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Katherine Paterson wins kids' book prize

Susan Notes: Imagine a government that values children's literature so much that it gives an annual prize to honor that literature, with a lot of money attached.

Here is a description of the award, from the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for Literature website.

Astrid Lindgren is Sweden’s favourite author and one of the world’s most popular. She passed away in 2002 at the age of 94, but her stories will live forever. To honour her memory and promote children’s and youth literature around the world, the Swedish government has founded an international prize in her name: The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

The award, of five million Swedish crowns, is the world’s largest for children’s and youth literature, and the second-largest literature prize in the world.

The international prize will be awarded each year to one or more recipients, regardless of language or nationality.

Authors, illustrators, story-tellers and promoters of reading are eligible. The award is for life-long work or artistry rather than for individual pieces. The prize can only be awarded to living people.

The purpose of the prize is to strengthen and increase interest in children’s and youth literature around the world. The award also aims to strengthen children’s rights on a global level. . . .

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.

In explaining the motivation for the award, the committee issued this atatement:

Katherine Paterson (USA) is a brilliant psychologist who gets right under the skin of the vulnerable young people she creates, whether in historical or exotic settings, or in the grim reality of the USA today. With a deft aesthetic touch she avoids simple solutions, building instead on the inner strength and courage of her main characters.

by Associated Press

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - American author Katherine Paterson was named Wednesday the winner of the annual Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for Literature.

The $640,000 prize, established by the Swedish government, is the biggest international award dedicated to writers of children’s books.

Paterson was honored for her “deft aesthetic touch” that builds “on the inner strength and courage of her main characters,” the jury said.
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She “gets right under the skin of the vulnerable young people she creates, whether in historical or exotic settings, or in the grim reality of the USA today.”

“It’s very hard to believe,” Paterson said in an interview with Swedish Radio shortly after being awakened by a phone call from the award committee. Her best-known titles include “Bridge to Terabithia,” “The Master Puppeteer” and “Flip-Flop Girl.”

“I knew I had been nominated in previous years, but I didn’t even know I was nominated this year,” she said. “So it was quite a surprise.”

Crown Princess Victoria will present the award at a ceremony in Stockholm on May 31.

The award was named for the beloved Swedish children’s author whose Pippi Longstocking, a strong-willed girl with braided hair, freckles and mismatched stockings, captivated generations of children around the world. Lindgren died in 2002.

Paterson was born in 1932 in China. Her family moved to the United States during World War II. She produced religious texts written for the Presbyterian church, which later led to her becoming a children’s author.

Asked to describe her writing, Paterson said it is “sort of plain.”

“It’s not wonderfully fanciful,” she said. “It’s about people, children mostly, who live very hard lives, who have to find hope and purpose in the difficult lives that they live.”

The award committee received 137 nominations from 55 countries for this year’s prize.

Last year’s winners were Japanese illustrator Ryoji Arai and British author Philip Pullman.

— Associated Press


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