Nominees for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2018 to be announced on October 12

October 2, 2017

The candidates for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2018 will be presented on October 12 at the Frankfurt Book Fair. So far, seventeen laureates have received the Award, the latest recipient is the German illustrator Wolf Erlbruch. The award amounts to SEK 5 million (approx. EUR 570 000), making it the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature.

The list of nominated candidates is a gold mine for anyone interested in international children’s and young adult literature – and would not be possible without the work of more than a hundred nominating bodies from all over the world. Welcome to join us when the list of names is revealed!

Programme 12 October at 4 pm CET
4.00 pm Welcome by Gabi Rauch-Kneer, vice president of Frankfurter Buchmesse
4.05 pm Prof. Boel Westin, Chairman of the ALMA Jury and Journalist Marcel Plagemann, present the work of Wolf Erlbruch.
4.40 pm Helen Sigeland, Director of ALMA, about upcoming events.
4.45 pm Prof. Boel Westin, Chairman of the ALMA Jury, reveals the candidates for the 2018 award.

The event is a co-operation with the Frankfurt Book Fair and takes place at the Children’s Book Centre (Hall 3.0 K 139). The nomination list of 2018 will be available on shortly after the programme.

Earlier ALMA laureates

2017 Wolf Erlbruch, Germany
2016 Meg Rosoff, United Kingdom/United States
2015 PRAESA, South Africa
2014 Barbro Lindgren, Sweden
2013 Isol, Argentina
2012 Guus Kuijer, Netherlands
2011 Shaun Tan, Australia
2010 Kitty Crowther, Belgium
2009 Tamer Institute, Palestine
2008 Sonya Hartnett, Australia
2007 Banco del Libro, Venezuela
2006 Katherine Paterson, United States
2005 Ryôji Arai, Japan and Philip Pullman, United Kingdom
2004 Lygia Bojunga, Brazil
2003 Christine Nöstlinger, Austria and Maurice Sendak, United States

For questions and interviews with Boel Westin or director Helen Sigeland, please contact
Communications Officer Mariella Kucer +46 76 540 10 17,

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature. The award, which amounts to SEK 5 million, is given annually to a single laureate or to several. Authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters are eligible. The award is designed to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature. The UN convention of rights of the child is the foundation of our work. An expert jury selects the laureate(s) from candidates nominated by institutions and organisations all over the world. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was founded by the Swedish government in 2002 and is administrated by the Swedish Arts Council.

Discover our reading guides

August 29, 2017
Meg Rosoff visits Hjulsta ELementary School in may 2016.

Meg Rosoff visits Hjulsta ELementary School in may 2016. Photo: Stefan Tell

Summer is almost over and a new term has started for most students. Now is perfect timing to read a new book, so why not let our reading guides inspire you? The guides contain an introduction of the author or illustrator, description of the contents, a suggested interpretation and topics for discussions. They are meant to be used in book circles, in schools or just as inspiration for further reading. Twelve books by ten laureates are available and easy to download for free, from Kitty Crowther’s Alors? for younger children, to Meg Rosoff’s existential books for young adults and Shaun Tan’s completely wordless work The Arrival. Just click on the titles!

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

Secret trilogi by Barbro Lindgren

Petit, the Monster by Isol

It´s Useful to Have a Duck and Nocturne – Dream Recipes by Isol

The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Alors? by Kitty Crowther

Lénfant Racine by Kitty Crowther

The Devil Latch by Sonya Hartnett

The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

Basu ni Notte by Ryôji Arai

Northen Lights by Philip Pullman

My Friend the Painter by Lygia Bojunga

Fly Away Home by Christine Nöstlinger

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

“Take a minute in the grocery aisle to read the marmalade label out loud. Be surprised by what it says!”

July 9, 2017
Books in the grass

Books are perfect to read outdoors …

Swedish Reading Promoter Anne-Marie Körling sends warm summer greetings to parents and children with some tips on ways that reading for pleasure can bring us closer together, offer intellectual enrichment and take us on adventures beyond space and time.

Summer is here! Long, lazy days with plenty of time for independent reading. Comic books, popular series books, reading-out-loud books—there are so many ways to continue the adventure of learning to read and being a reader. As a teacher, I know that summer reading is important to support school-year lessons and keep reading skills sharp. Having said that, let me stress that vacation is vacation. Let reading be fun!

