ALMA 2016 – Meg Rosoff wins!

This week’s blog is by Xiafei Shi, a PhD student here whose research interest is in crossover literature, picturebooks, and cognitive criticism. She is exploring crossover picturebooks within the theoretical framework of cognitive criticism in her PhD thesis.

This year, Jen, Amy, Lina, and I worked together to organise the nomination of candidates for the 2017 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA). The 2016 winner was just announced, and it was Meg Rosoff!

Meg Rosoff outside at Homerton College in 2015

She presented the Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture here last year (it was brilliant, and you should definitely watch the video!). We here at the Children’s Literature Centre are one of the nominating bodies for the ALMA, and we have picked Rosoff for several years – including this past year! The ALMA director even phoned Maria and congratulated her on our candidate winning!

But really, all the credit for winning goes to Rosoff herself. Here’s an excerpt from her ALMA bio:

Rosoff writes about young people in the borderlands between childhood and adult life who face difficult trials in their quests to find themselves. At times they are pushed to the brink of the unbearable and beyond. Her protagonists battle questions of identity and sexuality and are thrown involuntarily into chaotic situations. Like Astrid Lindgren, Rosoff empathizes completely with young people and is utterly loyal to them. The adult world, when it appears, remains on the periphery. She uses concrete, vibrant language, whether she is describing a landscape, a piece of clothing, or the groceries in the pantry. She infuses darkness with humor to produce stylistic masterpieces.

The ALMA will be presented to Rosoff in a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall on May 30, 2016. From all of us here in Cambridge, we wish her many congratulations!

Now, here are three very brief facts about this prestigious award!

  • What is the ALMA?

The Swedish government established the award to honour Astrid Lindgren. It is “the largest international children’s and young adult literature award in the world.”

  • Who is Astrid Lindgren?
Astrid Lindgren
Astrid Lindgren

You may not have heard her name, but you must be familiar with at least some of her works, such as Pippi Longstocking! Here’s an extract from her ALMA bio:

“Curious” is a word that Astrid Lindgren often used in her work. Curious is a word that also aptly describes Astrid herself and her life’s achievement. For it is curious, surely, that a farmer’s daughter from Sweden, from the spare and stony countryside of Småland, should grow up to become an author beloved around the globe, translated into nearly 100 languages, and lauded by readers of all ages.

  • Who can get the award?

“Authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters” worldwide who contribute significantly to the field of children’s literature and young adult literature.

You may be wondering how we, four postgraduate students, can organise the nomination for such a prestigious award. That is because we are in such a wonderful community! As I said earlier, the Cambridge/Homerton Research and Teaching Centre for Children’s literature is among the six nominating organisations for ALMA in the UK. Groups of students in the Centre have been doing it for years.

What we did this year was first to send out emails, asking for the choices of the students and staff in the Centre. We then compiled a list of nominees suggested through emails and added our own choices – we call that “the long list.” The long list was circulated in the Centre – people sent back their comments on whom they thought should be on the shortlist, which we will submit this May.

For me, the nomination process was such a pleasure. A few names immediately crossed my mind at the mention of “children’s and young adult literature.” Wenxuan Cao was one of them – many of his works render the pathos of existential inquiries in childhood in a beautiful and poignant way. I then sought high and low in the corners of my mind for other names that might be slumbering there, yet to awaken at the slightest effort of retrieval. Going through these names and works made me realise how our memory might be working to deceive us. However, though I might get a few facts wrong, the emotional trace that they left on me never completely fades away. Of course, nomination is much more than a personal remembrance of what books and authors have left a strong impression on you. But it may proceed from there. The greatest pleasure came when I looked at other names that appeared in the long list, which often generated such reaction as “Aha,” “who’s that,” and “I’m definitely going to get his/her books.” You may want to write down a few names that, for you, are bound up with children’s and young adult literature, and go back to them – you may be surprised at what you’ll find there. You don’t need a nomination to start it, though a sense of sharing may be lost. Though I believe this sense of sharing is one of the reasons why you’re following our blog!

We won’t find out until next April whether or not one of our nominations has been selected as the next ALMA winner. But don’t worry – we’ll let you know!



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