"the fuel for our future"

In Words & Pictures' first week as a blogzine, one of our posts was Nicky Schmidt's interview with Ferelith Hordon on the judging criteria for the Carnegie Medal and the Kate Greenaway Award. In this our thirteenth week as a blogzine we saw the 2013 Carnegie Medal won by Sally Gardner for Maggot Moon and the 2013 Kate Greenaway Award won by Levi Pinfold for Black Dog. Many congratulations to Sally and Hot Key Books, our Ask a Publisher, and to Levi and Templar Publishing. Many congratulations too to all the shortlisted, especially our own Elizabeth Wein for Codename Verity - Carnegie Shortlisted Author still sounds pretty damn fine to me.

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Award Winners 2013

As well as congratulating these worthy winners we must also bid what I hope may be a temporary farewell to Nicky Schmidt our Correspondent at Large and the winning features she has produced for us. On Wednesday she concluded her excellent marketing feature with part 2 on Branding. She, I'm sure, will still be very much in evidence on our SCBWI forums, FB and Yahoo, but for the time being, thank you so much, Nicky for sharing your expertise and insight with us here on Words & Pictures.

If this week has had a theme for me it's been children's imagination. I was particularly struck by this...

“The greatest thing a country has is its children and what children have is imagination and that really is the fuel for our future.” Sally Gardner, BBC Breakfast News, 21st June 2013

I was also inspired by the ShoutSouth Festival where a group of volunteer authors and Illustrators  delivered a three day explosion of imagination-busting story creation with South London children and Julia Groves, our new featured illustrator, encouraging us to...

"run any idea past a child if you possibly can, you’ll be amazed at their brainstorming abilities!" Julia Groves

I believe that every life saving and life enhancing discovery as much as every story has started with a 'what if'. Wouldn't it be great if the ShoutSouth model could be recreated outside London? ShoutSouth should certainly be shouted about. Bridget's breathlessly enthusiastic post about the festival was featured by Nick in the blog break.

This all made me wonder what's so special about a child's as opposed to an adult's imagination and why should it be nurtured?

So I came up with the beginnings of a list:

  • A child is not blinkered by what experience has taught them. Nothing and everything is 'silly' to a child but still worth trying.
  • A child is not cynical.
  • A child has a fresh look from a new angle - if you can, get down on your knees and look at the world from their height.
  • A child is unhampered by convention or politeness and so less afraid of what people might think.
  • A child sees with sparkling clarity what's there not what should be there, think The Emperor's New Clothes. 

As writers and illustrators for children we are part of that nurturing and as much as delivering better books to children, we should also be listening to them more. It's what I hope for the Chalkface Challenge - all of the entries now having been delivered and according to their teacher, to some very happy young people.

Interestingly, the favourites from the young people shadowing the Carnegie/Greenaway judging process were The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan and Pirates and Pistols by Chris Mould. You can read the young peoples' reviews for all the shortlisted books here.

Also in week thirteen, with Bridget, Nick featured some of the graphic novel comic buzz around illustration for older readers, unleashing creativity and some silliness in the blog break on Tuesday. I was delighted how the network news this week came in the comments to Gill's brilliant classification of critique groups on Thursday. Ask a Publisher was as lively as ever, I so appreciate Sara taking time to reply to comments on Monday. If you haven't already, check out Hot Key's own blog for some more of that transparent and adventurous Hot Key spirit. And if you're unpublished and unagented, and need any more convincing about Undiscovered Voices 2014 read Lara Williamson's success story on Saturday's celebrations with Jackie Buckle also celebrating a debut deal.

Next week we have Workshops: How to make them work, another video from our Social Sheila, and Duck & Bear part 4!

I'm off in the van for a couple of days to make headway on the WIP.
Hope yours is a productive week too,

Jan Carr

Jan Carr is the editor of Words & Pictures. Her fiction is older middle grade, she blogs occasionally and loves to write in magenta.


  1. A great round-up of the week, Jan. I always enjoy reading your article.

    1. Thank you so much Amanda, that's really nice to know.

  2. Thanks from me too, Jan. Awed that you find time for WIP as well as W&P.

  3. You're very kind Rowena and if you saw the state of my house or my WIP or what I just ate for my dinner you'd understand:)


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