The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are the UK’s oldest and best-loved children’s book awards, recognising outstanding reading experiences created through writing and illustration in books for children and young people. The CILIP Carnegie Medal is awarded by children’s librarians for an outstanding book written in English for children and young people.
Raw, lingering and stirringly lyrical, October, October had me hooked from opening to end.
Conjured in language that crackles and smoulders like an autumn bonfire, this is a book of bones and bark, of frost and flame, captivating in the manner of Skellig or Stig of the Dump as it undulates towards a wondrous homecoming of the heart.
“We live in the woods and we are wild… Just us. A pocket of people in a pocket of the world that’s small as a marble. We are tiny and we are everything and we are wild.” October has everything she wants living in the woods in the house her father built. Her mother left when October was four and she’s adamant that, “I don’t want her. She’s not wild like we are.”
This year October’s euphoria at the onset of autumn is sullied when she discovers a dead owl and a motherless baby owl: “my heart won’t stop bruising my ribs.” So, she rescues the baby, names it Stig and declares it her first ever friend. Calamity strikes when the woman “who calls herself my mother” arrives as a birthday surprise - her beloved dad breaks his spine after falling from a tree and October must stay with this woman – her mother – in London while he recuperates. In the chaotic city, October is a bird with clipped wings. Torn from her wild world, she implodes, becomes a “firework of fury”, until she strikes up a bond with a boy named Yusef and discovers mudlarking, which makes her once more “a wild animal skulking and prowling for food”, “a pirate hunting for treasure.”
An unforgettable story, an unforgettable heroine – it’s no exaggeration to hail this a future classic.
October, October was also lucky enough to win the Carnegie Shadower's Choice Award.
- Joanne Owen (LoveReading Editorial Expert)
Unique in that they are judged solely by librarians, the roll-call of past winners includes: Arthur Ransome, C.S. Lewis, Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, Noel Streatfeild, Sally Gardner and Elizabeth Acevedo for the Carnegie; and Raymond Briggs, Shirley Hughes, Janet Ahlberg, and Children’s Laureates Quentin Blake, Anthony Browne, Chris Riddell and Lauren Child for the Kate Greenaway.
A national (and international) reading for pleasure initiative, the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards Shadowing scheme engages thousands of children and young people in reading the books on the shortlist via reading groups in schools and public libraries with dedicated educational reading resources and promotional materials to support each shortlist. Each year young people who take part in the scheme are invited to vote for their favourite books to win the Shadowers’ Choice Awards, which are announced alongside the Medal winners at the annual winners’ ceremony. The Medals are awarded annually by CILIP, the library and information association and the Youth Libraries Group with longlists announced in February, shortlists in March and the winners announced at a ceremony in June.