Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.

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"Over a million years ago this valley, the subject of our book, came into existence. It first showed as a little gully worn by the rain-water as it ran down the side of a steep hill."

A Valley Grows Up

Carnegie winner: 1953
Author: Edward Osmond

Taking as its focus the development and growth of Dungate, an imagined settlement in an imagined geographic location, readers are taken on a journey, witnessing first-hand the magnitude of time and history.  Geographic factors are explored around what make the location suitable for the development of a town as a gully grows to a stream that swells to river forging out the valley that becomes the book’s focus.

We see the impact of the ice age upon the landscape, the effects of climate change and the evolution of people as they gradually begin cultivating crops, and becoming more civilised.  The relationship between the human and the natural world is explored with deft awareness as we see Celt societies impact on the landscape with the barrows they built, as the Cromlechs and Menhirs of the Bronze Age leave stone circles and as the Roman fortresses are built and transport and trade links become important as too does the threat from Barbarian invasion.

Through the pages of the books, we see civilisations grow and decline and shifts in language as Dubnonum Gaet is shortened to Dungate, as Saxon villages are at threat from raiding Danes in the era of King Alfred.  Key historic events affect the imagined settlement as the Black Death becomes pandemic and King Henry VIII closes abbeys and exerts changes in the belief structure of the Kingdom.  Bringing together industry, trade, geography, history, education, health and architecture, this is an impressive volume whose ideas are carried well by the central premise of the changes and shifts in culture and society of the imagined town.  

It can be easy to feel complacent about the rich history that surrounds us in our everyday, one of the great achievements of A Valley Grows Up is in forming a narrative that brings these elements and influences together making them easy to understand and engaging.