The Yoto Carnegie 2023 nominations announced!
The annual Yoto Carnegie 2023 nominations have just been announced and it's an exciting, diverse selection of books and creatives this year! It is particularly brilliant to see so many Black creatives on the lists including Dean Atta, Natasha Bowen, Yaba Badoe, John Agard, Alex Wheatle and Dapo Adeola. Click on the links below to view the nominees for both categories:
Formerly known as the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, the Yoto Carnegies is the longest-running and most-loved children’s book awards in the UK.
Run nationally, including a wonderful shadowing scheme for schools and libraries, it offers two main awards for outstanding work in writing and illustration in books for children and young adults.
Last year's winner for illustration was Danica Novgorodoff with a graphic-novel edition of Jason Reynold’s 2019 Carnegie-shortlisted title, Long Way Down (Faber).
Image: Tom Pilston
For writing, Katya Baylen (above), won with her exquisite middle-grade novel October October (Bloomsbury). She also won the Shadower's Choice Award so it was a double celebration for her!
The 2023 longlist will be announced on the 15 February so watch out for that!
Reflections from Jericho Prize 21 Shortlisting Judge: Emma Norry
The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) ‘Reflecting Realities’ report on diversity in UK children’s publishing came out in November 2020 and, at the time, publishing seemed a discouraging space for Black-British writers. But then, in May 2021, I became aware of the Jericho Prize, set up to specifically encourage Black-British writers. What a fantastic and necessary initiative! When Fabia approached me to create a five-minute video for their website, encouraging authors to enter their writing contest, I jumped at the chance.
I loved that the award was so inclusive by being free to enter. Keeping it free definitely helps to make the contest accessible. The Jericho Prize is also open to self-published writers. Sometimes the industry can seem like a closed, almost impenetrable, shop if you aren’t from a creative or publishing background, but the last few years have proved that self-publishing can be an amazing way to reach an audience on your own terms as successful, popular writers Tọlá Okogwu and Kandace Chimbiri have proved!
I asked if there was any other way I could be involved with the Jericho Prize, apart from creating video content. In the end, I helped with the shortlisting judging stage of the Chapter Book category. I wanted to show my support – I honestly don’t know how Fabia does it all – she’s a powerhouse!
I really enjoyed the judging process. It was wonderful to see the wealth of talent that’s out there now. In each script I was specifically looking for a strong hook and a voice which carried me along. I also wanted to see a strong sense of cultural identity, so that our Black-British children, who perhaps might read these stories one day, would recognise themselves and their cultures on the page. The entries did not disappoint!
I’m not a picture book writer and so didn’t feel qualified to help with judging this year, but I’d say that all good stories – whether in a picture book or chapter book – will have elements in common. We need characters that we care about and can root for.
Our youngest readers need to see themselves reflected in the books available and what better way to begin than with those first books we all love to share together? I’m so excited to see the Jericho Prize grow and can’t wait to see the winner pair up with Scholastic UK this year!
Review: The Book of Legends by Lenny Henry, illustrated by Keenon Ferrell
“An effortlessly witty delight that transports readers to a new world.”
By Tennille Rolingson
From the moment I picked it up to the moment I set it down, one thing remained ingrained in my mind: this is the book I wish I’d had growing up.
Lenny Henry has successfully offered middle grade readers, particularly Black kids, an insight into a world that previously seemed inaccessible.
The thoughtfulness put into making the story relatable to Black-British children is evident from the fictional setting in the diverse South Midlands town of Ruthvale, to the descriptions of the homemade jollof rice and stew. It’s deliberate and relatable without trying too hard.
A newcomer to children’s fiction having only previously written The Boy with Wings (Macmillan Children’s, 2021), Henry quickly gains his balance within the first few chapters establishing loveable characters, twelve-year-old twins Bran and Fran. From here onwards, all the unique characters hold their own weight within the story.
As the story gains momentum, we find ourselves navigating an exciting adventure, alongside the twins, in an imaginary realm created by their storyteller-mother Effiya. This other world, the Nine Dominions, is filled with wonderfully eccentric characters, from the wicked ‘handsome’ prince to the talkative Zebracorn, ensuring there is never a dull moment.
The fantasy of the Nine Dominions directly contrasts with their real world which is temporarily in shambles. However, more than a means to escape, the twins’ journey into this world is one of discovery. In fact, it’s the key to solving all their problems (and finding their mum).
Henry’s charming wit comes through masterfully on every page, his inner child fully in tune with young readers. It’s fair to say that The Book of Legends is filled with magic and Henry has certainly earned his status as a ‘comedy legend’. It’s also telling how his words speak to those who tend to get lost in their imagination. In a way he is telling us it’s okay to do so, once in a while, and as someone who tends to drift off ‘to another planet’, I rather enjoyed that concept.
At the same time, Henry tackles difficult real-life situations in digestible bitesize scenes which aren’t too forceful for their young audience, reminiscent of books by one of my favourite childhood author’s Jacqueline Wilson. To finally see topics such as loneliness and family drama explored by characters that resemble me, brings joy to the little Black girl I once was. From laughing one second, to tearing up the other, this novel left me thoroughly entertained and wanting more.
As the plot reaches its crescendo and all the loose ends are perfectly tied up, you’re struck by how much the twins’ mother’s words hold a lingering power through magic. The Book of Legends is a much-needed book about friendship, family and imagination. It truly is an effortlessly witty delight that transports readers to a different world.
The Book of Legends by Lenny Henry, illustrated by Keenon Ferrell, is out on 13 October!
Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Books for sending me a proof copy. (I haven’t commented on Keenon Ferrell’s illustrations, although the few roughs that I saw were brilliant!