Carnegie Shadowing Group News

Carnegie Shadowing Group News


Teresa Turton
Teresa Turton
Carnegie Shadowing Group News

The final three books in the Carnegie Shortlist demonstrate the range of content that is considered the best of the newest children’s literature.  While Black Flamingo offers an insight into a teenager coming to terms with his identity, Lark is a masterpiece in ‘family ties’ and Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black is a complex tale, mirroring the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, focussing on two brother during the Blitz.  Not many of our group have yet had time to read these but for those who have, the books have prompted strong responses. 

Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

This is the story of Michael who is coming to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teenager.  When he goes to University, he finds his voice as a drag artist.  Written in verse, this is a powerful coming-of-age story exploring themes of identity, race and sexuality. 

In an interview, Dean Atta describes how a sighting of a black flamingo in Cyprus, reflected how he felt out of place in his own life.  This inspired him to write the book which has had mixed reviews from our shadowers.  You can see the interview and hear Dean reading from his book here: https://carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/books/the-black-flamingo/

What Bushey Meads Shadowers say:

Preesha, Year 8, “enjoyed Michael’s relationship with his friend Daisy and his mother”, but felt some of the content was inappropriate for younger teenagers.  Aurora, Year 7, thought that despite the mature content “it was a lovely book with interesting twists and turns, that I would happily read again”.  

Giving an ‘older’ viewpoint, Jhanavi, Year 10, said It’s a breath of fresh air to finally read something about commonly marginalized characters in society. It delves into the nuances of acceptance and personal expression in such an endearing way.”

 Lark by Anthony McGowan

In this final instalment of four books about Nicky and Kenny, the brothers are waiting for a visit from their estranged mum.  As tension mounts, they decide to go for a walk on the moors with their dog, Tina.  They think it will be a “lark” but the weather changes and they get caught in a blizzard.

For such a short book, only 100 pages, this story makes a huge impact.  The characters are realistic and believable; this final instalment give us even more insight into the bond between the two brothers and was a clear favourite with Carnegie judges..  

What Bushey Meads Shadowers say:

“Lark is quite funny” “The book also sets the scene really well, it had a lot of scenery as they were on their journey! The way they express their feelings using really distinguished words was really appealing to me.”  Aman, Year 8

If you’d like to read Lark, it is available from our ebook library using the Sora app. 

Download the app or visit Soraapp.com enter the setup code uksecondary, find Bushey Meads School and then login with your Google account.

Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black by Marcus & Julian Sedgwick

When brothers Harry and Ellis Black become ensnared in the confusion and catastrophe caused by an air raid attack, the world around them changes. The lines between myth and reality become blurred as Harry struggles beneath the weight of grief and trauma after he wakes in hospital to the news that his brother is dead. A journey through the underworld of London ensues and parallels with the legend of Orpheus are drawn in these intertwining stories which comment on the futility and devastation of war.  A beautifully illustrated book written partly in prose, partly in verse. 

What Bushey Meads Shadowers say:

Avid Year 7 readers, Archie, and Imogen, were sadly underwhelmed by the book: Archie because it “didn’t grip him as much as some of the others” and Imogen because, whilst she likes books set in WWII, it wasn’t really what she expected.  Both valid comments, and afterall, with so many other great books in this shortlist, they have plenty left to read!

Find out more about how the Sedgwick brothers approached this joint venture at https://carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/books/voyages-in-the-underworld-of-orpheus-black/

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