Tag Archives: ALMA

Barbro Lindgren’s prize

It’s no use. I couldn’t make sense of what I might find on the press pages for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. And after all these years when I’ve cracked irreverent comments about what fun you can have on Swedish television, I have been proven wrong.

Not saying it wasn’t good. I’m sure it was. Just not on television. At all. I mean, what do you have a perfectly good Crown Princess for, if not to televise her telling us yet again that Astrid Lindgren was her favourite author?

I tried the links, but I can’t find anything I can use, apart from this lovely photo of Barbro from last week. She looks like she’s having a good time, and I hope she did last night, too.

Barbro Lindgren by Stefan Tell

They did invite me, but it was the wrong part of the country for me. (Not to mention an unexpected train strike striking me rather unexpectedly.) I was cool about it, expecting to watch on television. And then I couldn’t. I thought the email said I could watch online afterwards. Fearing my dodgy internet wouldn’t allow this, I wasn’t even contemplating not being able to find a link that would refuse to play.

She has written nice books. And so did Astrid. I imagine the Crown Princess read and loved Barbro’s books, as well.

Barbro Lindgren

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.

Barbro Lindgren and Eva Eriksson, The Wild Baby

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.

Barbro Lindgren and Eva Eriksson, Max Nalle

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?

Bookwitch bites #115

Steve Cole had some great news to share this week. He will be writing four (yes!) new Young Bond novels, with the first coming next autumn. He even had to go get a nice new photograph of himself, as befits an Ian Fleming replacement.

Steve Cole

Some longlists are longer than others. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award list is longer than ever this year, with 238 names of hopefuls. 54 are there for the first time (which just goes to show people get nominated and nominated until they win…), presumably getting all excited about the possibility of winning five million kronor.

I was going to say that the Nordic countries have put forward more names than others, but I happened to notice that the UK list was longer still. See below. For the rest of the 238 you have to download the pdf yourself.

UK nominees for ALMA 2014

This week also saw the announcement of other Swedish related prizes, and I’m pleased for Alice Munro and Canada. A bit shocked to learn that only 13 women have been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, however…

The other Nobel Prize that made the Bookwitch family very happy was the Physics prize to Peter Higgs. It almost feels as if we’d been awarded the prize ourselves.

Peter Higgs

Malorie Blackman has announced ‘a campaign to support fiction for young adults in the UK during her two year term in the post. A highlight of this will be the first ever YA Literature Convention, hosted at the London Film and Comic Con in July 2014. Blackman will also be working with Booktrust on a search for the rising stars in the UKYA community.’ I think that sounds terrific, and I’m looking into ways of splitting down the middle so I can go to lots of events all at once.

And finally something on a smaller scale, but who knows? ‘Anyone’ could make it to be children’s laureate or discover a boson or write James Bond books. Here is a challenge for students doing A-levels. The Connell Guides are giving £1000 for the best essay in a competition to be judged by William Boyd. Submissions in January, but they want students to start writing now. So I suggest doing just that. Write! Who knows where it might end? (In Stockholm, shaking some royal hand.)

Isol and Victoria

If I rant about the lack of television coverage of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award ceremony in the UK, someone is bound to tell me it was on somewhere. (Was it?) I was lucky several years running in that I went to Sweden for half term and there it was, right on time. Big celebration with royalty and everything.

Music. Speeches. Foreign award winners shivering under blankets. With so much rubbish readily available, why not broadcast a little ceremony and very little pomp, even if it is rather foreign?

Argentinian winner Isol even danced the tango. Apparently. I bet Seamus Heaney didn’t do Riverdance for the Nobel prize.

She’s short, Isol. Although that sounds both too personal as well as rude (nothing wrong with being short). What I probably mean is I had no idea Crown Princess Victoria is quite so tall. We’ve not yet had cause to meet up, so I didn’t know. Taller than the minister for culture.

Isol and Crown Princess Victoria, by Stefan Tell

You see, if I’d been able to watch, I’d not have to resort to going on about what people looked like in the official photographs.

