Chris Riddell has broken records by becoming the first illustrator to win three CILIP Kate Greenaway medals, picking up the prestigious award today (20th June) for The Sleeper and the Spindle (written by Neil Gaiman). He is also the first reigning children’s laureate to win the medal.
This year also marks the first time one company – Bloomsbury Children’s Books – has published the winners of both awards, when the awards go to different titles.
Sioned Jacques, chair of the 2016 judging panel, said Riddell and Crossan were a “thrilling” pair of winners. “Sarah’s book, One, is poignant and thought-provoking, each chapter a poem that is a work of art in its own right, while collectively they create a highly emotive and engaging story," Jacques said. "The judges found it deeply moving, beautifully observed, unusual but perfectly crafted – the sort of book that will stay with the reader long after the final page.”
Jacques added: “We were blown away by Chris Riddell’s work in The Sleeper and the Spindle; he is surely at the height of his powers. His illustrations lift this re-told tale into high art, offering sumptuous pleasures on every page. The more one looks at his pictures the more one notices: subtlety and complexity, the clever use of such a limited palette, the daring use of solid black areas – no space is wasted.”
Riddell and Crossan were both given a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize and £500 worth of books to donate to their local library.
Riddell (left), who previously won the Kate Greenaway medal in 2002 for Pirate Diary and in 2004 for Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver (both published by Walker Books), said he was “honoured and humbled” to accept the award.
He praised librarians for being “pretty amazing people” who “love turning children into readers by teaching them one of the most important life skills you can acquire, which is reading for pleasure”. He also thanked his publisher Bloomsbury Children’s Books for giving him “96 pages and gold as a second colour”.
Crossan, who was previously shortlisted for the Carnegie medal in 2013 for The Weight of Water and 2015 for Apple and Rain, also spoke about her support for the British library system, whose closures “infuriated” her. She also called for more industry support of poetry, saying children inherently “trust poetry” at a young age “and then we kill it for them by around Year 8 with testing leaving no space for joy or performance”.
This year the judges also awarded ‘Amnesty CILIP Honours’ to one book on the Carnegie shortlist and another on the Kate Greenaway shortlist for titles which celebrate human rights. From the Carnegie shortlist, the honour went to Robin Talley for Lies We Tell Ourselves (Harlequin Teen), whilst from the Kate Greenaway list it was given to Ross Collins for There’s a Bear on My Chair (Nosy Crow).
Nicky Parker, chair of judges for the Amnesty CILIP Honour, said: “We are very proud to announce the first ever children’s book award to celebrate human rights. The best books are more than plot and character, they give children the empathy and confidence to stand up and shape their world for the better - and we need to give children that power today, more than ever.
Ross Collins, Sarah Crossan and Chris Riddell at the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards 2016 ceremony.
The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016 shortlist in full:
One by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan)
There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury)
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (Walker Books)
Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders (Faber)
The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick (Indigo)
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (Mira Ink)
Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine (HarperCollins)
The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2016 shortlist in full:
Willy’s Stories illustrated and written by Anthony Browne (Walker Books)
There’s a Bear on My Chair illustrated and written by Ross Collins (Nosy Crow)
Once Upon an Alphabet illustrated and written by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins)
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett (Walker Books)
Something About a Bear illustrated and written by Jackie Morris (Frances Lincoln)
Captain Jack and the Pirates illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, written by Peter Bently (Puffin)
The Sleeper and the Spindle illustrated by Chris Riddell, written by Neil Gaiman (Bloomsbury)
Footpath Flowers illustrated by Sydney Smith, written by JonArno Lawson (Walker Books)
Pictures: © Rolf Marriott.