The Yoto Carnegies, the UK’s longest running and well-loved book awards for children and young people, announced their 2024 shortlists at the London Book Fair this morning. 

Picture books prevail on the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration shortlist, which includes previous winner Catherine Rayner and three-time shortlisted illustrator Poonam Mistry.

Poetry dominates the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing shortlist with three novels written in verse – two by former shortlistees, Waterstones Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho, and New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander, and one debut, Tia Fisher – alongside a poetry collection by prolific children’s writer Nicola Davies

The shortlists include a further two debuts; Nathanael Lessore for the Medal for Writing, and Chloe Savage for the Medal for Illustration. 

Independent Welsh publisher and British Book Award Small Press of the Year finalist Graffeg have a shortlisted title in each category. 

Journeys, literal and metaphorical, are a common theme across both lists, with books encouraging empathy and hope and promoting an understanding of historical and contemporary global issues, including the environment. 

The Yoto Carnegies celebrate outstanding achievement in children’s writing and illustration and are unique in being judged by librarians, with respective Shadowers’ Choice Medals voted for by children and young people. 

16 books have been shortlisted in total, with eight in each category for the Carnegie Medal for Writing and Carnegie Medal for Illustration; whittled down from the 36 longlisted titles by the expert judging panel which includes 12 librarians from CILIP: the library and information association’s Youth Libraries Group.

The 2024 Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing shortlist is (alphabetical by author surname): 

The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

The Song Walker by Zillah Bethell

Away with Words by Sophie Cameron

The Boy Lost in the Maze by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kate Milner

Choose Love by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Petr Horáček

Crossing the Line by Tia Fisher

Safiyyah’s War by Hiba Noor Khan

Steady for This by Nathanael Lessore

Authors L-R from top in alphabetical order by surname

The 2024 Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration shortlist is (alphabetical by illustrator surname): 

The Tree and the River by Aaron Becker

April's Garden by Catalina Echeverri, written by Isla McGuckin

Lost by Mariajo Ilustrajo

The Wilderness by Steve McCarthy

To the Other Side by Erika Meza

The Midnight Panther by Poonam Mistry

The Bowerbird by Catherine Rayner, written by Julia Donaldson

The Search for the Giant Arctic Jellyfish by Chloe Savage

Illustrators L-R from top in alphabetical order by surname

Maura Farrelly, Chair of Judges for The Yoto Carnegies 2024, said: “The judges have worked incredibly hard to select 16 outstanding books; books that celebrate the very best of writing and illustration for children and young people. These are books to empower young readers, and for some will provide validation and refuge; stories of courage, of characters thriving to find themselves and their place in the world, often in difficult or dangerous situations. The books shortlisted for the writing medal exemplify immersive and compelling writing with the power to inspire and move readers across a range of forms. The illustration shortlist is entirely comprised of picture books, with a strong theme of the environment, underlining the way picture books can speak to all ages, and showing how nature and illustrated books can heal and empower. We are excited to share these lists with shadowing groups and young readers, and very much look forward to reading their reviews and discovering their winners, alongside our own, at the announcement in June.”

The winners will be announced and celebrated on Thursday 20 June at a live and streamed ceremony, hosted by Manjeet Mann, winner of the 2021 Shadowers’ Choice Medal for Writing for her debut novel, Run, Rebel. Her second novel, The Crossing, was shortlisted for the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing in 2022.  

The winners will each receive a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize. The winners of the Shadowers’ Choice Medals – voted for and awarded by the children and young people – will also be presented at the ceremony. They will also receive a golden medal and, for the first time this year, £500 worth of books to donate to a library of their choice.

The Shortlist in More Detail

Winner of the 2009 Medal for Illustration, Catherine Rayner is shortlisted for The Bowerbird, written by Julia Donaldson. The judges described it as a “charming and absorbing story” with “wonderful, sketchy style illustrations” which give “a lively sense of movement” to Bert the bowerbird looking for love.

Shortlisted three times previously for the Medal for Illustration, Poonam Mistry secures her place on the shortlist again with The Midnight Panther, a fable about courage and finding your place in the world. Incorporating her love of nature, her Indian roots and exploring the relationships between pattern, shapes and colour, the judges admired her “intricate and artistic style” and “incredible composition and perspective”.

