The UK’s Yoto Carnegie Medal: A First Win for a Book in Translation

In News by Porter Anderson

The original ‘Llyfr Glas Nebo‘ by writer-translator Manon Steffan Ros wins the Yoto Carnegie in translation as ‘The Blue Book of Nebo.’

A newly designed Yoto Carnegie Medal has been issued to the 2023 winners. Image: Yoto Carnegie Medals

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

‘The Blue Book of Nebo’
The United Kingdom’s Yoto Carnegie Medals program has named The Blue Book of Nebo from Firefly Press. That book, both written and translated by Wales’ Manon Steffan Ros, marks the first time in this contest’s 90 years that a work in translation has been selected to receive the medal for writing.

The level of pride with which the program has announced this point might seem to some to suggest that creating a Yoto Carnegie Medal expressly for work in translation could be a worthy move on the part of this venerable prize regime. (Yoto, which now has its name on the Carnegie medals it sponsors, is an interactive audio platform for youngsters. The Yoto Carnegies are also sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and Scholastic as the official
book supplier.)

The book, originally published in Welsh as Llyfr Glas Nebo, a 2018 release from the publisher Y Lolfa, which is located, its material says, “in the Old Police Station at Talybont on the main road (A487) between Aberystwyth and Machynlleth, next to the Memorial Hall and opposite Bethel chapel.”

Having won the 2019 Wales Book of the Year accolade, apocalyptic tale is described by its Welsh publisher as being about “Siôn, who was forced to grow up very quickly, and Rowenna, his mother, and Dwynwen, his little sister.

“Their remarkable story is recorded in a blue notebook as they try to survive ‘The End,’ the nightmare that had terrible consequences on the inhabitants of the small village of Nebo in North Wales, and beyond.”

‘Saving Sorya’

In its awards program at London’s Barbican on Wednesday (June 21), the contest presented not only its medal for writing but also its parallel honor for illustration.

That Yoto Carnegie Medal for illustration has gone to Jeet Zdung for Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear, written by the Vietnamese wildlife conservation specialist Trang Nguyen and published by Pan Macmillan’s Kingfisher.

Our regular readers will recall our Rights Roundup listing from September 2021 carried extensive information on Saving Sorya. The Yoto Carnegie jurors, in their rationale, have pointed out that this is a second year to find a graphic novel winning the illustration award.

Speaking for the jury, its chair, Janet Noble, said, “In The Blue Book of Nebo, the world-building and distinct voices of the two main characters, the son and his mother, are expertly realized and the reader is compelled to question [her or his] own relationship to the modern world. Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear is a beautiful story, elegantly told, which brings together a global view of conservation and an empowering true story of an inspiring female environmentalist, told through dazzling manga art and watercolors.

“Jeet [Zdung] has crafted every illustration to immerse the reader, just as Manon [Steffan Ros] draws the reader in completely with her vivid, deliberate prose.”

The winners each receive £500 (US$636.35) worth of books to donate to a library of their choice, a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize (US$6,364) and a newly designed golden medal.

We’ll review here for you, the shortlists for the writing and illustration prize.

Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing, 2023 Shortlist

Covers of books in the Yoto Carnegies’ 2023 writing medal competition

There were seven titles shortlisted in the writing category, from a longlist of 15.

  • The Light in Everything, by Katya Balen (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
  • When Shadows Fall, by Sita Brahmachari, illustrated by Natalie Sirett (Little Tiger)
  • Medusa, by Jessie Burton, illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
  • The Eternal Return of Clara Hart, by Louise Finch (Little Island)
  • Needle, by Patrice Lawrence (Barrington Stoke)
  • I Must Betray You, by Ruta Sepetys (Hodder Children’s Books)
  • The Blue Book of Nebo, by Manon Steffan Ros (Firefly Press)
Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration, 2023 Shortlist

Covers of books in the Yoto Carnegies’ 2023 illustration medal competition

The illustration competition had six titles in its shortlist.

  • Rescuing Titanic, illustrated and written by Flora Delargy (Wide Eyed Editions)
  • Alte Zachen: Old Things, illustrated by Benjamin Phillips, written by Ziggy Hanaor (Circada Books)
  • The Worlds We Leave Behind, illustrated by Levi Pinfold, written by A. F. Harrold (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
  • The Visible Sounds, illustrated by Yu Rong, written by Yin Jianling (UCLan Publishing)
  • The Comet, illustrated and written by Joe Todd-Stanton (Flying Eye Books)
  • Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear, illustrated by Jeet Zdung, written by Trang Nguyen (Kingfisher)

This program’s awards are juried by children’s and youths’ librarians.

Each year, reading groups in schools and libraries in the United Kingdom and in other parts of the world “shadow” the jury’s process, choosing their own winners. They’ve voted for their favorites from this year’s shortlist and have chosen I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys for the Yoto Carnegie Shadowers’ Choice Medal for Writing, and The Comet by Joe Todd-Stanton for the Yoto Carnegie Shadowers’ Choice Medal for Illustration.

More from Publishing Perspectives on children’s books is here, more on the Carnegie Greenaway honors—now called the Yoto Carnegies—is here, more from us on publishing and book awards programs is here, and more on the United Kingdom’s market is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson 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 International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, 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.