Australian author Sonya Hartnett won the 2008 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award; congratulations to her! Here’s what they said about her work: “Sonya Hartnett is one of the major forces for renewal in modern young adult fiction. With psychological depth and a concealed yet palpable anger, she depicts the circumstances of young people without avoiding the darker sides of life. She does so with linguistic virtuosity and a brilliant narrative technique; her works are a source of strength.” I haven’t yet read Hartnett’s work, but now I’d like to check her books out.
The prize for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is five million Swedish crowns, or approximately $800,000 US or CAN dollars. It’s the biggest children’s book award in terms of prize money, and the second biggest literature award in the world. It’s also appealing that the award is international; children’s authors from around the world have the opportunity to win. And I love Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking books, so it’s nice to see a tribute to her work.
This year, Canadian children’s author Jean Little was also nominated, for the second year in a row. Little is an incredible children’s author, with some very moving, real, and uplifting books. I hope she wins some year. I don’t think a Canadian author has won yet–although the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is only in its sixth year. You can see the entire list of nominees here.
There were 155 nominees this year, representing 61 countries–the largest set of nominees yet, and included: David Almond (UK); Quentin Blake (UK); Brian Doyle (Canada); Marie-Louise Gay (Canada); Russell Hoban (USA); Eva Ibbotson (UK); Jean Little (Canada); John Marsden (Australia); Walter Dean Meyers (USA); Kenneth Oppel (Canada); Peter Sis (USA); Gary Soto (USA); Tomi Ungerer (France); Jacqueline Wilson (UK); and many, many more.
It’s such an incredible amount of money, the kind of money children’s authors don’t usually see. But–and this may only be me–I wish that the award was split up into, say, 4 prizes, so that more children’s authors could win–because there are a lot of incredibly good children’s authors out there, who put their hearts into their work, and there are also a lot of children’s authors who could really benefit from the money. But that’s just my opinion.
Still, I love what the Swedish people have to say about their award; it’s inspiring:
“The prize is also a signal to institutions and organisations around the world that good children’s and youth literature is worth millions. And our children are worth more than millions. Good children’s literature gives the child a place in the world, and the world a place in the child.”
They’re right. Good children’s literature is worth millions. Children’s minds and hearts and souls are. They should be nurtured–and good literature can do that. So hurray to the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for rewarding some deserving children’s authors.