The winners of the UK’s longest running book awards for children and young people, the Yoto Carnegie Greenaway Awards have been announced. The Yoto Carnegie Medal is awarded to Katya Balen for her second novel October, October (Bloomsbury), illustrated by Angela Harding. October, October has also done the double and won this year’s Shadowers’ Choice Award, voted favourite by the tens of thousands of young people across the UK and internationally who read and debated the shortlisted books.
Danica Novgorodoff’s illustrated edition of Jason Reynold’s 2019 Carnegie-shortlisted book, Long Way Down (Faber) wins the Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal, becoming the first graphic novel to win since Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas in 1973.
The winner of the Shadowers’ Choice Award for the Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal is The Midnight Fair (Walker Books) illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio and written by Gideon Sterer. It is a heart-warming, immersive wordless picture book that uncovers the secret life of animals who prowl a fairground at night, featuring sumptuous use of colour and contrast.
Jennifer Horan, Chair of Judges for the Yoto Carnegie Greenaway Awards 2022, said, ‘I am delighted to share this year’s Yoto Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal winners, both of which provide outstanding reading experiences for young people. October, October by Katya Balen is a captivating story featuring exquisite descriptions of the natural world and relationships that develop and heal. It is an expertly written, beautiful and lyrical novel alive with wonder and curiosity. Long Way Down, illustrated by Danica Novgorodoff, is a brilliant, innovative adaptation of the novel by Jason Reynolds. It uses stunning watercolour to powerfully portray the tragedy of gun violence and the emotional impact it has on young people’s lives.
‘Both books ignite imagination and contain themes which help young readers build empathy, providing them with tools to create a better world. They offer hope, comfort and enjoyment, and demonstrate the key role writing and illustration play in children’s development and wellbeing. Congratulations to our 2022 Medal winners, to publishers Bloomsbury and Faber, and to our Shadowers’ Choice winners. And a huge thank you to the young people who have participated, and to the librarians who continue to champion quality children’s books that inspire and empower young readers.’
Yoto Carnegie Medal winner, Katya Balen commented, ‘I am so thrilled to have won the Yoto Carnegie Medal, not only because it’s the award every children’s writer dreams about, but because it is so committed to promoting reading and sharing stories. Sharing stories is something I believe to be one of the most important parts of our lives, simply because stories are our lives. They are threads that connect us all. They make us understand, they give us a shared experience, and they give us something special and private too. They give us wild freedom and they give us safety and comfort.
‘In my book, October is saved by stories. She is isolated, unusual, angry, friendless, lost, displaced, wild. But through stories she is able to connect to the world around her, and to the people around her. Stories make her who she is, but they also help her to see who other people are too. Stories make her a part of a new world, and keep her old life alive. They connect everything and everyone, and that’s what is so magical about stories. They build us, they anchor us, they let us be wild. They are everything.’
Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal winner, Danica Novgorodoff said ‘I am honoured and humbled to receive the Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal. Working on Long Way Down, interpreting Jason Reynolds’ beautiful text into images, was a dream project for me and its own reward, but I am thrilled to find that the graphic novel has resonated with readers as well.
‘Long Way Down is a book that asks us to empathise with a character who is planning to harm another person, and endanger his own life, out of grief and revenge. He’s in a complicated, difficult situation, and he needs to make a very hard decision. Through the illustrations, I wanted to show this emotional torment, to make his internal feelings come alive on the page. The book doesn’t preach, but it asks readers, what do you feel, and what would you do?
‘I believe that kids are empowered when they have access to all kinds of books, and can choose for themselves what they want to read. Graphic novels can be an especially engaging form of reading, and a gateway to all types of literature. But graphic novels are also an extraordinary, complex, versatile medium in themselves, not dumbed down versions of “real” books. You wouldn’t discourage a kid from going to a museum to look at paintings or sculptures or photography, so why would you tell them not to look at artwork in a book? Images are visceral in a different way than text, and when an artwork moves you, it’s speaking to you in a different language than words. There is no single way to tell a story, and graphic novels are one fascinating way to express emotions and ideas that can’t be put into words alone.’The winners each receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library of their choice, a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize.
Novgorodoff has chosen to donate her books to the Western Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library. It opened in 1905 and was the first library in the nation to serve and be fully operated by African Americans. Katya Balen is making her donation to London’s South Norwood Library, which was recently threatened with closure.
Yoto, the innovative, screen-free audio platform for children, is the headline sponsor for the awards. The awards are also proudly sponsored by Peters, the official book supplier; and ALCS, champions of authors’ rights.