The winners of this year’s Hans Christian Andersen Awards—considered the Nobel Prize for children’s literature—were announced on Monday at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair by Patricia Aldana, chair of the award jury, on behalf of the International Board on Books for Young People. Japanese author Eiko Kadono received the prize for writing, and Russian artist Igor Oleynikov was awarded the honor for illustration.
Perhaps Kadono’s most famous work is Kiki’s Delivery Service, originally published in 1985 in Japan and translated in the U.S. in 2003 by Annick Press, about a young witch in the town of Koriko. The book, which launched a series, was adapted into an animated film by Hayao Miyazaki. The award announcement stated, “There is an ineffable charm, compassion, and élan in the work of this great Japanese author…. Although, Kadono has traveled widely throughout the world, her stories are deeply rooted in Japan and show us a Japan that is filled with all kinds of unexpected people.”
Oleynikov began his career as an animator for Soyuzmultfilm in Moscow, before going on to illustrate picture books of both original stories and classic fairytales and folklore such as The Nightingale by Hans Christian Andersen (Purple Bear, 2007). His recent works include the Russian edition of Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux (Machaon, 2009) and The Fox and the Hare (Minedition, Sept.), his retelling of the Russian folktale. The award jury said of Oleynikov’s art, “This exceptional illustrator can bring the page alive in a way that must be the envy of his peers…. Furthermore, he brings an extraordinary cast of characters to life…. Oleynikov brings the great Russian artistic vocabulary, style and passion to his work.”
The 2018 shortlist includes authors Marie-Aude Murail (France); Farhad Hassanzadeh (Iran); Joy Cowley (New Zealand); and the late Ulf Stark (Sweden). Shortlisted illustrators include Pablo Bernasconi (Argentina); Linda Wolfsgruber (Austria); Xiong Liang (China); Iwona Chmielewska (Poland); and Albertine (Switzerland). The jury cited as its main criteria that shortlisted works “should be read by children all over the world, be accessible and meaningful to them, and enrich their lives and understanding—build bridges in a time when so many are being broken.”
This year’s jurors were Lola Rubio (Argentina), editor and librarian; Yasmine Motawy (Egypt), professor of children’s literature; Eva Kaliskami (Greece), teacher; Yasuko Doi (Japan), international children’s librarian; Shereen Kreidieh (Lebanon), children’s publisher; Denis Beznosov (Russia), international children’s librarian; Andrej Ilc (Slovenia), publisher of adult and children’s books; Reina Duarte (Spain), children’s publisher; María Beatriz Medina (Venezuela), professor and director of the Banco del Libro; and Junko Yokota (U.S.), children’s literature specialist.
During the IBBY press conference, the winner of the 2018 IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award was also revealed. This year’s winning project is Les Doigts Qui Rêvent (Reading Fingers). Established in 1993, the program is committed to increasing access to Tactile illustrated Books (TiBs) for visually impaired youth in France as well as globally.
Prior to this year, the Asahi Award has been presented in alternate years to two international literacy projects of outstanding impact. Due to financial constraints, from this year forward the prize will go to one project. The 2018 jury included Mingzhou Zhang (China); Hasmig Chahinian (France); Zohreh Ghaeni (Iran); María Cristina Vargas (Mexico); chair Sunjidmaa Jamba (Mongolia); and Ferelith Hordon (U.K.).