Today the ALMA jury gathered after the summer holidays, and as usual we´ve had photographer Stefan Tell taking new photos. It´s good to be back!
Several international reading promoters will visit Sweden and Göteborg Book Fair on September 24-27. This year’s laureate of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA), the South African organisation PRAESA, and Daniel Goldin, publisher and Director of the Vasconcelos Library in Mexico City, will participate in seminars and programs at the Swedish Art Council’s Young Stage (Ung scen).
– We are excited about this year’s Book Fair, says ALMA Director Helen Sigeland. We hope that many visitors will be inspired by PRAESA’s amazing work, which focuses on encouraging children to read for enjoyment, building their self-esteem and helping them connect to their native language through reading and stories, which is highly topical issue today.
PRAESA is represented by Arabella Koopman, Content Manager for the national reading promotion project Nal’ibali, a network of reading clubs that uses media campaigns to encourage children to read and inspire parents, grandparents and teachers to read with them.
– Daniel Goldin is one of the world’s foremost reading promoters, a brilliant inspirer, says Helen Sigeland. Daniel Goldin is the publisher who discovered the 2013 ALMA Laureate Isol’s talent for illustrated children’s books.
Young stage (Ung scen) is situated in Hall A 03:22.
The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature. The award, which amounts to SEK 5 million, is given annually to a single laureate or to several. Authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters are eligible. The award is designed to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature. The UN convention of rights of the child is the foundation of our work. An expert jury selects the laureate(s) from candidates nominated by institutions and organisations all over the world. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was founded by the Swedish government in 2002 and is administrated by the Swedish Arts Council.
Two of our previous laureates, illustrator Kitty Crowther from Belgium and Australian illustrator Shaun Tan are gathered at the Melbourne Writers Festival, Australia, to talk about their works. Kitty and Shaun have participated on stage together on several occasions, such as in Lillehammer, Norway and at the IBBY Congress in London.
Kitty Crowther received the ALMA in 2010 for maintaining the tradition of the picture book while transforming and renewing it. Last year her latest book Mère Méduse (Mother Medusa) was released by Pastel. Some of her work and that of other French illustrators are also exhibited during the festival. Shaun Tan received the ALMA the year after Kitty for combining brilliant, magical narrative skill with deep humanism. If you´d like to know more about Shaun Tan´s works in progress, have a look at his blog The Birdking.
More info on program in Melbourne, click here.
What happens when a baby arrives in the family? This is what 2013 ALMA Laureate Isol’s new book The Menino is all about. Based on personal experience, Isol turns to both babies and parents, exploring the new world that they both encounter when the baby arrives.
For babies, there’s a rich range of images of babies and all their functions to look at. From crying, to nursing, to peeing and pooing, to looking, to hearing, to deciding that this weird new world they’ve entered is worth staying in (because they finally recognize that in every grown-up they see a former baby), there are hours of fun and amusement, since babies love nothing better than looking at and talking about themselves.
For parents, this is a wonderful exploration of the new world this stranger-baby brings with them.
Isol is an illustrator, cartoonist, graphic artist, writer, singer and composer. She was born in 1972 and lives and works in Argentina. More about Isol here.
Congratulations to Venezuelan reading promotion organisation Banco del Libro, this year celebrating its 55th birthday! Founded in 1960, the Banco del Libro’s initial, basic objective was formally adopted: to support the reconstruction of the country’s educational system after the fall of the dictatorship, to improve the standard of teaching materials and to promote reading among children and young people.
Over the following decade, the Banco del Libro made extensive efforts to develop better text books: they organised seminars, catalogued textbooks and formed evaluation criteria; they built up school libraries in Caracas and other parts of Venezuela and also designed the public library Mariano Pícon Salas in Caracas, which was to become a model for the Venezuelan public library system.
