The United Kingdom’s Yoto Carnegie Greenaway Winners Include a Graphic Novel

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The graphic edition of Jason Reynolds’ ‘Long Way Down’ has illustrations by Danica Novgorodoff. ‘October, October’ wins twice.

A detail from Danica Novgorodoff’s illustrations for Jason Reynolds’ ‘Long Way Down.’ The book is the first graphic novel to win the Kate Greenaway Medal. Image: Yoto Carnegie Greenaway Awards

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Novgorodoff: ‘All Children Deserve To Be Loved and Seen’
As you may recall, the Carnegie Greenaway Awards—now attaching their sponsor Yoto’s name to theirs—opened their year of announcements in February with a 33-title longlist. Even by the standards of their home base in awards-avid England, that is, indeed, a long list. Then in March, the program produced a shortlist of 16 titles—not a very short list, actually, by most industry standards.

On Thursday (June 16), the Carnegie Greenaway gave away its four honors—two are jury-selected and two are chosen by “shadowing” students—and we’d like to thank publicist Hannah Davies for her special assistance in helping us to report this succinctly.

The main news here is an illustrated edition of the much-awarded Jason ReynoldsLong Way Down has become the first graphic novel to win the Kate Greenaway Medal. The illustrator, Danica Novgorodoff, has written an incisive acceptance speech, and we’ve excerpted a large part of it below the winners’ list. At the very least, it illustrates how articulate an illustrator can be in words–not necessarily her most natural medium.

You’ll find that she makes a compelling argument for young readers’ literature that lives in the world the kids do; for the importance of visual as well as verbal fluency; and for the steep task ahead of freeing as many youths as possible from the hatreds and traditions that have crippled many of their elders, who might be you or me. Novgorodoff even has the temerity to say that children have a responsibility to read.

We’ll name the award winners quickly, in hopes that you’ll then stay with us to read Novgorodoff’s fine text.

Yoto Carnegie Greenaway 2022 Awards Winners

Chosen by librarians:

Chosen by young people across the United Kingdom and in other countries:

Danica Novgorodoff: ‘Fighting These Evils’

Detail from Danica Novgorodoff’s illustrations for Jason Reynolds’ ‘Long Way Down.’ Image: Yoto Carnegie Greenaway Awards

In her acceptance speech, the American illustrator and watercolorist Danica Novgorodoff, who is based in Louisville, Kentucky, has made an acceptance speech that resonates with the importance of serious literature for young readers who are, after a, natives of a deeply tumultuous time in political and social development–and creatures, themselves, of a profoundly visual era.

We excerpt here a portion of her comments:

Long Way Down is a book that asks us to empathize with a character who is planning to harm another person, and endanger his own life, out of grief and revenge. He’s in a complicated, difficult situation, and he needs to make a very hard decision. Through the illustrations, I wanted to show this emotional torment, to make his internal feelings come alive on the page. The book doesn’t preach, but it asks readers, what do you feel, and what would you do?

Danica Novgorodoff

Books are a place for conversation, uncertainty, learning to think for yourself and ask hard questions. They’re a place to develop a moral compass, to learn to empathize with people who are different from you, or to feel compassion for people who are like you. It is through books that we artists, writers, librarians, and teachers can empower young people to be caring humans and strong thinkers—just as young people inspire artists, writers, librarians, and teachers to show up every day, to do this hard work, to keep alive our hope for the future.

We live in a world of pictures. Children grow up developing a visual intelligence, and an ability to read images far before they know how to read text. Images are visceral in a different way than text, and when an artwork moves you, it’s speaking to you in a different language than words. There is no single way to tell a story, and graphic novels are one fascinating way to express emotions and ideas that can’t be put into words alone. When you have words and pictures collaborating on the page, it gives you access to a different experience of someone’s life.

While creating this book, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and agonizing over the crises of gun violence, racial injustice, and environmental racism. All of us have a role to play in fighting these evils, and making the world a better place. And any action we can take begins with empathy, with understanding how complex and hard it is to live in this world. We have a responsibility to give young people the chance to see themselves, as well as people unlike themselves, represented in books. Through books, we can show young people that all children deserve to be loved and seen and respected, no matter what their skin color, gender, or orientation is, no matter what kind of difficult situation they find themselves in.

And children have a responsibility to read books—all kinds of books—and to try to make sense of the world; to figure out: what is our place in this complicated, beautiful life, and what can we do to learn more, to understand more deeply, and to care for one another?

Thank you, and keep reading.

Detail from Danica Novgorodoff’s illustrations for Jason Reynolds’ ‘Long Way Down.’ Image: Yoto Carnegie Greenaway Awards

Library Donations Chosen by the Winners

The Yoto Carnegie Greenaway Awards program is managed by the charity referred to as CILIP, which stands for “Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals,” as chartered by the crown in 1898. The organization was rebranded “CILIP: The Library and Information Association” in 2017.

These awards are juried by children’s librarians. That original longlist was chosen from 148 nominations by a 14-librarian panel from the CILIP Youth Libraries Group. Of the 33 books in those longlists, 18 were for the Carnegie and 15 for the Greenaway.

The winners each receive £500 (US$612) worth of books to donate to their local library of their choice, a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 (US$6,127) Colin Mears Award cash prize.

  • Novgorodoff has chosen to donate her books to the Western Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library for the £500 prize. That library is one of the original nine Carnegie libraries in the Louisville system. It was opened in 1905, and was the first library in the nation to serve and be fully operated by African-Americans.
  • Katya Balen is making her donation to London’s South Norwood Library, which was recently threatened with closure.

In addition to Yoto’s sponsorship, the awards are also sponsored by Peters, the book supplier, and ALCS. The award program this year was held in person at the British Library.

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 111th awards-related report produced in the 114 publication days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.


More from Publishing Perspectives on children’s books is here, more from us on publishing and book awards programs is here, and more on the UK market is here.

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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