After winning the Hans Christian Andersen Award...

IBBY’s Hans Christian Andersen Award is the highest international recognition given to an author and an illustrator of children’s books. It is awarded every two years to an illustrator and an author for their body of work and lifelong contribution to children’s literature. Each national section of IBBY has the right to nominate one illustrator and one author to represent their country. A jury of ten international experts are selected by the IBBY Executive Committee from nominations submitted by the national sections. A shortlist for each category is announced immediately after the Jury meeting and the two winners are announced at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. The Author's Award has been given since 1956 and the Illustrator's Award since 1966. The Award consists of a gold medal and a diploma, which are presented at a festive ceremony during the biennial IBBY Congress.

We wanted to know how the award had impacted the life and careers of the winners and what they had been working on since they received the Andersen Award. Therefore, we contacted some past winners, who kindly sent us their answers in various creative forms.

The resulting interviews with Igor Oleynikov (Illustrator Winner 2018, Russia), Eiko Kadono (Author Winner 2018, Japan) and Rotraut Susanne Berner (Illustrator Winner 2016, Germany) are below. 

Igor Oleynikov

"I try to find answers that nobody has found before,
to find new meanings, to illustrate the book in a way
that no one has done before."

Hello, I am an artist from Russia, Igor Oleynikov.  I have been drawing for 40 years, of which 30 years in animation. That's why each book for me is like a film, from which I can pick up the necessary image at the right moment. That is interesting for me, it helps me in my work, it helps to see the book in a different, personal way, not like other illustrators who have never worked in animation or film.

You won the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration in 2018. Was there any impact on your life or career?

The Award, to tell the truth, didn't change my life much, except for these facts: I have many new readers, which is a pleasant fact. I understand now that I am following the right way. And plus, I can tell my children that our name will remain in the history of children's book forever!

What inspires you the most when illustrating for children and young people?

When I start working, the text is very important as for any illustrator. Text is what gives inspiration, and so, I ask the text a lot of questions and look for answers: why this and that? I try to find answers that nobody has found before, to find new meanings, to illustrate the book in a way that no one has done before. Though of course it is not a new trick, many artists must have done like this, I just didn't see it, didn't know.

What else can I say? I think illustration in a book is like music in cinema. The music that you hear in film creates the mood. If you play joyful music during a tragic scene, the tragedy becomes a comedy. And if you play tragic music during a joyful scene, it immediately becomes a memory of how good it was in the past. In the same way, illustrations can create a special mood in the book. If you make a gloomy tragic illustration for a joyful book, it will change the tonality of the book. That is what I like very much: to conduct the text. I don't do it in a direct way, a lot depends from the publisher, if he wants it.

Are you working on any new projects?

Now I have such a project: Andersen's fairy tales, where one can find many new nuances that have not been seen before. But everything depends from the publisher, and it seems to me that he is not very eager to do that, so I will illustrate the tales in rather a traditional way. But will try to add overtones, something new.

That's it, thank you!

Rotraut Susanne Berner

“The idea behind this award is to give children and young people
all over the world the opportunity to get to know
the languages and cultures of other countries”

Hello. My name is Rotraut Susanne Berner. I live in Munich and I am 72 years old.
In 2016, I received the Hans Christian Andersen Award and I was asked to introduce
myself briefly and answer a few questions. I preferably do that with my own pictures:

You won the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration 2016. Has it had an impact on your life or career?

What inspires you most when you illustrate for children and young people?

Are you working on new projects?

Yes, and the best thing about my work is that the desire to invent, to draw and to write never stops.
But the new projects should remain a secret for a while.

Read the full interview of Rotraut Susanne Berner in German (PDF 7,8MB)

Eiko Kadono

“Whenever I write, I love the feeling that
I want to write something that is fun.”

Hello, I’m Eiko Kadono, a Japanese writer and I live in Kamakura, an old seaside town near Tokyo.  My first work was Brazil, My friend Luizinho, which was published in 1970 that is about a boy that I met in São Paulo. Since then, I have written for children for more than 50 years.

My best-known book Kiki’s Delivery Service, was published in 1985, and by now this series has 6 volumes, as well as 2 spin-off stories. I also wrote the series of Acchi, the little ghost for younger children.

You won the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing in 2018. Was there any impact on your life or career?

In 2018, I’ve received the Hans Christian Andersen Award.  Not only my family, but also the editors, with whom I have been working, were delighted about it.  I’ve received heartfelt compliments from so many readers and children, which made me very happy.  At that time, I was interviewed by various media as well.  Thanks to this honour, I feel that I got a lot of energy to keep writing.

What inspires you the most when writing for children and young people?

Whenever I write, I love the feeling that I want to write something that is fun. If I don’t feel happy, it’s impossible to create something fun.  And I think no-one wants to read a story that they don’t find fun. When I write, I am inspired by my daily life: cooking, walking, having a coffee, also by memories of my childhood.  Because I am a “foodie”, there is so much food in my stories.  Sometimes I create a food that is quite strange but is also curious, such as only one strand of spaghetti, or a run-away lunch box, etc.

Are you working on any new projects?

At the moment, I am writing two long stories: one is new spin-off story from the Kiki series, and the other one is called Iko, travelling, which is a story of a Japanese girl just after World War Ⅱ. These will be published next year.

At the same time, I am also writing a new story in the Acchi, the little ghost series, and another in the Ringo-chan series. Since the little readers are waiting, I’m doing my best for them. 

Once you open a book, there is a joyful world…this is my magic spell.  I believe that the books show the wonderful world to all of us.

I wish to see you all again, sayonara.