Unforgettable Voices and Bold Storytelling Celebrated as Yoto Carnegies 2023 Shortlists Are Announced

yotocarnegies.co.uk | #YotoCarnegies23 | @CarnegieMedals

Friday 17 March 2023: The UK’s longest running and best-loved book awards for children and young people, The Yoto Carnegies, today announced their 2023 shortlists.

The Yoto Carnegies celebrate outstanding achievement in children’s writing and illustration and are unique in being judged by children’s and youth librarians, with the respective Shadowers’ Choice Medals voted for by children and young people.

13 books have been shortlisted in total; seven for the Carnegie Medal for Writing and six for the Carnegie Medal for Illustration. The 31 longlisted titles were whittled down by the expert judging panel, which includes 12 librarians from CILIP: the library and information association’s Youth Libraries Group.

The 2023 Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing shortlist is (alphabetical by author surname):

Authors L-R from top in alphabetical order by surname

The 2023 Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration shortlist is (alphabetical by illustrator surname):

Illustrators L-R from top in alphabetical order by surname

Janet Noble, Chair of Judges for The Yoto Carnegies 2023, said:
“This year’s shortlists clearly demonstrate that authors, illustrators and publishers are continuing to create outstanding books for children and young people that represent a wide range of identities, helping to ensure the diversity of experiences across the UK is reflected. Stories of bravery, compassion and community are told authentically and sensitively in a range of distinctive written and illustrative styles, with fantastic debuts taking pride of place alongside well-known names. We’re sure shadowing groups across the country will share our excitement in reading and discussing these superb books in the coming months, and we wish them luck in choosing their winners – we know it’s not going to be an easy decision! The 2023 judges and I are immensely proud that these 13 books will become part of the distinguished legacy of The Yoto Carnegies.” 

The winners will be announced and celebrated on Wednesday 21 June at a live and streamed lunchtime ceremony at The Barbican, hosted by former Children’s Laureate Lauren Child CBE, who won the Carnegie Medal for Illustration – then known as the Kate Greenaway Medal – in 2000 for her first Charlie and Lola book, I Will Not Ever Never Eat A Tomato.

The winners will each receive £500 worth of books to donate to a library of their choice, a specially commissioned and newly designed golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize. The Shadowers’ Choice Medals, voted for and awarded by children and young people shadowing the shortlist from today, will also be presented at the ceremony. Following the brand refresh of the Awards this year, the Shadowers’ Choice winners will also receive a golden medal for the first time.

As the official book supplier, Scholastic are working with CILIP to donate shortlist packs to 10 schools in disadvantaged areas to allow them to also take part in the shadowing and widen the reach of engagement with the awards. Applications will be open from 24th – 31st March, with packs to be sent out immediately afterwards to the selected schools.

Scholastic are also delighted to bring a week of events celebrating the shortlist to their Scholastic Schools Live platform from Monday 27th March. Each 30-minute event will feature a shortlisted author or illustrator as well as a behind-the-scenes event with the judges. Schools can sign up for free on the Scholastic website.


International bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse,Jessie Burton has been shortlisted for her second children’s book, Medusa; the judges called it a “visceral”, “profound” and “poetic” feminist reimagining of the Greek myth, dazzlingly illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill.

Four times winner of the Tir na n’Og Wales Children’s Book Awards, Manon Steffan Ros has been shortlisted for the “poignant”, “perfectly paced” and “completely conceivable”, The Blue Book of Nebo – winner of the Wales Book of the Year 2019 in the original Welsh-language edition. Now adapted into English, it tells the “heart-wrenching” story of a boy and his mother who are isolated survivors of a nuclear war through interwoven diary extracts.

Five-time nominated author Sita Brahmachari has secured her place on the shortlist for the first time for When Shadows Fall, a “beautifully observed”, “lyrical” novel written through an original mix of forms, combining poetry, prose and illustrations by Natalie Sirett. The judges highlighted the “unforgettable voices” in this story of friendship and community. A previous winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, Brahmachari is an ambassador for Amnesty, and her passion for centring marginalised voices comes to the fore in this “powerfully charged” tale.

