Published in TES magazine on 21 June, 2013 | By: Helen Ward
Triumph for Sally Gardner, who learned to read at 14
Author Sally Gardner, who did not learn to read until she was 14, has won one of the most prestigious prizes in children’s fiction for her dystopian novel Maggot Moon.
Ms Gardner (pictured), who is dyslexic, was awarded the Carnegie Medal this week for her novel in which a teenage boy lives under a dictatorship in an alternative 1950s.
The writer has said that she sees dyslexia as a gift, not as something to be cured. The hero of Maggot Moon, Standish Treadwell, also has dyslexia, which Ms Gardner portrays as a slightly off-key way of seeing the world.
In the introduction to the interactive electronic version of the book, Ms Gardner says that she wanted to show the rest of the world what it is like to be dyslexic.
« Don’t see yourself as a failure or feel you need to be humbled by it, » she writes. « In a way, the rest of the world has a problem, not you. It’s their sadness they don’t get dyslexia. It is the greatest gift you’ve ever been given. You’ll learn to unwrap it and you’ll learn to use it. »
Meanwhile, illustrator Levi Pinfold picked up the Kate Greenaway Medal for his picture book Black Dog.
The Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medal competitions are run by the UK’s Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. Previous winners of the Carnegie Medal include Philip Pullman, Anne Fine and Frank Cottrell Boyce.
A scheme has been running since 1994 in which children « shadow » the judging process by reading the shortlisted books and deciding which are their favourites.