I expect there was less shivering, and possibly no blankets this year. They appear to have moved the whole shindig indoors. It doesn’t matter about the Swedish royals. They have practised sitting out of doors – totally umbrella-less – and smiling through almost anything. But foreigners, they are a more tender species.

As well as short. I can think of several non-tall winners. Philip Pullman, on the other hand, turned out to be taller than I had expected, so he probably beat Victoria.

And I still worry about the sheer amount of money. Is it right to give that much to one individual? I’d almost decided it wasn’t, but then I thought about people winning the lottery. All they’ve done is buy a ticket. At least these winners are professional writers and artists; one of whom is chosen every year.

Perhaps it is OK. Especially for someone who tangoes.

ALMA 2013

When is one o’clock not one? Or twelve, or two?

I failed on a technicality yesterday. The sandwich was ready, the orange was peeled and the tea just right. So was I. Ready, more than right or peeled. I was going to sit down to watch the announcement of who would be five million kronor better off. Yes, it was ALMA time. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was about to be awarded.

It was 11.52. It was 11.52 both in the UK and CET. That’s not possible. I checked. It’s before summer time, so it wasn’t that either. But my noon announcement was not about to happen until one. Or so the countdown thingy suggested. At 12.01 facebook (yes, fb again) pinged, and one of my savvy fb friends announced the award had gone to Isol.

I refreshed all pages that could be refreshed. It said 58 minutes to go. I did what any sensible bookwitch would do. I picked up my early lunch and went to read a book instead.

At one I tried to see if the system would be more amenable. It wasn’t. It was error messages all round. The ALMA press office had emailed the glad tidings at 12.11, so I knew I could expect no more.

Isol is an Argentinian illustrator, cartoonist, graphic artist, writer, singer and composer. From what I could see in the press release there were only Spanish titles, and whereas I have actually heard of her, it was yet another Nobel style choice of someone many people won’t know at all. I imagine the Spanish speaking world – which is large – do know her work.

Isol, by Xavier Martin

I wish Isol all the best, but I can’t help feeling that my first thought when I saw ISOL in capitals on fb was that it was an organisation getting the money this year. I believe organisations can do more with these kind of sums. I sometimes wonder if the jury are aware quite how much money they are handing out. I mean really, really.

Bookwitch bites #94

I am the proud owner of a signed copy of Basu ni Notte. And I didn’t even know that it was called that, because I don’t read Japanese. (I know. It looks rather like Italian.) That in itself will tell you that my reading of Basu ni Notte has not gone terribly well, either, since I don’t read Japanese, and the book is in Japanese. Picture book, but still.

Ryoji Arai, Basu ni Notte

Ryoji Arai

So I stand to benefit from the new reading guides issued by the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award people. They have just come up with twelve guides for books by ten recipients of the ALMA, one of whom is Ryoji Arai. He shared the prize with Philip Pullman in 2005. That’s when I was crazy enough to go to Gothenburg just to hear Philip speak. A side effect was meeting up with this Japanese author and illustrator.

He supposedly didn’t speak English, but he did – a little – when it came to the crunch.

No language troubles at all with Marion Lloyd. As you can tell, I’ve not ‘bitten’ anyone here for a while, which is why I am offering you old news. Or not news so much, as a link to what I thought was a very nice blog post by Susie Day about this super-editor when she retired.

I don’t know why we seldom write really lovely articles about people before they retire, or worse, die. I want to know now. Except I don’t know what I want to know, because you haven’t written about those fantastic people yet.

And speaking of fantastic and reading, I eventually enticed Daughter to read the best book of 2012. None of us have got round to much reading during the recent eating season, but once the suggestion was made, she found it hard to stop until she was done. She, too, liked Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

I have no expectation of reading hundreds of books during 2013, but a few would be nice. I need to start collecting for the next ‘best of’ award. But as Cathy Butler said in her blog post about reading speed, we are allowed to be really slow. It’s not better to be fast.

Although it would be handy.

