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70 Years Celebration



At 12.30pm today it will be announced that American author, Sharon Creech has won the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2002 for ‘Ruby Holler’.

Creech has finally landed the UK’s most sought after children’s literary award after having been shortlisted for the past three years. She is the first American to win the CILIP Carnegie, and also the first author in history to win both the top US children’s award, the Newbery Medal, and the top UK award, giving her a unique transatlantic double.

“Ruby Holler is a deserving winner,” says Anne Marley, Chair of the judges.  “Sharon Creech is a great story-teller and Ruby Holler exemplifies this.  It is a very gentle tale of love and self-discovery told with great subtlety, humour and lightness of touch.  The characters are well defined and Creech’s use of language and imagery create a vivid and unusual atmosphere in which they make their ‘journeys’.  Extraordinarily understated it touches on dark subject matter and yet conveys a sense of hope and optimism.”    

Sharon Creech has now won a mantelpiece of top children’s book awards both in America and the UK.  Following the success of her book ‘Walk Two Moons’, which won the Newbery Medal in 1995 (which like the Carnegie is awarded by children’s librarians in America), Creech was able to pursue her writing career full time. ‘Walk Two Moons’ also scooped the UK’s Children’s Book Award, the WH Smith Mind Boggling Books Award and was shortlisted for the Smarties Prize.     

In 2001 ‘The Wanderer’ was shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie 2000, the title already having received a Newbery Honor;  in 2002 she was again shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie 2001 for ‘Love that Dog’ which was Commended by the judges.

“To receive any award is such a boost for a writer,” says Creech “but there’s something very special about winning an award from librarians – it’s the ultimate recognition.  I was stunned to win the Newbery and literally speechless when I heard that I’d won the CILIP Carnegie!”

Creech came to England with her two children and took up a teaching post at an American school in Thorpe, Surrey in 1979.  Spending a total of 17 years in this country she describes her family’s time here as their own ‘Ruby Holler’“a magical time and a great place to bring up children.”

Although Creech’s primary focus in writing is to “tell the story that has grabbed me”, there are two themes that come through strongly in her work: journeys and family relationships.  Creech believes that we’re all shaped, for better or worse, by our family relationships and the surroundings we grow up in. 

Most of her characters are aged between 10 and 14 years and she recognises that is the age when young people begin to question relationships and develop their own identity.  Journeys offer a metaphor with particular resonance for Creech as a writer and also for her many young readers.  Her popularity amongst this age group is no surprise – she offers characters and situations that they can readily identify with.   Her writing also offers a sense of optimism to young people – a welcome antidote to the gritty realism they face through books and a range of other media.

The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually by CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals for ‘an outstanding book for children and young people”.  Now almost 70 years old, its first winner was Arthur Ransome in 1936, since when it has been awarded to many of the great names of children’s literature including CS Lewis, Eleanor Farjeon, Anne Fine and Philip Pullman.  This year’s announcement is made at a special award ceremony at The British Library at 12 noon on Friday, 11 July, at which the winner of the CILIP Carnegie’s sister award, the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, for an outstanding work of illustration for children, will also be announced.

Highly Commended

‘Up on Cloud Nine’ written by former Children’s Laureate, Anne Fine has been Highly Commended.