American children’s author Patrick Ness has won this year’s esteemed CILIP Carnegie Medal, using his speech to attack the government’s library cuts.
He was given the award, previously won by authors including Neil Gaiman, Meg Rosoff and Melvin Burgess, today for his novel Monsters of Men, published by Walker Books.
In his speech Ness declared: "While the government says it wants children to read, it is not providing the means to do so. For children, libraries are a place that isn't tested or limited or assigned, a place where children can find surprising paths and guidance if they want it."
He also passionately criticised the Coalition’s plan to replace some qualified librarians with volunteers, describing it as "a one-sentence, Big Society idea whose ramifications and consequences they haven't even remotely considered." He said: "Librarians open up the world. Knowledge is useless if you don't even know where to begin to look."
Children of Men is the final book in Ness’ Chaos Walking Trilogy—each of the three books has been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal before—about young Tom and Viola caught up in a war on the planet of New World. He said about the themes of the books: “These are big questions like what does war mean, what does it mean to be an individual in a war, how complicated real love can be–all the themes that have been leading up to the final book."
Grahame Baker-Smith also won this year's CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for his novel FArTHER (Templar). The story is about a father who dreams of flying. When he goes off to war and does not return, his son decides to make the dream come true.
Read more about Patrick Ness and death in children's fiction, from We Love This Book 1, in An Awfully Big Adventure.
Read that? Try our interview with Ness about his novel A Monster Calls.