The winners of this year’s Hans Christian Andersen Awards—considered the Nobel Prize for children’s literature—were announced Monday by the International Board on Books for Young People as part of the virtual edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. U.S. author Jacqueline Woodson received the prize for writing, and Swiss artist Albertine was awarded the honor for illustration.
Woodson made her debut in 1990 with Last Summer with Maizon, the first in a trilogy exploring the friendship between two girls. Her work now totals 33 books and 13 short stories, spanning issues such as foster care, interracial relationships, drug abuse, and more. In its citation, the jury said that Woodson’s books “feature lyrical language, powerful characters, and an abiding sense of hope.” Her autobiographical novel in verse Brown Girl Dreaming was the winner of the 2014 National Book Award and Coretta Scott King Award and is a Newbery Honor book. Woodson was a finalist for the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award and won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2018. After serving as Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017 she was named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for 2018 to 2019.
Albertine graduated from the École des arts décoratifs and the École supérieure d’art visuel in Geneva in 1990 and opened a screen-printing workshop that same year. She has received numerous awards for her children’s works, many of which were created with husband and writer Germano Zullo. The jury commended Albertine’s “spontaneity combined with attention to detail, infinite precision as well as a sense of humor.” Her book Mon tout petit (My little one, 2015) was selected for the 2016 IBBY Honour List; it won the 2016 Bologna Ragazzi Award and the Green Island Award at the Nami Island Concours in 2017. Albertine was a finalist for the 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Award and her book Les Oiseaux, lauded by the Andersen Jury as an outstanding work.
The 2020 shortlist featured authors María Cristina Ramos (Argentina), Bart Moeyaert (Belgium), Marie-Aude Murail (France), Farhad Hassanzadeh (Iran), and Peter Svetina (Slovenia). Shortlisted illustrators include Isabelle Arsenault (Canada), Seizo Tashima (Japan), Sylvia Weve (the Netherlands), Iwona Chmielewska (Poland), and Elena Odriozola (Spain). The jury cited as its main criteria “aesthetic and literary quality as well as the freshness and innovation of each nominee’s work; the ability to see the child’s point of view and to stretch their curiosity; and the continuing relevance of the work to children and young people.”
This year’s jurors were president Junko Yokota (U.S.), Mariella Bertelli (Canada), Denis Beznosov (Russia), Tina Bilban (Slovenia), Yasuko Doi (Japan), Nadia El Kholy (Egypt), Viviane Ezratty (France), Eva Kaliskami (Greece), Robin Morrow (Australia), Cecilia Ana Repetti (Argentina), and Ulla Rhedin (Sweden).