Graphic Novel Wins Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal for First Time in 50 Years
American graphic novelist Danica Novgorodoff won the Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal for her illustrated edition of Jason Reynold’s book Long Way Down in 2019 – the first graphic novel to win in 50 years.
The winners of the Yoto Carnegie Greenaway Awards – the UK’s longest-running book awards for children and young people – have been announced at a ceremony at the British Library.
Author Katya Balen’s novel October, October won the Yoto Carnegie Medal. Her first novel The Space We’re In was selected in 2019.
October, October follows a girl who must learn to spread her wings after a childhood spent living in the woods changes dramatically when she turns 11.
The story was reportedly inspired by Balen’s stepfather who lives off the grid.
Novgorodoff’s graphic novel was awarded the Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal, making it the first graphic novel to win since Raymond Briggs’ Santa Claus in 1973.
Long Way Down is Novgorodoff’s first children’s book published in the UK and is an adaptation of the original verse novel about gun violence and grief written by 2021 Yoto Carnegie Medal winner Reynolds.
The book features watercolors illustrating the decisions 15-year-old Will must make after his brother is shot.
Novgorodoff said, “I am humbled and honored to receive the Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal.
“Working on Long Way Down, interpreting Jason Reynolds’ beautiful text into pictures, was a dream project for me and its own reward, but I’m thrilled to see the graphic novel resonate with readers as well.”
October, October from Balen achieved further success after also winning the Shadow Choice award for the Yoto Carnegie Medal, voted for by young people across the UK and around the world.
Balen said, “I’m so thrilled to have won the Yoto Carnegie Medal, not only because it’s the prize every children’s writer dreams of, but also because he’s so committed to promoting reading and sharing stories. Sharing stories is something that I believe is one of the most important parts of our lives, simply because stories are our lives.
“These are threads that connect us all. They make us understand, they give us a shared experience, and they also give us something special and private. They give us wild freedom and they provide us with security and comfort.
The Midnight Fair, illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio and written by Gideon Sterer, has been announced as the winner of the Shadowers’ Choice Award for the Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal.
The wordless picture book reveals the secret lives of animals that gather at a funfair at night.
The winners were revealed at a ceremony held in person at the British Library for the first time since 2019 and hosted by poet and novelist Dean Atta, and featuring the judges’ chairperson, librarian Jennifer Horan, alongside a selection of young people who have officially followed the 2022 Prize.
The awards recognize outstanding achievement in children’s writing and illustration, respectively, and aim to inspire a new generation of readers.
Horan said: “I am delighted to share this year’s Medal winners Yoto Carnegie and Kate Greenaway, both of whom provide exceptional reading experiences for young people.
“October, October by Katya Balen is a gripping story with exquisite depictions of the natural world and relationships that grow and heal. It’s an expertly written, beautiful and lyrical novel, alive with wonder and curiosity.
“Long Way Down, illustrated by Danica Novgorodoff, is a brilliant and innovative adaptation of Jason Reynolds’ novel.
“He uses stunning watercolor to powerfully portray the tragedy of gun violence and the emotional impact it has on the lives of young people.”
The winners each receive £500 of books to donate to a local library of their choice, a specially commissioned gold medal and a Colin Mears cash prize of £5,000.