Five Kate Greenaway Medal Winners to Look for at Your Library

Scene of father and son from Farther
Category: Bookbug

On Thursday this week (16 March) the shortlist will be announced for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal - one of the most respected children's book awards. Scotland's representative on the judging panel for this year (and last) is Jennifer Horan, a Librarian and Bookbug Session Leader from Aberdeenshire. Jennifer took some time out to tell us about some of her favourite Kate Greenaway Medal winners. 


I am currently in my final year as Scotland’s rep on the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway judging panel. The panel of this most prestigious children’s literature award is formed of one librarian from each region of CILIP’s Youth Libraries Group throughout the UK, and each judge spends two exhausting and exhilarating years in the role.  Being part of the process is hugely exciting; it has introduced me to books I’d never have picked up otherwise, and it continuously opens my eyes to the glories of picture books. Here are some of my favourite picture book winners from past years:

Harris the Hare and his Grandpa

Harris Finds His Feet by Catherine Rayner

I related to Harris instantly, not because I have exceedingly large feet, but because I have exceedingly small feet. Rayner’s beautiful watercolours and innocent illustrations capture nature’s beauty and send the message of how our perceived imperfections make us unique – Harris learns his feet can benefit him as he encounters life’s situations, such as shading him from the sun. A lesson on learning to feel comfortable in your own skin, and a nod at the family relationships that make us stronger.  

Black dog

Black Dog by Levi Pinfold

Personifying the euphemism for depression, the black dog in question terrifies the Hope family, growing bigger and more menacing as each person’s fear increases, then shrinking to a lovable puppy when the smallest Hope faces it head-on. Gentle and humorous, this is an important and comforting read for those of us who battle with fear and mind-horrors, and need that little glimmer of hope. No matter how small, that message of “you are not alone” makes a big impact.

Bear and rabbit from I Want My Hat Back

 I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

A wonderfully dark tale, proof that picture books work on different levels and can appeal to all ages, offering something different to each reader. It features simple illustrations where facial expressions say so much, and also includes great use of coloured text: lies typed in red scream 'danger'! To what lengths will the bear go to retrieve his stolen hat? Not one for sensitive souls!

Cat and Duck and Squirrel from Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper

Ah, good old-fashioned storytelling at its very best. When soup-making and friendship go wrong, this warm, cosy story with its autumnal illustrations takes the reader on a journey to find runaway Duck. Guaranteed to warm your heart - and put you in the mood for a bowl of soup. It also has a great message about teamwork – I once read this book to a P1 class who weren’t getting along. (And it makes for a great adjective lesson.)

Image of father and son from Farther

FArTHER by Grahame Baker Smith

A story about dreams, ambitions and fathers. Simply stunning illustrations - imagination mixed with realism, drawings alongside photographs. Alongside the tale of invention is the subtle message of war and the fathers who never made it home. I adore the ending and the celebration of life’s possibilities for the author’s baby son. (Main image above also from FArTHER)


If you'd like to see some more previous winners of this wonderful children's book award, check out our 11 Kate Greenaway Medal Winners book list.

Jennifer Horan

Jennifer Horan is a Network Librarian in Aberdeenshire, where she runs fortnightly Bookbug Sessions. She's also a CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal judge (2016/2017).