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Today (Thursday 19th March 2020), the eight-strong shortlists for the prestigious CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, the UK’s oldest book awards for children and young people, are revealed. Selected by volunteer Youth Librarians from longlists of 20 books per Medal, these titles reflect the very best in children’s writing and illustration published in the UK.

With books promoting environmentalism, acceptance, kindness and bravery, the Awards’ mission ‘to inspire and empower the next generation to shape a better world through books and reading’ is mirrored across this year’s list.

Three debut offerings feature on the 2020 list: Dean Atta is shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal with The Black Flamingo while author and illustrator Beth Waters (Child of St Kilda) is in the running for the Kate Greenaway Medal alongside 2013 winner Levi Pinfold (The Dam). A translated book has been shortlisted for the first time in Carnegie Medal history with the inclusion of Lampie, a debut novel written originally in Dutch by Annet Schaap and translated by Laura Watkinson.

The 2020 shortlists are as follows:

2020 CILIP Carnegie Medal shortlist (alphabetical by author surname):

  1. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, illustrated by Anshika Khullar (Hachette Children’s Group)
  2. Nowhere on Earth by Nick Lake (Hachette Children’s Group)
  3. Lark by Anthony McGowan (Barrington Stoke)
  4. Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (Little Tiger)
  5. Lampie written and illustratedby Annet Schaap and translated by Laura Watkinson (Pushkin Children’s Books)
  6. Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black by Marcus Sedgwick and Julian Sedgwick, illustrated by Alexis Deacon (Walker Books)
  7. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (Walker Books)
  8. Girl. Boy. Sea. by Chris Vick (Head of Zeus)

2020 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist (alphabetical by illustrator surname):

  1. You’re Snug with Me illustrated by Poonam Mistry and written by Chitra Soundar (Lantana Publishing)
  2. The Iron Man illustrated by Chris Mould and written by Ted Hughes (Faber & Faber)
  3. The Suitcase written and illustrated by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros (Nosy Crow)
  4. The Undefeated illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander(Andersen Press)
  5. The Dam illustrated by Levi Pinfold and written by David Almond (Walker Books)
  6. Mary and Frankenstein illustrated by Júlia Sardà and written by Linda Bailey (Andersen Press)
  7. Tales from the Inner City written and illustrated by Shaun Tan (Walker Books)
  8. Child of St Kilda written and illustrated by Beth Waters (Child’s Play)

Several books on the shortlist tell stories that champion the importance of community, friendships and family bonds in overcoming challenging moments. Shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal, The Suitcase – written and illustrated by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros – is a story about friendship and the importance of showing kindness to those in need, while You’re Snug with Me – illustrated by Poonam Mistry and written by Chitra Soundar – is a story about a mother’s love, as a bear teaches her two cubs the secrets of the Earth and their place in it. On the Carnegie shortlist, Lark – written by Anthony McGowan – explores the special bond between brothers, as they try to make their way back home after getting lost, while Nowhere on Earth, written by Nick Lake, sees two siblings survive a plane crash and protect each other from the men hunting them. Also shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal are Randy Ribay’s Patron Saints of Nothing, a story about a Filipino-American teenager’s quest to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder and help his family grieve together and Girl. Boy. Sea. by Chris Vick, a novel about an unlikely friendship between a British boy and a Berber girl, both stranded at sea, and their will to survive against all the odds.

Books exploring themes of identity and survival appear widely on the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway shortlists: two books highlight the African-American experience and the struggle to overcome historical social stereotypes: The Undefeated, a picture book illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander, is a graphic portrayal of the realities of slavery and celebrates the achievements of the activists, artists and sportspeople who succeeded against the odds; On the Come Up, by previously shortlisted Angie Thomas and winner of the 2018 Amnesty CILIP Honour, tells the story of an aspiring rapper finding her voice while resisting the stereotypes placed on her by teachers and strangers alike.

The continued popularity of verse as a storytelling medium is reflected in this year’s Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals. Dean Atta’s The Black Flamingo,illustrated by Anshika Khullar, uses verse to tell the story of a mixed-race gay teen on a journey of self-acceptance as he spreads his wings as a drag performer, whilst The Undefeated references lyrics and lines originally shared by the featured icons, blending them into a powerful poem that explores the not-so-distant past of slavery to underline the endurance and spirit of those who survived and thrived. Three further titles – Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black, written by Marcus Sedgwick with his brother Julian Sedgwick and illustrated by Alexis Deacon; The Dam illustrated by Levi Pinfold and written by David Almond, and Tales from the Inner City written and illustrated by Shaun Tan – have verse woven into their stories.

