Three convention-defying novels written in verse are in the running for the UK’s oldest book award for the first time.
Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X, Kwame Alexander’s Rebound and Jason Reynolds’ Long Way Down are all on the shortlist for the CILIP Carnegie Medal.
It is the first time in the medal’s 81-year history that three novels in verse have made the cut.
One verse novel has previously won the prestigious medal – Sarah Crossan’s One, in 2016.
The medals celebrate the best in writing for children and young people.
Other titles on the shortlist for the Carnegie are The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson, Bone Talk by Candy Gourlay, A Skinful Of Shadows by Frances Hardinge, Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls and Kate Saunders’ The Land Of Neverendings.
A shortlist was also announced for the Kate Greenaway Medal, which marks the best in children’s illustration.
The nominees include Jon Klassen (The Wolf, The Duck And The Mouse), who won in 2014 for This Is Not My Hat.
Female voices are strongly represented across both lists, with 11 of the 16 shortlisted books written or illustrated by women, and around half of the books featuring female protagonists.
Books celebrating freedom of expression appear widely.
The shortlists were selected by volunteer youth librarians from longlists of 20 books per medal.
More than 4,500 reading groups in schools across the country will embark on the awards’ shadowing scheme, which sees children and young people reading and debating the shortlisted books.
Alison Brumwell, chairwoman of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, said: “This year’s outstanding shortlists clearly demonstrate the vision, vitality and depth of children’s publishing, including the emergence of small, independent publishers.
“Superb debuts take pride of place alongside established, well-known names, representing the very best in writing and illustration for children and young people.
“Challenging themes of bereavement, isolation, friendship and identity are treated with humanity and insight and in a range of distinctive written and illustrative styles.”
The winners will be announced on June 18 at an event at The British Library hosted by Konnie Huq.
The winners will each receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library, a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize.