May the best book win

The judges have picked the contenders for this year's top children's book awards. But your vote counts in the search for the all-time winners, says Geraldine Brennan

The UK's most prestigious children's book awards are the CILIP Carnegie Medal for authors (70 years old this year) and the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for illustrators (50 years old this year). With celebrations of the big birthdays and a poll for the all-time winners planned for the summer term, here's the shortlist for this year's medals, with the judges'


Carnegie Medal shortlist (novels)

The Road of the Dead By Kevin Brooks (Chicken House)

Two East End brothers seek to solve and avenge their sister's murder.

"Original, fast-paced storytelling" and "superb writing", say the judges.


A Swift Pure Cry

By Siobhan Dowd (David Fickling Books)

An Irish girl copes with pregnancy, an alcoholic father and a repressive home life. "The storytelling is humorous but never sentimental. The take on religion is not predictable and the outcome extraordinarily life-affirming."


The Road of Bones By Anne Fine (Doubleday)

A boy's journey through a totalitarian state based on Stalin's Russia.

"Brave and uncompromising", "Will have political resonance for young people", "Incredibly well written".


Beast By Ally Kennen (Marion Lloyd Books)

A boy about to leave foster care struggles to build a relationship with his birth father while tending a greedy giant reptile in secret. "A sensitive portrayal of what it's like to be in care... incredibly touching. Well constructed and full of suspense."


Just in Case By Meg Rosoff (Penguin)

Focuses on a depressed teenage boy's concerns about life, image and relationships. "Real emotional resonance", "A distinctive book written in an intelligent, yet spare style". 14-plus

My Swordhand is Singing By Marcus Sedgwick (Orion)

A story with a gothic horror flavour, rooted in the vampire myths of Eastern Europe. "Underlying menace and suspense throughout but it is never overdone." 10-plus

Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist (picture books)

The Elephantom By Ross Collins (Templar)

"A lovely 1980's disco feel, complete with a whiff of art nouveau" in this tale of a child haunted by a hyperactive elephant and his friends. 6-plus

Orange Pear Apple Bear By Emily Gravett (Macmillan)

While the bear juggles the fruit, Emily Gravett juggles still life paintings and a rhyming text for young children. "Deceptively straightforward book... exposes the youngest readers to real artistic skill, humour, the use of punctuation and healthy eating in one short picture book... an instant classic." 1-plus

The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon By Mini Grey (Jonathan Cape)

Picks up the story of Hey Diddle Diddle with a 1920's film noir flavour, as the dish and the spoon enjoy success as a circus act before a brush with the villainous cutlery. "There is real vitality in the drawings and the bold inky lines add drama." 6-plus

Scoop! An Exclusive by Monty Molenski By John Kelly and Cathy Tinknell (Templar)

How junior reporter Monty gets the splash at The Daily Roar. "A quality production with a layout that is easy to follow, a speedy, gripping feel to it and big meaty spreads which incorporate lots of interesting detail...

visually literate and laugh-out-loud funny." 8-plus

Augustus and His Smile By Catherine Rayner (Little Tiger)

Augustus, a Siberian tiger, doesn't have much to be happy about, but he chases his lost smile in ink and watercolour through forests, mountains, deserts and his favourite waterhole.

"Fresh and appealing... broad loose strokes reflect the beauty of the animal and give him expression and emotion. The whole has a zen-like simplicity but it is also a physical book which draws you in." 3-plus

The Emperor of Absurdia By Chris Riddell (Macmillan)

A small boy's imagination transforms his bedroom into a magic land where he hunts dragons and battles with wardrobe monsters. "Glorious use of colour in this interesting and engaging picture book... It cleverly gives the reader the impression of moving physically into its landscape."



The Carnegie and Greenaway all-time winners are to be chosen by public vote from the top 10 past winners for each medal being announced today.

The polls close on June 14, with the Carnegie of Carnegies and Greenaway of Greenaways announced alongside this year's winners on June 21.

Voting details, news of celebration book festivals and downloadable resources can be found at

Resources include packs on past Carnegie winners for Year 7 and above, and visual literacy packs (for primary schools and family reading groups) based on past Kate Greenaway winners.

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