Take advantage of this chance to read with your child. Listen to radio serials or recorded stories. Chat about the fact that you’re reading and how you read. Take a minute in the grocery aisle to read the marmalade label out loud. Be surprised by what it says! Grownups are role models for children and young adults. They do what we do; they imitate us. Let them see and hear you reading, and talk to them about what texts tell you.

We develop as readers through the act of reading, and it’s important not to get out of practice. But children don’t have to read as if they’re prepping for an exam. Reading for the sheer pleasure of the story doesn’t feel like practice at all. Children who are allowed to read what they like learn to like reading. And they need to share what they read with interested grownups. I saw a grandfather stand for a long time in front of a sign with his grandchild, letting the child tell him the letters as they sounded out the words together. See if you can find simple, spontaneous opportunities for reading wherever you go.

Libraries and bookstores are places to discover books in all their diversity. Browse a bookstore. Pick up a few books. Visit your library and take a moment to sit, read, leaf through some pages, and just be where the books are. When your child brings over a book, share their enthusiasm. Ask them what it was that caught their interest. Bring the book into your conversation. Ask about the book and listen to the stories your child tells you. Look at the illustrations and talk about what you see. Libraries have librarians whose job is to promote reading. They have a professional curiosity about their books and how they reach readers. Talk to a librarian. Bookstores have knowledgeable staff with favorites to recommend, both old and new. Talk to a bookseller.

If your child likes series, borrow ten library books by the same author. Be thrilled that there are more where those came from! Read out loud to your child from books that are past their reading level. If reading out loud feels uncomfortable, remember: your child loves your voice. They don’t care how you read, only that you read. Reading to your child is a way of sharing adventures with them, whether exciting, sad, or  funny. You can test the waters with a short book first. And yes, keep reading to your child even after they can read for themselves. Another way to do summer reading is independently, together. Pick a time for everyone to hang out together while reading their own book or magazine. Try a half-hour every day, just for fun. Read on a tablet, in a book, in a newspaper—read anything at all. You’ll not only be reading but also sharing a joint activity.

Reading is a return ticket to a summer adventure–to a place outside space and time, where we readers are warmed by the sun that shines from our stories.

Anne-Marie Körling,
Swedish National Reading Promoter

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Meet the illustrator Marcus-Gunnar Pettersson, creator of the diploma for ALMA 2017.

June 27, 2017


Tell us about yourself. Who is Marcus-Gunnar?
Marcus-Gunnar is a pretty uncomplicated guy who really likes to draw.

What was your reaction to being asked to do this year’s diploma?
When I got the question I was actually going through a crisis of confidence. Feeling like my work didn’t measure up, like “everything I do is ugly.” I imagined other people laughing at everything I did: “That guy, he can’t make books, he can’t draw.” I told myself that maybe I should just forget about making picture books at all. I guess a lot of people can relate to what I was feeling just then. Which turned right around when I got this assignment! It was such an honor. I was incredibly happy and thankful. It was like a confirmation that I might be on the right track after all.

What were the hardest and easiest parts?
The hardest part was finding an idea and deciding what path to take. But once I made that decision, all I had to do was draw and get lost in the visual world.

Describe your creative process!
I have a process that sometimes makes my work harder. It is largely based on “coincidence.” For example, spilling a cup of coffee and sketching up a subject from the outlines of the stain. I have an initial idea for the content, but I let the stain decide the composition and improvisation. I began by reading Wolf Erlbruch’s books and looking at his visual world. I regret to say that I didn’t know his work before the prize was announced. I’m glad to have learned about a new (to me) and fantastic illustrator and author. Pretty quickly, I noticed a common theme in his stories, having to do with the significance of animals. Poetic, humorous animals wearing clothes. I also thought his images were musical and had a quality of depth.

I had a lot of ideas early on, but none of them felt good. Then after a lot of wavering and a conversation with Maja K. Zetterberg, who did the typography, we realized that previous diplomas are based on a concept, not a body of work.

So I read the books again. I started focusing on the river in Duck, Death and the Tulip. I visualized a scene where different kinds of animals were sitting and playing on different instruments. The notes float off and connect to poetic and musical elements. Later I read an interview with Erlbruch in a Swedish paper, where he said that he tries to make his pictures musical. I worked up five subjects from a couple of coffee stains and picked the one that felt best. Or so I thought! It was, in fact, a picture of animals wearing clothes, playing instruments as their notes float away, and at the end Duck and Death sit listening. I finished it, but it didn’t feel right. So I did five more sketches. Then in the end I went for the first one after all. It became very detailed and I really wanted it all to feel thoroughly worked out. Then I took the original to Stockholm, Maja worked her magic on the paper, and voila!

