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Too many cooks are a feast for the eye

THE top award for children's writers, the Carnegie Medal, has gone to David Almond for his novel Skellig, one of the most talked-about books of last year.

Mr Almond is taking a sabbatical from teaching at Southlands special school in North Tyneside to write. Skellig, the story of Michael and the angel-like figure who helps him through a bad patch, has already won the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year award. A second novel, Kit's Wilderness, has had rave reviews and a third, Heaven Eyes, will be published later this year by Hodder Signature.

The matching award for picture books, the Kate Greenaway Medal, has gone to Helen Cooper for Pumpkin Soup (published by Doubleday), making her the first artist to win the medal for two consecutive books (The Baby Who Wouldn't Go To Bed took the prize in 1997).

Pumpkin Soup tells how rivalry between friends shatters the calm of the pumpkin patch when Duck tries to get control of Squirrel's ladle. "A visual feast," said The TES review last year. "Such is Cooper's command of technical effects, you can almost taste the colours, touch the textures and lose yourself in the autumnal landscape."

The Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are awarded by the Library Association and were presented by Jeremy Paxman at the British Library this week.

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