Graveyard Book wins Carnegie for Gaiman

<p>Neil Gaiman and Freya Blackwood were crowned winners of the 2010 CILIP Carnegie Medal and the 2010 Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration respectively at a joint ceremony at Bafta in London on Thursday. </p><p>Gaiman triumphed with<em> The Graveyard Book</em> (Bloomsbury), a novel that was some 25 years in the making, and flew in from the US for the ceremony. Making the journey from Australia, illustrator Freya Blackwood won for <em>Harry &amp; Hopper</em> by Margaret Wild (Scholastic). </p><p>The awards are selected by specialist children&rsquo;s librarians and are regarded as the highest children&rsquo;s literary awards in the UK. </p><p>Gaiman&rsquo;s novel has already scooped the Newbury Medal in the US; he is the first author to achieve both awards. However, the author admits that he nearly abandoned his idea for the book several times. </p><p>He said: &ldquo;The idea of The Graveyard Book, where a baby wanders into a graveyard and is adopted by ghosts, first came to me when I was a young father. I took my son to ride his tricycle in a graveyard across the road from our house and he looked so comfortable playing in the graveyard that the idea started to take shape.&rdquo; </p><p>Gaiman also took inspiration from The Jungle Book in which a young child is adopted by an alien community. However, he said: &ldquo;At that stage I thought the idea was a much better idea than I was a writer so I decided I would wait to write it.&rdquo; </p><p>He made several visits to graveyards and wrote&mdash;and abandoned&mdash;several chapters. It was not until his daughter asked him to complete the book that he decided to finish it.</p><p>Having done so, Gaiman said he took an unusual pride in this book. &ldquo;Normally I have a book in my head and when I write it, I am trying to catch the Platonic ideal of that book&mdash;but it always seems like such a sad failure.&rdquo; In this case, he said: &ldquo;The book in my head was really good but the one I wrote somehow managed to be better. </p><p>&ldquo;I realised I had written a book about life and childhood and the value of childhood, but it is also a book about the tragedy of parenting because if you do well as a parent, your child will grow up and leave you&rdquo; </p><p>Bloomsbury published two versions of the book, one for children and another for adults. The children&rsquo;s version is illustrated by Chris Riddell and it was also shortlisted for this year&rsquo;s Greenaway Medal, the first time that a book has appeared on both shortlists for 30 years. Dave McKean illustrated the adult edition. </p><p>Gaiman said: &ldquo;Illustration adds another dimension to a story. If it is done well, the illustration becomes indivisible from the text in a magical and special way.&rdquo;</p>