Jury member Annika Edlund awarded the Minerva Prize

October 23, 2014
Photo: Stefan Tell

Photo: Stefan Tell

Children’s librarian and literary educator Annika Edlund has been announced as recipient of Umeå County’s Minerva Prize, which rewards practitioners or promoters of cultural activities related primarily to Västerbotten, in the north of Sweden. This is the citation of the jury (our translation):

“Many people today are talking about a crisis in children’s and youths reading and falling figures concerning lending of books in libraries. That does not apply for Umeå. Umeå residents are using their libraries significantly more than the national average. The same applies to the lending of children’s books, where Umeå has twice as high figures compared with the national average. There are various explanations behind these successes. The most important explanation is that Umeå has many skilled and dedicated librarians who every day make a considerable effort to stimulate and increase peoples interest in books and reading. Annika Edlund is one of these librarians.

Annika is sometimes called ”the super librarian”, an epithet she more than well deserves. For a long time she has been a professional and dedicated volunteer working to increase interest and love of reading for children’s and young adult literature. That has given her a legitimate seat in the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award jury which annually distributes the world’s finest and largest children’s and young adult literature. She is also one of the founders of the widely spread and highly appreciated reading promotion program at Ersboda Library, the later Grubbe Library, in collaboration with various associations, educational associations and booksellers in Umeå. Annika is also one of the founders and a driving force behind the Book Café Pilgatan which now has developed into a nationally well known and very popular meeting place for Swedish and international authors, lecturers and habitants in Umeå interested in literature and adult education. Therefore Annika Edlund deserves Umeå municipality’s Minerva Prize for 2014, when Umeå is European Capital of Culture.”

Annika Edlund has been a member of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award jury since 2012.

Kitty Crowther writes for picturebookmakers blog

October 22, 2014


Today Kitty Crowhter writes for the picturebookmakers blog! Here, Kitty talks about the creation of her latest picturebook, ‘Mère Méduse’ (Mother Medusa), and she shares some enchanting sketches and illustrations. This striking picturebook about the maternal bond is published in French by Pastel—l’école des loisirs:

Kitty: It’s the fiftieth anniversary of l’école des loisirs in 2015. I used to read those books as a child and loved them over and over. I’ve now been working with Pastel—l’école des loisirs for twenty years. My latest book with them will be released in November 2014. It’s called ‘Mère Méduse’. To translate the title into English, I would say ‘Mother Medusa’ and not ‘Mother Jellyfish’. Even though medusa and jellyfish are connected.

Continue reading at Kitty’s blogpost here.

Barbro Lindgren nominated to the August prize

October 20, 2014
Photo: Stefan Tell

Photo: Stefan Tell

The candidates for this year’s August prize were announced at lunch time today, and among the nominees in the category for Best Swedish Children’s Book of the Year are… Barbro Lindgren! The book in question is Nu leker vi den fula ankungen Let’s play the ugly duckling (Rabén & Sjögren, 2014), a retelling of the classic H.C. Andersen-tale of the swan kid growing up in a duckfamily. But in Barbro Lindgren’s book, two children with a lot of imagination are playing all the leading characters.

This is the fifth time one of Barbro Lindgren’s books is nominated to the August award. The laureate will be announced at the August Ceremony on November 24 at the Stockholm Concert Hall.

The August Prize is named after the famous Swedish author August Strindberg, and is one of the most celebrated and prestigious literary Prizes in Sweden. The prize was founded by the Swedish Publishers’ Association in 1989, with the intention to institute an annual award for the best Swedish books of the year in order to increase public interest in Swedish contemporary literature. Link to the August web here.fula ankungen

The Visit from Little Death

October 17, 2014
Sissela Benn as the girl Elsewise in The Visit from Little Death. Photo: Johan Sjövall

Sissela Benn as the girl Elsewise in The Visit from Little Death. Photo: Johan Sjövall


Lars H Gustafsson

Lars H Gustafsson

Author, paediatrician and former member of the ALMA-jury Lars H. Gustafsson went to see Unga Teatern’s play The Visit from Little Death this week. We asked Lars if we could translate his blog post (published in Swedish here) for the ALMA blog, which he gladly approved of:

Today I’ve been to the theater. The renascent theatre Unga teatern in Malmö gives as its first production La Visite de la Petite Mort (approx. The visit from Little Death), based on Kitty Crowther’s picture book with the same title.

