Yoto Carnegies 2023 – Winners Announced!

21 June, 2023

Blue-Book-of-Neo-Yoto-Carnegie-2023-winnerThe winners of the UK’s longest-running and most prestigious book awards for children and young people were announced today, 21st June, in a live-streamed ceremony at the Barbican. The event was hosted by former Children’s Laureate Lauren Child CBE, herself a recipient of the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration (then known as the Kate Greenaway Medal) for I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato in 2000.

This year’s Yoto Carnegie Medal for a book that creates an outstanding reading experience through writing goes to Manon Steffan Ros for The Blue Book of Nebo  (Firefly Press). It is the first time in the award’s history that the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing has been awarded to a book in translation. The original Welsh edition, Llyfr Glas Nebo, won multiple awards, including the 2019 Wales Book of the Year. The judges admired the ‘appreciation of language, reading and literature’ and described the book as ‘heartbreaking’, ‘poignant’ and ‘rich with Welsh heritage’.

On receiving her medal, Manon Steffan Ros said, ‘I used to see the word Carnegie on the covers of my favourite books as a child, and the fact that The Blue Book of Nebo now has that honour bestowed upon it means more than I can say – and to be the first book in translation to win the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing is a source of great delight. One of the greatest privileges of my life has been the fact that I was raised through the medium of the Welsh language, and having access to two languages has brought me so much joy and opportunity. There’s a huge, lively, thriving Welsh language cultural scene that I’m honoured to be a part of. Each language offers a unique and enriching perspective on the world, and so literature in translation has the potential to enhance our lives greatly. Your favourite book might not yet be translated into a language that you understand.’

Saving-Sorya-Chang-and-the-Sun-BearFor a second consecutive year, the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration (formerly the Kate Greenaway Medal) goes to a graphic novel – Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear by Jeet Zdung (Kingfisher). Written and inspired by the life of Vietnamese wildlife conservationist Dr Trang Nguyen, the judges praised Zdung’s ‘clever use of panelling’ and infusion of graphic novel and manga styles to deliver ‘drama and impact’. The ‘beautiful’ manga-inspired illustrations – which include scenic watercolours and detailed, pencil-sketched journal entries – work together to offer ‘something new to discover on each re-reading.’

In his acceptance speech, illustrator Jeet Zdung said, ‘When I was a child, I always wished that I could create my own cartoon movies. The process of creating the book Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear was a journey to satisfy the child’s longing inside of me – to create an immersive movie on paper using influences of comics and manga. Together with Trang Nguyen, we hope these books will contribute to the conservation of wildlife by sharing with the readers what we know, what we love and care about. For me, this is a long and enduring journey. Winning the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration is a great honour. We hope that the impact of the prize will be felt widely and draw attention to the plight of the Sun Bears and other wildlife.’

You can read interviews with both Manon Steffan Ros and Jeet Zdung in online magazine Books for Keeps.

This year’s winners were chosen from shortlists of seven and six titles respectively by an expert team of children’s and youth librarians from across the UK. Their judging process was shadowed by thousands of reading groups in schools and libraries across the UK who read and discussed the shortlisted titles before choosing their own Shadowers’ Choice winners.

This year’s Yoto Carnegie Shadowers’ Choice Medal for Writing goes to Ruta Sepetys for I Must Betray You (Hodder Children’s Books), a ‘powerful and moving historical fiction novel’ that explores ‘themes of freedom, betrayal, and hope in a way that is both thought-provoking and relevant to our own lives.’

The Yoto Carnegie Shadowers’ Choice Medal for Illustration goes to Joe Todd-Stanton for The Comet (Flying Eye Books), which was praised by young judges for being ‘full of imagination and adventure’.


Cover images of the two Yoto Carnegie Shadowers' Choice Medals 2023


Commenting on this year’s awards, Janet Noble, Chair of Judges, said: ‘From an incredibly strong shortlist, our panel of librarian judges have debated long and hard to choose our two worthy winners of the Yoto Carnegie Medals 2023.

In The Blue Book of Nebo, the world building and distinct voices of the two main characters, the son and his mother, are expertly realised and the reader is compelled to question their own relationship with the modern world. Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear is a beautiful story, elegantly told, which brings together a global view of conservation and an empowering true story of an inspiring female environmentalist, told through dazzling manga art and watercolours. Jeet has crafted every illustration to immerse the reader, just as Manon draws the reader in completely with her vivid, deliberate prose.

Thanks to the young readers far and wide who have engaged with our shortlists and voted for their own deserving Shadowers’ Choice Medal recipients. Huge congratulations to all four of our Yoto Carnegie medal winners for this year, who demonstrate the best of children’s writing and illustration in its myriad of forms.’

Find out how your school can get involved in the Yoto Carnegie Shadowing Scheme next year here.

Logo for the Yoto Carnegie Medals