Siobhan Dowd has been posthumously awarded the 2009 CILIP Carnegie Medal for her fourth and final novel, Bog Child (David Fickling Books). The CILIP Greenaway Medal was awarded to Catherine Rayner for Harris Finds his Feet (Little Tiger Press). The awards, which are selected by librarians, were announced at a presentation at BAFTA in Piccadilly, central London, today (25th June).
Dowd died in 2007, aged 47, and her Carnegie Medal was collected by her editor David Fickling of David Fickling Books. He praised the "sheer effortless brilliance" of Dowd’s writing and commended the Carnegie judges for granting the award posthumously.
Catherine Rayner, the Greenaway winner, had only one other title published before her winning book. Her début title, Augustus and His Smile, was shortlisted for the same prize in 2007. In Harris Finds His Feet, Harris the hare goes out into the world with his grandad, learning about the joys of growing up.
During an acceptance speech on behalf of Dowd, Fickling hit out at the cuts facing library provision, one of the main routes for children to access books. He said: "Our library culture is at the basis of our whole literary culture. This is the culture that produced a book industry that is the envy of the world. To a great extent, the economies of the children’s publishing business are based on years of brilliant library support. But now we are letting it slip away and it is time to wake up and realise what is going on.
"Libraries are struggling to survive on less and less funding and children have access to fewer books. Children need stories. Siobhan believed that stories help children to think and if they can think, then they are free."
Royalties from all Dowd’s sales will go to the Siobhan Dowd Trust, which has been set up to help disadvantaged children in care who do not have access to books. Details of the trust’s work will be announced in the autumn.
Fickling added: "Siobhan hoped that setting up this trust would provide practical support in UK and Irish communities by getting books into places where there are none. She saw the trust as the seed of a big movement to make sure that book support is provided where it is wanted. It is about offering open possibilities, new life and excitement to children by making books accessible."
Dowd came to writing late in life when she returned to the UK having spent several years in New York as the programme director of American PEN’s Freedom to Write Committee. Fickling said: "I first heard of her in 2004 and within three years she had delivered four books, each one different, each one remarkable."
report by C Horne The Bookseller.
The summer edition of Carousel, which is just published, contains an appraisal of Siobhan Dowd's work. And no, we didn't know ahead that she had won!