Kitty Crowther received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2010, and La Visite de la Petite Mort is one of her finest books. Talking to children about death can be an experience, enriching for both the child and the adult. Kitty Crowther does it in a tender, playful and surprising way. She really takes children seriously, and I too, as an adult, get warm inside by this story. I have previously written about the book here on my blog, as well as in my book Leka för livet (approx. Playing for life).

The theatre’s version is close to the original but has at the same time, with simple means, been given a free theatrical form that rather enhance both the depth and the playfulness in the story. The three actresses Sissela Benn, Susanne Karlsson and Ellen Norlund portray the girl, the lady and the Little Death accurately and with feeling. I saw the play together with a group of six year olds from Rosengård, who clearly were engaged in what took place on stage. I also want to mention scenographer Erika Magnusson, who found a way to take advantage of the room in an unusually clever way. As well as the thrifty but effective music features autographed Stefan Johansson.

I almost wish that Kitty Crowther could see this show! I think she’d be happy. For director Ada Berger has really captured both the message and the atmosphere of the story. On October 20, at 7 pm, Ada Berger and I will talk about the play and the issues it raises (location: The Studio Hipp, more information here). How can adults help children to grasp ideas that are both staggeringly huge and quite menacing? How do we talk to children and to each other about all this and how can literature, art and theatre be a help on the way?

Cover of Lilla döden hälsar på. Berghs förlag.

Cover of Lilla döden hälsar på. Berghs förlag.

Kitty Crowther.

Kitty Crowther.

Guardian celebrates cultural and ethnic diversity in children’s books

October 14, 2014
Cover from The Arrival.

Cover from The Arrival.

Yesterday, Guardian Children’s Books released a list of the 50 best children’s books published from 1950 to the present day that celebrate cultural and ethnic diversity. Behind the list is Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books for sharing the list with us today – and to the experts they called on to pull it together: Julia Eccleshare (the Guardian children’s books editor), Jake Hope (from Youth Libraries Group),  Library specialist Sarah Smith and Katherine Woodfine from the Book Trust.

One of the books is 2011 ALMA Laureate Shaun Tan’s graphic novel The arrival, which follows a man who leaves his home and his family and emigrates to a foreign land, where he struggles to settle in, while always dreaming of being reunited with his family.

The Guardian children’s Books web has in fact dedicated the whole week to exploring diversity of all kinds in children’s books. Why? Here´s their own words:

First things first. What makes a diverse book? This means books by and about all kinds of people, as the UK and the world are full of all kinds of people. So that means boys, girls, all different colours, all different races and religions, all different sexualities and all different disabilities and anything else you can think of – so our books don’t leave anyone out.

Now here are some shocking stats: of the 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, only 93 were about black people, 34 about Native Americans, 69 about Asians and 57 about Latinos (people from South America). Not too good!

Our amazing children’s laureate Malorie Blackman told site member Megan TheBookAddictedGirl: “Growing up I wanted to read books that featured people of colour but having adventures and having stories; that’s a major part of the reason that I thought ‘there seem to be none, I’m going to write them myself.’”

Link to the entire text and this week’s programme.

Here´s a clip were children’s laureate Malorie Blackman introduces her book, Boys Don’t Cry and talks about the importance of cultural diversity in books & writing.

In this clip, produced by the Guardian, she´s interviewed by teenager Megan Quibell at the very first Young Adult Lit Convention (YALC) held at Comic Con in July.


From The Arrival

From The Arrival


Book by Barbro Lindgren in Happy Meal book project

October 13, 2014
Julia wants a pet (illustrated by Eva Eriksson) Rabén & Sjögren

Julia wants a pet (illustrated by Eva Eriksson) Rabén & Sjögren

The Happy Meal book project is a collaboration between Swedish reading promotion organisation “Läsrörelsen” (approx. The reading movement) and Mc Donalds. Going on since 2001, the motto is “Give your children a language”. The books, distributed in all Happy meals during a defined period, are chosen by children’s book expert Marianne von Baumgarten-Lindberg, member of the Läsrörelsen board. This year’s Happy Meal Book project is going on between October 17 and November 13. The first book to be distributed is Barbro Lindgren’s Julia wants a pet (illustrated by Eva Eriksson).

