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.
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.
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