Celebrating pictures: CILIP Kate Greenaway Award

CILIP's Kate Greenaway Award celebrates the importance of illustration in children's literature.

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Yes, the traditional picture book is well represented. But in what variety!  Jill Barton's illustrations for Puss Jekyll, Puss Hyde (Dunbar) capture the feline character in black and white with a realism that makes the viewer almost involuntarily stroke the page, while Abigail by Catherine Rayner glows with the tans of African plain. What about the realism - or surrealism - of Anthony Browne's One Gorilla?   In Time for bed, Fred (Yasmin Ismail), white space is the foil for her exuberant use of paint. Rebecca Cobb also uses the white page to great effect - but her style is very different (The Paper Dolls(Donaldson)), and different again is Gemma Merino's story about The crocodile who didn't like water. Then there is the contrast between Birgitta Sif's Oliver and the colour saturated pages by Ed Vere in Too noisy (Doyle). Challenges will be faced when looking at Elys Dolan's witty Weasels  beside Sidney, Stella and the Moon (Emma Yarlett) and Oliver Jeffers' The day the crayons quit. And what about Nicola O'Byrne's lively interpretation of Nick Bromley's Open very carefully. A book with bite! ? Or the collaboration between  Jennifer Uman and Valerio Vidali in Jemmy Button? There is Jon Klassen's minimalist approach  (This not my hat and The dark) to place next to the rich colours of The Lemur's Tale (Ophelia Redpath) or the collage effect of The journey home (Fran Preston-Gannon)  They will have to consider David McKean's modernistic graphics that illustrate David Almond's fable, Mouse, Bird, Snake, Wolf beside the ultra realism of P.J.Lynch in  Mysterious Traveller and the impressionistic, personal almost private paintings and sketches by Olivia Lomenech Gill that accompany the "diary" created by Clare and Michael Morpurgo, Where my Wellies take me.

The artists themselves are as varied. A number are debut illustrators, others - Oliver Jeffers and Jon Klassen for example, already well known and recognised; P. J. Lynch is a Greenaway winner as is Anthony Browne (One Gorilla). As with the Carnegie, an illustrator may win more than once.

Shadowing is as important for the Greenaway as for the Carnegie and can be used with an even  wider audience. I have used the short-listed titles with classes ranging from Reception to Year 6. Increasingly school librarians are using both lists to create a buzz around books in Secondary schools. Young people can review the books, adding them to the website, they can create their own art work which can also be displayed via The Gallery on the Shadowing site. It is often the first time that they will have been encouraged to look at illustration and to consider it as distinct from the text. There can be a real excitement generated in this. This year they will already be looking at the titles and trying to work out what will be on the short list.

The CILIP Kate Greenaway Award is not a poor relation to the CILIP Carnegie Award. Together they celebrate the rich diversity of publishing for young people and remind us that stories can be told in many different ways. The tellers of those stories deserve to be recognised.

Feredith was a Children’s librarian for over 30 years.  She still has a passion for trying to find the right book for the right child – whether it be a picture book for a toddler, an adventure book for the reluctant reader or the special novel for the young person who has read everything. She is now editor of Books for Keeps, the online review magazine for children's literature.  

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