half-Caste from his 2005 book of the same name

David Almond

Nominated for: A Song for Ella Grey

Read: The Savage (QUICK READS 823.91 ALM)

A Song for Ella Grey won the Guardian prize for children’s fiction in 2015, but critics (including children’s author Lynne Reid Banks) weren’t sure that a book containing drinking, swearing and lesbian sex belonged in that category. The book is a modern adaptation of the myth of Orpheus, in which the musician fails to save his wife Eurydice from the Underworld. …Ella Grey is narrated by Eurydice/Ella’s best friend Claire, who has her heart broken twice when Ella marries Orpheus and then dies shortly after. The lyrical prose can be hard to decipher- the story isn’t told chronologically and contains a lot of Northumbrian dialect- but you won’t require a Classical education. The narrator of The Savage, Blue, is asked to keep a diary to come to terms with the death of his father. Instead, he writes the story of a violent boy who gets revenge on the bullies who pick on Blue. When the boy who mocked Blue’s father is beaten up in the middle of the night, Blue is convinced that he has brought his Savage creation to life… Illustrator Dave McKean uses sickly blues and greens and animalistic poses to bring the Savage to life, from his drooling mouth packed with too many teeth to his prominent ribs, bare feet and tightly-clenched fists. Music and violence both prove poor weapons against the dead.

David Almond

This will not end well….in this 1900 painting by John William Waterhouse, the severed head of Orpheus gets tangled in his lyre

Cat Clarke

Nominated for: The Lost and The Found

Read: Falling (QUICK READS 823.92 CLA)

Falling is part of our Quick Reads collection, for students with learning differences like dyslexia (or just those who prefer short stories to lengthier texts) Anna’s best friend Tilly has just come out as gay, and Anna’s determined to use the end of year party to set her up with the only other out girl in the school. Clarke creates a huge amount of tension in 70 pages, realising complex characters without relying on tokenistic traits.  The Lost and The Found is a similarly detailed exploration of the fall-out resulting from a media frenzy. Laurel was abducted at age 6 and reappears at age 19, clutching her childhood teddy bear. Her younger sister Faith, who was a witness to the kidnapping, has lived through her parents’ divorce, countless prank calls and attacks from paparazzi. The family is finally back together, but why is Laurel’s mother courting the press- and what does Laurel have to hide from her sister? Kidnappings like the Ariel Castro case have inspired successful novels like Room and The Bunker Diaries and TV series like Thirteen and Kimmy Schmidt. Will this YA perspective connect with the Carnegie judges?

Cat Clarke

Cat Clarke takes part in a discussion at YALC London

Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Nominated for: The Astounding Broccoli Boy

Read: Cosmic (QUICK READS 823.91 BOY)

Broccoli: is it really Astounding? There are plenty of green superheroes (Green Hornet, The Hulk, Green Arrow) so Rory isn’t too concerned when his skin turns a sickly shade. School bully Tommy-Lee (known to his victims as Grim) has also gone green, but fancies himself as the villainous Green Goblin. The boys strike up a friendship in the confines of the hospital, but Tommy-Lee doesn’t want to team up with a hero. Like all good superhero stories, …Broccoli Boy takes a normal kid and puts him in a scary situation. How he deals with what’s in store will inform the way he acts when he’s out of costume. In Cosmic, an exceptionally tall 11 year old pretends to be his best friend’s dad to win a trip into space! His knowledge of World of Warcraft puts him one step ahead of the other “dads”, who are not afraid to cheat on behalf of their spoilt offspring. This story is very reminiscent of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with Liam taking on the role of Charlie and Grandpa Joe! …Broccoli Boy is one of a few light-hearted entries in a competition that traditionally rewards dark, thought-provoking stories. Let’s hope the judges like their veggies!

Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Frank Cottrell-Boyce has also written an official sequel to Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (yes, that Ian Fleming!)