Bookwitch bites #89

Anyone wants to hire an author? There is a new company called Authors Aloud UK who can put you in touch with one. I suspect they will only do author type stuff, no singing or washing up. It makes sense to have lots of authors under one organisational roof, and it will hopefully prove useful for schools, etc, as well as for authors who don’t mind getting out there.

The capable hands behind this venture are those of Jacqueline Wilson’s lovely publicist Naomi Cooper, along with super librarians Anne Marley and Annie Everall.

2013 will be a Neil Gaiman-y sort of year by the sound of it. He has an adult novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, coming our way, and quoting from Headline’s press release: ‘a new picture book Chu’s Day will be published by Bloomsbury Children’s Publishing at the start of 2013, followed by a children’s book for older readers later in the year. There is the eagerly anticipated prequel mini-series to his seminal comic book series The Sandman.  Neil is also scripting a new episode of Doctor Who to be screened in 2013, having written the multi-award winning 2011 episode ‘The Doctor’s Wife’.  Neverwhere is to be dramatised across two platforms on BBC Radio Four and BBC Radio Four Extra in the spring. HBO is developing six seasons of a television version of Neil Gaiman’s 2001 novel American Gods.’

Phew. I wonder if some of these are things Neil ‘wrote earlier?’ Even he must sleep occasionally.

You might have noticed that J K Rowling has been in the news recently. What you might not have come across is a webcast about Potter-y stuff. It’s rather American, but never mind. They like their romantic Scotland.

One way of – almost – ending up with as lovely a bank balance as Neil’s or J K’s would be to win the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. The longlist (which as far as I know never turns into an official shortlist) was published this week. It’s longer than ever.

Meg Rosoff is on it, and so are 206 others. Many are ‘always’ on the list, and most would be very worthy winners. What I find odd is that along with the well known British names, there are people I’ve never heard of. British ones, I mean. I suppose it’s the judges’ way of doing a mini-Nobel, picking obscure writers.

Sara Paretsky

And if you fancy a more normal competition, there is one on Sara Paretsky’s blog; Where in Chicago Is V I Warshawski? ‘Every Tuesday for the next seven weeks we’ll post a picture on my blog of V I in a different part of Chicago. Guess the right location, and you’ll be entered into a drawing. The winner will get an early copy of the paperback edition of Breakdown, in bookstores on December 4th. The final week, November 20th, will have a grand prize drawing from all of the entries to the quiz (note: there will be no quiz on November 6th, election day. V I expects all Americans to be going to the polls).’

Get guessing, and don’t forget to vote.

Bookwitch bites #81

If you fancy listening to Eoin Colfer swear and curse you shouldn’t click on this video from the launch of Paul O’Brien’s debut adult crime novel Blood Red Turns Dollar Green. (No, I don’t know what that means.) It seems Eoin was looking forward to having left the children’s world behind (why?), when he discovered there were children present, so he had to clean up his act in praising his fellow Wexford author. Or he might have made that up. He’s also shorter than the first presenter in this clip.

The sound quality isn’t marvellous, and it sounds like it’s raining (it’s Ireland, after all), but you have to admire an author who uses his speech at someone else’s launch to talk about himself… Just joking. I still have to get over the beard.

Mentioning Eoin some more, I see the last Artemis Fowl is almost with us. July can’t get here soon enough. Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian. It sounds like a newspaper advert, but that’s OK.

Being Irish could be enough to enter the multilingual poetry competition run by the Manchester Children’s Book Festival. If you are lucky enough to be aged under 19, and you have a first language other than English you can enter this competition with a poem in your own language. English native speakers learning a foreign language can also enter by writing a poem in the other  language.

I have no poetry writing skills, so it’s just as well I’m old. For anyone else who is interested, go to Mother Tongue Other Tongue for more information. And write fast. The deadline is 28th May. The Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy will present the prizes to winners on 30th June.

