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>> Where the World Ends wins Carnegie Medal

Where the World Ends wins Carnegie Medal

Where the World Ends wins Carnegie Medal

Geraldine McCaughrean has won the Carnegie Medal for her powerful novel, Where the World Ends (Usborne Books) while Canadian illustrator Sydney Smith wins the Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustrations of Joanne Schwartz's Town Is by the Sea (Walker Books).

McCaughrean's win comes 30 years after her first Carnegie Medal for A Pack of Lies in 1988; she is also the most shortlisted author in the history of the prize.

Where the World Ends was inspired by an historical record from 18th century St Kilda and explores the fates of a group of men and boys who find themselves stranded on a remote and inhospitable sea stac after their return boat mysteriously fails to turn up.

On winning the Medal, McCaughrean said, "When I won the Carnegie 30 years ago, it felt like a licence to go on writing - to call myself an author. I am almost ashamed of how much I wanted to win again - just to prove to myself that it wasn't a fluke!"

The Town is By the Sea picture book which won the Kate Greenaway Medal depicts a day in the life of a boy growing up in a coal mining town in the 1950s. The images contrast the child's life of play with that of the adult world of work; the bright world above ground is juxtaposed with the perilous subterranean world of a mining pit. Smith visited a miner's museum in Cape Breton's Glace Bay, where the story is set, and took inspiration for his expressive brush work from Impressionist artists such as J.M.W. Turner.

Smith said: "Although this story is specific to a place and a time, the context of childhood is universal. There is something so beautiful about the universality of the complicated richness of youth. It is a dream come true to see my work, crafted from my heart, for family and my home to be honoured by the highest of praises. There is no better feeling than to be recognized for something that was created with sincerity and joy. I regard this honour as a challenge to continue to work with such tools."

At the ceremony, McCaughrean gave an impassioned speech, petitioning against the dumbing down of language in children's literature and stressing the importance of children and young people's right to language, expression and information. She praised her fellow Medals nominees for their unflinching look at difficult subject matter, from the Black Lives Matter movement to bullying and depression.

She said, "Fiction can achieve marvellous things, especially inside individual heads, not least when it subtly nudge-nudge-nudges the reader towards minding more, thinking more, asking questions.

"It's been said often in recent years that 'literary' fiction for young people has had its day. We master words by meeting them, not by avoiding them. The only way to make books - and knowledge - accessible is to give children the necessary words. And how has that always been done? By adult conversation and reading.

"Since when has one generation ever doubted and pitied the next so much that it decides not to burden them with the full package of the English language but to feed them only a restricted diet of simple worlds? The worst and most wicked outcome of all would be that we deliberately and wantonly create an underclass of citizens with a small but functional vocabulary: easy to manipulate and lacking in the means to reason their way out of subjugation, because you need words to be able to think for yourself.

"In my opinion, young readers should be bombarded with words like gamma rays, steeped in words like pot plants stood in water, pelted with them like confetti, fed on them like alphabetti spaghetti, given Hamlet's last resort: "Words. Words. Words."

The Amnesty CILIP Honour commendations were also announced. From the CILIP Carnegie Medal shortlist, the Honour went to American debut author Angie Thomas for The Hate U Give (Walker Books). Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, it tells the story of 16-year-old Starr following the fatal shooting of a best friend by a white police officer.

The Amnesty CILIP Honour from the Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist went to British artist and former Medal winner (Black Dog, 2013) Levi Pinfold for his black and white illustrations in The Song from Somewhere Else by A.F. Harrold (Bloomsbury). The book explores friendship, betrayal, acceptance and doing what's right.


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