The tradition of Kate Greenaway shortlisted books reimagining classic stories continues this year withMary and Frankenstein, illustrated by Júlia Sardà and written by Linda Bailey, a fresh look at the author behind the famous Frankenstein story, while illustrations by previously shortlisted Chris Mould brings an environmental angle to Ted Hughes’ The Iron Man, a tale of harmony between mankind and machines.

Julia Hale, Chair, CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, comments:

“It’s a pleasure to present this dynamic and thought-provoking shortlist, which seems prescient of children and young people’s concerns today. Although each book is uniquely original, there are some commonalities that have emerged. Survival, the environment and the persisting inequalities and prejudices in our world today were themes that came through strongly. As a positive response to these challenges, the shortlists offer solace by displaying the awesome beauty of the natural world, human determination and courage, kindness and support which were frequent touchstones throughout these remarkable books.

We are so looking forward to sharing them with the shadowing groups across the UK as there is something here for every reader, to provoke much discussion and sheer reading enjoyment.”

The winners for both the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals 2020 will be announced on Wednesday 17th June 2020 at a special daytime event at The British Library, hosted by University Challenge star and CILIP Library Champion, Bobby Seagull. The winners will each receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library, a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize.

Now in its second year, the Shadowers’ Choice Award – voted for and awarded by the children and young people who shadow the Medals – will be announced alongside the two Medal winners in June 2020. This award has evolved out of CILIP’s Diversity Review which identified opportunities to empower and celebrate the young people involved in the Medals through the shadowing scheme.

Now that the shortlists are announced, children and young people across the UK and internationally will take part in the Awards Shadowing Scheme, reading and reviewing the books and sharing their creative responses on the Awards website. CILIP partners with Amnesty International to provide human rights focused resources, activities and discussion points alongside questions on representation and inclusion from new partners, Inclusive Minds. A dedicated Shadowing Group of Inclusive Minds Ambassadors will also begin reading and sharing their views on the books with the Awards judges. The Shadowing Scheme is supported by reading resources from CLPE and the English and Media Centre and CILIP continues to work in partnership with RNIB and new partners Calibre Audio to produce the books in accessible formats.

The 2020 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are sponsored by Peters and ALCS, and funded by Carnegie UK Trust.

For media requests, please contact Hephzibah Kwakye-Saka and Beatrice Edwards at Riot Communications: 020 3174 0118

Notes to editors

About the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards and Shadowing Scheme

The CILIP Carnegie Medal 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 Kate Greenaway Medal, established in 1955, is named after the popular nineteenth century artist, known for her beautiful children’s illustrations and designs. The Kate Greenaway Medal 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 activity in groups and vote for their favourite books to win the Shadowers’ Choice Awards.

About CILIP, the library and information association

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 YLG 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 2020, the judging panel includes 14 volunteer judges from CILIP’s Youth Libraries Group. Find out more about this year’s judges here.

About the CILIP Equality and Diversity Action Plan

An independent Diversity Review, chaired by Margaret Casely-Hayford, took place throughout the 2018 Medals cycle. CILIP announced the review of Medals – as part of the organisation’s wider Equality and Diversity Action Plan – following concerns raised about the lack of BAME representation on the 2017 Carnegie Medal longlist. The Review informed the annual evaluation process and long-term planning around the Awards and accompanying shadowing scheme. The full final report (2018) and a progress report (2019) can be found here.

About CILIP’s Awards Partners

Amnesty International is the world’s leading human rights organisation with more than seven million supporters worldwide. Amnesty work in partnership to raise awareness of human rights through a human rights education programme aimed at young people who shadow the Awards, their group leaders and the shortlisted authors and illustrators.

Launched in 2013, Inclusive Minds is a collective for people who are passionate about inclusion, diversity, equality and accessibility in children’s literature and are committed to changing the face of children’s books.Inclusive Minds and their Ambassador Network are lending their expertise and experience to the 2020 Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards.

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Calibre Audio will be producing the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal shortlisted books in accessible formats (compatibility permitting), including braille, giant print and audio books.

Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) and the English and Media Centre create expert teaching resources for the shortlisted books.


CILIP Carnegie Medal 2020 shortlist:

1. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, illustrated by Anshika Khullar (Hachette Children’s Group)
The Black Flamingo, follows a mixed-race gay teen as he spreads his wings at university as a drag performer; a bold story about embracing your uniqueness and finding your inner strength.

Named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday and “one of poetry’s greatest modern voices” by Gay Times, poet Dean Atta‘s work often deals with themes of gender, identity, race and growing up. Dean lives in London.