Elisabet Reslegård

Elisabet Reslegård

– To understand and make yourself understood is a prerequisite for democracy, says Elisabeth Reslegård, Chairman of Läsrörelsen. A vivid and rich language is established during children’s pre-school age. Reading aloud is very important when it comes to fighting against language poverty, and to be able to reach out through the McDonald’s arena is really fantastic.

Läsrörlsen's brilliant poster from the Göteborg Book Fair. "Whitout a language other expressions will take over."

Läsrörlsen’s brilliant poster from the Göteborg Book Fair. “Whitout a language other expressions will take over.”

Video from the program in Frankfurt

October 9, 2014


Nominations for 2015 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award announced today

October 9, 2014
ALMA Director Helen Sigeland, Silke Weitdendorf, Oetinger Verlag, Boel Westin, Jury Chairman and journalist Felicitas von Lovenberg.

ALMA Director Helen Sigeland, Silke Weitdendorf, Oetinger Verlag, Boel Westin, Jury Chairman and journalist Felicitas von Lovenberg.

The list of nominees for the 2015 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) was announced today at the Frankfurt Book Fair by Boel Westin, the incoming chair of the ALMA jury. The list includes 50 first-time nominees among a total of 197 candidates from 61 countries.

“I am so excited to be taking charge of the jury’s activities. We are all looking forward to learning more about the works and accomplishments of the nominees,” said professor Westin after making the announcement.

The candidates – authors, illustrators, oral storytellers, and individuals and organisations involved in reading promotion work – have been nominated by over 100 organisations worldwide. The nominating bodies, with expertise in children’s and young adult literature, are allowed to nominate candidates from their own country or region and from other countries as well.

Professor Westin commented:
“The list of nominees is a wonderful directory of active authors, storytellers, illustrators and reading promoters of various kinds. I hope the list will be distributed and discussed in every conceivable context with a connection to children’s and young adult literature and storytelling.”

The 2015 laureate will be announced on 31 March 2015.

Link to list of nominees here.

Photo shoot with the new jury

September 30, 2014

September usually means a photo session with the new jury, and this year is no exception. Brilliant photographer Stefan Tell caught the jury members this morning, before their meeting. The result will be published on the ALMA web and in our press room later this week.
Stefan_1 Stefan_2 Stefan_3 Stefan_4 Stefan_5

Jury member Anna Höglund awarded the Nils Holgersson-plaque

September 29, 2014
Photo: Stefan Tell

Photo: Stefan Tell

Today the Swedish Library Association announced Anna Höglund as the recipient of this year’s Nils Holgersson-plaque for her book “Om detta talar man endast med kaniner” (approx. Things you only talk about with rabbits”). Anna Höglund is an author, illustrator and member of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award jury.

The citation of the jury:

Living looks so easy for some people. They are who they are; they live their lives; they talk about everyday things. Other people spend their lives out on thin ice, questioning with every step what is real, what is true.

This year, the Nils Holgersson Plaque goes to a picture book that is not for children: a lyrical picture book for adults and young adults about the feeling of being an outsider and the desire to find a greater community. Anna Höglund succeeds in portraying a emotional sensitivity that is almost impossible to describe in words. There is a vulnerability in the way she draws, a fragility and a presence in her pictures. A way out of loneliness does exist, and if we really look, we can find similarities between ourselves and others. A rabbit can be a trusted comrade, and though we might sometimes be our own worst enemies, we can also be our own best friends. This is a deeply affecting picture book. It goes straight to the gut, straight to the heart.

The award ceremony is held on October 20 at the Stockholm City Library.

The Nils Holgersson-plaque was established in 1950 and is awarded annually to the author of the best book for children and young adults the previous year. The plaque is administrated by the Swedish Library Association.

The first recipient of the plaque was Astrid Lindgren, who received the prize for her book Nils Karlsson-Pyssling.

Link to the Swedish Library Association here.


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