CARNEGIE AND GREENAWAY: THE 1987 WINNERS
Philip Marshall describes this year’s winners and runners-up.
The 1987 winners of the Library Association’s Carnegie and Greenaway Awards are Susan Price for The Ghost Drum (Faber, 0 571 14613 9, £6.95) and Adrienne Kennaway for Crafty Chameleon (Hodder & Stoughton, 0 340 40681 X, £6.50). Once again, the panel found it no easy matter to choose from an excellent shortlist which reflects the current healthy state of the children’s book world.
The Carnegie Medal is given for ‘an outstanding book for children’, a description which fits Susan Price’s The Ghost Drum in every way.
A sustained, imaginative and, at times, almost poetic folk tale set in the frozen wastes of Russia, here is a fantasy which is totally compelling. The tyrannical Czar Guidon locks his son Safa in a tower room and nothing, it seems, can save him until Chingis, a witch-girl, hears his cries. She sets out to rescue him and also to pit her wits against Kuzma, the shaman of the north, who is becoming increasingly jealous of her powers. The haunting, atmospheric narrative holds the attention from first page to last and creates strongly visual images in the reader’s mind. A story which plays on the emotions and will remain long in the memory.
Highly commended is Margaret Mahy’s Memory (Dent, 0 460 06269 7, £7.95), a beautifully crafted story with superb characterisation. Still feeling a sense of guilt following his sister’s death, Jonny sets out to find the friend who witnessed the accident. He meets up, however, with Sophie, an elderly recluse who has senile dementia. As a temporary outcast, Jonny takes refuge with Sophie and as his life becomes bound up in hers, he begins to feel a responsibility not only for her but increasingly for himself too. The blend of past and present, the power of memory both real and distorted, and the developing relationship between the two main characters are convincingly portrayed in what is, by any standards, an exceptional novel.
Three novels are commended. Eileen Dunlop’s The House on the Hill (Oxford University Press, 0 19 271565 8, £6.95) combines excitement, adventure and a dash of the supernatural. Central to the plot is a mysterious chink of light which shines under the door of an empty room in an old house on the suburbs of Glasgow. Intrigued yet disturbed, Philip and Susan start to investigate and as they dig deeper and deeper into the past, they begin to uncover some of the many secrets the house has long kept. The novel builds up to a tense climax and is notable for the author’s expressive use of words, particularly the host of vivid metaphors which capture the atmosphere, place, time and period with unerring accuracy.
With Monica Furlong’s Wise Child (Gollancz, 0 575 04046 7, £7.95) we move to the island of Mull in the seventh century. Abandoned by her parents, Wise Child is taken in by Juniper, a woman shunned by the locals as a witch. As time passes, the young girl comes to love Juniper and to learn from her the art of white magic. But danger is at hand in the form of Wise Child’s true mother, the evil enchantress Maeve, and more seriously when a long, hard winter brings famine and disease. A memorable story and an intriguing fantasy which comes to life through the strong yet sensitively portrayed characters.
King of the Cloud Forests (Heinemann, 0 434 95201 7, £7.95) by Michael Morpurgo tells of the flight of Ashley and his Uncle Sung in the face of an advancing Japanese army. In the mountains of Tibet they meet a Holy Man who foretells that Ashley will soon become a king. King of the Cloud Forests, an omen that astonishingly soon comes true. An original and very moving story in which the strong characterisation is matched only by the vividly descriptive settings that the author skilfully evokes.
The Kate Greenaway Award is presented each year to an artist who has produced the most distinguished work in the illustration of children’s books. This year’s winner is Adrienne Kennaway for her illustrations in Mwenye Hadithi’s African folk tale Crafty Chameleon. Some Weaving Birds, a rope made of convolvulus vines and his own ingenuity enable a small but crafty chameleon to teach leopard and crocodile a lesson they won’t quickly forget. The bold, clear and colourful double-page spreads are a perfect foil to the text of this enjoyable and satisfying tale.
Three titles are commended. Loosely based on the traditional story of Cinderella, role reversal is the name of the game in Babette Cole’s Prince Cinders (Hamish Hamilton, 0 241 12138 8, £6.95). Confined to chores and drudgery while his three brothers sample the delights of discos and princesses, things look black for Cinders … until a grubby fairy falls down the chimney and grants him three wishes. Even then, however, things don’t quite go according to plan! Visual delights abound in this humorous book which is illustrated in Babette Cole’s deliciously witty and uniquely distinctive style.
