The YA Book Prize shortlist was announced last week (10th March) and today the Carnegie Medal shortlist was announced, too! It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a reader of children’s books.
HERE’S SOME HOT TAKES.
I covered the YA Book Prize in depth last year, so I have been looking forward to the reveal for months and months! Compared to the 2015 shortlist, I don’t feel like there were many surprises this time. (Whether that’s because of the shortlist itself, or my greater involvement in the UKYA community this time round, I’m not 100% sure.) The only shortlisted title I’ve not heard much buzz about is The Curious Tale of Lady Caraboo, so I’m very… curious about that one. I’m pleased (but unsurprised) to see The Art of Being Normal and Am I Normal Yet? on the shortlist – both great contemporary takes on serious issues, but with charming characters and writing that transcends the trappings of the “issue novel”. I’ve been wanting to read Unbecoming for aaages, and it sounds a little like Ghosts of Heaven in its challenging the boundaries of what is classed as YA. SIDEBAR: David Fickling Books, I love what you do!! How I’ve gone this long without reading The Sin Eater’s Daughter, I really don’t know (oh wait, I do: fantasy???) but I guess there’s no putting it off any longer. I’m looking forward to being part of that conversation at last! Concentr8 looks gr8, and it’s about time I read some male authors, probably. Finally, Louise O’Neill was a glorious winner for the inaugural prize, and her place in this year’s shortlist with Asking For It is well-deserved.
The Carnegie shortlist, then. Literary prize timetables mean shortlists overlap in funny ways. Didn’t Five Children on the Western Front come out, like, four years ago? I kid! I’ve heard nothing but good things, but hadn’t read it because I assumed it was MG, which I don’t tend to read. Ghosts of Heaven and Lies We Tell Ourselves were two of my favourite books of last year, so I’m thrilled to see them on the shortlist. They are both beautiful and brilliant and pass the “would I read this again?” test in spades. I know nothing about There Will Be Lies (but I like this year’s lies and secrets theme a lot) and little about Fire Colour One, so hopefully excellence awaits me.
And that leaves us with the hallowed three who’ve been blessed with two nominations: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness, One by Sarah Crossan, and Frances Hardinge’s Costa Prize-winning The Lie Tree.
I’ve never read a YA book by Ness (I know! I know. Sorry!) and this one had fairly mixed reviews in my circles so I wasn’t sure it would make the lists, but here we are. A new Patrick Ness is always an event, and maybe it’s an event I’ll regret not having participated in. In any case, soon I’ll be able to make my own judgement about The Rest of Us Just Live Here.
I loved Crossan’s Apple & Rain, which made last year’s Carnegie shortlist, and The Weight of Water has been on my radar forever, because it mentions Coventry’s ring road. I actually own One – a hardback from Waterstones Piccadilly – and the only reason I haven’t read it is that I am a big loser. (Also it’s gonna make me cry, isn’t it?)
The only reason I don’t currently own The Lie Tree is that I really want the blue and gold celebratory edition and I’ve not seen it in the shop yet. It is abundantly obvious that I cannot consider myself a real library assistant, blogger, reader, or person until I’ve READ FRANCES HARDINGE’S AWARD-WINNING MASTERPIECE THE LIE TREE. I’m working on it, okay?! Of course, the best bit is that if I love it (which surely I will?) I’ve got her whole back catalogue left to work through.
This has been a children’s book prize shortlist hot take post. Please share your own hot takes in the comments, on twitter @slouisebarnard!