Archive for May, 2012

Sweden’s Minister for Culture answers three questions about the ALMA

May 31, 2012

Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth attended the award ceremony for Guus Kuijer, at the Stockholm Concert Hall May 28. Photo: Stefan Tell

In conjunction with the award ceremony for the 2012 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Sweden’s Minister for Culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, answered a few questions about her views on literature for children and young people.

Why is it important to have a prize for children’s and young people’s literature?

“A prize like this puts the spotlight on authors of works for children and young people and hopefully encourages reading. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is also the world’s biggest prize for children’s books. For me, the right of children and young people to culture is one of the most important issues of cultural policy. Whatever their background, all children should be able to access professional culture, and literature in particular is crucial in helping us develop as people.”

What is the government doing to encourage children and young people to read?

“We need to do even more to promote literacy. But financial support for children’s literacy has almost doubled since 2006. In schools, there has been a reading, writing and arithmetic drive for younger children in particular, with a budget of up to SEK 1.5 billion. The Schools Act now also requires every school to have a library.

“The Literature Commission, which will report its findings in the autumn, has been tasked with studying literacy among children and young people and proposing measures to increase reading. We also have a special literacy ambassador for children’s and young people’s literature, author Johan Unenge, who tours the schools.”

What do you think about the future of books?

“The written word has a unique capacity to touch the reader’s innermost feelings and imagination in a way that no other media can match. You can also take a book at your own pace and tempo. Although traditional books will increasingly be found on e-readers instead of in printed form, I am optimistic about the future of books, and of storytelling. I would also like to see all school pupils start the day with half an hour of reading literature from their very first year.”

This interview was published in Swedish at the Government’s web. Link to Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth’s speech at the award ceremony, here.

Thank you!

May 30, 2012

The jury of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award had an informal meeting in Stockholm yesterday. This was the last meeting for three of the members. Birgitta Fransson, journalist and literary critic, Lars H Gustafsson, pediatrician and author and Ulla Lundqvist, author and literary critic are now leaving the ALMA jury.

“It has been ten fantastic years “, said Lars H Gustafsson when he thanked the members of jury.

Mats Kempe, author and librarian, Annika Edlund, literary educator and children’s librarian, and Henry Ascher, pediatrician, are new jury members to the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA).

The ALMA jury consists of 12 members appointed by the board of the Swedish Arts Council.

Guus Kuijer’s speech at the Award Ceremony

May 29, 2012

Photo: Stefan Tell

Your Royal Highness, your Excellences, my Corrie, members of the jury, ladies and gentlemen

Maybe some of you remember my reaction when the Chairman of the jury, Mr Larry Lempert, phoned me to inform me about me receiving the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. I was standing there with my coat on and had only one minute left to answer the phone. I told him that I was surprised and that I felt honoured. ´But,´ I concluded, ´the fact is that I have to go to the dentist.´

Before I try to express my gratitude to all of you, I therefore consider it to be my responsibility to start by giving you a well meant advice: never miss an appointment with your dentist. He might get angry and hurt you. And I, personally, don´t like to get hurt.

But after this serious warning I feel free to start expressing my gratitude.

I am thankful for the warm reception my wife and I got here in Sweden, the country where the sun always shines, as we noticed this week. We really felt at home thank to all the kind people we have met. I especially want to thank Helen for all the work she did to make our stay in Sweden so agreeable. And I want to thank Gert, our driver, who drove us smoothly wherever we needed to go.

I am grateful to my Dutch editor with that beautiful Spanish name: Querido, which means Loved One. This Loved One has always supported me loyally and with great enthusiasm. I especially want to mention the late Tine van Buul, who was like a mother to me when I did my first steps into the world of children’s literature.

I am grateful to all my editors abroad who took the risk to publish a writer whose name you cannot possibly pronounce properly.

I am grateful to the members of the jury, who are of course exhausted after reading so many good books from all over the world. And what difficult it must have been to make a choice!

But I am most grateful to Corrie, my wife, who is my life and my inspiration. Whatever I write I always read out loud to her and nothing is published without her consent. Whenever I hear the word freedom, I realize that I am free to let me be imprisoned by the woman I love and how happy that makes me.

Back home I will start writing again, because that´s what my life is about. I know that I am disappointing a lot of nice people who invited me to come over to their countries, but I hope they will understand my wish to go on writing and that they are willing to forgive me.

Let me finish with giving praise to Sweden. Dear Sweden, you are the only state in the world which proves to understand the importance of good books for children to read. Of course Astrid Lindgren taught you so, but what state is wise enough to listen to the teachings of its writers? Well, Sweden is, and I am sure that people all around the world will keep that in mind and be thankful for it.

Once a boy told me that to him reading was like bungee jumping inside his head. I therefore wish you all a great bungee jumping season.

Guus Kuijer received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

May 28, 2012

Crown Princess Victoria presents the award to Guus Kuijer. Comperes Johanna Koljonen and Daniel Sjölin. Photo: Stefan Tell.

It was a magic night when Guus Kuijer received this year’s award at Stockholm Concert Hall. In his acceptance speech, Kuijer said: “A boy once told me that reading was like bungee jumping inside his head. So I wish you all a great bungee jumping season.”

Guus Kuijer’s acceptance speech. Photo: Stefan Tell.

900 invited guests attended the award ceremony, which was a homage to Guus Kuijer and his work. Performing artists were First Aid Kit, Virpi Pahkinen, George and Sarah Riedel, and others. HRH Crown Princess Victoria presented Kuijer with the award in the presence of Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, Sweden’s minister for culture, and Kerstin Brunnberg, chair of the Swedish Arts Council.

First Aid Kit.Photo: Stefan Tell.

“Literature can set our minds free. It can be joyful and it can give us strength to carry on in times of sorrow. It can open our hearts to others”, said Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth.

