Resurgent poetry makes longlist for prestigious children's books award

Joseph Coelho's poetry collection will vie against books by Patrick Ness and Katherine Rundell for a place on the Carnegie Medal shortlist

Adi Bloom

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A poetry collection is up against some of the biggest names in contemporary children’s fiction, in the UK’s oldest book award for children’s and young adults’ fiction.

Overheard in a Tower Block, by Joseph Coelho, a poetic narrative about a city childhood, is one of the 20 books to have made it on to the longlist for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, announced today.

If the book makes it on to the shortlist, it will be the first poetry collection by a single author since 1961. The book is part of an resurgeance in popularity of poetry for children: Sarah Crossan's blank-verse novel One won the Carnegie medal in 2016.

The Carnegie longlist includes one debut novel: The Hate U Give, by former teen rapper Angie Thomas. Ms Thomas is competing for the prize against a range of more established authors. These include Katherine Rundell, author of the much-lauded The Explorer, and two-time Carnegie winner Patrick Ness, who has been longlisted for every one of his seven books for young people.

'Fire their imaginations'

The longlist for the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration in a children’s book was also announced today. The 20 longlisted illustrators include Lane Smith, who produced the images for picture-book Penguin Problems, written by John Jory.

Jake Hope, chair of the judging panels for both medals, said: “It is so important that young people growing up today have access to and are represented in books that fire their imaginations and open worlds of possibilities.”

The shortlists for both medals will be announced on Thursday 15 March, and the winners will be announced on Monday 18 June, during an event at the British Library.

The winners will each receive £500 of books, to donate to their local library, as well as a gold medal and £5,000 cash prize.

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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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