Winner of Yoto Carnegie for Illustration 2024

The Cambridge Theatre in London, home to Matilda The Musical, thronged with librarians, publishers, journalists and student shadowers keen to find out which shortlisted books had won the prestigious Yoto Carnegie for Illustration 2024. Aaron Becker’s The Tree and the River was popular, winning both the Shadower’s Choice Award and the Carnegie Medal.

In his acceptance speech, Aaron said, “I’m incredibly grateful to have received the Carnegie Medal for Illustration for The Tree and the River. It’s an honour and a testament to the power of wordless books. 

Growing up, I was always drawn to illustrations and would get lost in pictures. When I began drawing images of my own, I was able to create a space where I could create, imagine and escape into worlds of my own design. Pictures became the way I processed the world. Within the pages of my wordless books, I invite readers to slow down and interpret stories on their own terms. Children and adults alike can project themselves onto the characters within my stories and find their own meaning and discoveries within the details of each spread, free of a narrator to dictate their pace and thoughts. My hope is that winning this award promotes the idea that books can be for anyone, even the reluctant readers among us for whom story resonates more deeply through imagery than words.” 

Aaron spoke at length with Nikki Gamble about the fascinating process of making the book and the special affordance of the wordless picture book.

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