Saturday, 15 June 2013

CILIP Carnegie 2013 - Our wrap up

CILIP Carnegie 2013 – Our wrap up
CILIP Carnegie 2013 shortlist
CILIP Carnegie 2013 shortlist
Our CILIP Carnegie 2013 shadowing has been a journey. We actively started following the longlist in November 2012 (although we'd already read some of the titles before they were announced). M had read 7 of the 8 shortlisted novels before they were announced (and predicted 5). We’ve enjoyed reading a variety of good books, seeing the nominations, seeing what other people think, discussing what we think about each book and considering what might win. We’ve enjoyed learning about judging and exploring the analysis of a book/piece of writing together – and discovering how complicated it all is. We’ve loved every minute of it and we’re going to miss it.  Yes, the winner still has to be announced but it’s the nomination and shortlisting discussions (and reading) that we enjoyed the most.

From the shortlist, we don’t have a clear favourite each. Little M’s gut favourite is Code Name Verity but In Darkness is licking at its heels. And of course The Weight of Water. M’s favourite is possibly Maggot Moon but some days it’s In Darkness or Code Name Verity. A lot of overlap between the two of us!

What we learned about judging from Shadowing
  • Subjectivity is difficult to avoid (& an apparent absence of it might really be more about an individual’s skill in hiding it). Because of this, clarity of judging criteria and shared meaning of these is important.
  • It is difficult to judge books based on one reading only, especially if you don’t make detailed notes.
  • It is difficult to judge books that you have read over a one year period, especially if you didn’t apply any judging criteria to your reading.
  • It is difficult to judge books that are intended for widely different age groups: we both felt that A Boy and a Bear in a Boat was at a disadvantage (except it might still win!).
  • We enjoyed discussing and debating together within set guidelines and timeframes.

What we think will win:

The criteria
The CILIP Carnegie website states that the winner “ should be a book of outstanding literary quality. The whole work should provide pleasure, not merely from the surface enjoyment of a good read, but also the deeper subconscious satisfaction of having gone through a vicarious, but at the time of reading, a real experience that is retained afterwards.” The criteria doesn’t state originality, experimentation, pushing boundaries, or refreshing.

Here’s how our panel of two non-librarians shaped the criteria. We created a spreadsheet with 17 criteria and paid attention to anything that got an interesting response. We found flaws in every title, were a bit baffled by some of the criteria, and got bored after a while. Also, first and foremost, both of us read fiction for leisure and for pleasure. So, using what we understood from the criteria and paying more attention to the point about “providing pleasure”, we decided the things that were most important for us are:
  • Flow – the work must flow although it doesn’t have to be linear; this is probably about plot construction, language use and ease of comprehension; might also be what some people refer to as accessibility.
  • Connection & Emotional response – the criteria emphasises that the winning novel must produce a real experience during reading and one that remains with you. This doesn’t mean it has to be a comfortable or happy experience, just a deep and longlasting one. We see this as how affective the novel is.
  • Unanimity – we wanted to agree on a winner. With just two people with widely different reading histories, that is difficult. We got close but sorry, no cigar.

The titles we both agreed on as meeting most of the criteria best – and fulfilling our interpretation of how to differentiate between these – are:

1.      Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

2.    In Darkness - Nick Lake

3.    Weight of Water – Sarah Crossan

However, M thinks that Maggot Moon (Sally Gardner) will win because she thought it ticked more of the boxes more clearly than any of the other titles. Interestingly, Little M doesn’t agree because she found it a bit confusing. Also interesting, she gave more ticks to A Greyhound of a Girl than I did (though she doesn’t think it will win).

Good luck to all the shortlisted authors. We'll be thinking of you during the announcement of the winner on Wednesday. And if you're shadowing and on Twitter, watch out for next year's version of #tweetckg - this year's was brilliant.



  1. I'm ashamed to say I haven't read any of the books on the shortlist. :(
    I'm planning on reading Code Name Verity very soon, though!

    1. There's no shame in that, Lucy! Shadowing isn't everyone's cup of tea (likewise some of the books on it might not be either). I think you'll really enjoy Code Name Verity - and a few of the others too. It's a really varied and good quality list. The stories are good.


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