Yesterday I was visited by the film team working on the Carnegie/Greenaway awards. The Lost Words was first nominated, then longlisted, and now shortlisted for the Greenaway. So wonderful. I’ve been shortlisted once before and it’s such an honour, for the whole team behind the book. And it’s in amazing company too.
I’m working so hard, trying to finish a book, begin a new one, finish the visuals for Hay Festival Spellsongs, so I didn’t want to have to travel to London for the filming, so was delighted when they said they would come to me.
I talked about the book, how it works, the importance of the design, how Robert and I worked very closely together, words and image informing each other. And then they asked me a question that I struggled to answer. What would it mean to me to be chosen by the shadowing groups as the best book. What does it mean to an artist to win an award.
Been thinking. It’s wonderful to be shortlisted, to see our book in such company. The book has won a few awards now, been shortlisted for more. But, you don’t make books with the aim to win awards. At least I don’t. So what is the aim? For me, I think it is this: to speak from my heart and soul, in as beautiful a voice as I can achieve, into the heart and mind of a child. I don’t mind how old that child is. What I really mean is a person, but I say child because it is that place, the open, wild, receiving, hungry place where the imagination runs wild. And if you can do that, if someone says, ‘this is my favourite book’, if you can help someone escape for a while into your book, if you can show people something they’ve not seen for a while, never noticed before, if you can make studying nature cool again, if you can take children out from the classroom, away from the tests and the desks, with teachers away from that pressure of targets to be achieved, that’s the prize, the best prize. And if you can give people some fresh air in a book, connect with them through the pages, inspire new ways of seeing, understanding, well, that’s an ambition.
And I have almost finished my next book, which is so much about escape and following your heart, and I will be able to talk about soon, and show you soon…….but for now, how wonderful for us all at Hamish Hamilton to have this for our book.
Two more paintings to go, then the next one will be finished. And other news to come soon.
April is going to be an exciting month.