· Judges claim Laureate Chris Riddell is “at the height of his powers” as he wins for The Sleeper and the Spindle.
· Sarah Crossan champions poetry, performance and libraries as her “poignant and perfectly crafted” verse novel about conjoined twins takes Carnegie Medal.Three proves to be a lucky number for the winners of the 2016 CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals, the UK’s oldest and most prestigious book awards, announced today, Monday 20th June, at a ceremony in London’s British Library. Teacher turned novelist Sarah Crossan wins the CILIP Carnegie medal for her verse novel about conjoined twins One, her third novel to have made the shortlist in just four years, while Chris Riddell becomes the first ever triple winner of either award, winning the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustrations of Neil Gaiman’s retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, The Sleeper and the Spindle. Riddell also becomes the first reigning Children’s Laureate to win either Medal. World renowned and widely regarded as the greatest of all accolades available to a children’s writer or illustrator, the annually awarded Medals are unique in that they are judged solely by librarians. The roll-call of past winners include: Arthur Ransome, C.S. Lewis, Terry Pratchett, Noel Streatfield and Penelope Lively for the Carnegie Medal; and Raymond Briggs, Shirley Hughes, Janet Ahlberg and John Burningham for the Kate Greenaway Medal. They are joined in 2016 for the first time by the Amnesty CILIP Honour, a new commendation for the book on each shortlist that most distinctively illuminates, upholds or celebrates freedoms. Crossan, who was previously shortlisted in 2013 for The Weight of Water and 2015 for Apple and Rain, made a passionate pledge of support for the British library system, whose closures “infuriated” her. The author explained how she had been immediately granted a library card after moving to the UK from the US three years ago, allowing her to borrow books despite holding no evidence she was legally in the country. She said: “What does this say about our society? It says that even those who are invisible in the system, who are ostracised and perhaps made outcast in other places, are welcome to learning, information and the arts – that they are entitled to social mobility and they matter. Take away public libraries and we say the opposite is true – that money talks. Libraries are safe places and when we close them we are saying that those people that use them and need them don’t matter. And it’s up to us to stand up and say, ‘no’.” Crossan also called for cross-industry support for poetry: She said children inherently “trust poetry” as it is read to them from such a young age, “and then we kill it for them by around year 8 with testing leaving no space for joy or performance.” Crossan recommended poetry should be performed to fully realise its power, saying “no poet writes words so that they remain cold on the page to be scanned from left to right in black and white and then examined for GCSE. Poetry belongs to everyone, it doesn’t necessarily belong in the classroom or university nor in the bookshop ghetto next to Eighteenth Century literary criticism.” Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell’s previous Medal wins came in 2001 for Pirate Diary and 2004 for his adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver”. Speaking of his record third win, Riddell – for whom the support of libraries is a central theme of his Laureateship – said he was “honoured and humbled” to accept the award, going on to praise librarians as “pretty amazing people […] they love turning children into readers by teaching them one of the most important life skills you can acquire, which is reading for pleasure. Not SATs tests, or attainment levels, or league tables but the joy of losing yourself in the pages of a good book.” He said he was humbled that Neil Gaiman had chosen him to illustrate his “wonderful story…from all the talented…young…good- looking…fashionable illustrators he could have chosen.” He also thanked his publisher, Bloomsbury, for “giving me 96 pages and gold as a second colour.” Sioned Jacques, Chair of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel for 2016, said: “What a thrilling pair of winners we have in Sarah and Chris. Sarah’s book, One, is poignant and thought-provoking, each chapter a poem that is a work of art in its own right, while collectively they create a highly emotive and engaging story. The judges found it deeply moving, beautifully observed, unusual but perfectly crafted – the sort of book that will stay with the reader long after the final page. “We were blown away by Chris Riddell’s work in The Sleeper and the Spindle; he is surely at the height of his powers. His illustrations lift this re-told tale into high art, offering sumptuous pleasures on every page. The more one looks at his pictures the more one notices: subtlety and complexity, the clever use of such a limited palette, the daring use of solid black areas – no space is wasted. Some 15 years after Chris first took home a Kate Greenaway Medal he shows no sign of slowing down – he remains a thrilling, prolific and prestigious talent.” Crossan and Riddell each receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library. Both are also awarded the £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize – the first year both Medal winners have received this. The first Amnesty CILIP Honours were judged by a panel including the 2015 Carnegie Medal winner Tanya Landman. From the CILIP Carnegie Medal shortlist the Honour went to Robin Talley for Lies We Tell Ourselves, which the judges called “an exciting page-turner of a book, it vividly brings to life the human cost of prejudice and explores an historic battle for equal access to education.” The Amnesty CILIP Honour for the Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist went to Ross Collins for There’s a Bear on My Chair, a book which, according to the judges, is “packed full of joyous humour: it develops children’s empathy and shows how we can protest creatively and peacefully when something is wrong.” Nicky Parker, chair of judges for the Amnesty CILIP Honour, said: “We are very proud to announce the first ever children’s book award to celebrate human rights. The best books are more than plot and character, they give children the empathy and confidence to stand up and shape their world for the better – and we need to give children that power today, more than ever. “Thinking about how to persuade a bullying bear to get off your chair can teach children about peaceful protest, while the story of two black girls who trail-blazed integration in schools in racist 1950s America and were confronted with sexual discrimination remains all too relevant at this time of hate attacks.”