Books celebrating the importance of friendships and family bonds, as well as promoting environmentalism, acceptance, kindness and bravery, have been recognised in the eight-strong shortlists for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, both of which also show the continued popularity of verse.
Selected by volunteer Youth Librarians from longlists of 20 books per medal, the chosen titles are said to reflect "the very best in children’s writing and illustration published in the UK".
In the mix are three debuts: Dean Atta is shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal with The Black Flamingo, illustrated by Anshika Khullar (Hachette Children's Group), while author and illustrator Beth Waters is in the running for the Kate Greenaway Medal for Child of St Kilda (Child's Play) alongside 2013 winner Levi Pinfold for The Dam, written by David Almond (Walker Books). A translated book has been shortlisted for the first time in Carnegie Medal history with the inclusion of Lampie (Pushkin Children's Books), a debut novel written originally in Dutch by Annet Schaap and translated by Laura Watkinson.
Meanwhile. several books on the shortlist tell stories that champion the importance of community, friendships and family bonds in overcoming challenging moments.
The shortlist for the Kate Greenaway Medal includes The Suitcase (Nosy Crow), a picture book written and illustrated by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros that introduces the idea of kindness to strangers and those in need to young children, and You're Snug with Me (Lantana Publishing), illustrated by Poonam Mistry and written by Chitra Soundar, all about a mother’s love, as a bear teaches her two cubs the secrets of the Earth and their place in it.
The Carnegie shortlist includes Lark, a book written with dyslexic readers in mind by Anthony McGowan, exploring the special bond between brothers ahead of a visit from their mum, who abandoned them a long time ago. It competes with another book about siblings, Nowhere on Earth, written by Nick Lake, in which a teenage girl and her little brother survive a plane crash and must protect each other from the men hunting them.
The continued popularity of verse as a storytelling medium is also reflected in this year’s Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals. Atta’s The Black Flamingo, illustrated by Khullar, uses verse to tell the story of a mixed-race gay teen on a journey of self-acceptance as he spreads his wings as a drag performer, and The Undefeated illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander (Andersen Press), as well as highlighting the struggle to overcome stereotypes, blending lyrics into a powerful poem exploring slavery. Books in the running from Walker Books, which did particularly well with two titles per shortlist, also have verse woven into their stories.
The 2020 shortlists are as follows:
2020 CILIP Carnegie Medal shortlist (alphabetical by author surname):
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, illustrated by Anshika Khullar (Hachette Children's Group)
Nowhere on Earth by Nick Lake (Hachette Children's Group)
Lark by Anthony McGowan (Barrington Stoke)
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (Little Tiger)
Lampie written and illustrated by Annet Schaap and translated by Laura Watkinson (Pushkin Children's Books)
Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black by Marcus Sedgwick and Julian Sedgwick, illustrated by Alexis Deacon (Walker Books)
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (Walker Books)
Girl. Boy. Sea. by Chris Vick (Head of Zeus)
2020 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist (alphabetical by illustrator surname):
You're Snug with Me illustrated by Poonam Mistry and written by Chitra Soundar (Lantana Publishing)
The Iron Man illustrated by Chris Mould and written by Ted Hughes (Faber & Faber)
The Suitcase written and illustrated by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros (Nosy Crow)
The Undefeated illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander (Andersen Press)
The Dam illustrated by Levi Pinfold and written by David Almond (Walker Books)
Mary and Frankenstein illustrated by Júlia Sardà and written by Linda Bailey (Andersen Press)
Tales from the Inner City written and illustrated by Shaun Tan (Walker Books)
Child of St Kilda written and illustrated by Beth Waters (Child's Play)
Julia Hale, chair of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, said: "It’s a pleasure to present this dynamic and thought-provoking shortlist, which seems prescient of children and young people’s concerns today. Although each book is uniquely original, there are some commonalities that have emerged. Survival, the environment and the persisting inequalities and prejudices in our world today were themes that came through strongly. As a positive response to these challenges, the shortlists offer solace by displaying the awesome beauty of the natural world, human determination and courage, kindness and support which were frequent touchstones throughout these remarkable books.
"We are so looking forward to sharing them with the shadowing groups across the UK and internationally as there is something here for every reader, to provoke much discussion and sheer reading enjoyment."
The winners for both the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals 2020 are due to be announced on Wednesday 17th June 2020 at The British Library, hosted by "University Challenge" star and CILIP Library Champion Bobby Seagull. The winners will each receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library, a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize.
The Shadowers’ Choice Award – voted for and awarded by the children and young people who shadow the medals – will be announced alongside the two medal winners in June 2020.