The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2020

The CILIP Carnegie Medal is the UK’s oldest children’s book award, recognising outstanding reading experiences created through writing for children and young people. The shortlist this year saw stories full of hope, discovery and understanding a little more about ourselves and the world we live in.

Here’s our pick of the best for all ages and interests. Click on each book cover to read a synopsis, discover the author (including shorts of them reading from their books) and read ‘Shadowers” reviews.

The world around them changes for brothers Harry and Ellis Black when they become ensnared in the confusion and catastrophe caused by an air raid attack. The lines between myth and reality become blurred as Harry struggles beneath the weight of grief and trauma after he wakes in hospital to the news that his brother is dead. A journey through the underworld of London ensues and parallels with the legend of Orpheus are drawn in this complex yet rewarding exploration of human spirit, emotion and artistry.
(Age 12+)

On the run with her little brother, Aidan, sixteen-year-old Emily stows away on a plane in this fast-paced thriller. When their plane crashes into the side of a snowy mountain, it’s up to Emily to ensure Aidan and their pilot, Bob, make it off the mountain alive. Lost in the Alaskan wilderness and pursued by mysterious government forces who want to capture them, the unlikely team of three trek across the freezing landscape, learning more about each other, and about life, than they ever thought possible.
(Age 12+)

For older readers and fans of Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give will love On The Come Up. The story follows the gutsy Bri Jackson who has big ambitions to become one of the world’s most famous rappers whilst trying to escape the poverty of her neighbourhood. It is a story of the power of friendship and family love in the face of prejudice and systemic racism, and social deprivation.

(Age 14+)

Shared with Year 10-12 in assemblies on World Book Day, Dean Atta’s debut YA novel is a bold yet moving depiction of Michael who is coming to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teenager.  Written in verse (with beautiful illustrations), this is a powerful coming-of-age story exploring themes of identity, race and sexuality. (Ms Awoberu is currently reading it having done the rounds in the English Faculty.)
(Age 14+)

The Jay Reguero plans to spend the summer playing video games before heading to university in the autumn. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin, Jun, has been murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.  Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth – and the part he played in it.
(Age 14+)

The 2020 CILIP Carnegie Medal Winner went to: Lark
by Anthony McGowan

Things are tense at home for Nicky and Kenny. Their mum’s coming to visit and it will be the first time they’ve seen her in years. A lot has changed since they were little and Nicky’s not so sure he’s ready to see her again. When they head for a trek across the moors to take their minds off everything, a series of unforeseen circumstances leaves the brothers in a vulnerable and very dangerous position. There might even be a chance that this time not everyone will make it home alive…
(Age 13+)

We look forward to shadowing the 2021 Shortlist next year.