Another author pushing to ensure underrepresented voices are heard is multi-award-winning Patrice Lawrence. She has been shortlisted for the first time for Needle, a “concise, punchy novella” which explores the microaggressions, stereotyping and racism faced by Charlene, a Black teenager in foster care: “the strength of Charlene’s character and voice will linger long after the book is finished”, commented the judges.

Following winning both the Carnegie Medal for Writing and the Shadowers’ Choice in 2022 for October, October, Katya Balen’s The Light in Everything is the only middle-grade novel on this year’s Carnegie Medal for Writing shortlist. “A memorable story of blended families”, Balen’s renowned poetic language offers “a beautiful reading experience” with “emotional honesty”. The characters of Tom and Zofia are deftly drawn, demonstrating the strength of voice that elevates all of this year’s shortlisted titles.

Ruta Sepetys won the Carnegie Medal for Writing in 2017 and was shortlisted in 2021, and specialises in writing gripping reads that expose lesser-known 20th-century history. Her shortlisted YA novel I Must Betray You has been praised for its depth of characters, in what the judges described as a “tautly atmospheric” and “utterly compelling” story set during the Romanian Revolution.

The Eternal Return of Clara Hart by Louise Finch is the only debut in the running for the Medal for Writing – the first shortlisting for independent Irish publisher Little Island. “Pacy, witty and darkly relatable”, the cyclical nature of the story is reflected in the “ingenious” narrative style, with “sharp, acerbic language” to effectively demonstrate the complexity of modern teenage relationships in this unflinching look at the impact of toxic masculinity.

Ten years since first winning the Carnegie Medal for Illustration, multi-award-winning Australian-based British artist Levi Pinfold has been shortlisted for the fourth time for The Worlds We Leave Behind. A companion novel to the critically acclaimed The Song From Somewhere Else, also created in partnership with writer A. F. Harrold, the judges praised its “mesmerising images” with a “detailed and textured quality” which “continue to haunt readers long after the book is finished”.

Chinese illustrator Yu Rong has been shortlisted for the second year in a row – this time for her “beautifully nuanced and inclusive” work in The Visible Sounds. “A vibrant, visual story where colour is cleverly used to convey a developmental journey”, this positive exploration of hearing loss is based on the inspiring true story of dancer Lihua Tai, written by Yin Jianling.

Conversely, Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear is based on author Trang Nguyen’s own inspiring life, and a bear from her childhood that moved her to become a wildlife conservationist and environmental activist. Saving Sorya is Jeet Zdung’s first children’s book published in the UK. Fusing traditional Vietnamese art with manga, this “wonderfully evocative”, “powerful” graphic novel intertwines fiction and fact, with “bold and superbly detailed images”.

The second graphic novel on this year’s Medal for Illustration shortlist is Alte Zachen: Old Things, illustrated by multidisciplinary creator Benjamin Phillips, and written by Ziggy Hanaor. This “incisive and thoughtful exploration of Jewish identity” tells the intergenerational story of Benji and his Bubbe (grandmother), shopping for their Friday night dinner in New York. According to the judges, Phillips “skilfully” captures the nature of memory and strong emotions through “simple yet evocative illustrations”.

Illustrator Joe Todd-Stanton was longlisted for the Medal for Illustration in 2018 for The Secret of Black Rock. This year The Comet, focused on a father-daughter relationship and feeling at home,was described by the judges as a “sweet and tender picture book that beautifully illuminates the power that art, creativity and community hold”, with illustrations “every bit as emotive as they are playful”.

Alongside the established names is the debut children’s book by Belfast-based author and illustrator, Flora Delargy. With “suspense and tension”, Rescuing Titanic tells the lesser-known history of the Carpathia, the little ship that heroically rescued 705 Titanic passengers, through “expansive watercolours”. Delargy has a personal connection to the story, as her grandfather and great grandfather both worked in the Belfast Shipyards where the Titanic was built.

Yoto, the innovative, screen-free audio platform for children, is the headline sponsor of the Awards. The Yoto Carnegies are sponsored by ALCS and Scholastic as the official book supplier, with First News as the official media partner for 2023.

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For further information on The Yoto Carnegies 2023 please visit: www.yotocarnegies.co.uk    

#YotoCarnegies23 | @CarnegieMedals

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