María Jesús Gil

Presentation of the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 2014

Laudatio by Ms. María Jesús Gil, President of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Jury

Ms. Vice President, Distinguished Laureates, Most valued Hosts and Sponsors, Esteemed Guests and IBBY friends:

As the President of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Awards Jury, I am very proud to be here with you in Mexico City to introduce the winners of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Awards – Nahoko Uehashi and Roger Mello.

As soon as the Jury selected the winners, I informed the patron of the Awards, Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark of their decision. 

Her Majesty has kindly granted me permission to extend   Her heartiest congratulations to the two winners today.  I would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank Her Majesty for Her continuing patronage of the Andersen Awards.

I would especially also like to thank Nami Island Inc., for their generous sponsorship of the Hans Christian Andersen Awards. 

Thank you Mr Minn, Mrs Lee and Mr. Fred Minn for the generous support given by Nami island Inc. to the Andersen Award, which is the most prestigious international award given to the creators of children's literature. 

We are honoured and it is with great pleasure that you can join us today to share this ceremony.

I would also like to express my gratitude to this year's Jury.  I had the honour to work with these ten distinguished experts in literature for children from five continents, and it has been an extraordinary experience for me. Many of them are with us this evening. Allow me to recognize them and their fantastic job.

Please, stand up if you are here:

·       Anastasia Arkhipova from Russia.

·       Fanuel Hanan Diaz from Venezuela

·       Sabine Fuchs from Austria.

·       Sang-Wook Kim from South Korea.

·       Enrique Pérez Díaz from Cuba.

·       Deborah Soria from Italy.

·       Susan Stan from USA.

·       Sahar Tarhandeh from Iran.

·       Erik Titusson from Sweden.

·       Ayfer Gürdal Ünal from Turkey.

Former IBBY Vice President Elda Nogueira from Brazil and IBBY Executive Director Liz Page, were ex officio Jury members. 

For almost a year, the members of the Jury and I have thoroughly evaluated the work of the twenty eight authors and thirty illustrators from thirty three countries who were nominated by the IBBY National Sections as candidates for the 2014 Awards.  

Always, the complete works of the candidates is taken into consideration in the selection process.

This represents a year of hard work. As President of this Jury I want to express my gratitude to all of them.

And now, in the name of IBBY, it is my privilege and pleasure to briefly introduce you to our 2014 winners whom we are honouring this evening.

In fact, to summarize in five or six minutes the most important aspects of the work of two talented winners of the stature of Nahoko Uehashi and Roger Mello is really an impossible challenge. However, let me make the attempt. I will do my best.

They are from very distant countries: one from Japan, the other from Brazil, but Nahoko Uehashi’s writing and Roger Mello’s illustrations share a very important viewpoint: through their work both of them give children and adults the message that we must aim for a better world. 

They accomplish this by making an everlasting contribution to children's literature with their work. And this is the real essence of IBBY and of these awards.  

We want them to:

build bridges of understanding and peace between people,

promote international understanding through children´s books, and

give children everywhere the opportunity to have access to books with high literary and artistic standards.

The winner of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award for writing is Nahoko Uehashi from Japan.

Ms. Uehashi writes extraordinary stories of fantasy and science-fiction that are replete with imagination, culture and the beauty of a sophisticated process and form.

Her literary subjects are based on ancient Asian and Oceanic mythology and are deeply rooted in the very essence of human nature. Her stories are about honour and duty, fate and sacrifice. 

She has an extraordinary ability to create worlds in which relationships exist on different planes: a world seen as a network-like universe rather than merely as a space.  In these works we can find tenderness and a great respect for nature and all sapient creatures. 

She has a universal message in her books.  No matter where we live or how our culture defines us, through her stories we can recognize the essence of mankind: love, altruism, life and death, body and soul, generosity, maturity, searching…

She builds worlds filled with mystery and suspense using interesting and sophisticated metaphors, clever literary techniques, while at the same time including very subtle touches of humour. It is clear that Nahoko Uehashi writes for demanding readers, both young and old.

Congratulations Nahoko Uehashi!

The winner of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Medal for illustration is Roger Mello from Brazil.

As an illustrator, writer and playwright, Roger Mello has illustrated more than one hundred titles, many of them with him as the author as well as illustrator. He produces illustrations that are a synthesis of symbolic and descriptive elements.  

It is like he has two representative codes: from the evident or the obvious, he rises towards more transcendent elements as he explains his meaning using philosophy and illustration. He is a master of incorporating culture, tradition, tolerance, respect, travel, discovery, legends, environment, urban life and technology in his work.  Through these he is able to enjoy an intelligent dialogue with his readers and provoke in them an emotional and critical answer to reality.

His use of colour in this ritual and symbolic way gives his books a ceremonial air that brings these different elements together.

Nahoko Uehashi and Roger Mello are both worthy winners in the long tradition of the Hans Christian Andersen Awards.

Congratulations to both of them.

And now, please, welcome IBBY Vice President, Ms Hasmig Chahinian.

Before we go further I would like to invite to the stage   Ms Serpil Ural - candidate for the Author Award nominated by IBBY Turkey. Please, come up to receive your diploma.

Now it is with great pleasure and a real honour for me to invite the 2014 winners to the podium to receive their diplomas and medals, and to address to us with their acceptance speeches.

Thank you very much for your attention.

María Jesús Gil

10 September 2014

34rd IBBY Congress, Biblioteca de México, Mexico City, Mexico.