Archive for December, 2012

Why not read a really good book?

December 21, 2012

We suspect that many of you blog readers might have some lazy vacation days in front of you now. Why not read a really good book? Here are some suggestions from the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

Mats Berggren. Photo: Stefan Tell.

Mats Berggren

Mats Berggren, member of the jury:

I´ll put your letters under the mattress – A correspondence 1971 – 2002 (our transl.) by Astrid Lindgren and Sara Schwardt (Salikon 2012). The best book I´ve read this fall. I was expecting some Astrid Lindgren curiosities, but this is something much more. Sara’s drama, which emerges through the letters, is captivating, I read the entire book at one sitting to find out how it went. She writes well, she is after all only 12 years old when the book begins. There is a directness in the teenage heart that makes me think of Barbro Lindgren’s books. Astrid is very skilled at being personal enough to get Sara to open herself. A the same time you get clues about Astrid herself – she complains about how hard it is to write, it took an entire spring to finish the last two chapters of the Brothers Lionheart.

Elina Druker. Photo: Stefan Tell.

Elina Druker


Elina Druker, member of the jury:

I´d like to recommend Kitty Crowther’s Le Petit Homme et Dieu (Pastel 2010,The Little Man and God , our transl., not yet published in English), a picture book about a little man who meets a strange creature in the forest, a creature that turns out to be God. The book, which is skillfully translated by Lennart Hellsing, is a fun but also staggering story that raises news thoughts and questions, and is perfect for both younger and older readers.

Helen Sigeland.

Helen Sigeland

Helen Sigeland, Director:

The Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett (Penguin Australia 2012) is set in World War II England. Two children, Cecily and Jeremy, are sent to live in the country to escape the bombing in London. The two siblings and ten-year-old May soon find mysterious ruins and learn about a terrible legend involving two missing children relating to Richard III. This is a wonderful thrilling novel about power and effect of war for (young) adults. Read it!

Annika Edlund.

Annika Edlund

Annika Edlund, member of the jury:

I can recommend the book Florian Knol by Guus Kuijer (Querido 2006). Florian is an ordinary boy with an unusually large and red hair. A small sparrow sits on his head and Florian names the sparrow Nico. Katya from his school, who is a grade above him, explains that she is in love with him, and that makes Florian’s tummy tickle. At the same time he’s thinking about whether he´s really ready for love, or if he is mature enough to take care of an old person…
… because in the neighboring house old Mrs Raaphorst lives, and she has forgot her key. That´s in itself not that serious, but Florian is perplexed as she talks about a fork when she apparently means a key. There is something very confusing about this. Together with Katya, he decides to help the old lady, whom they call granny.

The book of Florian Knol is a wonderful story about understanding, forgetfulness and love, written by this year’s award recipient, Guus Kuijer. The book was published in 2006 in Dutch, and this year in Swedish. I was delighted and had such a good feeling in my whole body while reading this book. It´s a philosophical and loving book for everyone.

(All images above are taken by photographer Stefan Tell.)

Helen Sigeland receives honor from the Swedish Academy

December 20, 2012


Today, Helen Sigeland, Director of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, was honored by the Swedish Academy for her many years of introducing Swedish culture abroad. The announcement was made at the Academy’s Grand Hall in Stockholm.

Congratulations Helen! How does it feel to receive a recognition like this?

Overwhelming, this was nothing I ever expected. I’m grateful and very honored of course. And surprised!

You have long experience in working with literature issues at an international level, both at the Swedish Arts Council and the Swedish Institute. What have been most rewarding during these years?

Hard to say but the contacts with professionals from all over the world have been very rewarding, writers, publishers and of course the translators! Without these we would not have any Swedish books published abroad.

What are the main challenges working with introducing any literature internationally today, do you think?

You have to have someone to cooperate with in the country in question and sometimes it takes time to find the right partners. Shortage of translators in some language areas can also be a problem. This is why teaching of Swedish abroad is so important.

The ceremony was attended by Swedish Royal family and broadcast live by Swedish Television (Kunskapskanalen).

The Swedish Academy is an independent cultural institution, founded in 1786 by King Gustav III in order to advance the Swedish language and Swedish literature. The Academy has also awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901. Yesterday, the Academy’s Permanent Secretary Peter Englund, gave the following description of the ceremony in his blog (our transl.):

Tomorrow it takes place, again, what has been called the oldest, yet played theater piece: the formal meeting of the Swedish Academy. The external form has not changed since 1786. The place is still the Academy’s Grand Hall, the choreography, table settings and placements follow Gustav III’s instruction to the letter, the chairs are actually the same – it is only the fabric that is new.







