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The Carnegie Medal
Recent Shortlist

The CILIP Carnegie Medal Shortlist for 2013
Judges’ comments are listed in italics

Please note: the ‘age range’ listed below is intended as a guide only, as determined by the 2013 judging panel

Sarah Crossan THE WEIGHT OF WATER

Sarah Crossan THE WEIGHT OF WATER
Bloomsbury (9+)
ISBN: 9781408823002

Armed with a suitcase and an old laundry bag filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother head for England. Life is lonely for Kasienka. At home her mother's heart is breaking and, at school friends are scarce. But when someone special swims into her life, Kasienka learns that there might be more than one way for her to stay afloat.

A real gem of a read, Kasienka's strength of character and her poignant and inspiring story is told in a spare and lyrical style. The depiction of bullying and Kasienka's school life feels absolutely true, from the attitude of the teachers to the familiar setting. Ostensibly a simple tale, this is a wonderfully original debut novel with strong characterisation and fantastically creative use of language.


Roddy Doyle A GREYHOUND OF A GIRL  

Roddy Doyle A GREYHOUND OF A GIRL
Marion Lloyd Books (9+)
ISBN: 9781407129334

Twelve-year-old Mary O'Hara is the youngest of four generations of strong Irish women. Mary's mother Scarlett is more than a match for her and her grandmother Emer would be, if she weren't dying in hospital. Her great-grandmother Tansey is the feistiest of them all - and she's dead. But then Tansey's ghost arrives on Mary's doorstep with a very special mission, to take a midnight road trip back to the past...

This latest children's book from Booker Prize-winning Roddy Doyle is a fantastic and satisfying tale with memorable characters, brilliant dialogue and beautifully portrayed relationships. The overlapping stories and clever structure offers a real celebration of life. Despite dealing with death, the book is never sentimental but instead is wonderfully funny and touching.


Sally Gardner MAGGOT MOON  

Sally Gardner MAGGOT MOON
Hot Key Books (11+)
ISBN: 9781471400049

A ruthless regime is determined to beat its enemies in a race to the moon. But when his best friend Hector is suddenly taken away, it is up to unlikely hero Standish, his grandfather, and a small band of rebels, to confront and defeat the ever-present oppressive forces of the Motherland.

A stunning book with an underdog hero, Maggot Moon offers a powerful depiction of an utterly convincing and frightening dystopia. With clever plotting, conspiracy theory and a truly original concept at the heart of it, this is a real tour de force without a hint of sentimentality.


Nick Lake IN DARKNESS  

Nick Lake IN DARKNESS
Bloomsbury (13+)
ISBN: 9781408819944

In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, Shorty, a teenage boy, is trapped beneath the rubble of a ruined hospital, thirsty, terrified and alone. He has been drawn into the gangster world but he harbours a secret: a flame of revenge and a burning wish to find the twin sister he lost seven years ago. Shorty's fires burn so bright he forges a link with Toussaint l'Ouverture, the Haitian rebel who led the slave revolt two centuries ago. Together they must face their own darkness and find the strength to survive.

This vivid debut novel is perfectly executed and powerfully written with two strong interweaving strands that show how slavery, in different forms, still persists in the modern age. The tale incorporates elements of voodoo, mystery, horror and yet maintains a strong sense of hope - Shorty offers us a hugely sympathetic character who does what he has to simply to survive. An excellent and challenging read with an unpredictable and heartbreaking ending.


R. J. Palacio WONDER  

R. J. Palacio WONDER
Bodley Head (10+)
ISBN: 9780370332284

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, shy, bright ten-year-old Auggie Pullman has had countless operations and has been home-schooled by his parents for his whole life. Now, for the first time, Auggie is being sent to a real school, exposing him to the stares and cruelty of the outside world - and he's dreading it. Through the voices of Auggie, his big sister Via, and his new friends Jack and Summer, Wonder follows Auggie's journey through his first year at Beecher Prep.

Told using multiple voices, this debut novel is beautifully written with the chorus of characters around Auggie helping to reveal him to the reader. With a sly and insidious bully on the periphery, Auggie's strong and stoic voice sings out. This hugely moving story is full of empathy and kindness without ever feeling anything other than authentic.


Marcus Sedgwick MIDWINTERBLOOD  

Marcus Sedgwick MIDWINTERBLOOD
Indigo (11+)
ISBN: 9781780620091

A story that spans hundreds of years, Midwinterblood tells the story of Eric and Merle who have loved and lost one another and who have been searching for each other ever since. In the seven different interweaving stories, the two appear as lovers, mother and son, brother and sister, artist and child, as they come close to finding each other before facing the ultimate sacrifice.

An atmospheric, highly original and poetically told story, Midwinterblood incorporates love, sacrifice, myth and folk language. With a clever and careful structure, intertwining stories and a repeating cycle echoed in the seasons of the moon, this is a truly unique read, gripping and sinister, with undertones of horror.


Dave Shelton A BOY AND A BEAR IN A BOAT  

Dave Shelton A BOY AND A BEAR IN A BOAT
David Fickling Books (8+)
ISBN: 9780385618960

A boy and a bear go to sea, equipped only with a suitcase, a comic book and a ukulele. They are only travelling a short distance and it really shouldn't take long. But then their boat encounters 'unforeseeable anomalies'... Faced with turbulent stormy seas, a terrifying sea monster and the rank remains of The Very Last Sandwich, the odds soon become pitted against our unlikely heroes in the story of a truly memorable friendship.

This mesmerising book, filled with beautiful and funny illustrations, is both gripping and entertaining. Essentially a tale of existentialism for younger readers, the interaction between the bear and the boy, their developing friendship and their ability to cope with whatever is thrown at them is a great metaphor for life.


Elizabeth Wein CODE NAME VERITY  

Elizabeth Wein CODE NAME VERITY
Electric Monkey (13+)
ISBN: 9781405258210

Only in wartime could a stalwart lass from Manchester strike up a friendship with a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a special operations executive, both serving during WWII. It's not long before they become devoted to each other. But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends is captured by the Gestapo. Now a prisoner of war, the story begins in "Verity's" own words, as she writes her account for her captors.

Clever and moving, this beautifully written debut novel features a classic unreliable narrator, superb characterisation and fantastic plotting. The relationship between the two best friends is powerfully written, yet the book also shows the depths to which humanity can plunge. The unflinching portrayal of torture lingers long in the mind in this commanding story.