Guus Kuijer, born 1942, is an author living and working in the Netherlands. He made his debut as a children’s writer in 1975 and has since published over 30 titles, mostly aimed at readers entering their teenage years. Key works include Het boek van alle dingen (2004, The Book of Everything).

Dancer Virpi Pakhinen. Photo: Stefan Tell.

Preparing for a special evening

May 28, 2012

Right now, there´re intense activities going on at the Stockholm Concert Hall, because tonight, Guus Kuijer is going to be presented with the 2012 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Artists, actors and production staff are all working hard to create an unforgettable evening. More information coming up after the award ceremony!  


The comperes for tonight, Johanna Koljonen and Daniel Sjölin, at the rehersals.

In about two hours all seats will be taken!

Guus Kuijer in Vimmerby

May 27, 2012

At Astrid Lindgren’s Näs in Vimmerby. Photo: Emma Jansson.

Guus Kuijer made a two day visit to Vimmerby last week. He gave a lecture at the biannual Astrid Lindgren conference focusing on children’s right to be respected for what they are. Commenting on children’s literature he concluded -”Let’s strive for quality and not popularity”.

Visiting the permanent exhibition “The whole world’s Astrid Lindgren” at Näs, where the life and work of Astrid Lindgren is presented. Photo: Emma Jansson.

Astrid Lindgren’s relatives gave a much appreciated guided tour of the house where Astrid Lindgren spent her childhood. This and the museum of Astrid Lindgren’s life and works made a great impact on the writer who was also much impressed of her influence in public debate.   

Photo: Emma Jansson.

Guus Kuijer also had time for a walk in the park The World of Astrid Lindgren where visitors can experience characters from Astrid Lindgren’s books.

Guus Kuijer met his readers in Stockholm

May 25, 2012

Guus Kuijer in conversation with Lars H. Gustafsson, paediatrician and ALMA jury member, at Riksdagsbiblioteket (parliament library), May 23. Photo: Stefan Tell.

Members of the Swedish parliament, librarians, and a devoted public had the privilege of listening to Guus Kuijer in conversation with Lars H Gustafsson, pediatrician and member of the ALMA-jury, at Riksdagsbiblioteket (the parliamentary library) on Wednesday. The two gentlemen talked about violence and childhood memories, but also about Pollekes disappearance and Kuijers use of twitter.

Guus Kuijer at Riksdagsbiblioteket (parliament library), May 23. Photo: Stefan Tell.

On Thursday Guus Kuijer did a reading in Dutch at the International library in Stockholm. Many Dutch people in exile came to listen, both children and adults. Guus Kuijer talked about his writing and a little girl asked, “What is it like to be a writer?”

“It’s boring,” said Guus Kuijer, adding “but it’s not boring in your head…”

At Internationella biblioteket (international library) in Stockholm, May 24. Photo: Stefan Tell.

About happiness, dying, art – and Ingmar Bergman…

May 23, 2012

Photo: Stefan Tell

It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop in the Kulturhuset auditorium when Guus Kuijer held his award lecture yesterday. The audience was absolutely captivated by his words, which will be broadcast by Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company (Utbildningsradion) at Swedish Knowledge Channel on Monday 28th at 6:00 pm. The lecture was followed by a question and answer session with the audience.

“…there are different kinds of understanding. Understanding art is a very different thing from understanding that the earth is round. And besides: art is not always suitable for everyone.”

Photo: Stefan Tell

Behrang Miri, artistic director for children and young adults at Kulturhuset, welcomed the audience, and Kerstin Brunnberg, chairman of the Swedish Arts Council, introduced Kuijer.

Photo: Stefan Tell



Welcome to Stockholm Guus Kuijer!

May 22, 2012

Today, the recipient of the 2012 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award arrives in Sweden, and thereby begins this year’s award week. Tonight, the Dutch author Guus Kuijer gives his public award lecture at Kulturhuset (house of culture) in Stockholm.

The lecture (in English) starts at 6:00 pm at Kulturhuset Auditorium, 3rd floor. It’s followed by a question and answer session and book signing. The lecture is open to the public and admission free.

The award lecture is a collaboration between the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and Kulturhuset.

This year’s award week takes place between May 22-29th.

Guus Kuijer to Stockholm

May 16, 2012

The ALMA award week is coming up! Guus Kuijer arrives in Stockholm on Tuesday May 22, and a whole week of events surroundig the award ceremony starts, including appearances at Kulturhuset (house of culture) and Riksdagsbiblioteket (the parliamentary library).

“There’s plenty of variety on the programme. I’m really looking forward to hearing Guus Kuijer talk about his writings at Kulturhuset,” said Helen Sigeland, director of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. “The conversation with Lars H. Gustafsson at Riksdagsbiblioteket will be fascinating, too, and Dutch speakers will have an exclusive opportunity to enjoy an evening of readings.”

Award week programme
22 May: Lecture at Kulturhuset (house of culture) in Stockholm. Guus Kuijer talks about his writings. Open to the public, admission free.
23 May: Guus Kuijer in conversation with Lars H. Gustafsson, paediatrician and ALMA jury member, at Riksdagsbiblioteket. Open to the public, no registration required.
24 May: Reading at Internationella biblioteket (the international library) in Stockholm (in Dutch).
25 May: Lecture at the Astrid Lindgren conference in Vimmerby.
26 May: Visit to Astrid Lindgren’s Näs and Lindgren’s childhood home in Vimmerby.
28 May: Award ceremony at Stockholm Concert Hall. HRH Crown Princess Victoria will present the award in the presence of Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, Minister for Culture.

Kulturhuset is also paying tribute to Kuijer by organising workshops for children and young people, and Skansen, the open-air museum in Stockholm, will arrange an event of celebrating children’s books.