HCAA 2022 Shortlist - Author and Illustrator Profiles

Argentina - Author : Maria Cristina Ramos

María Cristina Ramos

María Cristina Ramos is a writer, teacher and publisher with a unique poetic voice and a rich creative universe. She was born in 1952 in San Rafael in Mendoza and at the age of 23 won the Leopoldo Marechal first prize in the region of Cuyo for her selection of poems. Three years later, she moved to Neuquén in Patagonia, where she completed a teaching degree in literature. Her first book for children was the collection of poems, Un sol para tu sombrero (A sun for your hat, 1988) followed by the short stories, Las lagartis no vuelan (Lizards can’t fly, 1990) and Coronas y galeras (Crowns and top-hats, 1991), both of which were recognized at the Antoniorrobles Latin American Awards, organised by IBBY México. In 1997, De barrio somos (Our neighbourhood) was shortlisted for the Fundalectura award and Ruedamares, pirate de la mar bravia (Ruedamares, a pirate of the raging sea) was published. Her novel Mientras duermen las piedras (While the stones sleep) was shortlisted for the International Anaya Award in 2006. Since 2002, she has been running the publishing house Ruedamares. In addition, she has been a trainer in reading programmes both nationally and regionally and since 2017 has run Lecturas y navegantes (Reading and navigators), which is a training programme for the promotion of reading literature in public schools in Patagonia, sponsored by Fundación SM. Her experience in these workshops has culminated in her most recent non-fiction work, La casa del aire. Taller literario (The house in the air. A literary workshop). In 2016, she received the Premio Iberoamericano SM de Literatura Infantil y Juvenil. The jury commended “her craftsmanship and her profound respect for her readers, characters, and the reality she recreates, her genuine and independent authorial voice, and the subtle incorporation of values and cultural practices of indigenous people”. María Cristina Ramos has been nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award several times and was a Finalist in 2020. 

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Australia - Author : Margaret Wild

Margaret Wild

Margaret Wild has published over 100 books, the majority being picture books, many of which have been widely awarded and translated, including her best-known story, Fox. She was born in 1948 in Eschowe, KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and grew up mainly in Johannesburg. After leaving school she worked as a journalist and in 1973 she emigrated to Australia where she completed her formal education at the Australian National University in Canberra. She settled in Sydney and worked as a freelance writer and began writing books for her own children as well as managing children’s books for several publishers. Her picture books touch the emotions of both children and adults and though her themes have been said to be unconventional for children’s books, they invariably offer an uplifting, and ultimately joyful, perspective on life. Among her many interests are the homeless, imprisoned, dying, lost and the aged and such social concerns as bullying, divorce and Alzheimer’s disease. Her picture books resonate with tenderness, love and comfort for the very youngest. She has written two verse novels and one prose novel for young adults, and her title Jinx (2001) has been translated into nine languages. She has won the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award three times – in 1990 for The Very Best of Friends, illustrated by Julie Vivas; in 2000 for Jenny Angel illustrated by Anne Spudvilas; and in 2001 for Fox, illustrated by Ron Brooks. Fox (2000) is one of her most awarded titles, having also won the Best Children’s Book Queensland Premier’s Literary Award and the NSW Premier’s Literary Award, and the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature in 2001. Fox was also included in the 2002 IBBY Honour List for illustration, as well as the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 2004. She has won several awards for her contribution to children’s literature in Australia, most recently she was awarded the 2020 Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature.

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France - Author : Marie-Aude Murail

Marie-Aude Murail

Marie-Aude Murail has written nearly a hundred books for children and adults and is acclaimed in France and abroad for her novels with their memorable characters. She was born 1954 in Le Havre into a family of artists: her father is a poet, her mother a journalist, her brother is a composer, another brother and her sister are writers for children. She studied literature at the Sorbonne University, where her doctoral thesis was about the adaptation of classic novels for young readers. She started writing romances for women’s magazines and in 1985 she published her first novel for adults. She began writing tales, stories and novels published in the magazines of the Bayard Group, including Astrapi, J'aime Lire and Je Bouquine. In 1987, her first children’s novel, Mystère (Mystery), was published and from then on, she devoted herself to writing for children and young people. Marie-Aude Murail has a gift for creating characters that have a special bond with the reader. Her novels explore various themes of politics, history, love, adventure and fantasy and have been translated into more than 27 languages. She has been awarded most French prizes in the field of children’s books, including for Oh, Boy! (2015) and she was selected for the 2010 IBBY Honour List for the story Miss Charity (2008). In 2004, she was made Chevailier de la Légion d’honneur and in 2017 was promoted to Officier de la Legion d’honneur in recognition for her work in the field of children’s literature. In parallel with her writing, she is an activist for literacy and children’s reading skills as well as the rights of refugee and migrant children. Marie-Aude Murail has been nominated several times for the Hans Christian Andersen Award: she was a Finalist in 2018 and 2020, and her book, Simple (2004) has been included in the list of books highlighted by the Andersen Jury as an outstanding work.

