For the past 10 weeks, our enthusuastic group of 20 students from Years 7, 8 and 9 in the Carnegie Medal Shadowing Group have been avidly reading the 8 books on this year’s shortlist to select what they considered to be the most outstanding book for young people written in the past 18 months. We have met once a week to discuss our thoughts on each book and to try to choose our winner. This year, opinion was divided between 4 or 5 of the titles as to which was the most deserving winner, with the students vigourously defending their choices in our debates. Click here to find out which book was the winner.
Tuesday 18th June was the date we have been waiting for to settle the argument– the judges’ announcement of the winning book! To mark the occasion, we organised a celebration luncheon to which we invited our link school in the shadowing process, Moat Community College in Leicester, and over lunch, discussions were soon underway as to which book students from both schools thought should win the award this year. At 1p.m. the wait was over, and it was announced that the Dominican-American slam poet, Elizabeth Acevedo, had become the first ever writer of colour to win the UK’s most prestigious children’s books award with her debut novel written in verse, The Poet X. In explaining their decision, the judges said:
“The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo offers a searing, unflinching exploration of culture, family and faith within a truly innovative verse structure. We follow the emotional odyssey of its heroine, Xiomara, as she rails, cries, laughs, loves, prays, writes, raps and, ultimately, offers hope. Xiomara comes to life on every page and shows the reader how girls and women can learn to inhabit, and love, their own skin. This is a powerful novel on every level: its vivid evocation of a Harlem neighbourhood, the challenges, disappointments and often misdirected love of motherhood and intimate glimpses of a young woman’s interior life are laid bare for the reader. The novel’s inventive use of language celebrates life and Dominican heritage.”
The book was a deserving winner, and with its style of writing and subject matter, it certainly challenged the students to move outside their normal comfort zone in reading. This is one of the real benefits of the Carnegie Shadowing scheme and we were delighted with the way that all the students embraced the opportunity to read and respond to quality fiction that perhaps they would not have otherwise read. All the students are to be congratulated for their enthusiasm and commitment in taking part in the scheme, and for making our meetings so enjoyable.
Miss Hobbs and Mrs Williams