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Shaun Tan wins the Kate Greenaway medal

7/08/2020 3:29 PM
Shaun Tan wins the Kate Greenaway medal

Australian artist Shaun Tan has become the first person of colour to win the Kate Greenaway medal for his book Tales from the Inner City, while British author Anthony McGowan was announced the winner of the Carnegie medal.

The Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1956 for distinguished illustration in a book for children and has gone to some of the biggest names in children’s literature, including Edward Ardizzone, Helen Oxenbury, and Raymond Briggs.

Tan, who is of Australian, Chinese, and Malay descent, is the first person of colour to win the medal in its’ 64-year history.

Calling Tales from the Inner City ‘a strange book for strange times’, and said he was ‘surprised, delighted and then deeply honoured’ to win.

‘To know that I am not alone in enjoying such speculation – maybe even a bit too much – is no small thing. It is profoundly consoling, to feel part of a larger conversation about our relationship to this planet, particularly with younger readers, in whose imagination the future is already taking shape,’ Tan said.

Chair of Judges for the medals, Julia Hale, said that every detail of Tales from the Inner City marked it ‘as a masterwork of illustration that generates an outstanding experience for the reader’.

She added that it was ‘a stunning book that should be widely shared and celebrated’.

‘Never have the bonds between us and the beautiful creatures we share the Earth with been so exquisitely rendered,’ Hale said.

British author Anthony McGowan was also announced as the winner of the Carnegie medal, for new children’s and young adult fiction.

The Carnegie medal is highly prestigious, having seen famous winners in the past such as C S Lewis, Noel Streatfield, and Arthur Ransome.

His winning novel, Lark, centres on two brothers who become stuck in a blizzard on the North Yorkshire moors. 

Speaking of the short novel, Hale said, ‘it is incredible that such a rich reading experience is in no way impeded by its short and accessible form, indeed it is a strength.’

‘The book leaves the reader with hope for the future; that through the bonds of love from friends and family things can and will get better.’

McGowan explained that Lark was ‘a simple adventure story’, where a fun day out between two brothers ‘turns into a desperate struggle for survival’. He added that, on another level, ‘the book is about the unshakeable love between two brothers, one of them with special needs, after enduring family breakup, poverty, bullying, and cruelty.’

Organisers of this year’s awards said that the chosen winners reflected the awards’ mission to ‘celebrate and represent a diverse range of experiences’.