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Lebanon - Author : Fatima Sharafeddine

Fatima Sharafeddine

Fatima Sharafeddine is writer, translator and publisher for children and young adults. She was born 1966 in Beirut and studied Early Childhood Education at Lebanon American University, earning a BA in 1989. She continued her studies and received an MA in Educational Theory and Practice in 1993 and an MA in Modern Arabic Literature in 1996. She worked as a pre-school teacher and taught Arabic language and culture classes at Rice University in Houston, USA. In 2001, she moved to Brussels and focussed on writing for children in Arabic. She manages to capture the beauty and musicality of literary Arabic in her stories in a way that children and young adults can understand and she addresses issue relevant to all young people including acceptance, bullying, peer pressure, anger and fear, as well as specific issues such as war. She also writes on topics that are still taboo in Arabic literature for children and young people, such as drug use, domestic violence and anorexia. Her book, There is War in my City, was published in 2006 and was translated into French in 2008. Other books that have received a wide audience include the young adult novels, Faten (2010), which was translated into English, Italian, Norwegian and Turkish, and Ghadi and Rawan (2013), which was translated into English. She has received several awards including the Etisalat Award in 2017 for Dar Alsaqi (Cappucino, 2017) and her books have been included the IBBY Honour List: Layla wa Al Himar (Layla and the donkey, 2014) in 2016, and in 2010 for the quality of her translation of Uridu An Asshar Wa Lan Azhab Lil-nawn (I am not sleepy and I will not go to bed, by Lauren Child).  

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Slovenia - Author : Peter Svetina

Peter Svetina

Peter Svetina is an author of short stories, novels, picture books and poetry for children, young adults and adults. He also translates poetry and children’s literature from English, German, Croatian and Czech and works as an editor for poetry and literature textbooks. His poetry and literature for children is distinctive as it combines nonsense and realism. Born in 1970 in Ljubljana, he studied Slovene Language and Literature at the University of Ljubljana, where he obtained a PhD in 2001 in early Slovenian Literature. Since 2007, he has been a lecturer at the University of Klagenfurt in Austria. His literary debut was the picture book O mrožku, ki si ni hotel striči nohtov (About the little walrus who refused to cut his nails, 1999), which served as the basis for a puppet play, a path later followed by many of his works. His children’s works include the picture book Klobuk gospoda Konstantina (Mr Constantine’s hat, 2007), winner of the Original Slovenian Picture Book Award in 2008; Modrost nilskih konjev (Hippopotamus wisdom, 2010), which won a Golden Pear Award and was included in the 2011 White Ravens collection, as well as Čudežni prstan (The magic ring, 2011), which was included in the 2013 White Ravens selection and the poetry collections Domače naloge (Home works, 2014). Ropotarna (The lumber room) received the Golden Pear Award and the Večernica Award in 2013 and was selected for the 2016 IBBY Honour List. Peter Svetina was nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2018 and was a Finalist for the 2020 award. Ropotarna was included in the list of books highlighted by the Andersen Jury as an outstanding work. He was author of the message for International Children’s Book Day in 2020, sponsored by IBBY Slovenia. 

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Sweden - Author : Annika Thor

Annika Thor

Annika Thor is currently one of the most successful authors of books for children and young adults in Sweden. She was born in 1950 and grew up in Gothenburg and has worked as a librarian and an arts director, as well as a freelance writer in film, media and children’s culture. Her first book for young adults, En ö i havet (An island in the sea), published in 1996, was about two Jewish refugee sisters who come from Vienna to live on an island in the Gothenburg archipelago in the 1940s. It met with great critical acclaim and was nominated for the prestigious Augustpriset and won the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 1999. En ö i havet was followed by three more titles and the series has been widely appreciated by both critics and readers alike in many countries. She returns again to the time before and during World War II in her novel Om inte nu så när (If not now, when, 2011). She won the Augustpriset in 1997 for her book Sanning eller konsekvens (Truth or dare). Her first picture book Flickan från långt borta (The girl from far away, 2014) with illustrations by Maria Jönsson, is a book about different kinds of loneliness. In all, she has published more than twenty books for children of all ages, books that often portray people in dire situations, with psychological and existential conflicts, struggling to find a place in society. Her most recent book is a retelling of the Iliad and Odyssey for children from the perspective of Odysseus’ son (Odysseys Pojke, Odysseus’ boy, 2020). Annika Thor was nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2020.

