Patricia Aldana, Chair of the Jury for the Hans Christian Andersen Award of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) today announced the winners of the 2018 IBBY Hans Christian Andersen Award considered to be the children’s Nobel. IBBY is very grateful to Nami Island Inc. in the Republic of Korea for their sponsorship of this prestigious award.
The 2018 winners are:
Eiko Kadono of Japan for Writing and Igor Oleynikov of Russia for Illustration
Eiko Kadono from Japan
There is an ineffable charm, compassion, and élan in the work of this great Japanese author. Whether in her many marvellous and funny picture books, or her great series of novels about the witch Kiki, or her novel set during World War II about a brave girl who must walk through a terrifying tunnel of trees to get to school, Kadono’s books are always surprising, engaging, and empowering. And almost always fun. And always life affirming.
Although, Kadono has travelled widely throughout the world, her stories are deeply rooted in Japan and show us a Japan that is filled with all kinds of unexpected people. Her female characters are singularly self-determining and enterprising; figuring out how to cope with all kinds of complications without suffering too many self-doubts – though some of these do creep in. As such, they are perfect for this time when we are all seeking girls and women in books who can inspire and delight us with their agency. The language in her picture books is notable for its playfulness and use of onomatopoeia. And of course, the beautiful, but simple language in her novels makes them extremely readable.
Igor Oleynikov from Russia
This exceptional illustrator can bring the page alive in a way that must be the envy of his peers. Coming from an early career as an animator, Oleynikov is a master of design and composition. Furthermore, he brings an extraordinary cast of characters to life –from young boys and girls, to witches and giants, to wolves and sharks, to fairies and trolls, to Joshua and Ruth from the Old Testament, to even a brilliant tiny mouse who goes to Harvard! Though he claims not to like illustrating ‘cute’ children, he is more than capable of creating beauty – in his landscapes and in his characters. Beautiful or not, human or not, they burst with life, movement and expression.
Oleynikov brings the great Russian artistic vocabulary, style and passion to his work. He frequently illustrates the Russian masters, Pushkin, Gogol, Trotsky, Brodsky, bringing them to life and to our contemporary sensibility. His versions of the classics are always original and surprising, never obvious or what one might expect. He is equally brilliant with Andersen, Grimm, the Old Testament, and Lear. While he excels at the short form—poems, stories, traditional tales, he can also create fabulous picture books. His talent knows no bounds.
The jury would like to emphasize the high quality of many of the submissions, especially those on the shortlist. In light of this, the jury chose to create a list of fifteen outstanding books, which they read in the course of their work that they consider to be of the highest quality and should be very widely translated. The first criteria for the selection of the shortlist and the winners was the artistic excellence of the writing and of the art. Of great importance to the jury was: the author or illustrator’s ability to connect to children – the use of voice; the credibility of the child’s world; the ability of children worldwide to connect to the work even if it was very culturally specific and authentic to the creator and her or his culture? The jurors were also interested to explore the willingness to take creative risks. But ultimately, the selection of these shortlisted authors and illustrators, the winners, and of the fifteen books that the jurors recommend for worldwide translation, was the belief that these works should be read by children all over the world, be accessible and meaningful to them, and enrich their lives and understanding – build bridges in a time when so many are being broken.
The 2018 Shortlist comprises:
Marie-Aude Murail from France
Farhad Hassanzadeh from Iran
Joy Cowley from New Zealand
Ulf Stark from Sweden, who very sadly passed away last summer.
Pablo Bernasconi from Argentina
Linda Wolfsgruber from Austria
Xiong Liang from China
Iwona Chmielewska from Poland
Albertine from Switzerland
The Jurors in alphabetical order by country:
Lola Rubio (Argentina) – an editor and librarian
Yasmine Motawy (Egypt) – a professor of children’s literature
Eva Kaliskami (Greece) – a teacher
Yasuko Doi (Japan) – an international children’s librarian
Shereen Kreidieh (Lebanon) – a children’s publisher
Denis Beznosov (Russia) – an international children’s librarian
Andrej Ilc (Slovenia) – a publisher of adult and children’s books
Reina Duarte (Spain) – a children’s publisher
María Beatriz Medina (Venezuela) – director of the Banco del Libro and a professor
Junko Yokota (USA) – a children’s literature specialist