For our Year 9 students who have been reading and discussing the 8 shortlisted books for this year’s CILIP Carnegie Medal, Monday 18th June was the date they have been waiting for – the judges’ announcement of the winning book!
To mark the occasion, we had organised a celebration luncheon during which we could watch the live streaming of the announcement and we were delighted to be joined by our two link schools in this shadowing process, Moat Community College in Leicester, and Beaumont Leys School.
As 65 anxious students and staff crowded into the Music Hall, heated discussions were soon underway as to which book we all thought should win the award this year. Opinions were quite divided, but it soon emerged that there were two clear favourites among those present –The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, a book about prejudice and inequality in Black America, and After The Fire by Will Hill, the story of a teenager survivor of a religious cult, loosely based on the Waco seige in Texas in 1993.
There was an audible gasp of surprise when the winning announcement came, and neither of these books were selected. The winner this year was Geraldine McCaughrean, a previous winner of the award, with her book Where The World Ends, a story set in the summer of 1727 and based on the true-life story of a group of men and boys from St Kilda who are put ashore on a remote sea stac to harvest birds for food, but who end up abandoned there for 9 months when no one returns to collect them. It was perhaps a controversial choice, but certainly gave us plenty to talk about as we argued over whether we agreed with the judges’ choice.
Even though we may not have chosen the winner this year, what our meetings did highlight was that young people do engage passionately with what they are reading, and that, despite any cultural differences, we can all find common ground through our enjoyment of reading good quality fiction. Therein lies the real benefit of the Carnegie Shadowing scheme, and we would like to congratulate all the Ratcliffe students who participated in the scheme for their enthusiasm and commitment, and for making our meetings so enjoyable.