What made you decide to be a professional illustrator?
It feels less like a decision and more like getting swept away in the rapids!

You’ve illustrated several books by other authors, most recently Vi letar skatt (We’re hunting treasure). When will we see your own story?
I will be actually working on some stories this summer and during the rest of this year! We’ve just had a baby
, so I have to snatch hours where I can find them. But having a child is also a big inspiration. It brings back so many childhood memories. I’m new to writing, but I have fantastic editors, and my publishers all want to help me make it happen. I’m psyched about it. The spirit is ready! I just have to find the time.

What are your current projects?
Being a new parent is the biggest one! Besides that, I’m finishing up a book by the author Stefan Casta, Det magiska stoftet (The magic dust), coming out this fall. Later I’ll be working on some books of my own for several different publishers. But there’s no deadline for half of them. I’m looking forward to the rest of the year. In a way I feel like this is the moment when my life really begins. Maybe because it’s summertime!

Wolf Erlbruch, Marcus-Gunnar Pettersson and Maja K. Zetterberg

In the front: Wolf Erlbruch and his diploma. Smiling behind him are Marcus-Gunnar Pettersson together with Maja K. Zetterberg who did the typography.

Discover the work of Marcus-Gunnar at


Wolf Erlbruch accepts Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award before a full Stockholm Concert Hall

May 29, 2017

Wolf Erlbruch accepts Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award before a full Stockholm Concert Hall

Wolf Erlbruch tonight received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award from H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria. Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy, Mrs Alice Bah Kuhnke, gave a speech in honour of the laureate.

During the evening, musical entertainment was provided by Swedish opera singer Rickard Söderberg and the Sami artist Sofia Jannok. A dance adaption of Wolf Erlbruch’s book Duck, Death and the Tulip was performed by Fredrik Quiňones and Stacey Aung, choreographed by Mari Carrasco. The ceremony was hosted by Yukiko Duke, journalist and critic. Apart from the prize sum, 5 million SEK, the laureate received a diploma illustrated by Marcus-Gunnar Pettersson and Maja K Zetterberg.

“Being an illustrator, means you never work without a given text. To start reading a new manuscript is like entering a foreign country. You know nobody.” said Wolf Erlbruch in is acceptance speech.

He won the audience’s heart by loosing his glasses before starting to speak. Erlbruch also mentioned the difficulties of sometimes finding the right pictures. 

“Some texts more or less illustrate themselves. Then there is poetry, which is impossible to translate.” said Wolf Erlbruch before finishing his speech by reciting from his favourite poem by Seamus Heaney.

In her congratulatory speech, Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke said:

“Mr Erlbruch is a brave writer and in many ways his writing is reminiscent of Astrid Lindgren’s. His work reflects what children’s lives are like – they contain the light-hearted and the deeply existential, side by side. We are in awe of the incomprehensible, we find happiness in small pleasures and we become angry over injustices.”

About Wolf Erlbruch
Born in 1948, is a German illustrator and picturebook author. He has written some ten books of his own and illustrated nearly fifty titles by other authors. He is best known for his illustrations of The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business (1994), which became a great success around the world.

For further information, please contact:

Mariella Kucer, Communications Officer
Tel +46(0)765401017

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature. The award, which amounts to SEK 5 million, is given annually to a single laureate or to several. Authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters are eligible. The award is designed to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature. The UN convention of rights of the child is the foundation of our work. An expert jury selects the laureate(s) from candidates nominated by institutions and organisations all over the world. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was founded by the Swedish government in 2002 and is administrated by the Swedish Arts Council.

Hello Yukiko Duke, host of the award ceremony

May 29, 2017

Yukiko Duke is a book reviewer for the television program Gomorron Sverige, editor of the magazine Vi läser, and herself an author and a translator. Tonight, on 29 May, she will host the award ceremony for ALMA laureate Wolf Erlbruch. We caught up with her to ask a few questions.

Yukiko Duke (photo Anna Widoff)

Yukiko Duke Photo: Anna Widoff

What is your earliest memory of reading?
Wow, I have a lot. Mostly Japanese books, I’m afraid, because my mother, who used to read me bedtime stories, was Japanese, and she chose Japanese books to keep the language alive for me. But I remember Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince very well, because I thought it was so odd  so sad and still so light, all at the same time.

What is your favorite book by Wolf Erlbruch, and why?
The one that most stands out for me is Duck, Death and the Tulip. It is the most beautiful and most dignified book about dying I have ever read, in any genre. I can’t count the number of copies I’ve given to people – both children and adults.