The Banco del Libro works in numerous different ways to create reading environments and bring together people and books. In the seventies, they initiated home-based libraries such as “La Urbina” in barrio Petare, and in 1968 they started a mobile library bus service for low-income areas such as Caracas’ huge shanty towns. Banco del Libro’s activities have changed since its start-up fiftyfive years ago. For example, teaching materials are no longer part of the agenda. However stimulating an appetite for reading and improving children’s accessibility to books are, of course, still the main concerns. During the first five years of the 21st century, initiatives by the Banco del Libro have substantially increased the number of children’s libraries in Venezuela: 33 new libraries in 24 states.
In a true pioneering spirit, with ingenuity and a sheer determination, the Banco del Libro has constantly sought new ways of disseminating books and promoting reading among children in Venezuela. Enthusiasm, professionalism, closeness to the children and a refreshing lack of bureaucracy are the hallmarks of the Banco del Libro’s work, whether in shanty towns, mountain villages, universities or out in cyberspace.
Banco del Libro has received numerous awards, a proof of their winning concept. Experiments with new methods, the construction of models and the dissemination of skills and expertise are at the core and are the strength. The institution’s impact on the entire field of children’s literature in Venezuela and its significance for the development and spread of methods of stimulating reading in Latin America spring from the diversity of their activities and innovative approach, from the ability with which they implement their projects in the structure of society. And, not least, from their capacity to arouse enthusiasm and inspire people both in their own projects and in organisations for the promotion of reading all round the World.
Editor and chairman of the Hans Christian Andersen Award Patricia Aldana about Banco del Libros work here (in Spanish).
It hasn´t escaped many that the world’s strongest girl Pippi Longstocking is celebrating her 70th birthday this year. We asked Johan Palmberg , Astrid Lindgren’s great grandson and member of the ALMA jury, to write a few lines about the celebrations:
When I am not in meetings with the ALMA jury, I work for a company called Saltkråkan AB. Our job, broadly speaking, is to make sure that Astrid’s books keep being read by children all over the world. This year, we have been celebrating the fact that it has been 70 years since the first book about Pippi Longstocking was published in Sweden. It’s been a quite hectic spring for us, sending out materials to everyone interested in joining in the celebration and trying to coordinate the publishers with the embassies and libraries in different parts of the World.
The story of Pippi Longstocking’s conception is quite well-known, but perhaps it deserves to be told here as well. Her official birthday is May 21st, which is also the birthday of Astrid’s daughter Karin. It was Karin that received the first manuscript of Pippi on her tenth birthday as a present from her mother. But it all began a couple of years earlier, when Karin was lying sick in bed with pneumonia, demanding to be entertained by her mother. After a while, when Astrid couldn’t think of any more stories to tell, she asked her daughter what she wanted to hear about. “Tell me about Pippi Longstocking”, Karin said, and, as Astrid later noted, since it was a remarkable name, it had to be a remarkable girl. Some years later, it was Astrid’s turn to be confined to her bed, after she had slipped on ice and broken her leg during one of the extremely cold war winters. To pass the time, she started to write down the stories that had entertained her children and their friends for years.
The rest is more or less history. The first book about Pippi was an immediate success, and the stories about her have since been translated into seventy languages – from Azerbaijani to Vietnamese – with new ones added every year. Here at Saltkråkan, we are of course very aware of this, but I don’t think that I had fully grasped what an international symbol she actually is until now, as photos of the celebrations are sent to us from around the world. You can see some of them here. It is amazing to think that that story about the incredibly strong girl with red braids and freckles, which started as a way to pass the time for a sick child, still resonates so strongly with children of today.
We are often asked why Pippi Longstocking is such an enduring character, what it is about her that makes generation after generation love her. Astrid once said that she thinks it has to do with the fact that she is this all powerful and completely independent child, and that independence and power is something that all children long for intensely. Pippi then becomes some sort of wish fulfilment – an opportunity to fantasize about what it would be like to not have grownups telling you what to do all the time. To be completely free. There is of course some truth to that. Although for me, the main reason is that she is endlessly funny.
Researcher and literary critic Lena Kåreland is new member of the ALMA jury since July 1st.
You have written many books focusing on children’s and young adult literature, including one about children’s books in society. What’s your view on the market for children’s books today, with tv- and computer games and social media competing for children and young people’s attention?
