Chosen from reviews of the Carnegie Medal shortlisted titles posted by Carnegie Shadowing Groups on www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk
Thanks to Sara Wake, Wendy Wurley, Angela Pascoe, Mrs Higgins, Mrs Dean, Brenda Meliniotis and the Carnegie Shadowing scheme.
Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn
I thought this book had strong characters that developed and the plot was well constructed but I was left wondering what happened to Kaede which I thought ruined the end. It is also quite gory in the way it describes people’s heads being chopped off and blood pouring out. This is not really suitable for younger people in Year 7, so it should not have been put on the shortlist for a children’s book award. I also thought the beginning was rushed a bit and too much happened in the first chapter compared to what was in the other chapters, but otherwise it was well written.
Rebecca Callaby (Year 10), Ansford Community School, Somerset
The Edge by Alan Gibbons
This was the last book in the box, nobody wanted it. I picked it up unwillingly but no one would swap. I took it home and read it. Chapter 1: Family violence, and people trying to run away… not my thing at all. Chapter 2: More violence… think about giving up. Chapter 3: OK, I admit it’s getting better. Chapters 4-8: Starting to look more promising. Chapters 9-11: Racism, racism, racism… OK, so maybe this isn’t exactly my cup of tea but now it’s getting better. Chapters 12+: First I couldn’t pick it up… now I can’t put it down. This book is brilliant with an excellently thought out plot, characterisation and a progressing storyline making you care more and more about the characters the further you get into the book. A must-read and a definite Carnegie winner. This book certainly tingles and lingers!
Oliver Daniels (Year 7), Ansford Community School, Somerset
The Shell House by Linda Newbery
This book covers sensitive issues like being gay and girls. As the book flits between the First World War and modern day it is almost funny how the stories interact. The WW1 characters Edmund and Alex show you the problems you have to face being gay and especially in the army. Meanwhile Greg is experiencing an identity crisis as worries about girls change into a battle to see if he is gay. Girls, gays and history are entangled into one compelling read. I couldn’t put it down and it changed my views on a couple of things! The religious issues which are woven into this story make you develop an inner battle with yourself. Parts make you want to question your own beliefs but in the end you don’t want to change. 10/10
Sian Burnett (Year 10), Somervale School, Bath
The Dark Horse by Marcus Sedgwick
I really enjoyed this book. All the way through I was thrilled and wanted to keep reading. It was very painful at the end because by this time the Storn had taken you in and you felt part of them, especially after the Dark Horse invaded and they had nothing. By feeling part of the Storn this book made you understand their emotions. Ragnald made you tense and fearful and like the villagers you were unsure of what to do. The only thing that let the story down was that it all became too convenient for Mouse and I knew what was going to happen. Knowing this when the villagers did not, made your attachment unrealistic and reminded you that the emotions you had were in the book rather than in your mind. Everyone should read this book because despite a small slip up at the end it is fantastic.
Melanie Todd (Year 9), Camberley Libraries Young Readers Group, Camberley, Surrey
Up on Cloud Nine by Anne Fine
When you read this book you will either get it straightaway or it will leave you being very puzzled. It shows you more closely how a boy thinks if his friend is in trouble. It has some very moving moments and covers some issues such as suicide and why someone might do it. Stolly (one of the main characters) is very different and that is what makes the book so interesting. It is good because he shows you the world from a completely different angle. I don’t think this is one of Anne Fine’s best books but it is still good. You have to really concentrate when reading it as it becomes quite complicated and confusing. I would give it 7/10.
Hannah Grant (Senior 1), Madras College, Fife
Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks
This incredibly powerful but humorous book tells the story of one boy’s dark secret as it becomes more difficult to conceal. In a period of less than one week Martyn’s life goes from pretty bad to unbearable. His dad is an alcoholic, and Martyn’s pessimistic overview on life is portrayed in the way he views the world he lives in. The vivid first-person description really lets the reader get an insight into the desperately deprived Martyn’s life. Martyn’s situation is a very unusual and complicated one, yet easy to relate to. The novel kept me absolutely glued; the tension is always sky-high, and a major twist at the end left me gasping for more. If anything, the epilogue was a little unsatisfactory but generally an excellent read. A brilliantly told story, which never fails to captivate, entertain and even frustrate!
Hannah Wilson (Year 10), Meole Brace School, Shropshire
Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech
This story was very touching, it showed how children can see adults, big and scary. It showed how people cannot always trust each other straightaway. The children had been brought up awfully and it was nice to see a happy ending although their past had been dreadful. The characters were carefully thought out, as were their relationships. It was difficult to find out who Z really was, this made it effective but a bit frustrating. Overall it was a very good book.
Jenny Wholley (Year 9), The Meridian School, Royston, Herts
For publisher details, see article on the Carnegie and Greenaway Medals.