ALMA to the IBBY Congress in Mexico City

August 25, 2014

Cartel 2014 lema y logos agrandados_junio.2012
The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award will participate in the international IBBY Congress in Mexico City September 10-13. The Congress gathers more than 130 speakers from 50 different countries; including David Almond, Daniel Goldin, Monika Zak, María Teresa Andruetto, Agustín Fernández Paz and Alicia Molina.

– International reading promoters will be meet at the Congress in Mexico City, says Director Helen Sigeland. Participation is part of our effort to spread knowledge of the award and the laureates, and to establish valuable contacts.

IBBY The International Board on Books for Young People is a non-profit organization that represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together. Today, it is composed of seventy seven National Sections.

Learn more about the works of the laureates

August 22, 2014
The Arrival (2006) by Shaun Tan.

The Arrival (2006) by Shaun Tan.

The Book of Everything (2006) by Guus Kuijer.

The Book of Everything (2006) by Guus Kuijer.

Summer is almost over and a new term has started for most students. Now is perfect timing to read a new book, so why not let our reading guides inspire you? The guides contain an introduction of the author or illustrator, description of the contents, a suggested interpretation and topics for discussions. They are meant to be used in book circles, in schools or just as inspiration for further reading. Twelve books by ten laureates are available and easy to download for free, from Kitty Crowther’s Alors? for younger children, to Sonya Hartnett’s psychological novels for young adults and Shaun Tan’s completely wordless work The Arrival.

Petit, the Monster by Isol

It´s Useful to Have a Duck and Nocturne – Dream Recipes by Isol

The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Alors? by Kitty Crowther

Lénfant Racine by Kitty Crowther

The Devil Latch by Sonya Hartnett

The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

Basu ni Notte by Ryôji Arai

Northen Lights by Philip Pullman

My Friend the Painter by Lygia Bojunga

Fly Away Home by Christine Nöstlinger

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Alors? (2006) by Kitty Crowther.

Alors? (2006) by Kitty Crowther.

For more tutorials, have a look at Sonya Hartnett’s web, link here. A tutorial for Shaun Tan’s latest book Rules of Summer can be found here.

Interview with Sonya Hartnett in the Australian

August 19, 2014
Photo: Stefan Tell

Photo: Stefan Tell

Australian author and 2008 ALMA laureate Sonya Harnett is in the limelight now with a new novel for adults, The Golden Boys, (Penguin), “an urban gothic tale”. The Australian’s Literary Editor Stephen Romei met her to talk about the new book, and the result of the interview was published last week. First part the interview here:

‘CHILDREN live in a very animal world, one that’s constantly on the verge of war,’’ says Sonya Hartnett. “You look at childhood and think, how do any of us survive that sort of shit? They are constantly on the edge of peril, particularly from each other. They attack each other mercilessly and I find that so…’’ She pauses to locate the right word. “Endearin­g.’’

In that single word choice, we have the enigma of Sonya Hartnett. She’s an award-winning writer for children and young adults who has no offspring of her own and doesn’t come across as particularly fond of kids, or people in general for that matter. Her YA and adult novels are spot-on in their empathetic depiction of the mind-clouding confusion, embarrassment and latent violence of childhood, yet she says she remembers little of her own childhood and nothing at all of her school years.

She creates vulnerable, volatile characters — 14-year-old Plum in the Miles Franklin-shortlisted Butterfly (2009), to take a recent example — and is a bit surprised when readers take them to heart and are upset by their (fictional) fates. “They do. In a way you think is very insane.’’

She published her first novel at 15 and in the three decades since has written acclaimed books for readers of all ages but says she’d much rather be a “flip woman”, buying, renovating and selling houses, an enterprise for which she has discovered a passion and a talent.

She laments, only half-jokingly, that she has not won enough literary awards, then skewers the newish Stella Prize for Australian women’s literature, adding: “If this means I’ll never win their prize, so be it.’’

She laughs a lot throughout our interview in an outer Melbourne pub — on a couple of occasions literally rolling over on the couch with mirth — but later, on playing back the tape, I real­ise her words are full of existential angst. “I feel we live in a world where nothing matters any more,’’ she says at one point.

