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Laurie Halse Anderson wins world’s largest children’s award

American author Laurie Halse Anderson has won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest children’s book prize worth five million Swedish Krone (approximately $513,000).  The announcement was made in Stockholm and broadcast live at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Born in Potsdam, New York, in 1961 Laurie Halse Anderson is one of America’s foremost writers for young adults. Her breakthrough novel, Speak, was published in 1999 and has been translated into many languages and adapted for film. In her richly expressive novels for young people she gives voice to the adolescent experience with sometimes brutal honesty. The yearning for love and belonging is a recurring theme for the writer.

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was created in 2002 by the Swedish government to promote every child’s right to great stories.  It is named after the Swedish children’s writer Astrid Lindgren, creator of the Pippi Longstocking books.  The global award is given annually to a person or organisation for their outstanding contribution to children’s and young adult literature.

In choosing Laurie Halse Anderson, the award was given for a body of work which, in the words of the judges, has  “given voice to [young adults in their] search for meaning, identity, and truth, both in the present and the past”. 

Meanwhile, out on the floor of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair publishers and agents say it’s ‘back to business’ after the pandemic, but some feel there are still fewer international visitors.