Jon Klassen, Deborah Ellis among finalists for largest children’s literature prize in the world

Jon Klassen and Deborah Ellis are among five Canadians nominated for the 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

The international prize recognizes a writer of children’s or young adult literature. 

It comes with a $673,000 prize, making it the largest award of its kind in the world.

There are 237 candidates from 68 countries.

The other Canadian candidates are Quebec writer Marie-Francine Hébert, Victoria, B.C.-based author Uma Krishnaswami and Montreal illustrator Nahid Kazemi.

Klassen is an award-winning author and illustrator now based in Los Angeles.

His books include the Hat series — I Want My Hat Back, This is Not My Hat and We Found a Hat. He won the Governor General’s Literary Award in 2010 for Cats’ Night Out.

Ellis is the author of over 30 books, including the bestseller The Breadwinner, which was translated into 25 languages and turned into an animated film.

Ellis won the Governor General’s Literary Award in 2000 for Looking for X.

Finding courage, and hope in the fictional story of one young girl in Afghanistan and what she does to help her family survive.. The children’s novel The Breadwinner has been honoured and praised around the world for its message of perseverance and resilience. The book’s Canadian author Deborah Ellis is speaking in Thunder Bay this weekend.. We’ll meet her. 7:28

Hébert is a popular writer of French children’s literature. Her books include Le ciel tombe à côté and Witch’s Brew.

Krishnaswami is the author of over 20 books set in both Canada and her native India. Her books include Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh and Book Uncle and Me.

Nahid Kazemi is a Canadian and Iranian illustrator and author. She has published over 60 children’s books, including I’m Glad That You’re Happy.

A jury of 12 researchers, writers, illustrators, librarians and critics will select the winner. The recipient will be announced on March 31, 2020.

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was established by the Swedish government in 2002 to honour Swedish children’s writer Astrid Lindgren.

Lindgren is best known for being the creator of Pippi Longstocking. Her other books include the Six Bullerby Children series and the novels Mio, My Son and The Brothers Lionheart. She died in 2002.

Past recipients of the prize include Maurice Sendak, Philip Pullman and Jacqueline Woodson. No Canadians have ever won.

Check out the full list of 2020 candidates on the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award website.

In a special treat, Jon Klassen — one of the most acclaimed new talents in children’s literature — joins guest host and illustrator Kevin Sylvester to discuss storytelling, stealing hats and when it’s okay to scare kids. 22:06