Once again, I’m lucky enough to be attending the annual Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy. What an experience! I’m here as co-editor of Bookbird, the IBBY journal of international children’s literature. We have board meetings, help staff the IBBY exhibit booth, and network with people all around the world to get input for the journal.
I'm sure that you've heard by now that David Almond (of the United Kingdom) has won the Hans Christian Andersen medal for writing and Jutta Bauer (of Germany) has won the medal for illustrating. I was at the press conference when it was announced-- along with several of the shortlisted authors and illustrators-- and it was very exciting!
I just finished co-editing the special issue of Bookbird that spotlights the authors and illustrators around the world who have been nominated for IBBY’s biennial Hans Christian Andersen award in 2010. We’re showcasing the issue here at the Book Fair and it has just been mailed out to subscribers this week. (Some people tell me they received their copies on Tuesday when the awards were announced-- AWESOME!) Traditionally, the April issue of Bookbird focuses entirely on all the nominees and only the nominees to give them each equal exposure, taking the opportunity to highlight and honor each of these remarkable stars just prior the to the selection of the winning author and illustrator.
The Hans Christian Andersen Awards are presented every two years by IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) to an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made an important and lasting contribution to children's literature. A total of 28 writers and 27 illustrators have been nominated by 32 different IBBY National Sections for this most prestigious and highly regarded international prize.
I have been immersed in the lives and works of these 55 individuals and have found it completely fascinating. What has been a special surprise has been to discover that 10 of the 28 authors who have been nominated are POETS (and/or authors who also write poetry)! Ten poets from around the world are considered among the best writers of books for young people in their home countries. Wow! It was also surprising (and humbling) to see how little I knew about these poets. So, I thought I’d pass on what I have learned to you. If you’d like more info (plus photos, bibs, and book covers, you’ll have to subscribe to Bookbird!
Here are the names of the 10 poets who are at the top of their game, from Sweden to Slovenia to Iran to Japan to right here at home in the USA: Paul Lennart Hellsing (Sweden), Tone Pavček (Slovenia), Alberto Blanco (Mexico), Shuntaro Tanikawa (Japan), Ahmad Reza Ahmadi (Iran), Pavel Šrut (Czech Republic), Bartolomeu Campos de Queirós (Brazil), Pierre Coran (Belgium), Heinz Janisch (Austria), and Walter Dean Myers (from the US). And here’s just a nugget of info about each of them excerpted from their Bookbird profiles.
Paul Lennart Hellsing
Lennart Hellsing was born in June 5,1919, in Västanfors in Fagersta. He is considered Sweden’s grand old man of children’s literature; his latest book was published in May 2009, Little Brother and Night-time. He has had a tremendous impact on Swedish children’s literature, as writer, translator, critic, and promoter for research in children’s literature. Since his debut in 1945 he has published more than 60 books and is considered an "outstanding poet" in the field of humor and nonsense writing. He is a master of rhyme, rhythm, puns, and alliteration.
Tone Pavček has had a career that has spanned over fifty years. In 2009, he received the Golden Order of Freedom of the Republic of Slovenia bestowed by the president of Slovenia, a culmination of Pavček’s contributions to his native country. He has written twenty-six poetry collections for children and sixteen collections for adults. He is also an esteemed essayist and has translated Russian poetry. His own poetry has been translated into Russian, Serbian, Czech, Macedonian, Croatian, Georgian, and Azerbaijanian.
Alberto Blanco is considered one of Mexico’s primer poets. A prolific writer, Blanco was born in Mexico City in 1951 and has written over twenty books, including poetry collections, translations of other poets’ works, and children’s stories and poems. Blanco has taught at several universities in the United States, including University of Texas, El Paso, San Diego State University, University of California, San Diego. He says, “I have this as a definition for me, or a possible definition—poetry is the other way of using language. It’s just that simple. All ways of using language that we know constitute one form, and the other is poetry.”
Tanikawa Shuntaro was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1931, the son of a philosopher and a concert pianist. He began publishing his work as a teenager and has created over 60 anthologies of poetry for children as well as picture books and translations of other authors’ books including collections of Mother Goose rhymes. His work is distinctive for its use of word play, rhythms of language, and simplicity of style. He is one of the most widely read and highly regarded of living Japanese poets; several of his collections, including his selected works, have been translated into English. He also wrote the lyrics to the theme song for the animated film, “Howl’s Moving Castle.”
Ahmad Reza Ahmadi
Ahamd Reza Ahmadi is considered to be the founder of New Wave Poetry by the Iranian Artists’ Center and is recognized as a pioneer of surrealism in children’s literature in Iran. Ahmadi’s poems were born, and ultimately survived and flourished, despite a climate of political turmoil. His writing is thought to be unique in the way he creatively combines poetic and prose structures. His poems have been translated into many different languages including Arabic, Armenian, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Korean.
Poet, translator, and prose writer, Pavel Šrut was born on April 13, 1940 in Prague. Šrut is the lone poet among the influential generation of Czech poets from the 1960s who from the outset of his career dedicated himself equally to the craft of poetry and children’s literature. Initially, he began with children’s verse and then expanded to adaptations of fairy tales for television and screenplays for animated films. Šrut is known for balancing the relationship of sense and nonsense in his writing by interweaving motifs from nursery rhymes, singsongs, and games in his verse.
