'Something for all readers': Meet the eight great books on the Carnegie Medal shortlist

Published on: 15 March 2018 Author: Jake Hope

Jake Hope, Chair of the 2018 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, introduces the eight fantastic books on this year's CILIP Carnegie Medal shortlist.

Jake Hope

Literature for children and young people has seen enormous experimentation and innovation over the last decade. Winners of the CILIP Carnegie Medal showcase this well. There has been experimentation with form in titles like Sarah Crossan's verse novel One, or the blending of narrative through writing and illustration in A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Jim Kay, which showcases the depth and emotional capacity of young people.

In the midst of a diversity review to ensure the awards and their processes best reflect the different backgrounds and lifestyles from which authors, illustrators and readers draw, the 2018 shortlist celebrates some of the finest contemporary writing out there and offers an impressive range of styles, genres and interest appeal. It is no exaggeration to say there is something on offer to suit all readers.

Some shortlist titles are influenced by real-life issues. These include Where the World Ends by former Carnegie Medal winner Geraldine McCaughrean. It's a historical coming-of-age novel based in the 18th century around the stark coastline of St Kilda, presenting a vivid portrayal of isolation and desperation.

Will Hill's After the Fire similarly draws on real-life influences, in this instance the Waco Siege. It offers a powerful insight into the nature of belief and an unflinching glimpse at the ways trauma can impact upon and affect lives.

Where The World Ends; After The Fire; The Hate U Give; Saint Death

For a bang-up-to-the-minute and uncompromising story crafted with rhythm and sincerity, there is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Subtly interweaving family relations with the urgency of the Black Lives Matter campaign, it sears its way into hearts and minds.

Contemporary politics interspersed with global events are also represented in the shortlist with Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick, a timely story looking at migration along the border of Mexico and the United States of America.

Separation subtly underpins Anthony McGowan's Rook, a novel for less confident readers which nonetheless carries a huge amount of emotion in its exploration of the relationship between brothers Nicky and Kenny and the ways in which separation brings the pair closer.

Rook; Wed Wabbit; Beyond the Bright Sea; Release

Readers looking for humour will find a very different, darker and more satirical kind in Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans. Its creative language and focus on imaginative play make this an involving and highly unusual novel.

Personal history and its impact on the self and identity come to the fore in Crow's story in Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk, set on the Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts.

And physical and spiritual elements of the self are seamlessly drawn together in extraordinarily ambitious ways in rite-of-passage novel Release, which explores personal and sexual awakenings. Written by double Carnegie winner Patrick Ness, if it wins it will be the first time an author has triumphed three times.

Which books do you think would make the strongest winners and why? Which are you most keen to go on to read? Let us know on social media at @BookTrust and @Jake_Hope and be part of the debate and discussion using #CKG18. Or why not set up a shadowing group so that you and your friends can have your say?

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