Shortlisted books for Carnegie Award 2016

The CILIP Carnegie Medal is awarded annually for an outstanding book for children and young people.  

93 books have been nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal. The official long and shortlists identify a range of outstanding books for children and young people of all ages and interests and from new and established authors. Our Reader Development Officer for Children, Elizabeth McDonald is currently judging this year’s prize, along with 12 other judges from around the United Kingdom.

The books short listed for the 2016 CILIP Carnegie Medal are:

oneOne by Sarah Crossan

Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins. And their lives are about to change. No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love? But what neither Grace nor Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined.

No words are wasted in this poignant and thought-provoking novel, yet it conveys so much. Written in free verse, each chapter is a poem and a work of art in its own right, collectively they create a highly emotive and engaging story. This creative style quickly draws the reader into the characters, lives and creates a strong sense of urgency. The two main characters are impressively distinctive and developed, their contrasting temperaments highlighting their closeness and interdependence. This is a deeply moving, insightful, beautifully observed and unusual, but perfectly crafted, book that will stay with the reader long after its close.

the lie treeThe Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Faith’s father has been found dead under mysterious circumstances. As she searches through his belongings for clues, she discovers a strange tree which only bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The bigger the lie, the bigger the truth that is uncovered. The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father’s murder. She begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as her tales spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter…

This richly imaginative, darkly gothic Victorian mystery, combining elements of the supernatural, natural science and the role of women in society, hooks the reader from the opening line. The story is complex but well paced and tightly plotted and the historically descriptive language really brings the setting to life and gives a very authentic period feel .The good range of characters are vividly realised and in particular the central character of Faith is fantastically well drawn. She grows in courage and confidence throughout the novel, with the reader cheering her every step of the way

there will be liesThere Will Be Lies by Nick Lake

When Shelby gets knocked down by a car, it’s not just her leg that’s broken: Shelby’s world is shattered. Her mother turns up to collect her and drives off into the night, like it’s the beginning of a road trip, like two criminals on the run. And somehow, everywhere she looks, there’s a coyote watching her, talking to her, telling her not to believe. Who is Shelby Jane Cooper? If the person who keeps you safe also tells you lies, who can you trust?

This is a tense psychological thriller where the author is in complete control of the fast paced plot. The author cleverly and subtly introduces the fact that Shelby is deaf and the dream world she enters conveys the power of her not having hearing in reality, however her deafness does not define her as a character. Both mother and daughter are fascinating strong characters with clear motivations and flaws. The switch between reality and an evocatively described dream world gives a strong sense of magic realism, allowing Shelby to make sense of the lies and truths of her life.

the rest of us just live hereThe Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

What if you weren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions…

Patrick Ness handles the tropes of apocalyptic fiction with humour and a lightness of touch that belies the many themes and issues handled in this very readable novel, including a sensitive exploration of mental health issues, such as OCD, eating disorders and alcoholism. Characters are skilfully drawn with distinct voices and totally believable actions and traits with reactions to events that are entirely natural and authentic. This is an excellent parody of typical sci-fi themes, delivered with style. The clever blending of the stories from the indie kids and our main characters thrusts the story forward with pace and energy. It is a deceptively easy going read, laced with humour and real empathy.

Five children on the western frontFive Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders

An incredible, heart-wrenching sequel to E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It, set on the eve of the First World War. The five children have grown up and war will change their lives for ever. Cyril is off to fight, Anthea is at art college, Robert is a Cambridge scholar and Jane is at high school. The Lamb is the grown up age of 11, and he has a little sister, Edith, in tow. The sand fairy has become a creature of stories… until he suddenly reappears. The siblings are pleased to have something to take their minds off the war, but this time the Psammead is here for a reason, and his magic might have a more serious purpose. Before this last adventure ends, all will be changed and the war’s impact will be felt right at the heart of their family.

This wonderfully powerful and evocative novel addresses universal themes, without losing the magical realism of the original. Written with the knowledge of tragic hindsight, much loved characters are re-imagined later in their lives and we see them affected by the brutality and senselessness of war. Highlighting a time when society was massively changed for all; the role of women and the development of equality in a changing world are grippingly examined. This is a skilful crafting of a sequel to a classic – beautifully observed and imaginative, with a great sense of period yet without falling into pastiche.

The Ghosts of HeavenThe Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

The spiral has existed as long as time has existed. Follow the ways of infinity to discover its meaning. It’s there when a girl walks through the forest, the moist green air clinging to her skin. There centuries later in a pleasant green dale, hiding the treacherous waters of Golden Beck that take Anna, who they call a witch. There on the other side of the world, where a mad poet watches the waves and knows the horrors they hide, and far into the future as Keir Bowman realises his destiny. Each takes their next step in life. None will ever go back to the same place. And so their journeys begin…

Four short stories so different in style yet each equally strong and with beautifully judged use of language ranging from minimalist free verse reflecting early language and prehistoric people to that appropriate to historical periods or futuristic science fiction. Despite being different each story is linked by the motif of a spiral which almost becomes a character in its own right, as well as reflecting concepts of science, superstition and symbolism. Each story is interesting, powerful and thought provoking providing a challenging read.

Lies we tell ourselvesLies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

It’s 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging. And it’s Sarah’s first day of school as one of the first black students at previously all-white Jefferson High. No one wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students – especially Linda, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. Sarah and Linda are supposed to despise each other. But the more time they spend together, the less their differences matter. And both girls start to feel something they’ve never felt before. Something they’re determined to ignore. Because it’s one thing to stand up to an unjust world – but another to be terrified of what’s in your own heart.

The story is told from the point of view of Sarah and of Linda, the white daughter of one of the town�s most vehement segregationists. Both voices are authentic, flawed teenagers searching for their sense of self, and yet able to grow throughout the book. The shocking historical use of language as spoken at the time is discomforting for the reader, but creates a sense of the real experience of the daily abuse depicted. With themes of race and sexuality this is a book which could have been almost impossible to read but the style makes it gripping and involving with an emotional response from the reader inevitable.

fire colour oneFire Colour One by Jenny Valentine

A bold and brilliant novel about love, lies and redemption. Iris’s father, Ernest, is at the end of his life and she hasn’t even met him. Her best friend, Thurston, is somewhere on the other side of the world. Everything she thought she knew is up in flames. Now her mother has declared war and means to get her hands on Ernest’s priceless art collection. But Ernest has other ideas. There are things he wants Iris to know after he’s gone and the truth has more than one way of coming to light.

Without a single wasted word the spare, beautiful writing of this multi-layered novel takes us on an unforgettable journey through life, art and literature, concluding with a hugely enjoyable final plot twist that is both fantastical and entirely plausible. The vividly created, well-rounded characters expertly allow the reader to get in the mind-set of what these characters are thinking and why they behave as they do. The interplay between Iris and her father, and the tentative development of their relationship after so long apart is particularly poignantly drawn.

You can borrow these books from our libraries, so check out our catalogue to see if it’s in a library near you:


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