Bartolomeu Campos de Queirós
Bartolomeu Campos de Queirós was born in Minas Gerais, Brazil, in 1944 and graduated from Federal University of Minas Gerais with a degree in Philosophy. He began publishing in the 1970s and his work thus far includes approximately 50 works of both prose and poetry for children and young adults. More studies have been published about his work than about any other Brazilian author of children’s literature.
Pierre Coran (birth name, Eugène Delaisse) was born in 1934 in Saint-Denis en Brocqueroie, near Mons in Belgium. This prolific and award-winning writer of nearly 100 works of poetry, novels, and essays was honored in 1989 with the treasured first prize, The Grand Prix of poetry for youth (Paris), for his beloved and ever popular poetry collection Jaffabules (1990). His works have been translated into many languages including Braille. In fact, Coran’s L'Amour mauve (Purple love), 2005, was chosen to launch the first MP3 audio book in the DAISY format (Digital Accessible Information System) in Belgium. Coran is quoted as saying, “Everything is possible in poetry.”
Janisch was born in Güssing Burgenland in 1960 and obtained his degree in German publishing and literature from the University of Vienna. He has authored numerous picture books, poetry, and novels for both children and adults. Heinz prefers the small form: the poem, the aphorism, the fraction of a thought. He lures readers through his magical tone, beautiful language, and creative rhythm. His works have been published in over twenty languages. Currently, Janisch is putting together a volume of poetry as well as an anthology of 365 stories.
Walter Dean Myers
United States of America
Walter Dean Myers uses his own life experiences growing up in Harlem, New York in the 1940s and 1950s as the background for his writing. His writing career was launched at the age of nine when a teacher suggested that he write to express himself. He began writing poems and short stories and discovered solace in books. Walter Dean Myers has produced an extraordinary body of work that includes picture books, poetry, screenplays, historical fiction, and factual books that depict the beauty, the struggle and the pride of the African American people and culture.
What an impressive group, don’t you agree? And several of the other nominees also create some poetry from time to time. Just in case you’re interested in the whole set of nominees, here is the complete listing of all the authors and illustrators who have been nominated for the Andersen award (for writing and for illustration). You’ll also find brief bios and visuals at the IBBY site Jury blog here. (Use links on the left)
All Author Nominees
Argentina: Liliana Bodoc; Austria: Heinz Janisch; Belgium: Pierre Coran; Brazil: Bartolomeu Campos de Queirós; Canada: Brian Doyle; China: Liu Xianping; Cyprus: Maria Pyliotou; Czech Republic: Pavel Šrut; Denmark: Louis Jensen; Finland: Hannu Mäkelä; France: Jean-Claude Mourlevat; Germany: Peter Härtling; Greece: Loty Petrovits-Andrutsopulou; Iran: Ahmad Reza Ahmadi; Ireland: Eoin Colfer; Japan: Shuntaro Tanikawa; Mexico: Alberto Blanco; Mongolia: Dashdondog Jamba; Netherlands: Peter van Gestel; Norway: Bjørn Sortland; Slovak Republic: Ján Uličiansky; Slovenia: Tone Pavček; Spain: Jordi Sierra i Fabra; Sweden: Lennart Hellsing; Turkey: Muzaffer İzgü; Uganda: Evangeline Ledi Barongo; United Kingdom: David Almond; USA: Walter Dean Myers
All Illustrator Nominees
Argentina: Luis Scafati; Austria: Linda Wolfsgruber; Belgium: Carll Cneut; Brazil: Roger Mello; Canada: Marie-Louise Gay; Croatia: Svjetlan Junakóvić; Czech Republic: Jiří Šalamoun; Denmark: Lilian Brøgger; Finland: Salla Savolainen; France: Grégoire Solotareff; Germany: Jutta Bauer; Greece: Diatsenta Parissi; Ireland: P.J. Lynch; Japan: Akiko Hayashi; Lithuania: Kęstutis Kasparavičius; Mexico: Fabricio Vanden Broeck; Netherlands: Harrie Geelen; Norway: Thore Hansen; Russia: Nickolay Popov; Slovak Republic: Peter Uchnár; Slovenia: Ančka Gošnik Godec; Spain: Xan López Domínguez; Sweden: Anna-Clara Tidholm; Switzerland: Etienne Delessert; Turkey: Can Göknil; United Kingdom: Michael Foreman; USA: Eric Carle
The two award winners (for writing and for illustration) will be featured, along with the finalists in both categories and the jury process itself, in the fall issue of Bookbird. The Hans Christian Andersen Award Jury selects the award recipients and comprises ten members who are nominated by the National Sections of IBBY and selected by the IBBY Executive Committee. Zohreh Ghaeni is the President of the 2010 Jury and currently serves as the director of The Institute for Research on the History of Children's Literature in Tehran. The Jury deliberates and decides upon the winners and their results are made public at the Bologna Children's Book Fair every two years. These awards are presented to the winners at the 32nd IBBY Congress in Santiago de Compostela, Spain on 11 September 2010.
As you may remember, my Book Links column in January looked at the “Big World of Poetry” taking a scan of many of the poets who write for young people all around the world. The more I learn, the more I see there’s more to learn!
Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2010. All rights reserved.
Image credit: Hans Christian Andersen Museum; ibby.org