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Argentina - Illustrator : Gusti


Gusti is an acclaimed author and illustrator of children’s books as well as a committed activist for people with disabilities and nature conservation. He was born Gustavo Ariel Rosemffet Abramovich in Buenos Aires in 1963. His interest in illustration from an early age led to high school studies at the Fernando Fader Art School. At the age of 18, he began making commercials at the Catu animation studios and he then worked for the Hanna Barbera Studios and contributed to two Argentine magazines, Billiken and Cosmik. He was working as an illustrator for children’s magazines while writing and illustrating books for children and young adults when, in 1985, he moved to France and eventually settled in Barcelona, Spain. His illustrations soon won many prizes, including a Golden Apple at BIB’89 for Pip i el color blau (Pip and the colour blue) and the National Award for Illustration for El Pirata Valiente (The brave pirate) in 1990 and the Premio Lazarillo for La pequeña Wu-li (Little Wu-li) in 1991, all written by Ricardo Alcántra. His own work La Mosca (The Fly) received recognition at the Salón del Libro de México in 2005. For more than a decade he has been teaching courses in illustration at the EINA-University School of Design and Art of Barcelona. He has also taught illustration courses for children, students and professionals worldwide, including in rural and indigenous communities. Gusti uses a wide range of techniques, pen, pencil and markers, collage and gouache, but he is above all a sketcher, drawing in his journals wherever he happens to be. He sees drawing as a tool for social inclusion and has worked extensively with children with disabilities. His story, Mallko y papá (Mallko and dad, 2014) chronicles his close relationship with his son, who has Down syndrome. The book received wide recognition, including being chosen for the 2015 IBBY Outstanding Selection of Books for Young People with Disabilities, the 2015 Junceda Award, and the 2016 Bologna Ragazzi Award for the special category Disability.

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Canada - Illustrator : Sydney Smith

Sydney Smith

Sidney Smith’s childhood “playing” with drawing became “serious” during his years studying for an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. After several years of poster and album cover design, he apprenticed as an illustrator of Sheree Fitch’s republished books of children’s poetry (2010–2012) and Jill Barber’s Music is for Everyone (2014). He moved to Toronto and soon received national and international recognition for the urban energy of his books such as Sidewalk Flowers in 2015 and Small in the City in 2019; both were recipients of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Young People’s Literature — Illustrated Books. Small in the City  was also awarded the CILIP Greenaway Medal and the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis. Sidewalk Flowers, by JonArno Lawson, is a wordless book that follows the path of a little girl through the city and was selected by IBBY Canada as welcoming gift for Syrian refugees arriving in Canada. His illustrations for The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart (2016), Town Is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz (2017), and I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott (2020) have also earned accolades, including the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal in 2018 for Town Is by the Sea. He has received four New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books citations (2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019) and a New York Times Kids Notable (2018). In his illustrations, whether for a light-hearted story like Sidewalk Flowers or the more anguished story of a boy who stutters in I Talk Like a River, he is able to express complex and possibly unsettling emotions but also respect for the reader, whether child or adult, who feels those emotions. He uses a variety of techniques but most often ink and brush. Sidney Smith has since returned to Nova Scotia where he continues to seek and recapture “moments of the sublime found in unremarkable places”.

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Italy - Illustrator : Beatrice Alemagna

Beatrice Alemagna

Beatrice Alemagna’s illustrations are both formal and intimate. Born in Bologna in 1973, she began writing and illustrating at a young age and at 14, one of her illustrated tales was exhibited in Paris, France. She studied graphic design at ISIA - Istituto Superiore per le Industrie Artistiche in Urbino. Training in typography and graphic design provided the perfect structure for her highly sensitive and expressive visual language that includes improvising with oils or pastels and experimenting with tissue paper or wool. In 1996, she won the First Prize at International Contest Figures Futures at the Salon du Livre, Paris and then, in 1997, she moved to France where now she lives and works. She has written and illustrated 24 books, which have been translated widely. In 2006, she wrote and illustrated Un lion à Paris (A lion in Paris), which received several awards including the 2006 Prix Baobab at the Salon du livre in Montreuil and a mention at the 2007 Bologna Ragazzi Awards. The story, I corvi (The Crows of Pearblossom, by Aldous Huxley) was included in the 2008 IBBY Honour List. Un grand jour de rien (On a magical do-nothing day, 2016) won many awards, including the Landerneau Prize and the Grand prix de l'illustration in France and Gold Medal of The Original Art exhibition of the Society of Illustrators (USA). The book was also selected by the NY Times and NY City Library as one of the ten best children's books that year. In addition to working in the field of children’s literature, for over ten years she has created posters for the annual children’s film festival organised by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and she has designed fabrics, ceramics and more recently, toys. Beatrice Alemagna was nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2020.

