Jackie Morris, illustrator of the nature book and “cultural phenomenon” The Lost Words, has been honoured with the Kate Greenaway Medal for children’s book illustration.
And former teacher Elizabeth Acevedo has won the prestigious Carnegie Medal children’s book award for her debut novel The Poet X.
The two winners were announced today at a ceremony at the British Library in London, hosted by broadcaster and writer Konnie Huq.
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The Lost Words, written by Robert Macfarlane, is a series of poems, described as “spells”, about birds, animals and plants such as the kingfisher, otter and bluebell – all of which had their names removed from a children’s dictionary on the basis that they were not used enough.
Children’s book awards
The book has been the subject of a series of crowdfunding campaigns aiming to get it into every school in the UK – with thousands of pounds already raised.
Ms Morris said: “The times ahead are challenging. It seems to me that artists, writers, musicians have one job at the moment – to help to tell the truth about what is happening to this small and fragile world we inhabit, to re-engage with the natural world, to inspire and to imagine better ways to live.
“Because there is no Planet B and we are at a turning point. And because in order to make anything happen, it first needs to be imagined. And as writers and illustrators for children, we grow the readers and thinkers of the future.”
The Poet X, which is written in verse, is a coming-of-age story about a young girl in Harlem discovering slam poetry and finding her own way in the world.
Ms Acevedo, born to Dominican immigrants and raised in New York, has performed slam poetry since the age of 14 and is a published poet.
She said that she thought of the idea of The Poet X while working as an English teacher at a secondary school in Maryland, USA, and was inspired to write by a particular pupil.
“I felt like this student had given me a challenge, or at least permission to grab the baton. She gave me permission to write a story about young people who take up space, who do not make themselves small, who learn the power of their own words,” Ms Acevedo said.
The awards are organised by CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, and they are judged by librarians.
This year, there was also a Shadowers’ Choice Award, voted for by the members of the 4,500 school reading groups, which read, review and share their thoughts on the shortlisted books. The shadowing groups’ choices were the same as those of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway judging panel – meaning Ms Morris and Ms Acevedo also took home a Shadowers’ Choice Award each.