Carnegie 2018 – a day of celebration

Group photo

This year’s shortlist reading period seems to have flashed by and today was the day, when we met with our old and new friends from Churchill Academy to debate the merits of all eight books up for the Carnegie medal. It was our turn to host and we made a full day of activities, quizzes and discussion by adding an author talk in the morning. Mimi Thebo lives nearby and we had seen her books nominated for Carnegie (Dreaming the Bear was also Longlisted last year) so thought she would be a good person to enlighten us about book awards. What a great day we had!

After breaking the ice and getting to know one another we settled into teams for the annual quiz – the new round contained a Grab-Bag full of items featured in the books, each one with a bonus question:

It was a closely run contest with joint winners choosing a book prize and sharing home-made shortlisted book chox: 

Mimi provided the highlight of the day with a fascinating talk looking into the perils of trying to become a published author, let alone one who wins an award. We were left inspired to search out well written books and to share them with others. Students queued up to purchase a signed book (or two) and Mimi spent time chatting with each one. Oh and we loved her bears!

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Lunch is always another highlight with our visitors bringing Carnegie themed cake:


And last but not least is our regular big debate on the merits of all 8 shortlisted books and a vote for the best of the bunch. This year our winner was obvious with 2/3 of the votes going to Will Hill’s After the Fire:

So now all we need to do, is hold our breath until Monday 18th June, when the adult judges announce the winner of the best written book for children and young adults for 2018. We shall be live-streaming the event in our Reading Room at lunchtime for anyone who wishes to attend.

On their way home, I asked students to write their view of the day on our new wipe-board, using their initials to begin the words, so I will leave you with them.


We are recommending our group members now try some of the different titles shortlisted for the YA Award (although our favourite, Will Hill won this last week with After the Fire)  Click below  for details of both lists

Carnegie Longlist & YA shortlist




The People’s Carnegie

This is the school’s 15th year shadowing the Carnegie Book Award given by CILIP for the best written book published in the UK during the past year. And we were pleased to see such a varied and accessible list of titles:


After a swelling of numbers last year, our turnout to most meetings has continued to be healthy whilst we have all been reading the 8 books shortlisted this year, with an enthusiastic new contingent from Y7. Eventually 22 students made it to the end, having read 5 or more of the shortlisted titles which qualified them to join our Carnegie Lunch Day with our partner group from Churchill Academy.


Carnegie Reading Group 2016

We usually share the Medal Day on the actual day of announcement from the adult judges. However this year, due to various reasons, we had to postpone our event until a couple of weeks later. Although we all knew the winner, this did not dampen our fighting spirit and we concentrated on OUR views (which are frequently different to the adult judges anyway!)

So, for The People’s Carnegie Day, we shared a morning of activities based on Truth & Lies (3 of the books had lies in the title and themes) and of course, The Big Quiz which tested teams to the limit.

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We broke for lunch with the traditional highlight being the literary cakes baked by the visiting team, and were not disappointed! See if you can guess which books they are all based on:

This was followed by the Great Debate which this year included EVERY student’s comments. We divided them into small teams and each had to provide a short argument for or against a book winning the award. Students told us later they preferred this to a general discussion which tends to be dominated by the fearless and sweeps over less popular books. Group leaders from both schools were impressed with the imaginative and articulate presentations.

We finished with a vote and the title winning over the most students was The Lies we tell ourselves by Robin Talley which won the the Amnesty CILIP Honour, awarded to the author  that most distinctively illuminates, communicates, or celebrates our personal rights and freedoms.


In case you are wondering, and haven’t heard, the overall winner as judged by the CILIP panel was One, a novel about conjoined twins, written in free verse, by Sarah Crossan


The Great Carnegie Lunch at Backwell

The highlight of the Library Calendar, Carnegie Lunch Day with our neighbouring Reading group from Churchill Academy!

Here is a guest blog from Reading Group Veteran, Megan (Y10)

The morning was lovely; we all sorted the tables while having some friendly conversation about the books. Mainly the Bunker Diary. All the Backwell and Churchill students were given a piece of string and we had to find the three other people with the same length of string. I was on a table with my friend Gemma and two lovely year seven girls from Churchill. Unfortunately Gemma and I had extremely opposing views on one of the books, and so got into some rather large arguments. But those Arguments were not as big as the ones I got into with Molly, who thought that the Bunker Diary should win. But anyway, after we were sorted into our groups we did a few fun activities involving sugary goodness.

For a change this year we took a look at last year’s Kate Greenway award. I thought that this was a funny and interesting activity, especially when Emma on our table pretended to be our mum and read us the story ‘I Want My Hat Back’. We then presented what we thought of the book to the whole group. We did not have the winning book but I thought that our book was pretty good. We then did THE BIG QUIZ, in which my team did the best that I had ever done in Carnegie. I won the Hunger Games for coming second. We then had the buffet where we all stuffed our faces with food. Then there was cake. Need I say more? It was delicious with lots of fantastic creations depicting the books. I think my favourite was the one my friend Emma made. It was a blue cake and the simplicity of it made it all the better. However it was for the Bunker Diary, which was not my favourite book but it was lip-smackingly tasty.

