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Book for Teens Wins Literary Prize

July 7, 2000

LONDON (AP) _ A straight-talking book for teen-agers dealing with adultery, euthanasia, and homosexuality bested publishing phenomenon Harry Potter on Friday for a literary prize.

``Postcards From No Man’s Land″ took the Carnegie Medal for its 65-year-old author Aidan Chambers, a former monk whose work is aimed at those age 14 and up.

``At 15 people can handle the same language as me, they’re just as complicated as me and are very interested in thinking about important questions for the first time,″ Chambers said.

J.K. Rowling’s ``Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban″ was on the short list for the prize, but failed to win even a commendation from the judges.

Postcards is the fifth in a series of six books. It weaves together the story of a 17-year-old youth’s experiences in modern Amsterdam and that of a dying Dutch woman who loved a married English soldier during World War II.

Chambers, who lives near Stroud in western England, was surprised to win. ``The short list is so strong and my book is long and complex,″ he said.

``Some people call it difficult, but I refuse to sell young people short by compromising on language or subject matter.″

Judges for the award, presented by the Library Association, said the book ``poses crucial questions, and doesn’t patronize by giving easy answers.″

Established in 1936, the Carnegie Medal has been awarded to some of the great names in children’s literature, including Arthur Ransome and C.S. Lewis.

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