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Japan - Illustrator : Ryoji Arai

Ryoji Arai

Ryoji Arai has created picture books in his bright, bold and musical style for thirty years. Born in 1956 in Japan’s Yamagata Prefecture, Ryoji Arai loved painting and making things as a child and by the time he was a teenager, he had already begun to think about creating picture books. He majored in design at Nihon University College of Art. After graduation, he worked as an illustrator in the advertising industry. He published his first picture book in 1990 and the next year received international recognition for Yukkuri to Jojoni (Slowly, gradually). Since then, he has published more than sixty picture books and illustrated more than two hundred children’s books by other authors. He has received many honours in Japan and overseas, including the Bologna Ragazzi Award for Nazonazo no tabi (The riddle journey) in 1999.  In 2005, he received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, where the judges praised his style as “bold, mischievous, and unpredictable” and his picture books that “glow with warmth, playful good humour, and an audacious spontaneity that appeals to children and adults alike.” Another book, Taizyo orugan (A sound of Taiyo-Organ) was included in the IBBY Honour List in 2008. In 2009, he turned a live painting event into the picture book, Uchu tamago (Cosmic Egg). In 2012, Asa ni nattanode mado o akemasu yo (It’s morning so I’ll open the window) was awarded with the MOE Prize and four years later he wrote and illustrated Kyo wa sora ni marui tsuki (A full moon in the sky tonight) that won the Japan Picture Book Award in 2016. Both books are reflections of the enormity, but also the beauty and comfort, of nature. His art has been exhibited at the BIB more than ten times. 

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Korea - Illustrator : Suzy Lee

Suzy Lee

The wordless picture books of Suzy Lee have been recognised as unique literary and aesthetic innovations. Born in Seoul in 1974 in a home full of art and books, she studied painting at the College of Fine Arts, Seoul National University and upon graduation began illustrating children’s novels.  During studies at Camberwell College of Arts in the UK she took a draft of her Master's project, Alice in Wonderland, to the Bologna Children's Book Fair and it was published by Edizioni Corraini in 2002. Her next book Mirror was published in 2003 and became the first of the Border Trilogy: Mirror (2003), Wave (2008) and Shadow (2010). All three wordless stories share the physical centre of the book, the binding, that acts as a border between fantasy and reality in the actual story. On one side of the page, we see a little girl, in a mirror, at the seaside, in a storage room and on the other side of the page we see her fantasy and imagination. Wave has received several distinctions in the USA, including the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book 2008 and was selected for the IBBY Silent Books Honour List in 2013. Shadow was also selected as the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book in 2010 as well as the Premio FNLIJ, Brazil and Premio Albumilustrado, Gremio de Libros de Madrid, Spain. Her book Lines (2017) captures her love (and sometimes frustration) of line drawing and minimal colours in the story of a young skater. Her story of a rescued dog Kang-yi (River, 2018) was selected for the 2020 IBBY Honour List and won the Korea Book Award. Recently, she founded the independent publishing company Hintoki Press to publish her own experimental works inspired by old Korean folk motifs. Her involvement with the Vacance Project, a collective of other Korean picture book artists, led to the haunting book, Sim Cheong (2019). Suzy Lee was a Finalist for the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award. 

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Poland - Illustrator : Iwona Chmielewska

Iwona Chmielewska

Iwona Chmielewska’s illustrations are made in a distinctively subtle and melancholic style, which first received recognition in Korea and are now widely acclaimed. Born 1960 in Pabianice, she studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, graduating from the Printmaking Department in 1984. At the beginning of her career, she illustrated children’s classics such as The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, as well as Polish poetry. The turning point in her career came in 2003, when her books were published in Korea. In 2011, Blumka’s Tagebuch (Blumka’s diary), originally published in Germany, was published in Poland as Pamiętnik Blumki and she began to enjoy wide recognition in her own country. The book was nominated for the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis and included in the 2012 White Ravens selection. She won the BIB Golden Apple in 2007 for the book Thinking ABC (2006) a book for Korean children learning the English alphabet. She won the Bologna Ragazzi Award twice, in 2011 for A House of the Mind: Maum by Kim Hee-Kyunge, and in 2013 for Oczy (Eyes). Her book, abc.de was nominated for the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 2016. To date, she has published over 40 books, cooperating with authors and publishing houses in Poland and abroad. Her subtle style invites us to find sense in simple objects, as in Cztery zwykłe miski (Four ordinary bowls). She often uses pencils and crayons, cutting out pieces from old notebooks and journals and embroidering with one colour. Her drawings are clear, sometimes slightly naïve, realistic but poetic, always neat and studious. She leaves a lot of empty space in her illustrations and often uses blue to invoke melancholy in her stories. Iwona Chmielewska was a Finalist for the 2018 and 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Awards. 

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