2. Nowhere on Earth by Nick Lake (Hachette Children’s Group)
It starts with a plane crash. There are survivors: a teenage girl and her little brother. They are running from something. But what? Then the men arrive. They are hunting the girl and boy. And that’s all we can tell you…

Nick Lake works in publishing by day and writes in every spare moment he can find. He has won the prestigious Printz Award for his novel In Darkness and has been twice-shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. Nick lives in a picture-postcard village in Oxfordshire.

3. Lark by Anthony McGowan (Barrington Stoke)
When Nicky and Kenny head for a trek across the moors to take their minds off of everything, a series of unforeseen circumstances leaves the brothers in a vulnerable and very dangerous position. There might even be a chance that this time they won’t all make it out alive.

Anthony McGowan is the author of many critically acclaimed YA novels and won the 2006 BookTrust Teenage Prize, the 2007 Catalyst Award and has been shortlisted for a raft of other major children’s literature prizes, including the Carnegie Medal for Rook in 2018. McGowan was born in Manchester, attended school in Leeds and now lives in London.

4. Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (Little Tiger)
A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder. As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.

Randy Ribay was born in the Philippines and raised in the Midwest. He earned his BA in English Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his Master’s Degree in Language and Literacy from Harvard Graduate School of Education. He currently teaches English and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

5. Lampie written and illustratedby Annet Schaap and translated by Laura Watkinson (Pushkin Children’s Books)
Every evening Lampie the lighthouse keeper’s daughter must light a lantern to warn ships away from the rocks. But one stormy night disaster strikes. The lantern goes out, a ship is wrecked, and an adventure begins. In disgrace, Lampie is sent to work as a maid at the Admiral’s Black House, where rumour has it that a monster lurks in the tower.

Annet Schaap is one of the Netherlands’ best-loved illustrators. Lampie is her debut novel and won four prizes in the Netherlands and Flanders, including the Gouden Griffel for the best Dutch children’s book of the year. She lives in Amsterdam.

Laura Watkinson is the translator of Lampie and is a full-time translator from Dutch, Italian and German. She lives in Amsterdam.

6. Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black by Marcus Sedgwick and Julian Sedgwick, illustrated by Alexis Deacon (Walker Books)

It is Blitz-time London and Harry Black, a conscientious objector, is in conflict with his brother Ellis. But when Harry wakes up in hospital to learn that his brother has almost certainly been killed by a V2 rocket falling during a German air raid, he is convinced that Ellis is still alive and can be saved.

Marcus Sedgwick is the author of many celebrated novels for young adults, including the Michael L Printz award winning Midwinterblood. He has also been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and has twice been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Marcus lives in Cambridgeshire.  

Julian Sedgwick is the author of six books for children, including the critically-acclaimed Dark Satanic Mills, which he co-authored with his brother Marcus. Julian lives in the French Alpes.

7. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (Walker Books)
On the Come Up is a story about fighting for your dreams, despite the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families in America. 

Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still lives in Jackson, Mississippi. A former teen rapper, she holds a BFA in creative writing from Belhaven University. Her award-winning, acclaimed debut novel, The Hate U Give, is a #1 New York Times bestseller and major motion picture from Fox 2000.

8. Girl. Boy. Sea. by Chris Vick (Head of Zeus)
Bill is a British boy at sea with the Youth Sail Challenge when his yacht is caught in a huge storm off the coast of Morocco. Separated from his teammates, he narrowly survives shipwreck in a tiny rowing boat. After many days and nights Bill rescues a girl clinging for her life to a barrel. She is Aya, from the nomadic Berber tribe. Aya was escaping to Europe when her migrant ship was destroyed in the same storm.

Chris Vick is a graduate of the Bath Spa MA in Writing for Young People. In between writing and teaching, Chris works for a whale and dolphin conservation charity and is a proud member of Authors4Oceans. He lives near Bath with his wife and daughter. Girl. Boy. Sea. is his third novel.

CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2020 shortlist:

1. You’re Snug with Me illustrated by Poonam Mistry and written by Chitra Soundar (Lantana Publishing)
At the start of winter, two bear cubs are born, deep in their den in the frozen north. “Mama, what lies beyond here?” they ask. “‘Above us is a land of ice and snow.” “What lies beyond the ice and snow?” “The ocean, full of ice from long ago.” And as they learn the secrets of the earth and their place in it, Mama Bear whispers, “You’re snug with me.”

Poonam Mistry is a British illustrator of Indian heritage with a degree in Graphic Design and Illustration. Her work is heavily influenced by nature, folklore and traditional Indian art. Poonam is based in the UK.

