Two major children’s lit award shortlists were announced this weekend. I love the UK award lists; their selections are always varied and I’ve generally read more than half of them. Confession: I am a bit of an Anglophile, at least when it comes to children’s fiction.
On the CILIP Carnegie side of things, there is some stiff, stiff competition. I wouldn’t want to be part of the panel that decides which of those books takes the crown. The dark horse for me is Helen Grant’s The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, which is very European in style and tone. In a nutshell, the book is a mystery set in a small German town in which young girls are disappearing. I found this book chilling and strangely compelling. The tone is set in the very first chapter, in which the narrator describes how a relative spontaneously combusts during a family gathering. The atmosphere is relentlessly ominous, which may not suit everyone’s reading tastes, but makes for suspenseful reading.
As for the Kate Greenaway Medal, I’m cheering for the delightful There Are Cats in this Book by Viviane Schwatrz. Just try reading it without laughing. In this fantastic read aloud, a trio of colourful, frisky kittens cajoles the reader into playing with them by turning pages, blowing on their fur and playing hide and seek. In short, these fictional felines have humans at their beck and call. Just like real cats.
Neil Gaiman’s Newbery-award winning The Graveyard Book shows up on both lists. I’m particularly happy for Chris Riddell, who’s illustrations are as integral to the novel as Gaiman’s text. Riddell’s robots gone wild picture book Wendell’s Workshop is one of my go-to picture book standards, so I’m pleased to see him getting recognition.
Of course I always love to compare the UK covers to the Canadian or North American covers. I think it’s interesting that the UK cover of Phillip Reeve’s Fever Crumb explicitly links this stand-alone to the world of Mortal Engines. The Canadian cover is much darker and features a very Natalie-Portman-in V-for-Vendetta image. I’m hardpressed to say which cover is more effective. Either way, this is a great book and could also take top prize. Winners of both medals will be announced on June 24th; time to get reading!