It’s always interesting to hear your book recommendations for Gomorron Sverige on Swedish public television. How do you choose books for the show?
Gomorron Sverige is a news show, so the basic criterion is that the first reviews should have been scheduled for that week or the week before. Apart from that, it’s up to me. Since the news desk likes to pick up nonfiction books anyway, I usually concentrate on fiction. I try to choose books that deserve to be reviewed but don’t always get the major reviews in the big papers.

When and where do you like to read?
I read obsessively, all the time, everywhere. On the couch, at the table, in bed, on the bus, on the plane, standing in line…

What’s on your bedside table right now?
Hm. A lot of different books, actually. The latest book by the Swedish artist Lars Lerin, Och fågeln flög fritt för att uppsöka sin bur, which is a set of illustrated reflections on his life. The English critic Olivia Laing’s volume of essays, The Lonely City, about being alone in New York. And the second book in Madeleine Bäck’s fantasy/horror series about mysterious happenings in a small community in Gästrikland, in eastern Sweden.

You review and translate other people’s books and also write your own. What role suits you best? What are the hardest and the most fun parts?
Let me quote the Japanese author Haruki Murakami: “I’m a farmer with diversified crops.” I like working with language in general. I enjoy reading, formulating my thoughts about reading and writing in book reviews, and moving written material from one language to another. All of these ways of rubbing up against words and language have their charm.

What kind of future do you see for children’s books, as children spend more and more time on tablets and other screens?
I think we shouldn’t get hung up on the forms in which literature is disseminated. All people, grown-ups and kids alike, will always need stories. Telling stories to ourselves and each other is our way of explaining the world and making sense of life. Have children’s books in digital form, alongside books with bindings, won’t change that in the slightest. Nor do I think that people, either children or adults, will stop reading. They might read in different ways, but they won’t stop.

You’ve said in interviews that you want to be a cultural bridge between Japan and Sweden. How are you doing that?
I translate Japanese fiction into Swedish, and I write about Japan in Sweden and vice versa. Once a month I go on nighttime radio for the Japanese public broadcaster NHK and talk about Sweden. I also give a lot of lectures about Japan. Right now I’m working on a seminar series about Japanese culture to celebrate the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sweden and Japan.

Tell us – what have you got coming up?
At the moment my mother and I are putting the finishing touches on our latest project, a translation of Murakami’s essays about writing. They are funny, rather philosophical pieces about what makes a writer a writer and ways to work with narrative.

Follow the award ceremony live!

May 29, 2017



Join us tonight when Wolf Erlbruch recieves the 2017 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) in a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall on May 29!  The award ceremony is broadcasted live at and on our Facebook-page.

The live broadcast starts at app. 5.50 pm CET.
The ceremony takes place at 6-7 pm CET Monday May 29.

The award is presented by H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria at a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall, attended by Alice Bah Kuhnke, Swedish Minister for Culture and Democracy who is giving a speech in honor of Wolf Erlbruch. The compere for the evening is the journalist and literary critic Mrs. Yukiko Duke. There will be artist performances and presentations of Wolf Erlbruch’s work.

Welcome online!

Treated like a real literary superstar at Hjulsta Elementary School

May 24, 2017

On Tuesday morning it was time for Wolf Erlbruch to visit Hjulsta Elementary School and meet all the enthusiastic and curious students and teachers there. We had a great time!

First he met a group of seventh graders who had read his “Duck, Death and the Tulip” and made their own interpretations of the book in drawing lessons. The had also prepared questions.

– Why did you want to write a book about death? one of the students asked.

– I wanted to show death as something kind, not just a scary murderer which is the way we often think of it. This particular death that you meet in the book is nice to talk to and answers questions as well, Wolf Erlbruch said.

– But really, why do you think so much about death? Because I don’t! a thirteen-year-old girl said.

Wolf just smiled and said:
– At my age, you tend to do so. And I don’t really think it is such a bad thing to think about death every now and then, to get used to the idea. Small children think about it very often and have many questions.

Time to move on; some 150 primary school children where waiting in the the school gymnasium and we were invited to watch some wonderful ALMA inspired entertainment. They cheered and applauded as Wolf Erlbruch entered! A group of third graders performed their own, fantastic dance piece to the song “Du käre lille snickerbo” from Astrid Lindgren’s famous “Emil of Lönneberga”.