I do think it looks as though the Swedish market for children’s books is doing very well. The publications of children’s books have increased, and last year over 1800 titles were published. Other good news is that the Swedish original titles is now outnumbering the translated titles. And there are many, many interesting and exciting books for all ages, from picture books to young adult books. How much the individual child or teenager is reading is difficult to know. I´m sure it varies a lot. Alongside the bookworms there are those who most reluctantly open a book. But it has always been like that. Despite competition from other media the book retains its position, I´m sure about that.
You have studied the works of Astrid Lindgren. What made you curious about her Writing?
For those who work with children’s and young adult literature, it is impossible not to come into contact with Astrid Lindgren. Her importance to the Swedish children’s literature is unique. I wanted to look at her works in a slightly different perspective. She is often considered to work in traditional genres, such as the tale that she renewed and enriched. I preferred to see her as a modernist and therefore chose to write about Pippi Longstocking in the light of Dadaism.
Since many years you have a special interest in French literature and culture. From where does that interest originate?
My interest in France and French culture has followed me since adolescence, when I studied French in Strasbourg. I think Paris is a fantastic city, where I also had the opportunity to live for three years. France is such a rich and varied country, and I try to keep up with cultural happenings as much as possible. It is a pleasure to walk into a French bookstore, where the selection is so rich and appealing.
How do you look upon your new assignment as a member of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award jury?
To be part of the jury for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is a great honor and very exciting. I’m really looking forward to being part of such a highly qualified group and to discuss literature from all over the world.
What books will you bring to the hammock this summer?
My summer reading will be a French biography of Roland Barthes. It’s a hundred years this year since the French philosopher was born. Then I want to read Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, a novel that there has been much talk about during the spring. Together with my two grandchildren I hope to read Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. It is very suited for summer reading.
More about Lena Kåreland here.
Illustrators Maja K Zetterberg (text) and Siri Ahmed Backström (illustrations) are the creators behind this year’s ALMA diploma. We asked them if they could describe the process behind the making of the diploma. What were your thoughts when you were asked to illustrate this year’s diploma? It was a great honor to be commissioned to create a diploma for such a large and important award. Of course we were delighted! Furthermore, it was a somewhat unusual challenge for us to work together to create one single original piece. Usually, we both work with images and text to be completed in a computer and printed in a large number of copies. Describe the preparatory creative process! We began by discussing, doing research and having workshops together. When it comes to creating the previous ALMA diplomas, calligrapher and illustrator have been working more separately, but now, as we´re sharing the same office we were able to collaborate closely from the beginning. We learnt about PRAESA’s work and talked about what we thought was important to highlight. Siri wanted to portray the feeling of freedom and pride that comes with using your native language to read and express yourself. Maja was inspired by the reading for enjoyment and PRAESA’s work with different languages. We worked a lot with getting text and illustrations to interact without losing the feeling of exclusivity that we wanted the diploma to have. …and what about the studio work? We were given free hands, but were encouraged to have PRAESA’s work in mind when creating the diploma. We sketched a concept together and then worked separately with text and illustrations, constantly checking status with each other and took joint decisions on, for example, paper options. We also used the same type of pens so the words in text and illustrations are coherent in color and texture. Siri used lead and colored pens when sketching, and took the time to try a couple of variations of the illustration before the final version was completed. Maja sketched in different shapes and color of the characters and put the finishing touch which was copied by hand using a light table. What were the most difficult and easiest parts of the work? Well, besides that there were many decisions to be made: colors, size, paper type, layout, the most difficult thing was to make a single spotless original. Not getting the original completed in Photoshop was a little bit nerve-wrecking! The easiest part was that it was such a fun assignment, the work was so joyful and our collaboration worked so well. It felt easy when it was finished, and so wonderful to see the laureates receiving the diploma at the Concert Hall stage at the award ceremony. We think the diploma radiates joy and playfulness, something that we think PRAESA’s work stands for – we are happy with the results and hope that PRAESA is too! Link to illustrator and author Siri Ahmed Backström here Link to illustrator and designer Maja K Zetterberg here
Jonathan Jansen, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State in South Africa, has written a post for the Nalibali web about what PRAESA’s Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award means for the literacy landscape of South Africa:
Growing up amidst the poverty and hardship of the Cape Flats, I remember one thing from my childhood—it was how the presence of books would come to change my life forever. My mother was a nurse and she was given old books to bring home from Princess Alice Orthopedic Hospital. The books fit the name of the hospital, I suppose, for we read Enid Blyton and other common literatures from English culture. What I remember, though, was being lifted out of my circumstances into foreign lands, exciting adventures and youthful dilemmas in ways unimaginable in a time before television. In the process I learnt to read, expand my vocabulary and, most of all, dream.
