German author-illustrator Wolf Erlbruch is the winner of the 2017 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest children’s book award, its recipient receiving five million Swedish kronor (more than $550,000 at present exchange rates). The award was announced live from Sweden and broadcast at the Bologna Book Fair.

Erlbruch made his children’s book debut in 1985 with his illustrations for James Aggrey’s The Eagle That Would Not Fly. He has gone on to write 10 children’s book and illustrate dozens more, including the popular The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business (Abrams), written by Werner Holzwarth and Duck, Death and the Tulip (Gecko Press USA). Other recent titles include The Bear Who Wasn’t There and the Fabulous Forest, written by Oren Lavie (Akashic/Black Sheep, 2016) and The King and the Sea, written by Heinz Janisch (Gecko Press USA), a PW Best Book of 2015. Erlbruch is also the 2006 winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award, and a two-time recipient of a BolognaRagazzi award, for Das Neues ABC-Buch by Karl Philipp Moritz and for The Big Question.

In its citation, the award jury wrote that Erlbruch “makes existential questions accessible and manageable for readers of all ages. Wit humour and warmth deeply rooted in humanist ideals, his work presents the universe on our scale. He is a master of the illustrator’s art who honours tradition whilst opening new creative doors. Wolf Erlbruch is a careful and caring visionary.”

The award, administered by the Swedish Arts Council, will be presented to Erlbruch in a ceremony in Stockholm on May 29.