Sally Gardner

Nominated for: The Door That Led to Where

Read: The Red Necklace (QUICK READS 823.91 GAR

The Red Necklace was one of Eleanor’s entries in 2015’s Six Book Challenge. Sally Gardner jumps forward in time from the French Revolution of 1799 to 1830’s Clerkenwell in The Door That Led to Where. Protagonist AJ has failed all his exams except for English. He somehow lands an internship at a law firm, and finds a key in the archives under his real name. This opens a door to Victorian London, where a meeting with the author Charles Dickens leads to run-ins with the law. The Door That Led to Where is a ‘lost generation’ story for the 2010’s. AJ’s life is seemingly without purpose until he realises the ‘useless’ skills he learnt at school might help save thousands of Londoners. But how much chaos will his interference cause in the modern day? TDTLTW has been criticised by fans of traditional sci-fi for misinterpreting the accepted time-travel paradox- AJ’s father dies in the past, so AJ shouldn’t exist! But Gardner has an undisputed eye for historical detail- put your sci-fi standards aside (this is fiction, after all!) and allow yourself to be transported.

Sally Gardner

AJ finds the key to his family’s past in a dusty legal library 

Toby Ibbotson

Nominated for: Mountwood School for Ghosts

Read: The Beasts of Clawstone Castle by Eva Ibbotson (QUICK READS 823.91 IBB)

Mountwood School for Ghosts is the first book by Toby Ibbotson, the eldest son of Eva Ibbotson, who died in 2010. Her book The Beasts of Clawstone Castle has been compared to Coraline– 11 year old Madlyn and her little brother Rollo plan to use ghosts to draw tourists away from the pristine palace next door. A Bloodstained Bride, a pair of feet and a taxi driver make the cut and become the stars of a real haunted house attraction- will character triumph over Capitalism? Mountwood School for Ghosts was conceived by Eva before her death, and her son has added a fittingly bloodthirsty ending. Fredegonda, Drusilla and Goneril (!) set up a school for ghosts who find it hard to scare modern-day children. Their expertise proves useful when the local park is threatened- demolition men and councillors don’t scare easily! The story is not that different to …Clawstone Castle (ghosts and kids team up to prove that ‘new’ doesn’t always mean ‘better) but Toby is more than just a shadow of his mother. Will Mountwood… add another medal to the Ibbotson’s collection?

Toby Ibbotson

A bloodstained bride could help to turn a Scottish castle into a tourist attraction

Michelle Magorian

Nominated for: Impossible!

Read: Goodnight Mister Tom (QUICK READS 823.91 MAG)

This is not the first time Michelle Magorian has written about the theatre. Cuckoo in the Nest saw a young man called Ralph quit his job in the pit and rise through the ranks of an ailing Rep company; Impossible! takes place a decade later, but 1960s London is worlds apart from the rural North. 12 year-old Josie attends a theatre school that is really more like a young lady’s training academy- she is repeatedly told she lacks the refinement and beauty to be a stage actress, but manages to score a role as a boy in a low-brow comedy. After she is mistaken for a real boy and locked in a dockside warehouse, Josie seeks refuge with Joan Littlewood, the real-life founder of Theatre Workshop and director of London-based plays like Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be. Michelle excels at writing about “cuckoos” who find they fare better the farther they are from their blood family. In Goodnight Mister Tom, a crotchety old widower is forced to house a refugee from London. The boy, William, is coaxed out of his shell by Tom, who nurtures his talent for painting and teaches him to finally read and write. William is summoned back to London, and Tom is dismayed when he doesn’t receive any letters. A trip to London reveals that William is living in squalor, beaten and chained by his drunk, abusive mother. Tom faces a battle to keep William safe from the authorities, who believe he belongs with a younger mother and father. Goodnight Mister Tom is nostalgic at times, but its portrayal of childhood abuse and a lengthy recovery is considered to be the best in children’s literature. We are intrigued by Michelle’s decision to cast a real person in Impossible!, especially as Joan was a controversial figure (blacklisted by the BBC, she was tailed by MI5 for years for displaying Communist sympathies)

Michelle Magorian

Director Joan Littlewood appears in Michelle Magorian’s novel Impossible! 

Check back for part two of our Carnegie round-up. If you can’t wait, read our posts on the 2016 and 2015 Kate Greenaway Medals and our review of last year’s Carnegie nominees.


rudy0help John Agard in Southampton accessed at on 15/03/2016 Nymphs Finding the Head of Orpheus accessed at on 17/03/2016

Eleanor YALC ‘I’m Too Sexy for This Book!’ Talk accessed at on 15/03/2016

Thompson, A Varied Photos 004 accessed at on 15/03/2016

Jeff Prelinger Library accessed at on 17/03/2016

Simpson, T The Bride accessed at on 17/03/2016

Stratfordeast English: Joan Littlewood accessed at on 17/03/2016


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