Is any author/illustrator worth an award of five million Swedish kronor (approximately £500,000)? It seems like a lot of money, and if one author is worth it, why not most of them? Except very few people stand the chance of winning the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. And when you think about it, what can you hope to buy with that sort of money? In my neighbourhood you can – possibly – purchase a house. It’s not going to allow you to leave lots of money to your children when you die.
And is a well known author a more worthy winner than the one neither you nor I had ever heard of before the award announcement? As you see I have lots of questions, and they tend to surface at this time of year when the new ALMA winner has been chosen. Also, is it OK to give the award to one of your own? Swedes like their authors, so will probably say yes. How often can you award that sort of money to a homegrown author? Why does it seem better to give the prize to a foreigner? As long as we have heard of him or her.
I gather that this year’s lucky author is actually the first Swede to win the ALMA, so I suppose it’s all right. She is one whose name I can never quite remember, and seeing as Barbro Lindgren shares her surname with Astrid herself, that’s rather stupid of me. I’ll blame my shortcomings on the fact that her first book appeared in 1965, when I was too old to be her target audience.
Although, some of her more recent books are ones I have bought specifically for myself, despite them being picture books. Not for Offspring, but for me. I allowed Offspring to read them – a little – but they are mine. (Unfortunately, at this very moment they are safely packed inside some box or other, and I can’t get at them.)
The thing is, I got them for the pictures, by Eva Eriksson. I like the stories, but it’s the illustrations I adore. And I am guessing Eva doesn’t get any of the five million.
The Wild Baby’s Dog is a very sweet little story, and so are the other Wild Baby books. It’d be very hard to dislike the Wild Baby, and you feel for his poor mother.
Then there is Max, and his potty or his teddy or ball or bowl, or whatever. Short, basic picture books for the toddler beginner. Absolutely adorable.
I just don’t know if they are worth five million. Well, they are. Of course they are. But then so are many other books.
Do the people in the jury realise quite how much money they are handing over, in one fell swoop?