Debut illustrator and graduate of The Cambridge School of Art, Chloe Savage is shortlisted for her “vibrant and lively story” The Search for the Giant Arctic Jellyfish, an inspiring adventure about delving into the unknown told with “humour and playfulness in the illustrations”. 

An “empathetic” historical verse novel with a focus on the era of pre-slavery, The Door of No Return is a “hard-hitting, intelligent” story by poet, educator, publisher and New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander, following 11-year-old Kofi who is taken away from everything he loves in the hope of freedom. It is one of three novels in verse shortlisted this year.

The second comes from Waterstones Children’s Laureate and former shortlisted author Joseph Coelho. The Boy Lost in the Maze, illustrated by Kate Milner is a “beautiful and emotionally satisfying” novel in verse portraying a boy’s journey into manhood. Blending the ancient legend of the Minotaur with the quest of a modern-day teenager to find his biological father, Coelho has produced a “truly immersive experience”.

Tia Fisher’s debut Crossing the Line is the third; a powerful verse novel based on a true story about how teenagers can be swept up into county lines. “Emotive and believable”, it is told with authenticity, with the language adding vibrant meaning to an “innovative and engaging” story. 

Poignant poetry collection Choose Love by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Petr Horáček, highlights the real-life experiences of refugees shared with the support of charity Refugee Trauma Initiative. These short-form poems based on true stories are “powerful enough to ignite new ways of thinking and feeling” and “leave a lasting impression on readers”. This is Nicola’s first shortlisting. Several books she has written have previously been shortlisted for the Illustration medal.

Debut author Nathanael Lessore balances serious issues with humour in Steady for This, the story of a wannabe rapper who is humiliated by an MC Battle gone wrong. With original use of language and raps featured throughout, and relatable themes of peer pressure, social inequality and new friendships, the judges called it a “stand out, highly empathic read”.

Safiyyah’s War is the debut middle-grade fiction from children’s author, physics teacher, activist and Global Diplomacy graduate, Hiba Noor Khan. This “gripping” story is a well-researched, “outstanding account” of an often-overlooked aspect of WWII history, which “shows empathy in action” based on the forgotten heroes of the Grand Mosque of Paris who helped hide and protect Jews. 

Picture book To the Other Side by Erika Meza is a powerful and timely story exploring the journey of two young refugee children in search of safety. The judges praised the “strong synergy between text and illustration” and “striking” composition to represent light and hope, fears and danger.

Award-winning author Zillah Bethell earns her place on the shortlist with The Song Walker, an “immersive, memorable” story set in the Australian Outback about discovery and courage. A physical journey across the Outback entwined with a metaphorical emotional journey “stimulates empathy and understanding” as two girls go in search of answers about their identity whilst hiding secrets from each other. 

Away with Words by Sophie Cameron explores the importance of communication as two girls – one who speaks little English, and another with selective mutism –use the discarded words of others to communicate and write poetry. The judges described it as “a thoughtful, original concept” and “beautifully observed”.

The only wordless picture book on this year’s shortlist for the Medal for Illustration, Aaron Becker’s “fully immersive” and “beautifully crafted” The Tree and the River looks at the evolution of humankind and our impact on the natural world through depictions over time of a lone tree and enduring river. To prepare for the story's illustrations, Becker first constructed a scale model of the book's rolling landscape, which he then slowly transformed with clay and wood over many months.

A touching story about a young girl coming to terms with a dramatic change, April's Garden illustrated by Catalina Echeverri uses nature to represent healing and growth with the illustrations showing “a beautiful sense of continuity”. The judges admired the “outstanding” use of colours. 

Lost by Mariajo Ilustrajo follows the story of a polar bear in a large city with a “strong” visual narrative and “good use of angular perspective and scale” with illustrations to convey the sense of feeling overwhelmed and claustrophobic in an overbearing busy city, contrasting with the more expansive scenes in the Arctic. 

Irish illustrator Steve McCarthy explores nature and the environment in The Wilderness, an “impressive” picture book about bravery and discovering friendships inspired by McCarthy’s own home-schooled upbringing. Judges noted “a wealth of detail to discover on each spread”. 

Yoto, the innovative, screen-free audio platform for children, is the headline sponsor of the Awards. The Yoto Carnegies are also sponsored by ALCS. Scholastic are the official book supplier and First News are the official media partner.

For further information on The Yoto Carnegies 2024 please visit: