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Friday, 13 July, 2001, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
Damilola novel takes Carnegie Medal
Damilola Taylor
Naidoo's book is dedicated to Damilola Taylor
The plight of asylum seekers has been highlighted in a book which has won a top children's book prize.

Author Beverley Naidoo won the prestigious Carnegie Medal for her book entitled The Other Side of Truth.

TV chef and journalist Nigella Lawson announced the winner, chosen by a panel of librarians.

Naidoo drew on her own experiences of arriving in the UK as an exile more than 30 years ago.

The book is dedicated to the memory of Damilola Taylor, who died after a stabbing on his way home from school, and "other young people and their families who seek new lives in new countries".

South African-born Naidoo grew up as a white child under the apartheid system.

Nigella Lawson
Nigella Lawson announced the winner

Her struggle against racism saw her jailed for eight weeks for political activism.

Apartheid

Arriving in England in 1965 she was awarded a United Nations bursary to study at York University.

Her career began telling stories for her own children and her first two novels were set against the backdrop of apartheid.

Journey to Jo'burg, published in 1985, won awards in the UK and USA but was banned for six years in South Africa and she was unable to return to her home country.

Her new novel explores examines the struggle of asylum seekers through the eyes of a 12-year-old who is smuggled out of Nigeria under dictatorship after her father is shot.

Window

Naidoo said: "My purpose in writing is to open another window onto the world and to encourage my readers to make leaps of imagination, heart and mind as they explore our common humanity.

"I hope the drama that I reveal will stimulate them to ask questions, not just accept uncritically what they are taught or told."

The Carnegie Medal - awarded annually by the Library Association - was first won in 1936 by Arthur Ransome and has since gone to writers such as C S Lewis and children's laureate Anne Fine.

A sister award, the Kate Greenaway Medal for children's book illustrators, was won by Lauren Child for her work on I Will Not Ever Never Eat A Tomato.

Child, who lives in North London, was shortlisted twice for this year's prize.

See also:

07 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Harry Potter beaten to top award
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