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CILIP Kate Greenaway 2009 shortlist

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The Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded by children’s librarians for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people. And the eight shortlisted picture books are for 2009…

Little Boat

Little Boat by Thomas Docherty (Templar, ISBN 9780864618726)

This is the story of a little boat in a large ocean, told from the point of view of the boat. The children liked this perspective and were pleased when the boat found his friends. The front cover has a porthole cut out, through which you can see the little boat – and this circular theme is continued throughout the illustrations. My class noticed the boat had been drawn almost as though it had a face, and this helped them empathise with it.

The best aspect of the book for me is the integration of illustration and text. It is not a picture book with some text; rather, the two work together to tell the story. The children noticed this particularly as the words ‘we go round and round in circles’ were written in a circle surrounding the little boat. Little Boat would be a welcome addition to any book corner.

Carolyn MyattYear 2 teacher

Harris Find His Feet

Harris Finds His Feet by Catherine Rayner (Little Tiger Press, ISBN 9781845065898)

‘Harris was a very small hare with very big feet.’ So we learn on the first page, and from then on it’s difficult not to fall in love with him. The story unfolds as the wisdom of old age is imparted to the young Harris via his grandad. The close relationship between them is subtly told in both words and pictures, as Harris learns that having big feet can have many advantages.

The contrast between youth and old age, and the idea of learning to stand on our own two feet, is sensitively conveyed. The story ends full of optimism, as Harris branches out ‘to the end of the world… and back home again.’ It was delightful to talk to the class about their relationships with grandparents, what we can learn from older people, and how the world can be an exciting and adventurous place – once we’re ready to explore!

Helen BarnesYear 2 teacher and former guest editor

The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico (Random House, 9780091893828)

First published in 1940, The Snow Goose is a modern classic set on the Essex marshes during the Second World War. In compelling and poetic writing, it tells the story of the friendship that develops between Philip Rhayader, a lonely recluse, and a young girl, Fritha, who asks for his help to heal a wounded snow goose. This new edition is beautifully illustrated by Angela Barrett, its sepia and muted tones conveying the desolation of the marshes and Rhyader’s loneliness.

Rebecca WallisAssistant Editor, Literacy Time PLUS

Molly and the Night Monster by Chris Wormell (Random House Children’s Books, ISBN 9780224070737)

Who isn’t afraid of things that go bump in the night? This fear of a night-time noise is the focus of Chris Wormell’s book, Molly and the Night Monster. The book is perfect for Key Stage 1 because it is empathetic with children’s night-time anxieties, but it also demonstrates that there is no reason for them to be afraid. It cleverly reveals that the menagerie of dangerous animals Molly thought was coming to get her, were actually all in her imagination.

Molly is awoken by the sound of a creaking stair. Her imagination runs riot; first she thinks it may be a crocodile, then a big, brown bear. She even imagines that it might be a fat hippopotamus, a long-legged giraffe or an enormous elephant. As the creature finally bursts through the door, Molly, believing it to be a night monster, throws her duvet over the intruder. Luckily, it’s not a child-gobbling night monster – it’s her mummy! The story ends with Mummy giving Molly a bedtime kiss and cuddle.

Hannah Shawauthor and illustrator

Varmints cover

Varmints: Part one by Helen Ward, illustrated by Mark Craste (Templar Publishing, ISBN 9781840113235 )

It’s rare when a picture book takes your breath away and makes you cry. Illustrator Mark Craste is an animation director and his use of shadow and light is broodingly cinematic. Helen Ward’s spare text tells of a land now covered by the city of the ‘others’, where plants and bees have vanished and ‘tall buildings scratched the sky where once the birds sang’. However, against this background, a small creature stares out at the cityscape and dares to dream. He nurtures a plant, ‘a little piece of wilderness’, and takes it to one of the dark corners of the city (with visual elements of Blade Runner). A metamorphosis spreads in the falling silence and the sounds of bees, winds and birds return.

This is a book of big concepts: hope, dreams, the future, power of the individual to effect change. This is my top choice for the year: an extraordinary collaboration with appeal to all ages.

Andrew Fusek Peterspoet and author

The way back home

The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers (Harper Collins, ISBN 9780007182282)

Once there was a boy who, one day, found himself stuck on the Moon, and he was not alone…

Oliver Jeffers is an author and illustrator who can’t seem to help getting his work shortlisted for awards. And his latest offering is no exception. The Way Back Home is a wonderful tale of a boy (who Jeffers’ fans may recognise) and a Martian who both end up crash landing on the Moon. After some initial wariness (is that other creature a monster?), the two decide to help each other get back home.

Jeffers has a wonderful way of using minimalist illustrations to express emotions, and the scene where the Martian and the boy awkwardly say goodbye is truly touching. An excellent book for children and adults, and one that promotes good feelings of friendship and helping others.

Charlotte RonaldsActing Editor

How to heal a broken wing

How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham (Walker Books, 9781406307160)

High above the city a pigeon thuds against a skyscraper and tumbles down to the pavement far below. Everyone ignores the bird… except Will, a shining light against the bustle of grey adults. Realising that it has a broken wing, Will managed to persuade his mum to take the bird home, where he lovingly nurtures it back to health.

Graham uses incredibly sparse text in the story, allowing the comic-strip style pictures to speak for themselves. And the story they tell is one of tenderness and compassion, as the pigeon begins its road to recovery. The final pages are a burst of colour, as the pigeon breaks free of the city and soars into the sky before disappearing.

Charlotte RonaldsActing Editor

The Savage

The Savage by David Almond, illustrated by Dave McKean (Walker Books, ISBN 9781406308150)

To begin with, this graphic novel isn’t suitable for young children – the cover alone will give you some indication of the content inside. But it’s immediately clear why the book has been shortlisted. Dave McKean, perhaps best known for his collaborations with Neil Gaimen, has such a natural artistic talent that his work cannot be ignored.

The Savage is told from the perspective of Blue Baker, a boy writing a ‘real’ story about blood and guts and adventures because ‘that’s what life’s really like’. At least it is for Blue since his dad died and Hopper the town bully started picking on him. But when Blue’s story starts to merge with reality, Blue starts to wonder where he ends and the savage begins.

Charlotte RonaldsActing Editor

The 2009 winner will be announced on 25 June.

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