The children’s book The Crossing by Manjeet Mann and Cane Warriors by former Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize winner Alex Wheatle are among those up for this year’s Yoto Carnegie Medal for Best Children’s Novel.
Mann and Wheatle’s novels are joined on the eight-book shortlist by Tsunami Girl, a story told in both prose and manga in Japanese graphic novel format, by Julian Sedgwick and illustrated by Chie Kutsuwada. This is the first time a manga has been selected.
The Carnegie Medal sits alongside the Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal for Best Children’s Illustrator. This year, two former winners, Sydney Smith and Emily Gavett, have a shot at a third medal. Also on the shortlist are Mariachiara Di Giorgio and Peter Van den Ende, both of whom have illustrated wordless books about nature and animals. And Danica Novgorodoff was cast in the graphic novel version of Jason Reynolds’ Long Way Down, which won the Carnegie Medal last year for Look Both Ways.
The awards are judged by school librarians, and the Carnegie has previously been won by Noel Streatfeild and Philip Pullman, while the Kate Greenaway has been awarded to many highly regarded illustrators, including Quentin Blake and Janet Ahlberg.
This year, six of the eight books on Carnegie’s shortlist are based on real-world events: from Mann’s tale of teenagers brought together by the refugee crisis to Sue Divin’s novel about the lasting impact of The Troubles, Guard Your Heart. Poet and activist Dr. Yusef Salaam reflects directly on his own experience in Punching the Air, a verse novel co-written with New York Times bestselling author Ibi Zoboi. Salaam is a member of the “Exonerated Five” — the black and Latino teenagers who were wrongfully accused of assault and rape in the Central Park jogger case.
Social issues are also explored in Greenaway’s Shortlist, with Long Way Down examining the violence and heartbreak of teenage gangs, while artist George Butler documents true migrant stories in his first picture book Drawn. Across Borders.
Jennifer Horan, president of the judging panel for both awards, said she hopes the 16 books will “excite, move and empower the young readers who purchase them.”
She added: “I am thrilled that our Yoto Carnegie shortlist shows how friendship can help young people find the strength to navigate through difficult times. We’re also thrilled to celebrate the power of images, not only on the Yoto Kate Greenaway list, but also in a few Carnegie titles. Many of our shortlisted books remind us that art can help us communicate and connect with young people when words sometimes fail us.
Winners of both awards, as well as winners selected by groups of children ‘following’ the judging process, will be announced on June 16.