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American wins biggest children's lit award

Children's author Katherine Paterson won the 2006 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2006 18:24 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

American children's author Katherine Paterson on Wednesday was named the winner of the annual Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for Literature.

The 5 million Kronor (€530,000; US$640,000) prize, established by the Swedish government, is the biggest international award dedicated to writers of children's books.

Paterson was honoured for her "deft aesthetic touch" that builds "on the inner strength and courage of her main characters," the jury said in its motivation. Paterson "gets right under the skin of the vulnerable young people she creates, whether in historical or exotic settings, or in the grim reality of the USA today," the jury said.

The award was named for Lindgren, the beloved Swedish children's author whose Pippi Longstocking, a strong-willed girl with braided hair, freckles and mismatched stockings, captivated generations of children around the world. Lindgren died in 2002.

Paterson's best-known titles include Bridge to Terabithia, The Master Puppeteer and Flip-Flop Girl. Film studio 20th Century Fox has signed a deal to develop Bridge to Terabithia into a movie.

"It's very hard to believe," Paterson said of the award in an interview with Swedish Radio, shortly after being awoken by a phone call from the award committee.

"I knew I had been nominated in previous years, but I didn't even know I was nominated this year," she said. "So it was quite a surprise."

She was born in 1932 in China, where she also grew up before her family moved to the United States during World War II. She ventured into writing by producing religious texts written for the Presbyterian church, which later led to her becoming a children's author.

Asked to describe her writing, Paterson said it is "sort of plain."

"It's not wonderfully fanciful," she said. "It's about people, children mostly, who live very hard lives, who have to find hope and purpose in the difficult lives that they live."

Last year's winners were Japanese illustrator Ryoji Arai and British author Philip Pullman.

The award committee received 137 nominations from 55 countries for this year's prize.

The award is to be presented by Crown Princess Victoria at a ceremony at Stockholm's open-air Skansen museum of Skansen on May 31.

First Published: Mar 20, 2006 17:17 IST