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My first year as a CKG judge has been an absolute whirlwind – and that’s without factoring in the global pandemic! I spent last summer buried in books, which is my favourite place to be, and this year looks set to be just the same. Lost in those pages, I travelled far and wide from the comfort of my own home; I fought in two world wars, I lived in refugee camps, I sailed across the sea, fled government agencies, spent time at the intersection of the natural world and our urban landscape and got lost on the moors in a blizzard. The calibre of the books was spectacular, and I relished the opportunity to push my own boundaries and read more widely than I ever had before.Meeting my fellow judges was a daunting but ultimately wonderful experience; I hadn’t realised how lonely my job could be but I’m happy to have met some extraordinary people who have already been incredibly generous with their time and expertise.The final judging days were hugely affected by the Covid-19 restrictions. The decision to conduct meetings online was made early in the lockdown, and the winning books were not announced in a ceremony at The British Library, as in previous years, but on Front Row on BBC Radio 4 at 7 pm on Wednesday June 17th.From a personal perspective, as well as a professional one, it has been an outstanding year. I have contributed to Shadowing webinars, hosted a Twitter Takeover session with authors Dean Atta and Randy Ribay, and the medals continue to open doors to new opportunities which I fully intend to enjoy. It wasn’t the experience I signed up for, but books and young people were always the heart of the matter and amidst all the chaos, that never changed. It was inspiring to see systems overhauled so quickly, everyone working together to adapt to digital platforms with enthusiasm, ensuring the awards could go ahead with all the fanfare they deserved.Moving forward, I feel much more confident about my second year. I’m aware of the trials that lie ahead. I know that I’m asking a lot of myself as a reader, but I also know that it will be utterly worth it. I cannot believe I am already halfway through my CKG journey but I’m definitely ready for the challenge.

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