Tanya Landman was the worthy recipient of this year's Carnegie Medal for her literary work Buffalo Soldier. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) judges also conferred the Kate Greenaway Medal on William Grill for his illustrated book Shackleton's Journey.

Real-life inspiration

Landman's historical novel, published by Walker Books, was inspired by a real-life story and tells the touching tale of a former female slave who joined the American army as a man. The inspirational heroine behind the book was Cathay Williams, who became the first African-American woman to enlist in the US Army after the American Civil War had ended.

It was pitched at those aged 14-years-old and above, although the target ages for the books it contended for this year's top prize with ranged from 9+ all the way up to 14+.

The 2015 nominees

In total there were eight books nominated for the 2015 Carnegie award, the criteria for inclusion on the list being a publication date from September 2013 through to August 2014. The other seven were:

  • Brian Conaghan (When Mr Dog Bites)
  • Sarah Crossan (Apple and Rain)

  • Sally Gardner (Tinder)

  • Frances Hardinge (Cuckoo Song)

  • Elizabeth Laird (The Fastest Boy In The World)

  • Geraldine McCaughrean (The Middle of Nowhere)

  • Patrick Ness (More Than This)

Famous former winners

The Carnegie Medal (named after the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie) is awarded annually by CILIP to the work that they judge to be the outstanding book for Children or young adults that year.

Being the UK's oldest and most prestigious award for children's writing it is held in great esteem in literary circles. It also boasts a distinguished list of former winners including CS Lewis (for The Last Battle) and the sadly recently departed Terry Pratchett (The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents).

Similarly, the accompanying Kate Greenaway Medal (who was a popular 19th century artist known for her children's illustrations) rewards exceptional illustration in a book aimed at children.

CILIP's views on the winners

The chairman of the judging panel for CILIP, Agnes Guyon, insisted that both of the award winners' books had "pushed boundaries" and did not shy away from handling topics that many find hard to contemplate. They also shared a basic message of hope in terms of the "human spirit's will to survive and succeed."

Strong views about the national curriculum

Fifty-two-year-old Landman also has some firm beliefs as far as the national curriculum is concerned.

She voiced her grave concern that it was set up so as to squeeze "every scrap of imagination out of our children." By way of an interesting contrast, she held up China as a nation that seemed to be looking in the opposite direction for creation and innovation. Landman was equally unimpressed by the current threat to the country's libraries.

Landman will receive both a gold medal and the monetary award of £500 worth of books that she can donate to her chosen library.