2. The Iron Man illustrated by Chris Mould and written by Ted Hughes, (Faber & Faber)
The Iron Man came to the top of the cliff. Where had he come from? Nobody knows. How was he made? Nobody knows. Mankind must put a stop to the dreadful destruction by the Iron Man and set a trap for him, but he cannot be kept down. Then, when a terrible monster from outer space threatens to lay waste to the planet, it is the Iron Man who finds a way to save the world. 

Chris Mould is an award-winning illustrator who went to art school at 16. A sublime draftsman with a penchant for the gothic, he has illustrated the gamut from picture books and young fiction, to theatre posters and satirical cartoons for national newspapers. He lives in Yorkshire

3. The Suitcase written and illustrated by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros (Nosy Crow)
When a strange-looking animal arrives pulling a suitcase, the other animals are curious. What on earth could be inside? A teacup? Maybe. A table and chair? Perhaps. A whole home and hillside with trees? This stranger must be fibbing! But when the animals break into the suitcase, they begin to understand what the weary stranger has been through.

Chris Naylor-Ballesteros is originally from Bradford and studied illustration and graphic design at Bradford College of Art. When his children were small he realised he loved the picture books he read to them, sometimes even more than his children did – the Picture Book Bug had truly bitten. Chris lives in Limoges, France.

4. The Undefeated illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander(Andersen Press)
A powerful and important ode to black history: the strength and bravery of everyday people and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest artists, athletes, and activists.

Kadir Nelson is an American artist who currently exhibits his artwork in galleries and museums nationwide and abroad. He has created artwork for a host of distinguished clients including Sports Illustrated, The Coca-Cola Company and Dreamworks SKG as the lead conceptual artist creating for Steven Spielberg’s Oscar nominated feature film, Amistad. He has created artwork for albums by Michael Jackson and Drake, and is the creator of several bestselling picture books. Kadir lives in LA.

5. The Dam illustrated by Levi Pinfold and writtenby David Almond (Walker Books)
When a great dam was built by the Kielder Water in Northumberland, the valley below slowly filled with water. But just before this, when the villagers had been moved out, two musicians went back to the abandoned valley. They tore down the boards over the houses, stepped inside and started to play – for this would be the last time that music would be heard in this place.

Levi Pinfold studied illustration at University College, Falmouth where he developed his distinctive stylized realism. He has won numerous awards for his picture books, which includes Black Dog, which won the Kate Greenaway Medal. He lives in Queensland, Australia.

6. Mary and Frankenstein illustrated by Júlia Sardà and written by Linda Bailey (Andersen Press)
Mary loves stories, but the stories in her daydreams are far more thrilling than those in any book. After a troubled childhood, eighteen-year-old Mary runs away to Switzerland with the famous poet Percy Bysse Shelley, her step-sister in tow. After learning about electricity that can make dead frogs twitch, she has a nightmare that triggers the birth of one of the greatest scary stories of all time: Frankenstein…

Júlia Sardà is an illustrator from Barcelona. After her studies, Júlia started working as a colourist in a studio which made the editorial merchandising for Disney/Pixar and then moved on to freelancing two years later. Now focusing on children’s illustration, Júlia has had the chance to illustrate some incredible debut fiction and everlasting classics.Júlia lives in Barcelona.

7. Tales from the Inner City written and illustrated by Shaun Tan (Walker Books)
A young girl’s cat brightens the lives of everyone in the neighbourhood. A woman and her dog are separated by time and space, awaiting the day they will be reunited. A race of fish build a society parallel to our own. And a bunch of office managers suddenly turn into frogs but find that their new lives aren’t so bad.

Shaun Tan grew up in Perth and works as an artist, writer and film-maker in Melbourne, best known for illustrated books that deal with social, political and historical subjects through dream-like imagery. Shaun has also worked as a theatre designer, a concept artist for Pixar and won an Academy Award for the short animated film The Lost Thing.

8. Child of St Kilda written and illustrated by Beth Waters (Child’s Play)
Norman John Gillies was one of the last children ever born on St Kilda, five years before the whole population was evacuated forever to the British mainland. What was it like to grow up in such harsh conditions? Why and how did this ancient way of life suddenly cease in 1930? And what became of Norman John, child of St Kilda?

Beth Waters is an author, illustrator and printmaker currently living in a tiny thatched cottage in Cambridge, UK. Originally from Yorkshire, she studied Literature at The University of Edinburgh. Deciding to combine her love of stories with her lifelong love of drawing, she went to Cambridge School of Art to do the MA in Children’s Book Illustration, and there she began to learn the art of printmaking.