Wolf Erlbruch also shared his thoughts with the children and among other things, he told them that he finds the father character very interesting. Take a closer look at the pictures, are you able to find the father of Emil?

– What do you think about Astrid Lindgren? wondered one of the children.
– I just love her! Wolf quickly replied.

To get a feeling of what it was like to be in Hjulsta, have a look at the beautiful pictures taken by photographer Stefan Tell.




Wolf Erlbruch is in Sweden!

May 23, 2017

Wolf Erlbruch is in Sweden! Yesterday he met Swedish journalists and gave interviews all day long. He is overwhelmed with all the attention that comes with receiving one of the worlds largest literature awards, and who would’nt be?

Tonight at 6-7 pm he will be at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern to show the audience some of his unique Pictures which are so far unpublished, among others his first drawings as a 2 year old boy. The event takes place in “Hörsalen” and is open to the public and free of charge. Warmly welcome!

Earlier this morning he went to visit students at Hjulsta Elementary school where he was honoured and treated as a superstar. You will be able to hear more about the visit in the next post.



Pictures taken at Skeppsholmen in Stockholm by photographer Stefan Tell.


The librarian: Why we love working with books by ALMA laureates

May 22, 2017

For the fourth year running, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is our school-wide spring theme here at Hjulsta Elementary. Teachers, staff and students ages 6–16 have been reading, discussing and getting inspired by the ALMA laureates and Astrid Lindgren herself. Not for the last time, I’m sure!

As part of our ALMA theme, we always spend a lot of time on Astrid Lindgren. Many of our students are new immigrants to Sweden, and nearly all of them have parents born in another country. For anyone attending school in Sweden, we think Astrid Lindgren is required reading. Astrid’s characters, her language, Swedish life in the olden days – all these are things that every Swede has a relationship to. Reading Astrid’s books, and watching the first-rate films that have been based on them, unlocks an important piece of our shared cultural heritage for our students.

Reading books by the ALMA laureates also helps us see what life can be like under very different circumstances. The ALMA books introduce us to people from all over the world and from throughout history. For example, when PRAESA was recognized a few years ago, we had the chance to learn a great deal about life in South Africa.

PRAESA visiting Hjulsta Elementary i 2015. Photo: Stefan Tell

Often we grown-ups are surprised by how powerfully our students respond to the ALMA books. The Swedish government instituted the award to recognize authors and illustrators whose work is “of the highest artistic quality and conveys the deeply humanist spirit associated with Astrid Lindgren.” Obviously, “highest artistic quality” will always be somewhat subjective, but we can tell there is something special about these books. We fall in love with them; they challenge us; above all, they get us talking. And when we think and talk about different interpretations, we grow in wisdom together. This is a joyful process – it is exhilarating to realize the importance of our thoughts, and how smart we really are when we try. And I think our ALMA theme has made us grown-ups a little braver. We have learned that books we thought might be too difficult or too “out there” can lead to very exciting discussions.

From Duck, Death and the Tulip, Kunstman Verlag

This spring, many of our groups were deeply affected by reading Wolf Erlbruch’s Duck, Death and the Tulip. The book led us to talk about death and how sad it is to lose the people we love, but also about how a person reaching the end of their life can be a perfectly natural thing. We also read Leonard: we laughed at the pictures, congratulated ourselves on discovering clues to the plot, and some of our students wrote their own stories and drew pictures of the things they are most afraid of.

From Leonard, Peter Hammer Verlag

Many of the ALMA laureates take up difficult subjects in their books. Depression – death – loneliness – sad things that are not easy to talk about. We read about them and process them together, through conversation and our own creative activities. Sometimes the authors joke about the very hardest questions. But it is always done in the spirit of Astrid Lindgren, with respect for people who facing different life challenges and with optimism that difficulties can be overcome.

Many of the books by the ALMA laureates are fairly quick reads and invite a real range of interpretations. The numerous picture books work well for readers of all ages. Some of our teachers and staff like to return to the same books over and over with different student groups. We never get bored, and we learn more each time from our students’ reflections. But with such a wealth of literature, if we want to try something new there is always another book to explore.

Interpretation of Scritch, scratch, dip, clapote by Kitty Crowther

We hope and believe that our ALMA theme has helped other schools throughout Sweden learn more about the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and its laureates. In the hopes of inspiring others, we have been documenting our work on our website: www.vä

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award opens the door to a literary treasure chamber. We hope that many other schools around the world will seek out the treasure and have reading experiences as fantastic as ours!

/Cilla Dalén, librarian at Hjulsta Elementary School in Stockholm