It was The Edge of the Cloud by KM Peyton that first made me aware of the Carnegie Medal. I borrowed it from Lossiemouth Library back in the day and the front cover had an image of the Medal on it. I didn’t know what it was at that point but it was clear that this book had won it and it was significant. The Edge of the Cloud is still one of my favourite books – and I now have a signed copy, a treasured possession. Set in the run-up to the First World War, it’s the story of Will and Christina and Will’s passion for flying. It’s also the second book in Flambards quartet, to which, I might add in passing, has now been added The Key to Flambards by Linda Newbery (written with Kathy Peyton’s approval).
Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel is the concluding book in Michael Gerard Bauer’s trilogy revolving around Ishmael and his friends. It had me by turns hysterical with laughter, deep in thought and in floods of tears. When I finished it I was devastated because I knew there was no more. Readers who don’t know Ishmael will want to start at the beginning (Don’t Call Me Ishmael and Ishmael and the Return of the Dugongs) in order to get to know the boys and live with them as they progress through high school in Australia. Bauer’s writing is deceptively simple, easy to read and dialogue driven. He meets difficult issues head on and allows his characters to deal with them. The characterisation is truly outstanding; even the fringe characters leap off the page as they interact, grow and develop. The plot twists and turns entirely believably, creating a world that even I, a middle-aged, female Scot, would like to inhabit.