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Archive for the ‘War and Genocide’ Category

kite-runnerbook-thief-2The Alex and Michael L. Printz Awards are awarded every year by YALSA to honor noteworthy children’s and young adult literature. The Alex and Printz Awards, however, do not specifically recognize international titles, but global YA titles have often appeared on these award lists – especially in recent years.

The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that YALSA has identified has having special appeal for YA readers. In 2004, the Alex Awards honored two international books – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (published in the US but set in Afghanistan) and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (published originally in France but set in Iran around the time of the Islamic Revolution).

The Michael L. Printz Award nominates one book a year as an ‘exceptional’ work of YA literature, and honors four additional titles as ‘honor books.’ The current 2009 Printz winner, Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road is from Australia and other international books recognized by the Printz Awards include Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief (also from Australia), an honor book in 2007, and Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton (published in Canada but set in sub-Saharan Africa), which was an honor book in 2005.

It is notable that these titles are, for the most part, books published in the US, Canada or Europe — and set elsewhere. Many of these tiles  are written by authors who grew up in these countries as children – like Satrapi writing about Iran or Hosseini about Afghanistan – but it interesting again to see both the prominence of these more ‘Western’ international books (or categories #1 and #2 of international YA that I have defined here) and the continued notoriety and attention given to international books that deal specifically with war, genocide, and mass violence. This includes a title like the The Book Thief – a WWII story narrated by Death himself and centred around Nazi book burning and the attempt to preserve knowledge through this fire.

But this is not always the case with the Alex or Printz Awards. In 2001, the Prinz Award nominated a very different type of international title as an honor book – Louise Rennison’s hilarious and confessional tale from the perspective of a teen girl, Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging (from the UK).

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rose-blancheThe Hans Christian Andersen Award is presented once every two years by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) to both an author and illustrator who had made a mark on children’s publishing over their lifetimes; as such, the award is often called the ‘little Nobel prize.’ In 2008, Jürg Schubiger from Switzerland was named the winner of the 2008 Hans Christian Andersen Author Award and Roberto Innocenti from Italy the winner of the 2008 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration—Innocenti won notoriety in North America for his graphic Holocaust picture book, Rose Blanche (1985).

The René Goscinny Prize (named after the comic creator of Asterix) is awarded annually at the Angoulême International Comics Festival to encourage new and upcoming international comic artists; previous winners have included Jean-Philippe Stassen from Belgium for his graphic novel of the Rwandan genocide, Deogratias, in 2000. The Angoulême International Comics Festival also awards a prize, the Fauve d’Or, for best comic book. Previous winners of this prize include Fax from Sarajevo by Joe Kubert, a non-fiction documentary-style graphic novel about the siege of Sarajevo that won in 1998.

The Angoulême prizes and the Hans Christian Andersen prize do tend to favor more more established authors and illustrators (except for the René Goscinny Award), and entries from European countries are most prominent. As well as the IBBY selections for the Hans Christian Andersen Award cover the whole spectrum of ‘children’s litertaure’  — with some works like Inncoenti’s Rose Blanche being very appropriate for young adults, while other works are more targeted to very young children. Yet, these award lists are excellent ways to become aware of international picture books and graphic novels—both of which are very popular items in the library and bookstore right now.

deogratiasAfaxfromsarajevo

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