Shaun Tan at the IJB in Münich

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award cooperates with the International Youth Library (IJB) in Münich, Germany. The past three years the winner has held a lecture at the IJB on the way to picking up the award. The IJB is a magical place. Situated in a castle, it is the world’s largest library of books for children and young adults. Astrid Lindgren was an honorary member and visited the library personally.

This year’s event proved to be extra special as H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel also came to the IJB. This gave the Crown Princess an opportunity to meet with Shaun Tan before presenting the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award to him on Tuesday the 31st.

On the way to Münich, at Arlanda airport, we ran into artist Tor Svae who was busy building a special Junibacken lounge for children travelling alone in terminal 5. Tor Svae gave us a quick tour of the giant mushrooms before we boarded our flight.

Once in Münich, Dr. Christiane Raabe, the director of IJB gave Shaun Tan and the Crown Princess with entourage a brief tour of the library  before a reception with especially invited guests. Both the Swedish ambassador to Germany, Staffan Carlsson as well as the Crown Princess herself held speeches congratulating Shaun Tan.

In the evening the program continued with the first Astrid Lindgren-speech, held by critic and translator Joachim Kalka. The Astrid Lindgren-speech is an annual event where a leading personality in the field of culture holds a speech concerning reading and children’s books. Joachim Kalka held a much appreciated talk with the title: Just so and completely different. The child reads its books, after which Shaun Tan made a presentation about his work. Shaun Tan spoke about how he aspires to inspire emotional readings of his work. He avoids the direct intellectual references and intentionally seeks expressions of the subconscious.  Shaun Tan wants his books to deepen life’s mysteries – not attempt to answer them. Just as the water buffalo in Tales from outer suburbia, he, as an artist, wants to point vaguely in the distance instead of submitting clear answers. To do this he uses what he calls “slippery metaphors”

At the following reception Shaun Tan met up with fellow Australian writer – and Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominee – Morris Gleitzman. Morris Gleitzman was in Germany to receive the Catholic Church’s book award for his critically acclaimed novel Once.

We also met up with illustrator Judith Drews, representative of the German nominating body Illustratoren Organisation.

Many of the guests wanted to have their books signed by Shaun Tan, who kept on signing as the sun was setting.

The morning after Shaun Tan left Münich for Lillehammer, Norway. On the way to the airport we travelled together with Claus Humann from Carlsen Verlag, Shaun Tan’s German publisher. The car with the ALMA-logo on the side was graciously provided to us by BMW.

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