The Greenaway Medal is a very prestigious annual award for children's picture books, which specifically awards excellent illustration. It has been going since 1955 and is named after the popular 19th century illustrator Kate Greenaway:
The prize is not just kudos either: as well as their medal, the winner gets £500 worth of books donated to the library of their choice, plus the £5000 Colin Mears Award: a bequest left by the Worthing based accountant and children's book collector. Not bad eh?
I particularly like the way Freya manages to retain the vigour and purity of her original sketches in the final artwork.
This is a constant battle for illustrators, one that most of us lose, at least a little. No matter how well the final image works, there is invariable some freshness lost from the first drawings. It's generally not apparent unless you see the two versions alongside, so most people don't notice, but the artist knows.
Every year, schools and libraries all over the UK 'shadow' the Greenaway, asking children to read the shortlisted books and vote for themselves - it's interesting to see if the winner comes out the same!
The librarian at Lady Manners School in Derbyshire asked me to be part of a shadowing on Thursday. I met the 5 invited primary schools and gave talks to the children about my work.
The day was a huge success and very interesting. Each child had been asked to design a mask, based on their personal favourite, and I awarded prizes to the best 6. There were group discussions and then children slipped their votes into a ballot box.
We had votes after both the morning and afternoon sessions. Guess what the children's favourites were? Well... (drum roll) the morning's vote went to...
The Dunderheads, illustrated by David Roberts. The children liked the off-beat drawings and loved the fact that it was about kids pooling their skills to beat a really nasty teacher!
I enjoyed how wonderfully individual each child's character is, and how David has captured just the right look to match each personality.
The children in the afternoon voted for Viviane Schwarz's very funny book, There Are Cats in this Book, which is indeed quite wonderful. They were taken with the bright, primary colours too.
Anyone who has ever owned a cat will relate to the three moggies who inhabit the book, but the thing that really made me giggle out loud, was the format. There is no conventional story: the whole book is the cats talking to you, the reader, asking you to do various favours for them.
Viviane's drawings too are beautifully loose and free. Her style add to the vitality, so there is a real sense of movement as the cats scrawm across the pages.
Thank you to Mrs Hetherington for inviting me to be part of such an inspiring day and to all the children who took part, including our 5 special helpers, who did a grand job!