Hartnett loves animal similes. In her new novel, Golden Boys, which will be published later this month, there’s a wonderful scene early on when two 10-year-old boys, one fragile, one resilient, meet for the first time: “It’s like a jack russell being introduced to a budgerigar: in ­theory they could be friends, but in practice sooner or later there will be bright feathers on the floor.’’ Elsewhere in the novel children are likened to birds, fish, possums and giraffes, and adults to tigers, lions, wolves, sharks, monsters.

“I’ve always been aware of the fact that humans are animals,’’ she says, “and it puzzles me why we don’t rejoice more in that, why in this day and age we still quietly don’t like the idea that we are just animals. There is a beautiful logic in the way an animal operates.’’

It’s only logical, therefore, to wonder what sort of animal Hartnett might be. A Cheshire cat, perhaps, grinning and grinning and expounding an uneasy philosophy. But when the question is put, she doesn’t have an easy answer. “I am not sure what animal I would associate myself with … something stubborn and solitary, squat and easily annoyed. A badger?’’

HARNETT, 46, is the eldest of six children (four girls, two boys). Her mother was a mater­nity nurse and her father had a series of jobs, including as a proofreader with Melbourne newspapers. The family grew up in Mont Albert, in Melbourne’s east, and unlike her adult experience, they stayed put. Indeed, her mother still lives in the home in which Hartnett grew up. ‘‘Well, she still lives in it in the sense she lives on the same block of land, but they knocked down the house and built a new one,’’ she says.

“I actually found that a hard thing to forgive, that she knocked down our family home, and I don’t know that I ever will really resolve myself to that situation. Often when I think about going to see Mum I still visualise that house.’’

Read full article here


Opening of Lava Library and Workshop

August 15, 2014
The new area at Lava.

The new area at Lava.

Managing Director Benny Fredriksson and Madeleine Sjöstedt, Stockholm County, open Lava Library and Workshop.

Managing Director Benny Fredriksson and Madeleine Sjöstedt, Stockholm County, open Lava Library and Workshop.

This week the Lava Library and Workshop at Kulturhuset (House of Cultre) Stadsteatern opened – a brand new library dedicated for young people aged 14-25, containing space for creative workshops and a brand new library with 6,000 new volumes. So apart from reading and borrowing books you can submit project proposals, seek cultural fundings, listen to your favorite author, test the 3D printer, go to a concert or make your own podcast in an audio workshop, screen printing or produce exhibitions for the Lava Gallery. In a press release earlier this week Managing Director at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, Benny Fredriksson, stated:

– This is one of the most important initiatives that Kulturhuset Stadsteatern does. Reading is a priority for the entire community.

Photos from Kulturhuset Stadsteatern.

Detail from the Lava Library.

Detail from the Lava Library.

“Tove Jansson was a universal genius”

August 12, 2014
Astrid Lindgren and Tove Jansson 1958.

Astrid Lindgren and Tove Jansson 1958.

Not so many have missed that Finish artist, author and illustrator Tove Jansson would have celebrated 100 years last Saturday, August 9th. Seven years younger than Astrid Lindgren, they both were considered to be two of the Swedish-speaking children’s literature’s biggest names.

Boel Westin, new Chairman of the ALMA jury, is internationally well known for her studies of Tove Jansson, and is fascinated by Tove Jansson’s aesthetic diversity:

– Tove Jansson was a universal genius with a sumptuous expression longing and she worked in a lot of different genres as a writer and artist, she told the ALMA blog a few weeks ago. In her works, there is both passion and emotion, politics and ideology, and through the Moomin world she has developed a philosophy and various attitudes to life. We can recognize ourselves and not the least our surroundings in the stories. They can interpret the world around us.

Tove Jansson in her studio.

Tove Jansson in her studio.

Tove Jansson died in June 2001 at age of 86, but her works is a great inspiration still today. In an interview for Swedish Television Boel Westin point out her feministic attitude:

– When I was going through her ​​letters I found out that she actually formulate feminist positions for herself during the 1940s. It’s about her role as a woman in relation to love and in relation with men.

– She wants to live independently and create art. Work was the most important thing, says Boel Westin.

The Tove Jansson 100 year’s celebration will go on during the entire 2014. More information on the anniversary web “Tove 100”, and for further reading the BBC’s Tove Jansson feature, made earlier this year and this article from the British Library.

