I doubt it's news to anyone that the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2010 was won by Neil Gaiman for The Graveyard Book, the tale of a boy raised by the dead and mentored by a vampire. Although it is any writer's dream to win the medal, I am thrilled simply to have been on the shortlist. It's obviously very nice to have the publicity which goes with a shortlisting, but it was even nicer to be invited to various Carnegie shadowing scheme events - I enjoyed those hugely. As well as last week's mad dashes between Somerset, Warwick and Cardiff, I had a final event on Wednesday at the Tomlinson Centre in Hackney, where I talked to pupils from local schools and listened to their presentations of the shortlisted books. The Hackney event also included some discussion groups, and it was fascinating listening to the differing views expressed of the shortlisted books. I've experienced this already through the shadowing scheme website, where the posted reviews of my own book vary widely, ranging from the very positive to the extremely negative! I heard several of the teen reviewers express the opinion that the shortlisted books ought to be chosen by the target audience and not by adult librarians. That isn't the nature of the Carnegie medal, but it's an interesting point. What makes a "good" book? What is more important, literary merit or popularity? If 9 out of 10 people love a particular book, does that make it "good", even if it is light, with no highbrow literary pretensions? I asked the group I spoke to whether they thought Twilight should have won. Yes, they said without hesitation! It would be fascinating to see a shortlist of 8 books chosen by that group - I wonder whether my book or any of the other shortlisted books would be on the list?!
The awards ceremony itself was very interesting since it was only the second such event I have ever attended, the first being the Booktrust Teenage Award last November, also won by Neil Gaiman. I have often thought, looking at the author photos which accompanied the Carnegie shortlisted books, that Philip Reeve seems a very dapper chap, and having seen him in the flesh (and even stood next to him for the group photo) I can confirm that he is! I also spoke very briefly to Freya Blackwood, who won the Kate Greenaway Medal. Her acceptance speech was so sincere, and she was so very obviously overwhelmed to have won, that I felt like cheering for her. It was also very moving to see Neil Gaiman being presented with a braille version of The Graveyard Book - it's a brilliant aspect of the Carnegie medal process that the books are made available to braille readers too.
Sigh. Well, it's all over now. Back to work!