Entertainment & Arts

Sarah Crossan champions poetry as verse novel wins Carnegie Medal

Sarah Crossan Image copyright Bloomsbury Books
Image caption Sarah Crossan's winning book is written in blank verse

Author Sarah Crossan made a rallying cry for poetry as she won this year's Carnegie Medal for children's fiction.

Her winning novel One, which tells the story of conjoined twins, is written in free verse.

Children's Laureate Chris Riddell won the Kate Greenaway Medal for a third time for his illustrations of Neil Gaiman's The Sleeper and the Spindle.

Both prizes, judged solely by librarians, are each awarded annually to a book for young people.

Accepting her prize at a ceremony at the British Library on Monday, teacher-turned-novelist Crossan said children inherently "trust poetry" as it is read to them from such a young age.

"And then we kill it for them by around Year Eight, with testing leaving no space for joy or performance," she added.

She said poetry was more powerful when performed. "No poet writes words so that they remain cold on the page to be scanned from left to right in black and white and then examined for GCSE.

"Poetry belongs to everyone, it doesn't necessarily belong in the classroom or university nor in the bookshop ghetto next to 18th century literary criticism."

Dublin-born Crossan, who was previously shortlisted for the Carnegie in 2013 for The Weight of Water and 2015 for Apple and Rain, also pledged support for the British library system, whose closures she said "infuriated" her.

Her winning novel features 16-year-old Grace and Tippi whose upper bodies are separate but are joined at the hip and share one pair of legs.

One, published by Bloomsbury, also recently won The Bookseller's 2016 prize for young adult fiction.

Image copyright Rolf Marriott Photography
Image caption Sarah Crossan and Chris Riddell with their medals

Chris Riddell, the first reigning Children's Laureate to win either medal, said he was "honoured" to accept the Kate Greenaway Medal.

He is the first ever triple winner, having won in 2001 for Pirate Diary and 2004 for his adaptation of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver.

He said he was humbled that Neil Gaiman had chosen him to illustrate his retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale "from all the talented, young, good-looking, fashionable illustrators he could have chosen".

He also thanked his publisher, Bloomsbury, for giving him "96 pages and gold as a second colour".

Sioned Jacques, chair of the CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) judging panel, described Crossan's One as "poignant and thought-provoking".

She said Riddell was "surely at the height of his powers".

Crossan and Riddell each receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library and a cash prize of £5,000.

The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016 shortlist:

One by Sarah Crossan(winner)

• The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

• There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake

• The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

• Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders

• The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

• Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

• Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine

The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2016 shortlist:

• Willy's Stories illustrated and written by Anthony Browne

• There's a Bear on My Chair illustrated and written by Ross Collins

• Once Upon an Alphabet illustrated and written by Oliver Jeffers

• Sam & Dave Dig a Hole illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett

• Something About a Bear illustrated and written by Jackie Morris

• Captain Jack and the Pirates illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, written by Peter Bently

The Sleeper and the Spindle illustrated by Chris Riddell, written by Neil Gaiman (winner)

• Footpath Flowers illustrated by Sydney Smith, written by JonArno Lawson

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