Jill Murphy’s All in One Piece (Walker, 0 7445 0749 9, £5.95) heralds the return of the Large family. It’s the night of the office dinner dance and Mr and Mrs Large struggle to get ready despite the close attentions of their beloved offspring. The use of elephants gives ample opportunity for visual humour, the pictorial characterisation is good, and the clean, clear layout, imaginative use of colour and continued attention to detail add to the book’s appeal.
Errol Le Cain does full justice to Antonia Barber’s The Enchanter’s Daughter (Cape, 0 224 02399 3, £5.95) with his richly coloured, ornate illustrations which have a strong oriental flavour and which capture well the mood and atmosphere of the text. Imprisoned in a palace, the young girl longs to escape. But first she must outwit the wiley enchanter … a feat that will not easily be accomplished.
The Carnegie and Greenaway Awards are administered by the Youth Libraries Group on behalf of the Library Association.
Philip Marshall is the current chairperson of the YLG and Assistant County Librarian (Education and Children’s Services) with Nottinghamshire County Libraries.
THE GUARDIAN CHILDREN’S FICTION AWARD
News of this award was just too late for our May issue. But since it has a habit of picking ‘winners’ and to make our proper amends – the 1988 Award was won by Ruth Thomas for The Runaways (Hutchinson, 0 09 172633 6, £6.95), her first published novel.
Ruth Thomas, now retired, spent her war-time childhood and schooldays in Somerset, where her father was a head teacher. This family tradition led her to take a diploma in education, following her graduation from Bristol University with an English degree. She has since spent the greater part of her life teaching in primary schools in London.
This dual background-city and rural living -forms the vivid backdrop in The Runaways, which combines classic adventure-story excitement with some familiar 1980s themes. Ruth Thomas explains, ‘it is a book about two not-very-likeable London children, Julia (white) and Nathan (black), who, rejected by their peers, find adventure and comradeship together. Their experiences’ – on the run across the country to Exmoor where they finally give themselves up -‘bring out the best in them and eventually they become much more pleasant people.’
Stephanie Nettell, children’s books editor of the Guardian, adds: ‘The Runaways was a popular winner for this 21st award. The book is essentially a love story … Nathan and Julia are already at II , social outcasts, scorned and shunned by everyone. They know only rage, misery, and above all impotence. It tells how a crisis brings this unlikely pair together in mutual dependence, and how from this enforced companionship grow strength, pride and something infinitely tender. The shrewd affection with which Ruth Thomas portrays these kids, their triumphs, their funny moments and their sorrows, is irresistible.’
Anne Fine’s book Madame Doubtfire (Hamish Hamilton. II 241 12001 2. £7.50) was runner-up. Stephanie again: ‘It’s an outrageously cheeky comedy about the ruthless way parents turn their children into weapons in the background of modern marriage … a sophisticated treat for over-12s, shrewd, poignant and very funny.
The judges for this year’s award were authors Dick King-Smith, Douglas Hill, K M Peyton and Ann Schlee, and Stephanie Nettell.
(See page 9 for a review of Guardian Angels, a collection of specially commissioned short stories by previous Guardian Award winners.)
THE ELEANOR FARJEON AWARD
National Library for the Handicapped Child
presented by the Children’s Book Circle and sponsored by Books For Children, is one of Britain’s most prestigious and is given for outstanding services to children and books.
The 1988 Award has been given to The National Library for the Handicapped Child – an interesting departure from previous years when the Farjeon Award has always been presented to an individual, rather than to an entire organisation.
Established in 1985, the Library offers a range of services including a Reference Library with books, reference books, periodicals, audio-visual equipment, computer equipment and information tiles on handicap books and reading; an Advisory Service; an Enquiry Service; a Meeting Place; Publications including a catalogue and lists of books suitable for children with reading disabilities, and the opportunity to liaise with interested bodies in the UK and overseas. In addition, the Library offers guidelines for publishers on matters such as book and page design, text and pictorial content, as relative to the particular needs of children with handicaps.
Perhaps most important in meeting the needs of children with a handicap, the Library has provided a focal point for all those with an interest in helping them learn to read and experience the pleasure of books. And because of this unique contribution’, the Children’s Book Circle commends the Library itself rather than any individual member of staff. although suggests that all those who work in such a dedicated manner will be seen to share the honour. Congratulations!