Guus Kuijer at the International Youth Library in Munich

Photo: IJB

On 6th November 2012, the International Youth Library in Munich had the honour and pleasure of hosting an evening with the ALMA winner 2012, the Dutch author Guus Kuijer. It was the fourth time that Dr. Christiane Raabe, the library’s director, and her team welcomed the current ALMA winner to their book castle and invited a mixed audience of publishers, critics, librarians, teachers, parents, and children’s book enthusiasts to learn more about the award recipient.

Dr. Dominik von König, the chairman of the IYL foundation, opened the evening by drawing a comparison between the IYL, one of the most renowned centres for international children’s literature and Guus Kuijer, one of the most renowned children’s book authors.

As the next speaker, Rob Zaagman, the consul general of the Netherlands in Munich, mentioned, how difficult it is, to talk about a person who is present, especially since Guus Kuijer once said that too much attention for the author might somehow harm the books and their characters. Zaagman praised the ALMA winner’s exceptional skills as a writer for readers of all ages and implored the audience to seize the opportunity to read Kuijer’s texts themselves.

Guus Kuijer’s moving speech, a version of his ALMA acceptance speech, adapted and translated into German, included some amusing anecdotes about his life. He read three short stories from the book “De tranen knallen uit mijn kop” (1980) about Jonathan, a little boy, who has fallen in love with his teacher and tries everything to be noticed by her. Kuijer skilfully used these short episodes to underline the important role that art and literature played in his personal life and development, and to underline the fact that children’s literature is not inferior but on a par with literature for adults.

The official part of the evening was concluded by Ralph Wagner, a professional speaker for radio and television, who rendered a captivating reading of two chapters from Kuijer’s book “Het boek van alle dingen” (2004, The Book of Everything).

Afterwards, the audience was invited to a reception with Guus Kuijer, where they had the opportunity to talk to him in person. And who knows, how many other lovely stories may have been told during the course of this evening …

Sabrina Gold / Claudia Söffner (International Youth Library, Munich)

Link to IJB here.

Photo: IJB

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