by Perry Bramlett
Many people know that C. S. Lewis’s The Last Battle won the Carnegie Medal in 1956. The Carnegie Medal has been awarded annually since 1936 for “an outstanding book for children written in English and published initially in the United Kingdom.” Note: this was changed in 1969 to any book written in English and published first or concurrently in the U.K. Recommendations for the award come from members of the (British) Library Association, each of whom submits a list of not more than three titles from which the Committee of the Youth Libraries Group makes a final selection. A general guide for criteria for fiction books is based on consideration of: (1) plot, (2) style, and (3) characterization. Lewis’s “competition” for the award in 1956 was: The Fairy Doll (Rummer Godden), Chorister’s Cake (William Mayne, who won the next year for A Grass Rope), The Member for the Marsh (William Mayne), Ransom for a Knight (Barbara Leonie Picard), The Silver Sword (Ian Serrailler), and The Shield Ring (Rosemary Sutcliff). It is noteworthy that Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy was nominated for the Medal in 1954; the eventual winner was Ronald Welch’s Knight Crusaders.
Sources: The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature (Humphrey Carpenter & Mari Prichard); Children and Literature: Views and Reviews (Virginia Haviland).