Phew . . . it's nice to finally be able to say it! We actually discovered Catherine had won the most prestigious prize bestowed upon picture books in the UK back at the beginning of May. As they say, a watched pot never boils and I knew I would get the call when I wasn't actually at my desk. However, by a happy coincidence I was actually with Catherine when the very lovely Joy Court (chair of the judges) called with the news. When my colleague called to relay the message we were standing in the queue in Zara waiting to buy shoes (this is actually rather appropriate, if you have read the book). I had been going over and over in my mind how I was going to convey the news if Catherine did or did not win but of course when the moment finally came the words just stumbled out of my mouth in their own ineloquent fashion. Still - it was fab!
Children at Hornsey Library help Catherine draw a dragon.
Catherine reads from the award-winning HARRIS FINDS HIS FEET.
After six weeks of biting our lips, the announcement was nearly here. Catherine came down to London (from Edinburgh) on the Tuesday evening and we'd decided to do a day of events with Haringey Libraries on Wednesday. Catherine enjoys getting out and about meeting her readers as often as possible, but as is the unfortunate way of things, as her work grows more popular it gets harder and harder to find the time. It seemed particularly important at this time though, as of course without libraries and librarians, there would be no CILIP and no Kate Greenaway Medal to win. It was a hectic day, cramming in four libraries in the borough, but of course the kids always make it worth while. In Wood Green the children drew fantastically colourful tigers and hares. In Tottenham the kids were older than we would usually expect but demonstrated beautifully how picture books can captivate audiences of any age. The children at Hornsey Library were incredibly inquisitive and had a barrage of insightful questions for Catherine. It really was a lovely precursor to the award ceremony itself.
And what a day it was when it finally arrived. Spirits were high and the mood was one of celebration and excitement. Catherine had been fretting over her speech but when she finally took to the stage it just came naturally. She ad-libbed like a pro and her genuine warmth and excitement came across beautifully. The joy of the Greenaway and Carnegie Medals is that commerciality has become a by-product of their success, rather than the other way around. They were not founded as a promotional tool, and it is this very fact which has made them a respected judgement of the quality of literature for young people. Catherine summed it up pretty well when she said "I feel honoured and hugely flattered that truly booky people, who know an awful lot about books have chosen Harris Finds His Feet to win this year's Kate Greenaway." For our part, I know I can speak for Little Tiger Press when I say that we are hugely honoured to have a writer and illustrator like Catherine on our list. She consistently produces beautiful books and is a genuine pleasure to work with. Of course we didn't need the Greenaway judges to tell us this, but it is hugely gratifying to have it confirmed by such a clever bunch!
Catherine with her (solid gold!) medal.
To see Catherine's acceptance speech visit: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/2009awards/media_ceremony_greenaway.php
I would also recommend having a little look around the shadowing site at all the lovely reviews of Harris and the other brilliant shortlisted books.