Good Dragon and Bad Dragon

December 18, 2012


2003 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award recipient Christine Nöstlinger has recently launched book Good Dragon and Bad Dragon, with illustrations by Jens Rassmus. Her publishing house Residenz Verlag describe the book as “a truly refreshing story on being courageous and encouraging others, unique in its wisdom and funny as only Christine Nöstlinger’s stories can be”. The story revolves around young Florian, who´s got two dragons, a good one and a bad one;

And only he can see them and no one else! Together, the three of them are invincible. Good Dragon and Bad Dragon are always there for Florian. But when they are about to leave for their vacation, Florian is really surprised: They are afraid of the sea! Fortunately, Florian’s mum has an idea: They need dragon floaties! But where to get them? Online, of course! And then, all set up with invisible floaties and a lot of fun, Florian encourages his dragons to try something new…

Pullman’s never ending work for the values of reading and books creates headlines

December 13, 2012
Photograph: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

Photograph: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

“I’d add in the letter accompanying that went round to all schools a quotation from Albert Einstein, a great scientist, ‘if you want your children to be intelligent read them fairytales and if you want them to be more intelligent read them more fairytales’.”

These words come from 2005 ALMA recipient Philip Pullman during a public appearance at the Economist Books of the Year event the other week. In the Sunday edition of the British newspaper the Telegraph, Pullman compares the way in which books are taught in schools to torture;

The award-winning writer of the fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials criticised teachers for the “painful” way they tore stories apart to try to reveal what they “really mean”.

The result is pupils who end up hating the books, he said. Instead of being drilled and quizzed about them, children should be given time to enjoy the stories.

When you read a book, “you should get magic from it”, he said. “There should be plenty of books and plenty of time, and teachers should leave children alone.

Read full article here.

Philip Pullman’s commitment to promoting reading issues has created much attention in the media. Last year’s big and important question concerned the closure of libraries in the UK.  Pullman then declared war against ’supidity’ of library closes and stated that “A book symbolises the whole intellectual history of mankind; it’s the greatest weapon ever devised in the war against stupidity. Beware of anyone who tries to make books harder to get at.”

Ps. Did you know that his novel The Firework-Maker’s Daughter is to be turned into an opera for children? More info from the BBC News to read here.

Interesting reading promoting activities in Angola

December 12, 2012

At this very moment the first children’s book fair is on in Luana, the capital of Angola. Behind this event is the Angolan Writers Association (UEA), and the fair aim to promote reading among the citizens and children especially.

The book fair was officially opened on Sunday by the Minister of Culture, Rosa Cruz, and ends on December 12. In connection with the fair, books by the Angolan writers Wanhenga Xito and Sónia Gomes, will be launched.

Secretary general Carmo Neto.

Secretary general Carmo Neto.

UEA has also been present in the media, suggesting the creation of libraries in primary schools. Secretary general Carmo Neto:
”The  publishers would be more motivated to publish books, which would encourage authors as they would realize  the possibilities of getting their work published.”

Interview with Kitty Crowther

December 7, 2012

Kitty in Sweden

Author and illustrator Kitty Crowther is climbing the top list of the Swedish book charts with her illustrations of the Astrid Lindgren Christmas classic “Tomten är vaken”. Last week she visited Stockholm to promote the book, and was interviewed by Radio Sweden.

Listen to the interview here.

A pyramid of books!

December 5, 2012

It´s been called “an old archetype for a new era”, “pyramid of paper” but foremost “Book Mountain” by its architects MVRDV, this new public library in the Dutch city Spijkenisse, which opened in October.

Shaped like a pyramid, with 100 000 square meters of library and 50,000 books covered by a glass shell, it´s designed to be a beacon for accessibility of literature and information. Last week Book Mountain won Bronze at National Dutch Wood Award.

Columnist Blaine Brownell in the American digital magazine Architect:
“In the wake of a flood of digital media, Book Mountain argues for the reassuring physical presence of both book and building. Ironically, the archetype has now shifted: it is now the electronic information stream that exhibits Babel-like qualities, with its “confusion of languages, untiring labor, incessant activity, [and] a furious competition of all humanity.” By contrast, the physical library now represents a quiet retreat from this storm. It calmly emanates a sheltering aura: an artificially complete microcosm within a world that is forever incomplete.”

Don´t miss this short documentary by BBC News.