Winners of the Carnegie Medals 2024 announced

Posted on Thursday, June 20, 2024
Category: Book Awards

Winners of the Carnegie Medals 2024 announced

Children's Laureate Joseph Coelho has won the Carnegie Medal for his novel in verse, The Boy Lost in the Maze, illustrated by Kate Milner (Otter-Barry Books).

The winner of the Carnegie Medal for Illustration is Aaron Becker for his "beautifully crafted" and "universal" wordless picture book, The Tree and the River (Walker Books). 

The Carnegies celebrate achievement in children's writing and illustration, and are the most prestigious children's book awards; the shortlists and winners are selected by specialist children's librarians, the YLG (Youth Libraries Group).

The winners were revealed at an in-person ceremony held for the first time at the Cambridge Theatre, home of the RSC's award-winning Matilda The Musical. Over 600 children enjoyed the ceremony in-person with the event live-streamed and watched by thousands of shadowing groups around the country. The awards were hosted by Manjeet Mann, winner of the 2021 Shadowers' Choice Medal for Writing for her debut novel, Run, Rebel. Her second novel, The Crossing, was shortlisted for the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing in 2022.

The Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing

Joseph Coelho is the first Black British author to win the award.  The judges described his verse novel The Boy Lost in the Maze as a "beautifully descriptive” novel in verse . The story portrays a boy's journey into manhood and "cleverly integrates” the ancient legacy of the Minotaur with the contemporary journey of a teenager searching for his biological father.

The award comes as Coelho nears completion of his period as Waterstones Children's Laureate (2022-2024), and his 'library marathon' project - a personal mission which saw him visit and join a library in every region of the UK, a total of 213 nationwide, to highlight their importance and show the support they provide to local communities.

The Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration

The winner of the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration is Aaron Becker for his "beautifully crafted" and "universal" wordless picture book The Tree and the River (Walker Books). Looking at the evolution of human impact on the natural environment through the fate of a lone tree and an enduring river, the timely story gives "a sense of hope", with Becker's use of colour to depict the seasons "transformative" and use of light "exceptional".

The winning titles were selected from a shortlist of eight books in each category with the judges praising the "timeless storytelling" and "cyclical nature" of the winning author's and illustrator's work, allowing them to be "enjoyed in perpetuity".

Manjeet Mann with the Carnegie Medal winners (l to r), Joseph Coelho, Tia Fisher and Aaron Becker

Shadowers' Choice Medals

Each year thousands of reading groups in schools and libraries in the UK and around the world get involved in the Awards, with children and young people 'shadowing' the judging process, debating and choosing their own winners. They have voted for their favourites from this year's shortlist with Aaron Becker's The Tree and the River scooping the Yoto Carnegie Shadowers' Choice Medal for Illustration, in addition to his Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration.

The winner of the Yoto Carnegie Shadowers' Choice Medal for Writing is Tia Fisher for her powerful debut novel told in verse, Crossing the Line (Bonnier Books UK). Based on a true story about teenagers swept up into county lines, this 'innovative and engaging' story shows the power of poetry to convey difficult truths in a way that engages and excites young minds.

Maura Farrelly, chair of judges for The Yoto Carnegies 2024, said:  "The Boy Lost in the Maze is an extraordinary novel told through poems about two boys searching for their fathers. It is multi-layered, immersive read which is playful in its language and construction and is as architectural as the mythical maze itself.

"The Tree and the River is a beautiful visual narrative of the natural world and the impact of humankind which invites readers to become absorbed in the landscapes. The epic spreads are alive with intricate detail and gorgeous use of light and colour. Both are ambitious and exciting books that inspire the imagination and empower young readers."

Farrelly added, "Congratulations to our 2024 medal winners and to the Shadowers' Choice winners. Thank you to all the young readers who took part in the Shadowing programme and to the librarians who continue to support and inspire readers and to champion the best in books for children and young people everywhere."

Joseph Coelho, winner of The Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing

Award-winning and bestselling author Joseph Coelho lives in Kent and is currently the Waterstones Children's Laureate (2022-2024).  Coelho has had a personal connection with libraries since he was young; his first job was at West Hill Library in Wandsworth, and he later worked in the rare books section at The British Library as an undergraduate. In his role as Children's Laureate his personal goals included showcasing diversity, celebrating poetry and highlighting the vital role libraries have in inspiring a love of reading in young people. Coelho's tenure comes to an end in July 2024.

Coelho said:  "I am absolutely delighted to be the recipient of this year's Carnegie Medal for Writing. The Boy Lost in the Maze is a novel that means a great deal to me and so to have it recognised by the UK's, if not the world's, most prestigious award for children's literature feels particularly special.

"During my tenure as Laureate I have had the pleasure of joining a library in every local authority in the UK, meeting librarians and patrons of libraries on buses, in converted flats and in gorgeous Carnegie buildings. The one thing that has been consistent between all libraries has been the passion, skill and creativity of the librarians. Through their essential work they are tackling social isolation, providing access to essential services and of course creating the readers of the future.

"I feel completely honoured that it is librarians who have deemed The Boy Lost in the Maze as worthy of a Carnegie medal and will forever be grateful to the team at Otter-Barry Books, illustrator Kate Milner and my agent Caroline Sheldon for helping me bring this story to bookshelves and into the hands of readers."

Aaron Becker, winner of The Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration

Aaron Becker is the bestselling American author and illustrator of the wordless picture book trilogy, Journey. His love of travel inspired The Tree and the River and to prepare for the illustrations, he constructed a scale model of the book's rolling landscape, which he transformed with clay and wood.

With the setting of The Tree and the River deliberately not recognisable, the judges praised the "universality it has over time and space" and said the wordless nature "empowers the reader" and "rewards close inspection". 

Becker, said: "I'm incredibly grateful to have received the Carnegie Medal for Illustration for The Tree and the River. It's an honour and a testament to the power of wordless books.

"Growing up, I was always drawn to illustrations and would get lost in pictures. When I began drawing images of my own, I was able to create a space where I could create, imagine and escape into worlds of my own design. Pictures became the way I processed the world.

"Within the pages of my wordless books, I invite readers to slow down and interpret stories on their own terms. Children and adults alike can project themselves onto the characters within my stories and find their own meaning and discoveries within the details of each spread, free of a narrator to dictate their pace and thoughts. My hope is that winning this award promotes the idea that books can be for anyone, even the reluctant readers among us for whom story resonates more deeply through imagery than words."

The winners will each receive a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize. The winners of the Shadowers' Choice Medals - voted for and awarded by the children and young people - will also be presented at the ceremony. They will also receive a golden medal and £500 worth of books to donate to a library of their choice.

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