This is precisely what PRAESA (the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa) does by exposing thousands of poor learners to the priceless gift of reading books in their own languages. Where others complain bitterly about “the lack of” provision of teaching and reading books by government, PRAESA has since 1992 simply gone out into the townships and done the work. In the process, individual lives have been enriched and whole communities transformed through the tireless work of a humble NGO in Cape Town.
I was therefore overcome with joy when PRAESA won the prestigious 2015 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award—the largest award for children’s literature and reading promotion in the world. It simply could not have happened to a more deserving organisation. The award not only will inspire and encourage the staff and supporters of PRAESA; it will also send a reminder to development and language activists in South Africa as well as the continent that our work counts, and that our labours in the corners of the education vineyard that governments sometimes cannot reach, do not go unnoticed.
In a country in which the school system fails most of our children the work of PRAESA has become more urgent than ever in order to mend the broken nets through which so many learners fall every day. The ability to read brings so many benefits, not only cognitive and intellectual, but also personal and political. It builds confidence that spills over into achievement in other school subjects. It levels the playing grounds by race, gender and social class like no other educational intervention. Most of all, once you have acquired the gift of reading, nobody can take it away.
Thank you, PRAESA. I for one am immensely proud of your Award.
Link to Nalibali here.
After the Award week in Stockholm, our South African friends Carole Bloch, Ntombi Mahobe and Malusi Ntoyapi went to visit the Interantional Youth Library (IJB) in Munich. Claudia Söffner, member of the English language section of IJB, has written a few lines about the visit, published today:
An evening with PRAESA, the 2015 ALMA Winner, at the International Youth Library
Every year in late spring, the International Youth Library has the great pleasure to present the new Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) winner to a German audience. PRAESA, the 2015 winners, travelled to Schloss Blutenburg in Munich on 3rd June. For them, the Munich visit was the conclusion to a busy ALMA award week in Sweden, which had been filled with school visits, interviews and presentations, including the grand prize giving ceremony at Stockholm Concert Hall just two nights before.
PRAESA, Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa, is an organisation that promotes reading and literature for young people in different languages. For more than twenty years PRAESA has combined latest research with creative methods to find new ways to make children in South Africa discover the joy of books and storytelling not only in English and Afrikaans but also – and most importantly – in their mother tongues.
The ALMA evening opened with two musical pieces by Munich musician and multi-instrumentalist Ardhi Engl. Playing on various instruments that he created from everyday objects, such as a piece of plastic pipe or a set of badminton rackets, Ardhi Engl entertained and delighted the audience in between speeches and presentations with his experimental compositions.
Dr. Christiane Raabe, the library’s director, warmly welcomed the guests of honour and congratulated them on winning the world’s largest prize for international children’s and young adult literature. Her welcome address was followed by the laudatory speech held by renowned German children’s book author Kirsten Boie. Boie, who has been supporting humanitarian projects in Swasiland for years, stressed the importance of reading and storytelling. She stated how grateful she is that ALMA does not only honour the creators of children’s literature but also the people who strive hard to bring children and books together. To her, reading is a core skill that children need to learn in order to develop empathy with other people, express their own feelings more adequately and form their own opinions. She strongly believes that books and stories enable children to change the future world for the better – a belief that she shares with Astrid Lindgren and with PRAESA.
Continue to read at the IJB web, link here.