10 March 2013

Carnegie Shortlist Predictions

The Carnegie longlist was announced in November with nearly 70 books on it - a rather daunting task. I've read 15 (and a bit) of that longlist, not an especially impressive count, but I managed to read most of the books that either appealed to me or were being talked about a lot. The only one I really wanted to read but couldn't got hold of an e-copy whilst I'm travelling was The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne. I have a print copy at home and wish I'd got round to reading it before I left. So I have a flavour of the longlist and the below opinions are just based on that - I may well have missed some gems. All credit to school librarian Caroline Fielding who managed to read the entire longlist! You can read her thoughts on it and her personal shortlist here: http://cazapr1.blogspot.com/2013/03/my-personal-ckg2013-short-list.html.

The Carnegie shortlist has between 6 or 8 books on it. If I have to pick six my personal shortlist would be: (Any links in this post will take you to full reviews.)

- The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean by David Almond
- The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan
- Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
- Wonder by R. J. Palacio
- Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

And if I was allowed an extra two for a longer shortlist I would sneak in In Darkness by Nick Lake and The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan. In terms of predictions, rather than personal preference I would swap out Billy Dean for In Darkness - I adored Billy Dean and would love to see it there but I think we might see In Darkness there instead. Now I haven't read a  huge chunk of the longlist but I must admit I think Maggot Moon, Wonder, Midwinterblood and Code Name Verity will almost definitely be there based on my reading, general buzz and the Carnegie judging criteria.

The other books I read were:
- Jasmine Skies by Sita Brahmachari - I read this a while ago when Sita visited my school. It's a well written, appealing book but I preferred Artichoke Hearts and it just didn't get under my skin enough.
- VIII by H. M. Castor -  I know lots of people liked this a lot but have a look at my full review for a more reasoned explanation of why I didn't!
- 15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins - I thought this was very capably written and easy to read with likeable main characters but it didn't have anything that elevated it to outstanding for me.
- The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce - I really loved this and would be happy for it to be on the shortlist - it is charming, unique and moving.
- After the Snow by S. D. Crockett - I found this haunting and thought provoking but it is a little slow to get started and Willo is a hero who takes a little getting used to (he reminded me a little of Todd from Chaos Walking). Another book that didn't make my personal shortlist, but I would be happy to see it on the official list.
- Far Rockaway by Charlie Fletcher - I have mixed opinions about this - I found the first half a complete slog and I wasn't engaged at all despite a really wonderful premise, but the second half really picks up and it has a wonderful ending full of a love of stories and people. It had so much potential but I just didn't think it was up to Carnegie standards.
- The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - I liked this but it took me a while to get into - it has a very similar tone to The Brides of  Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan but I felt Lanagan's story had more to it.

I've also just started This is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees and hope to finish it before Tuesday but I haven't read enough to comment yet.

I think we're in for a brilliant shortlist this year which will we also be excitingly difficult to call. Last year had some brilliant books on it but A Monster Calls was an unsurprisingly, although definitely deserving, winner. (The photo is from last year's ceremony with four of my brilliant students - photo from @HoE_School Twitter). I think this year will give us some excellent debates! Check out the brilliant We Sat Down's Carnegie predictions (and lots of other great Carnegie coverage) here: http://wesatdown.blogspot.com/2013/03/carnegie-2013-longlist-coverage-our.html

The shortlist is announced on Tuesday and the winner on June 19th and I will be doing plenty of Carnegie posts as well as talking about it lots of Twitter (@acaseforbooks) - look our for the Twitter shadowing group by following the hashtag #tweetckg.

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