A Monster Calls (Walker Books) written by Patrick Ness and illustrated by Jim Kay, has become the first book ever to win both the CILIP Carnegie and CILIP Kate Greenaway Medals.
Ness is also only the second author to win the award in consecutive years (the first being Peter Dickinson in 1979 and 1980), having won in 2011 for Monsters of Men.
Ness, whose book explores the feelings of grief and anger of a boy with a terminally ill mother, used his acceptance speech to condemn the prevailing view of today’s teenagers: “The worst thing our current government and, in fact, we as a culture do about teenagers is that we only seem to discuss them in negative terms. What they can’t do, what they aren’t achieving. Why have we allowed that to happen?”
The author also criticised education minister Michael Gove as a “man with no classroom teaching experience” who viewed teenagers as “laboratory animals to be experimented upon”, particularly slating Gove’s “demonisation” of “hardworking, dedicated teachers for no other reason, it seems, than because they disagree with his policies, which include – incredibly – the idea that private companies making a profit on tax-funded schools might be an okay thing.”
Ness spoke movingly of his own teenage years, and the need for empathy and support for young people going through the challenges of adolescence.
“I was the gay, preppy, deeply anxious son of American fundamentalist Christians,” he said. “I couldn’t have felt more different than if I’d had a tail. I yearned for someone to tell me that I was all right, that everything was going to be all right.”
In his speech, Ness also cited success of the Carnegie shadowing site and its 13,000 reviews posted in three months by young people, and paid tribute to his readers.