That other award – the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award – will be presented on the 28th May, and I can’t tell you how relieved I am. I thought it was going to be on the 22nd (for some obscure reason, not known even to me) and worried in case Crown Princess Victoria had double-booked herself, forgetting she has a baby that needs Christening. On the 22nd. But all is well, and Guus Kuijer will presumably be able to shake the royal hand after all.

Last year when I was searching for foreign reads I believed it’d be both easy and logical for me to read something Finnish. Not actually in Finnish. Obviously. Failed in my research and gave up. Then the other day the Resident IT Consultant (who clearly had nothing better to do than surf the net) sent me a link to an article about Finnish books (which had been translated – into Swedish).

Sinikka and Tiina Nopola are sisters writing books about a Finnish rapper by the name of Risto. I love the original title, Risto Räppääjä. You really can’t have too many äs in a word. Expecting great things I went in search of Risto in a more manageable shape. He’s out of print… So that’s that.

Räppääjä, Räppääjä!

ALMA and Guus

In the end I forgot. And that was despite having written it down in three places. So when I was meant to listen to the live announcement of who would be the 2012 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award winner, I was enjoying a mug of Earl Grey, away from my laptop. Just think, I’d even been offered to be bussed in for the event (that is assumimg I’d been in Stockholm in the first place to be carted to Vimmerby for the big moment).

Guus Kuijer books

And once I’d seen the news, I was overcome by one big whopping xenophobic thought. I am ashamed of myself. Just because I haven’t even heard of a writer, does not mean they are no good or not deserving. I should not, must not, feel that the English-speaking world of books trumps everywhere else (apart, obviously, from Swedish books). But I did, for about ten seconds.

After all, I never once doubted the worthiness of Ryoji Arai who shared with Philip Pullman. After meeting him, even less so, and that’s despite this book of his I have which I can’t read because it’s all in Japanese.

So, I am very happy for Guus Kuijer, whose name I will practise pronouncing for the next few days. His entry on English Wikipedia is suitably, xenophobically short. But I gather that Guus has written a tremendous number of excellent books, for many many years. He has won lots of awards. And it is hardly surprising that the ALMA jury have decided he is this year’s winner. It follows much the same principles that the Nobel prize does. Pick someone no one else has heard of.

Larry Lempert ALMA 2012

Actually, having belatedly checked out the live announcement I’m grateful I wasn’t there. It even out-did the one two years ago. Maybe it’s a Vimmerby effect?

Another Edinburgh interview

The really weird thing about interviews (one of them, anyway) is when ‘my’ subjects begin interviewing each other. I enjoyed the one in the Guardian, on Saturday, where Neil Gaiman disguised himself as a Grauniad reporter and talked to Shaun Tan.

He’s had longer admiring Shaun’s work, and they have bumped into each other a few times. That’s how I intend explaining away the fact that Neil’s questions were better than mine.

For various reasons I don’t have ‘my’ own photo of this. But as I’ve hung around the yurt – and the photographers therein – for the past few years, I decided to ask Colin McPherson if he minded me using his picture, which was the one in the article. The nice man said I could, which is very much appreciated.

Shaun Tan and Neil Gaiman, © Colin McPherson

And if you want to know what’s going on, Shaun is looking both happy and relieved because Neil is pointing to where I was at the time, which was diagonally across Charlotte Square, and most likely still on my broom. It was a day when I needed to be in two places at once, but wasn’t. I’ll need to work on that skill.

I’m not sure if Shaun claims to have a sketchbook full of nuts, but he might have. There is a Finnish joke, which isn’t bad. (I have always looked west, for Norwegian jokes, and have never concerned myself too much with what they do in the other direction.)

Not talking too much to your brother seems like sensible siblinghood, and I will never be able to look at the grout in my bathroom in the same way again. But no way am I ‘shaving my leg’ for a Shaun Tan tattoo, however much I admire his little drawings.

Very nice to see two of my boys getting together like this. And so typical that Neil almost talks more than Shaun.

(Although I need to go all nerdy and point out it was this year, 2011, that Shaun was awarded the Astrid Lindgren prize… Bet it was a Graun typo.)