Philip Reeve has been awarded the 2008 Carnegie Medal, the most prestigious of the children's book prizes, which is longlisted and judged by children's librarians who know their audience, care passionately about books – and tend not to hang out at publishing launch parties.
‘Here lies Arthur’ (Scholastic, age 12+) is sensitive and cynical, bloody and beautiful, humorous and lyrical. These apparent contradictions add up to a novel which was an entirely unexpected pleasure. Not another version of the King Arthur and Merlin story, I thought, and read everything else on the shortlist first. But ‘Here lies Arthur’ seduced me completely.
What makes Reeve's book exceptional is the way he simultaneously lays bare the smoke and mirrors of the not-so-noble art of spindoctoring and delivers his own, utterly convincing and hauntingly atmospheric version of events. Reeve’s novel – which, refreshingly, has a female protagonist – is an exploration of mythmaking that more sophisticated readers will enjoy for the quality of the writing and the bite of its political overtones while younger ones will be captivated by a well-told, gripping adventure. Feature continues.
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