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 Carnegie Medal for Writing sees an all-female shortlist dominated by YA fiction, featuring first time shortlistings for critically acclaimed authors Jessie Burton, Patrice Lawrence, Sita Brahmachari and Manon Steffan Ros.
2023 marks first shortlistings for three small presses Little Island, Firefly Press and UCLan Publishing, as Bloomsbury Children’s Books dominates with three titles.
The shortlists include three previous winners; for the Medal for Writing, Katya Balen (2022) and Ruta Sepetys (2017), and Levi Pinfold for the Medal for Illustration (2013), alongside onedebut title on each shortlist by Louise Finch and Flora Delargy respectively.
The shortlist for the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration features a diverse and bold range of illustrative and artistic styles, from a manga-inspired graphic novel, to traditional Chinese paper-cutting, from sharp, simple ink drawings to expansive watercolours.
Strength of voice and originality of narrative style is celebrated, with many of the stories portraying inspirational characters or figures from real life overcoming adversity and finding strength in community and personal relationships.
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):
The Light in Everything by Katya Balen (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
When Shadows Fall by Sita Brahmachari, illustrated by Natalie Sirett (Little Tiger)
Medusa by Jessie Burton, illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
The Eternal Return of Clara Hart by Louise Finch (Little Island)
Needle by Patrice Lawrence (Barrington Stoke)
I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys (Hodder Children’s Books)
The Blue Book of Nebo by Manon Steffan Ros (Firefly Press)
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.
THE SHORTLIST IN MORE DETAIL
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.
Author and illustrator biographies and images, book synopses and jackets are available to download here.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
About The Yoto Carnegies
The Yoto Carnegies celebrate outstanding achievement in children’s writing and illustration respectively and are unique in being judged solely by librarians.
The Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing is awarded annually to a children’s book author whose writing creates an outstanding reading experience. It was established in 1936 in memory of the Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919).
The Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration, established in 1955, is awarded annually to a children’s book illustrator whose artwork creates an outstanding reading experience.
Each year thousands of reading groups in schools and libraries in the UK and overseas get involved in the Awards, with children and young people ‘shadowing’ the judging process. They read, discuss and review the books on the shortlists, get involved in reading related activities in groups, and vote for their favourite books to win The Yoto Carnegie Shadowers’ Choice Medals for Writing and Illustration.
In 2022, Katya Balen won both the Yoto Carnegie Medal and the Carnegie Shadowers’ Choice for October, October. The Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal – now named the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration – was won by Danica Novgorodoff for Long Way Down and Mariachiara Di Giorgio was awarded the Greenaway Shadowers’ Choice for The Midnight Fair.
Yoto is the audio platform that kids control. Our audio players let kids safely explore their favourite stories, music and more without a screen.
Inspired by Montessori principals, Ben Drury and Filip Denker founded Yoto in 2017. The very first Yoto Player launched on Kickstarter, then sold out in 2019. The second generation Yoto Player was designed with renowned design agency, Pentagram, and launched in early 2020.
Yoto Player has won awards and accolades from critics and toddlers alike. TIME Magazine even named it one of the Best Inventions of 2020.
Yoto Mini – our portable audio player – launched in late 2021 and was awarded a D&AD Pencil in 2022.
Yoto’s platform features original content alongside audio licensed and co-created with partners. These include PRH, Macmillan, Sony, Disney, LEGO, Roald Dahl Story Company, HarperCollins, Hachette, Bonnier and Scholastic.
About CILIP, the library and information association
The Yoto Carnegies are managed by CILIP, the library and information association. The Medals are awarded annually by CILIP and the Youth Libraries Group with longlists announced in February, shortlists in March and the winners announced at a ceremony in June.
CILIP is the leading voice for the information, knowledge management and library profession. Our goal is to put information and library skills and professional values at the heart of a democratic, equal and prosperous society.
CILIP is a registered charity, no. 313014. The Youth Libraries Group (YLG) is a special interest group of CILIP who work to preserve and influence the provision of quality literature and library services for children and young people, both in public libraries and school library services.