The Moomins. ©Moomin Characters

The Moomins. ©Moomin Characters

Hello there, Katarina Kieri

July 30, 2014
Katarina Kieri. Photo: Daniel Werkmäster

Katarina Kieri. Photo: Daniel Werkmäster

Katarina Kieri is member of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award jury since July 1st. Her body of work encompasses novels, poetry and short stories for children, young adults and adults. Initially she intended to write only poetry, but she later felt increasingly drawn to the prose medium.

Tell us about yourself. Who is Katarina Kieri?

A description might sound like this: Born in Luleå with deep roots in the Torne Valley. An author who write books instead of going around feeling ashamed about oneself.

You have published two novels, four collections of poetry and a dozen children’s books since your debut in 1993. You´ve also written several plays. What’s your relationship to the different genres?

For me, the dividing line is not between writing for adults or for children and young people, but between the prose on one hand, and poetry, drama and picture books on the other. The former is all about structuring thoughts in a line that fairly can be followed. The latter is more out of being in some kind of state and to try to describe it. It’s a totally different way to behave in terms of work. In one case I sit on my chair at my desk working all day. In the second case I wander restlessly around anywhere, which is pretty exhausting.

You are trained recreation teacher and worked as such for nearly ten years. How has that influenced your writing?

Actually most as an extraordinarily wrong choice in my life. When I had worked as a recreation teacher for eight years my whole body screamed after change. And, as I´m a lucky person living in one of the world’s richest countries, I had the possibility to sit down and think about what I really wanted to do. It didn´t take long before the answer became obvious to me. I wanted to grab hold of my writing. When I visit school classes now days, I usually say that it’s good to go the wrong way, because then you know you should change direction.

What gives you inspiration in your writing?

Complications within and between people. And the fact that we are so wonderfully irrational and contradictory. For example.

What will you be reading in your hammock this summer?

I will read a biography of Tove Jansson, a randomly selected Moomin book and Eyvind Johnson’s novel Romanen om Olof (The novel about Olaf). Everything might not be read, but to me the dream about summer reading is almost as good as the actual reading.

A few questions to the new Jury Chairman Boel Westin

July 29, 2014


Boel Westin. Photo: Eva Dalin

Boel Westin. Photo: Eva Dalin

Boel Westin is Professor of literature at Stockholm University, specializing in children’s and young adult literature, as well as researcher and literary critic. Since July 1 she is Chairman of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award jury.

Tell us about yourself. Who is Boel Westin?

I was born in Lund, but moved to Stockholm when I was about seven. I´ve always loved books and literature of all kinds. I worked with management a few years after taken my Bachelor degree, but when I started study for a PhD in Comparative Literature, I felt that I had come to the right place.

You are known internationally for your biography of Tove Jansson. What is it about her that fascinates you?

Her aesthetic diversity. Tove Jansson was a universal genius with a sumptuous expression longing and she worked in a lot of different genres as a writer and artist. In her works, there is both passion and emotion, politics and ideology, and through the Moomin world she has developed a philosophy and various attitudes to life. We can recognize ourselves and not the least our surroundings in the stories. They can interpret the world around us.

Tell us about your work as Chief Editor of A New History of Swedish Children´s Literature!

The research work is very exciting and also very instructive.The Swedish history of children’s literature has not previously been written in the long perspective that we work with, that is, from the 1300s to today. New conclusions come up which I hope will to be able to change historiography, especially when it comes to older children’s and young adult literature and the perception of children’s reading in earlier times.

What will you be reading in your hammock this summer?

Light in August by William Faulkner – I want to read more of him – and a book on how to start stories with lots of examples, “Great beginnings.”

Snapshot 2014: Shaun Tan

July 28, 2014
Shaun Tan receiving the 2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award from Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. Photo: Stefan Tell

Shaun Tan receiving the 2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award from Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. Photo: Stefan Tell

2011 ALMA laureate Shaun Tan interviewed by blogger Helen Stubbs, a story published today on

  1. Congratulations on your Ditmar Award for Best Artwork for The Rules of Summer. Can you tell us a bit about the book? If he eats the last olive at the watchful-bird party, will the birds eat him? (Asking for my daughter.)

