There is a murmur through the room. The lights have just been turned off and a new image emerges, glows from the book that lies in front of 22 eight-year-olds. This year’s laureate of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Isol, is showing illustrations and talking about her books. She has just demonstrated how the children can unleash their imagination and create fun and unexpected things with drawings.
She asks the children to suggest a number that she then draws on a whiteboard. And she draws another one. And another. Isol twists and turns the numbers without any apparent order. And suddenly, the numbers have become a funny figure! With pen and paper, scissors and crayons, anything is possible.
The children in the primary school Flatåsskolan in Gothenburg have already read Petit, the Monster and Numeralia and talked about Isol, Astrid Lindgren and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. And now she actually stands here, in front of the children, at the Frölunda Cultural Centre. The children live nearby, in a suburb of Gothenburg, but many of them have roots far away in other parts of the world.
— My mother is from Brazil, one boy says.
Isol speaks English with the children and many of them answer her with a good command of English. Sometimes she speaks Spanish and then America Vera-Zavala translates.
Isol shows images from her latest book, Nocturne – Dream Recipes, to be published in Swedish in January 2014. Copies of the book are handed out to the children and they start working in pairs. On every page of the book there is a plain ink drawing. Then the light in the roof is turned off and each book is illuminated by a desk lamp or a flashlight. The excitement trembles in the air. The children count to 30. Then all lights are turned off.
Now another fantastic image appears, that glows greenish yellow in the dark. An image of a dream!
— Now you shall make your own dreams, Isol says. Draw what you like.
Paper, pencils and crayons are distributed. Hearts, houses, lightning, cars and exciting shapes are emerging. The children cut them out and put the pictures on the last page, which is white and empty.
Then all the lights are turned on over the books.
— This time we count to 50, Isol says.
The “aaah” is more overwhelming this time. The children quiver with joy to see the results of their own creations. And then the illustrations slowly fade away.
They immediately start with their next picture. They draw, change and start all over again. They put pens and scissors in patterns and are surprised by the results. Finally, the lesson is over. The children want to continue and are disappointed when they are told to finish, but soon forget the disappointment when librarian Anna Carin Svedstam at Frölunda Library inform them that they are actually allowed to bring the books home.
While the teachers prepare the children to leave, the queue of children in front of Isol is growing. Everyone wants an autograph. And everyone wants to give her a hug …
Henry Ascher, member of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award jury