CILIP Carnegie Medal Shortlist 2014

Carnegie Medal Shortlist

The shortlist for the children’s fiction book award was announced yesterday with some dark and disturbing themes in many of the titles chosen . In the running for the Carnegie author award are:

Aside from Liar & Spy, Rooftoppers and The Child’s Elephant which are aimed at readers aged 9+, the majority of the titles are thrillers aimed at teenagers with heavy themes including the Israel/Palestine conflict (The Wall), alcohol and child abuse, kidnapping and captivity (Blood Family, The Bunker Diary and All The Truth That’s In Me), and murder (Ghost Hawk). Even The Child’s Elephant deals with the weighty topic of child soldiers in Africa. There are no fantasy titles on the list this year, although Rooftoppers is a quite imaginative adventure and the protaganist is an orphan so it does lean slightly that way. There is also a notable lack of the dystopian titles  (although The Wall does contain elements of this) we have been inundated with over the last few years so maybe we are seeing a realism trend emerging?

I was surprised by the inclusion of The Bunker Diary (think the film Saw minus most of the violence) as when I read the final page of the book, I nearly threw it across the room in frustration. However, it was chosen by Year 9 children to win the Southern School Book Awards this year so I think I need to read it again – the ending certainly leaves a lot for discussion.

I think Blood Family is a worthy entry though with mutliple narrators relaying the story of a boy being held captive by his abusive father and the effect this has on the rest of his life. Weighty themes yes, but the boy’s life after the event is the focus of the book rather than the actual abuse itself and would provide a useful source of discussion with teenagers on the choices we make in life. I would like to see this title win the award this year.

Liar and Spy and Rooftoppers have been on nearly every shortlist recently so if I was a betting person, either of these would be a safe choice and they are both very enjoyable and rewarding reads that would work well with upper primary students.



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