At this year’s Bologna Book Fair, EBYR author Eiko Kadono (Grandpa’s Soup) won the 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Award for authors. She was joined by Igor Oleynikov who won the award for illustrators. The Hans Christian Andersen Award, described as the Nobel Prize of children’s literature, is awarded for outstanding lifetime achievement. The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) describes the award as “the highest international recognition given to an author and an illustrator of children’s books.”
The award is given biannually and the selection criteria include the entire corpus of the author as well as “the aesthetic and literary qualities of writing and illustrating as well as the ability to see things from the child’s point of view and the ability to stretch the child’s curiosity and imagination.”
In this year’s announcement of winners, IBBY provided the following statement on Kadono’s remarkable body of work:
“There is an ineffable charm, compassion, and élan in the work of this great Japanese author. Whether in her many marvelous and funny picture books, or her great series of novels about the witch Kiki, or her novel set during World War II about a brave girl who must walk through a terrifying tunnel of trees to get to school, Kadono’s books are always surprising, engaging, and empowering. And almost always fun. And always life affirming.
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. Her female characters are singularly self-determining and enterprising; figuring out how to cope with all kinds of complications without suffering too many self-doubts—though some of these do creep in. As such, they are perfect for this time when we are all seeking girls and women in books who can inspire and delight us with their agency. The language in her picture books is notable for its playfulness and use of onomatopoeia. And of course, the beautiful, but simple language in her novels makes them extremely readable.”