The debate was enjoyable with lots of people contributing, though I did not agree with all their ideas, but that is the point of a debate. It was fun hearing other people’s opinions but no one managed to persuade me to agree with them on the matter of the Bunker Diary. I mean it was the worst book I had ever read. It should be burned, or used as a method of torture. But overall the day had been really fun. That was until the results. I was sat there tense listening to the table tapping that was attempting to be a drum roll. I was sweating while Mr Baldwin slowly revealed the winner. Saying one word and then waiting what seemed like forever to say the other. And then it happened: The Bunker diary won. It completely ruined the entire feeling of the day. I mean I was on my knees beating the ground almost crying. That’s a lie. I was crying. The irony of this was that the whole day people had been saying that they wanted the Bunker Diary to win just to see my reaction. It was a good day though despite the end, and I did make some lovely new friends.

Unfortunately, Megan was in the minority with over 1/2 our group agreeing with the adult judges who praised Bunker Diary for “its incredible characterisation and completely credible plot. Kevin Brooks refuses any easy solutions, and maintains the diary format throughout – creating a real world for the reader to inhabit fully. ‘Bunker Diary’ is undeniably a book that transports the reader to a place that, at the time of reading, feels very real. It is a book that can be read and reread without losing any of its power, and we feel that it should join the canon of previous winners as a new classic.

Click here to listen to Kevin's acceptance speech and find out more about this exciting, chilling and thought provoking book - and make sure you read it yourself!

Click here to listen to Kevin’s acceptance speech and find out more about this exciting, chilling and thought provoking book – and make sure you read it yourself!

Helen Thompson, Chair of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal judging panel, said:

“Children and teenagers live in the real world; a world where militia can kidnap an entire school full of girls, and where bullying has reached endemic proportions on social media. Exploring difficult issues within the safe confines of a fictional world creates essential thinking space, and encourages young people to consider and discuss their own feelings and reactions. I believe that the books being published for children and young people are often better researched, better written and more thought provoking than most adult books, and this year’s CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway books are no exception.

If you wish to challenge yourself and read some great thought provoking books over the summer, we thoroughly recommend you try some of the shortlisted titles, all available in the library.

Carnegie Lunch at Churchill Academy.

Backwell’s Carnegie Reading Group visited Churchill Academy this week to debate the shortlist for the Carnegie Award (given to the best written childrens’ book of the year)

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“I thoroughly enjoyed Carnegie this year, although some of the books were a bit strange (A boy and a bear in a boat.) Over the last few weeks both Backwell and Churchill students have been reading the shortlisted books, giving us a good starting point for the afternoon’s discussion.  The lunch was delicious and the Librarians, nice too, making it a great experience!”  Matthew, Yr 9, voting for Wonder

Thank you very much Churchill students and Librarians, Mrs Dibble, Mrs McGilloway for a great day of fun, debate and lovely food!

Invitation to Churchill School

One of the stories on this year’s Carnegie Shortlist is about a boy with a severe facial disfigurement. His favourite time of the year is Halloween, when he says “We could all wear masks…. and get to know each other before we got to see what we looked like under the masks.”
The Reading Group were intrigued to open a brightly coloured box from The group at Churchill. Apart from an invitation to their Carnegie Award Lunch on 19th June, it contained a large set of white masks:
mask invite
The message reads, “Let the masks reflect the stories you have read.”
We will have fun decorating them before the event and will publish photos of our results.

Carnegie Cakes, Quizzes, Debate and Friendship.

Whew! What a day!

The Library was closed for the annual Carnegie Lunch with Churchill Academy students and became a very different place from usual!

We mixed ourselves up and worked in groups of 4 on games and quizzes – all based on the 8 shortlisted titles for the Carnegie Book Award. After a break for a delicious lunch, we started our debate about which book should win the final accolade of “the best written book” of the year. To spice things up Mrs Gibson had devised  tableaux (one from each of the books) for the teams to recreate, to introduce each book to be discussed.

Mr Baldwin was able to join us to open the envelope containing the winner as chosen by the adult judges. Unfortunately it wasn’t our favourite, but interestingly it also won the sister award, The Kate Greenaway, for the best illustrated book. This is an historic event, and the Library Ladiez have to say that the awards have gone to two exceptionally talented men, Patrick Ness and Jim Kay for A Monster Calls.


Oh, and did I mention the cakes? Well, they were a sight to behold:

Everybody Jam tarts, Small Change for Stuart telephone box, Midnight Zoo chocolate fudge special, Shades of Gray frosted sponge and Trash Stuppa cupcakes.

….and didn’t last long after Churchill judged Midnight Zoo the winning cake!

Other students had created Book Boxes to promote their favourites – look out for them on display in the library after Activities Week and Emma provided the super hand-made bookcover centrepieces for all the tables. A big THANK YOU to them all!

A monster calls: the winning book box

We were sad to see our new friends leave, but have promised to stay in touch via Skype, until next year!