YLG has 12 regional committees covering all of the UK, and each committee advertises and democratically recruits a judge to represent them on the panel of judges. Each judge serves a two-year term and each year the panel is a unique mix of new and experienced judges led by the Chair of Judges. Following the independent diversity review of the Awards, CILIP introduced a co-opting procedure so that if this recruitment process does not result in a sufficiently diverse and representative judging panel, up to two judges will be co-opted to join the panel.
In 2023, the judging panel includes 12 volunteer judges from CILIP’s Youth Libraries Group. Find out more about this year’s judges here.
About CILIP’s Awards Partners
Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Calibre Audio are producing the Yoto Carnegie shortlisted books in accessible formats (compatibility permitting), including braille, giant print and audio books.
OverDrive are offering the Yoto Carnegie shortlisted books in digital formats on their platform.
Centre for Literacy in Primary Education and the English and Media Centre have created expert teaching resources for the shortlisted books.
For 100 years, Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) has been encouraging the personal and intellectual growth of all children, beginning with literacy. Having earned a reputation as a trusted partner to educators and families, Scholastic is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, a leading provider of literacy curriculum, professional services, and classroom magazines, and a producer of educational and entertaining children’s media. The Company creates and distributes bestselling books and e-books, print and technology-based learning programs for pre-K to grade 12, and other products and services that support children’s learning and literacy, both in school and at home. With 15 international operations and exports to 165 countries, Scholastic makes quality, affordable books available to all children around the world through school-based book clubs and book fairs, classroom libraries, school and public libraries, retail, and online.
About the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society
The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) is a not-for-profit organisation started by writers for the benefit of all types of writers.
Owned by its members, ALCS collects money due for secondary uses of writers’ work. It is designed to support authors and their creativity; ensure they receive fair payment and see their rights are respected. It promotes and teaches the principles of copyright and campaigns for a fair deal.
It represents over 118,000 members, and since 1977 has paid over £600 million to writers. There is no other organisation quite like ALCS. Visit www.acls.co.uk
About First News
First News is the official media partner for The Yoto Carnegies 2023.
First News is the UK’s number one children’s newspaper, with a readership of over 2.6 million, including 7,500 subscribing schools.
It is a multi-award-winning publication, trusted by parents, endorsed by teachers, and loved by children.
Expertly written by award-winning journalists, First News takes the fear out of sensationalised stories providing a balanced and truthful view of the world, carefully and sensitively explaining context and background.
With daily online content and weekly delivery to your doorstep, First News provides factual, impartial news, sports, science, and entertainment from the UK and around the world.
Improving news literacy is at the heart of First News, whether through our acclaimed news service or our award-winning news-based learning tools and resources for schools and educators.
Lauren Child is an award-winning artist and writer. She is the creator of many much-loved characters, including Clarice Bean Charlie and Lola and Ruby Redfort, along with several stand-alone picture books.
Her first two books were published in 1999 – I Want a Pet and Clarice Bean,That’s Me, and she won the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal (now the Carnegie Medal for Illustration) in 2000 for I WillNot Ever Never Eat a Tomato, the first of her Charlie and Lola picture books that became a worldwide bestseller and award-winning tv series. The first Clarice Bean novel was published in 2002 by Orchard– Utterly Me, Clarice Bean. Her books have sold over 15 million copies worldwide. Her latest Clarice Bean book is Clarice Bean Scram! published by Harper Collins in 2022. In the same year she illustrated The Little Match Girl Strikes Back by Emma Carroll.
She was awarded a CBE for Services to Literature in 2020; and was the 10th Waterstones’ Children’s Laureate from 2017-2019.
Lauren is a champion for the importance of illustration as an art form. She has been a trustee of the House of Illustration for ten years, and at the forefront of innovation, raising the profile of illustration as a sophisticated art form for all ages. She works with mixed media, has pioneered text as an integral part of illustration and collaborates with artists across different fields including music, film, and design. Lauren is a Foundling Museum Fellow and an UNESCO Artist for Peace and her work has always championed the importance of childhood.