Japanese author Nahoko Uehashi and Brazilian illustrator Roger Mello are the recipients of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Awards, one of the oldest and most prestigious international awards in children’s literature. The announcement came Monday at a press conference at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Both selections were met with cheers and applause, especially for Mello, who was in attendance at the press conference and swarmed by well-wishers immediately after his name was announced. (That Brazil is the Guest of Honor at this year’s fair may also have added to the enthusiasm.)
In its commendation of Uehashi’s work, the awards jury wrote that the author “has an extraordinary ability to create different fantasy worlds, and her work has tenderness and a great respect for nature and all sapient creatures.” In the U.S., Uehashi’s Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness were published by Arthur A. Levine Books at Scholastic; she is also the author of several fantasy novels including, most recently, the Kemono no soja (the Beast Player) series.
Of Brazilian-born artist Roger Mello, the jury said that his “illustrations provide avenues to explore the history and culture of Brazil. He does not underestimate a child’s ability to recognize and decode cultural phenomena and images. His illustrations allow children to be guided through stories by their imagination.” Published in Brazil, Mello’s books include Carvoeirinhos, Meninos do mangue, and Joào por um fio.
The Hans Christian Andersen Award is given biennially; the winners will receive their awards at the 34th IBBY Congress, to be held in September in Mexico City.
Also announced during the press conference were the winners of the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award, which went to the Children’s Book Bank of Toronto and PRAESA of South Africa.