To answer your daughter’s question: probably. What I like about narrative painting, which is probably a more precise description of what I do that ‘illustration’, is that there is a little mystery in a picture’s past and also its future. All we can see as an audience is a particular moment, and I suppose I’m trying to make that moment as charged as possible, exploiting the stillness and silence of painting, which I love. Rules of Summer is basically a series of such charged moments that collectively describe, in a weird and fractured kind of way, the relationship between two boys who are probably brothers (it’s never clear, and I usually don’t ascribe any particular identity to my story characters). There is no traditional narrative, although there is a kind of building conflict and resolution told through several oil paintings, each accompanied by an obscure rule that appears to have been broken by the youngest boy: Never step on a snail, Never leave a red sock on a clothesline, Never give your keys to a stranger, and so on. It’s both frivolous and serious at the same time.

  1. What were the highlights of working as a concept artist and animator on the various films you’ve worked on, including The Lost Thing? How does it compare to working on artwork and narrative for a book?

The main difference is collaboration. Books are very solitary projects for me, even in the past when I’ve collaborated with other writers I’m still very much working on my own. The Rabbits, for instance, with John Marsden involved no real discussion between author and illustrator during production, and that’s not uncommon with picture books, that can work fine. Film, however, is fundamentally about collective creativity, simply because it’s impossible for one individual to do everything (with rare exceptions). How is that different? It can actually make the process a lot more fun, a lot more fluid, because there’s a conversation between diverse imaginations, and those moments of collaboration would be the highlights. The possible down side is that certain compromises are required, but that’s nothing unusual, and not necessarily a negative thing. The main thing is that everyone is working towards the same objective, the realisation of which can take many different forms. You learn not to get hung up on any singular vision necessarily, because it just might not be able to be realised in practical terms: instead you take a core feeling and adapt it as best you can.

  1. What projects are you developing at the moment?

Not much at present, partly on account of looking after our baby daughter at home a lot of the time (ie. she is the new project!). I recently illustrated a collection of Grimm fairy tales for a German publisher, and am trying to get that work together for an Australian edition. That was an interesting project as I put aside painting and drawing, and for the first time decided to illustrate each story using clay sculptures, which I then photographed. It forced me to simplify my work, and not think too hard about each one, modelling the forms quite spontaneously, which I found very refreshing.

  1. What Australian works have you loved recently?

Gosh, I feel I haven’t been paying much attention lately! I’ve been revisiting a lot of older work that left an impression on me when I was younger, particularly Tim Winton as a fellow West Australian whose stories are very landscape-inspired (as I would say mine are). In the SF vein, I very much like the work of Jeremy Geddes, amazing oil paintings with subtle narratives. Comics by Many Ord I find very amusing and honestly drawn. Both these artists make some use of the Melbourne urban landscape that I’m gradually tuning in to.

  1. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

It hasn’t changed the way I work very much, in fact that hasn’t changed significantly since I had my first illustrations published in Aurealis and Eidolon magazine in the early 1990s. I’m sitting at the same desk, literally, and using the same materials. I have made slight forays into new media, co-directing an app adaptation of Rules of Summer which was very interesting. Overall I’m quite lucky, as my early career was nurtured by small independent publishers who were happy to take certain risks with unconventional work, and my stories seem to have often appeared at the right time; for example, coinciding with a renewed interest in graphic novels and picture books for older readers. If I was starting over again, I’m not sure how I might go.

What will I be working on in five years? No idea, or else more of the same! I always have a bunch of ideas for books rattling around, but they rarely coalesce into something that is worth pursuing, it’s such a commitment of time and effort. I’m also interested in spending more time doing straight landscape painting (ie. not illustrative or fantastic). The Arrival is also being considered for feature film development, but any news on that front is likely to be some way off, and I’m not actively thinking about it too much just now. It could make a brilliant film, but only if the right people are at the helm, and finance is a whole other conundrum. Whatever happens, I’ll most likely continue working from the same desk as I’ve always done, a pencil in one hand and an eraser in the other.

Shaun Tan grew up in Perth, Western Australia and currently works as an artist, writer and film-maker in Melbourne. He began creating images for science fiction stories in small-press magazines as a teenager, and has since become best known for illustrated books that deal with social, political and historical subjects through dream-like imagery. The Rabbits, The Red Tree, The Lost Thing, Tales from Outer Suburbia and the graphic novel The Arrival have been widely translated throughout the world and enjoyed by readers of all ages. Shaun has also worked as a theatre designer, a concept artist for Pixar and Blue Sky Studios, and won an Academy Award for the short film adaptation of The Lost Thing. In 2011 he received the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in Sweden, in recognition of his services to literature for young people.


