The Hans Christian Andersen Award is the highest international distinction given to authors and illustrators of children’s books. Given every other year by IBBY, The International Board on Books for Young People, the Hans Christian Andersen Awards recognize lifelong achievement and are given to an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made an important, lasting contribution to children’s literature.
The winners of the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award are author Jacqueline Woodson and illustrator Albertine of Switzerland.
Jacqueline Woodson was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1963, and shortly thereafter moved with her mother and siblings to Greenville, South Carolina where she spent much of her early formative years in the care of her maternal grandparents. At age seven she moved to Brooklyn, New York where she has since lived. She studied at Adelphi University and at the New School in New York and then worked as an editorial assistant and drama therapist for runaway children. She made her debut as an author in 1990 with Last Summer With Maizon, the first book in a trilogy about a friendship between two girls. In the same year she also published The Dear One, a story about teen pregnancy. Her thirty-three books and thirteen short stories range in subjects from foster care to interracial relationships, from drug abuse to the witness protection program, but all share the common features of lyrical language, powerful characters, and an abiding sense of hope. In 2014, her autobiographical work Brown Girl Dreaming was the winner of the National Book Award and Coretta Scott King Award and is a Newbery Honor book. It is the centerpiece of her oeuvre: her first-hand experiences of how African-Americans were treated differently in the North and South, where her own path to becoming a writer is woven in with her life experiences.
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Albertine was born in 1967 in Dardagny, near Geneva. She studied at the École des arts décoratifs and the École supérieure d’art visuel in Geneva. She obtained her diploma in 1990 and opened a screen-printing workshop in the same year. She became a press illustrator a year later and in 1996 she married the writer Germano Zullo. Their many joint children’s publications have received several awards, including the BIB Golden Apple in 1999 for Marta and the Bicycle. Her drawings are lively and full of humor using a very fine line and often bright and cheerful colors. Her natural spontaneity appears throughout her works, with a sense of detail and an infinite precision, as well as a sense of humor. Among her most important books for children are the titles: The Venice Rumour; Little Bird; Sky High; and Line 135. Her book, My Little One, an endless embrace between mother and child that unwinds in a flipbook, was selected for the 2016 IBBY Honour List; it won the 2016 Bologna Ragazzi Award and won the Green Island Award at the Nami Island Concours in 2017. She was a Finalist for the 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Award and her book, Les Oiseaux, was included in the list of books highlighted by the Andersen Jury as an outstanding work.
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