New oeuvre prize for international young adult literature

James Krüss Prize goes to Joke van Leeuwen

14 May 2013

The first German James Krüss Prize for children’s and young adult literature will be awarded to the writer and illustrator Joke van Leeuwen. She will receive the award for her entire oeuvre, together with two German translators of her work, Hanni Ehlers and Mirjam Pressler.

An overview of her work in translation can be found here. The oeuvre of Van Leeuwen includes several dozen titles of prose and poetry, both for adult and younger readers, and has previously been awarded the Constantijn Huygens Prize, the Golden Goose Feather and the Theo Thijssen Prize.

Her recent novel Feest van het begin, the collection of poems Grijp de dag aan and the iPad-app Kweenie (Dunno; all published by Querido) were realized partially with the help of a grant from the Foundation for Literature, which regularly contributed to the many translations of her work abroad, too.

The jury of the James Krüss Prize for international children’s and young adult literature called every book an art work of its own.

”The author and illustrator commands great verbal and visual skills. She jumps between the text and the image level with great ease by playing with the graphic quality of language and the emblematic quality of images. […] Characteristic of Joke van Leeuwen’s books is a fresh, irreverent and carefree tone, with which she describes childhood as a cosmos of its own without idealising or glorifying it. Her books possess a depth that is critical of society and allude to the ardent partisanship of the author for the rights of the child.”

The prize, a sum of 8,000 euro, will be presented on 4 July at 19.30 in the Internationale Jugendbibliothek at Schloss Blutenburg in Munich. The laureate and both translators will be attending. The laudation will be held by Sibyl Gräfin Schönfeldt, who knew James Krüss personally. There is a programme for children in the afternoon.

The new prize, which will be awarded biyearly, is named after James Krüss (1926-1997), a successful children’s book author from post-war Germany. His work has been awarded the Hans Christiaan Andersen Prize, amongst others. The Internationale Jugendbibliothek in Munich administers parts of the estate of the author and has a small literary museum dedicated to him in their ‘book castle’.

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