Hello there, Anna Höglund

July 8, 2014
Photo: Stefan Tell

Photo: Stefan Tell

Anna Höglund is considered one of Sweden’s leading illustrators. Since July 1 she is member of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award jury.

Tell us about yourself. Who is Anna Höglund?

Born and raised in Stockholm. Five children, one dog, one cat, six chickens and a nice husband.

Never had any time for school and authority figures. Quit school in eighth grade and left home.

Reading, writing and drawing have always been my lifeline. I published my first picture book at the age of 20, thinking it would be a good way to fund my painting career. I was terribly disappointed by the financial outcome, but all I wanted to do after that was to create picture books. For me it’s the ultimate form of expression.

Your latest book, Om detta talar man endast med kaniner (This Is Something You Talk About Only With Rabbits), has attracted a lot of attention and was nominated for the 2013 August Literary Award, among other prizes. It has been described as “one of this year’s boldest and most ambitious Swedish picture books,because it takes the sadness of the young protagonist very seriously, and because it stands out as a picture book about and for teenagers.” How did the book come to be?

I wanted to console a certain 13-year-old. However, as the young person concerned correctly pointed out, it is perhaps mostly about myself. Pictures can sometimes express what lies behind the words.

It can be helpful to tackle subjects that people find it hard to talk about. The way fairytales and dreams do.

Isol, last year’s ALMA recipient, believes that a book actually has two authors: one for the text and one for the pictures. Do you agree?

Yes, when I’m illustrating someone else’s work. But sometimes, when I’m creating my own stories, text and pictures flow together and can’t really be separated.

What will you be reading in your hammock this summer?

Jeanette Winterson’s book about art will last me a long time. I’ll read half a page, let my thoughts wander, have a nap, wake up invigorated and read some more.

Johan Palmberg, great-grandchild of Astrid Lindgren and new member of the jury

July 4, 2014
Johan Palmberg. Photo: Saltkråkan

Johan Palmberg. Photo: Saltkråkan

Johan Palmberg works as a rights agent for Astrid Lindgren’s books and is Astrid Lindgren’s great-grandson. Since July 1 he is member of the jury.

Tell us about yourself. Who is Johan Palmberg?

That’s a tough question – I’m really not all that different from anyone else. Besides what you already know, I’m very much into music. I play mainly piano in a bunch of different settings. Last year I released an EP with the title Pretend, under the name Johan Nyman och Kol- och stålunionen. It was entirely self-produced and isn’t really relevant here. For obvious reasons, I’m also interested in anything to do with children’s arts and culture. This is a product of my family background and upbringing, when there were always so many great books around to pique my interest. Not just Astrid’s own books, but also books that she helped get published when she worked at publishing houses, and books that were sent to her for other reasons. My interest really blossomed when I first joined Saltkråkan in 2009. I’m really looking forward to getting down to work as a jury member!

You recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science. What attracted you to that subject?

The simple answer is that it was the subject I enjoyed most in high school. Above all, I wanted to acquire some practical tools and skills so that I could analyse society and arrive at well-reasoned opinions on a range of issues. What I should have realized is that the more you learn about something, the less certain you become of it – but in any case, I had fun along the way!

Is there a political issue that you studied with particular interest?

I focused on political theory – the least easy-to-grasp branch of political science – and was primarily interested in the question of what could be considered a fair distribution of resources at both national and global level.

You are Astrid Lindgren’s great-grandson. Do you have any special memories of your great-grandmother?

She was getting on a bit when I arrived on the scene, so I don’t really have any memories of playing games, climbing trees and that sort of thing – I’ve just heard about all that from my dad. What I do remember is that she loved to tell stories about the family, and my grandmother would eagerly fill in the details. These stories were often a bit scary and sad. We used to go to Astrid’s house on Dalagatan for Boxing Day dinner every year. I remember how exciting it was for us kids to be given the run of the house, even though all the furnishings were so fine and felt so valuable. She also had the world’s greatest library, an endless source of fascination.

What will you be reading in your hammock this summer?

I’m going to be at work all summer, so won’t have a lot of hammock time, but I’ve just started reading mot.vidare.mot by Johan Jönson and Jakten mot nollpunkten by Carl-Johan de Geer, which will keep me busy for a while. After that, my plan is to read some of the previous laureates to refresh my memory and get an idea of how the jury thinks. And then I hope to make a start on some of this year’s nominees!


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