Australian nominees for the 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Awards

PRESS RELEASE
ANNOUNCING THE AUSTRALIAN NOMINEES FOR THE IBBY 2018 HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN AWARDS FOR CHILDREN’S AND YOUTH LITERATURE

IBBY Australia Inc is thrilled to announce that Australian nominees for the prestigious 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Awards are: David Metzenthen for Writing and Jeannie Baker for Illustration.

The Hans Christian Andersen Award is the highest international recognition given to an author and an illustrator of children’s books. Every other year IBBY presents the Award to a living author and illustrator whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature. The Author’s Award has been given since 1956 and the Illustrator’s Award since 1966.

IBBY Australia Inc is grateful for the support of the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund in supporting these nominations.

The list of each national section’s nominees will be announced at the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair in 2017, winners announced at Bologna in 2018, and awards presented at the biennial Congress in Istanbul, in September 2018.

David Metzenthen (27 December 1958-) lives in and loves Melbourne where he was born. After completing his schooling there, Metzenthen travelled to New Zealand where he worked in a range of jobs including gardener, gravedigger and hotel porter. On his return to Australia, Metzenthen worked as a copywriter for Radio 3DB, for Grundy Television, and for Myer. While at Grundy Television he wrote a short story which was published in The Australian.

Since then he has been writing full-time. His first novel, Danger Wave was published in 1990. His carefully honed writing style is combined with an ability to capture moments of his characters’ lives with deeply-felt and evocative insight. He is a masterful writer of fiction for older readers and has published eighteen novels, one award-winning picture book, and numerous works for younger readers including titles in Penguin’s Nibbles, Bites and Chomps series. His works often deal with sport, and he is particularly finely attuned to exploring young male emotions.

Both his father and grandfather served in the Australian Defence Forces, fostering David’s great interest in the role Australians have played in armed conflict. The award-winning Boys of Blood and Bone (2003) was republished as an Anzac Centenary Edition (2014) with his Preface. Dreaming the Enemy (2016) is about the Vietnam War: ‘I wanted strongly to present something of what young Australians went through in this war, at the orders of their Government, and the great toll it took on them, their families, friends, and futures … I hope to have shown what happens to people, that what we do or is done to us, stays with us for a long time and must be met with compassion and understanding. The idea that I could do this through my work is a humbling and beautiful aspect of what it means to write. It also confers a responsibility on me to give my utmost to the novel, with the aim of giving to others something worth reading and thinking about.’

David enjoys surfing and fly-fishing, and is a keen environmentalist; the natural world is where he likes to spend his time. He is married to Fiona, and has two children.

Stony Heart Country was included in the 2002 IBBY Honour List and the 2000 International Youth Library White Ravens Catalogue. He was winner of: 2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Children’s Fiction for One Minute’s Silence, 2016 Queensland Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction for Dreaming the Enemy, 2010 CBCA Book of the Year Award for Older Readers for Jarvis 24, 2004 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature for Boys of Blood and Bone, 2003 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Boys of Blood and Bone, 2003 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Wildlight, 1999 Western Australian Young Readers Book Awards (WAYRBA) for Finn and the Big Guy, and 1996 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature for Johnny Hart’s Heroes.

David Metzenthen is a writer of immense integrity and peerless elegance. His work has been described variously as profound, laconic, vividly realised, finely crafted and empathetic. He is a writer whose passionate interests are honestly explored in works of gravitas and profundity. David Metzenthen is one of Australia’s foremost writers of fiction for young people. ‘I love trying to get to the essence of things.’ (Metzenthen in Goodman, 2010, p. 13)

Jeannie Baker (2 November 1950-) is the author and illustrator of thirteen critically acclaimed picture books. Her characteristic use of mixed media to create detailed and elaborate ‘relief collages’ is stunningly original. Born in Croydon, London, England she studied at the Croydon College of Art (1967–9) and attended Brighton College of Art (1969–72) in Sussex where she gained an Honours Degree in Art and Design. ‘I have always liked textures and used to collect odd things such as bits of old plaster from walls and work them into abstract designs. Then I … did my first book of relief collages in my last year at College.’ (Baker in McVitty, 1989, p. 20) She worked as a commissioned artist before creating her first book Polar (1975) by Elaine Moss, and then published Grandfather (1977) which she’d created at art college.

She emigrated to Australia in 1975 and lived first in Tasmania where she created a sequel to Grandfather, in Grandmother (1978). She then moved to Sydney where she now lives. Millicent (1980) and One Hungry Spider (1982) were her next publications. She then spent part of 1980 and 1983 in the Visual Arts Board’s NY studio researching and then exhibiting Home in the Sky (1984). ‘Soon after I first arrived in Australia, I became conscious that this strange new land, its strong clear light, unfamiliar smells and sounds was deeply affecting my senses, my outlook, my use of and feeling for colour … the greys, browns and subdued tones of my English work changed to more vivid hues, echoing the luxuriant colours in the landscape here.’ (Baker 2000, p. 10)

Her unique style of collage involves intensive immersion in places she visits as background to each book. Where the Forest Meets the Sea (1988) was set in the Daintree Rainforest of Far North Queensland; The Story of Rosy Dock (1995) in the Central Australian desert; Mirror (2010) in Morocco where she lived with Berber people in villages; Circle (2016) in remote S.W. Alaska, the Yellow Sea in China, and South Korea. Each takes her several years to complete and the seeds of each idea are often already planted as she works on the previous title.

She is a nominee for the 2017 Kate Greenaway Medal for Circle, and was shortlisted in 1985 for Home in the Sky, and in 1992 for Window; was included on the 1990 IBBY Honour List for Where the Forest Meets the Sea; won a 2011 IYL White Ravens Award for Mirror; was twice the winner of the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award in 2011 for Mirror (Joint Winner) and in 1992 for Window; and three times the winner of The Wilderness Society Environmental Award for Children’s Literature: 2005 Belonging; 2001 The Hidden Forest; 1996 The Story of Rosy Dock.

Her inventive intricate tactile collages utilise found objects and employ a complex process for preparing, colouring, mounting and preserving them. Her intense focus on the environment and her ardent conservation message have caused her to be ‘described as a gentle activist, but she is nothing but uncompromising and steely in the integrity of her environmental statements.’ (Sheahan 1995, p. 8) Her several ‘wordless’ visual texts include Window (1991) and Belonging (2004), companion books in which changes to the environment are viewed through a window as time passes. She has also consistently exhibited, filmed and toured her work and is truly a multimedia artist.

Her themes include urban sprawl, land degradation, introduced pests, and destruction of natural habitats via development; they promote global cooperation and understanding. Circle (2016) traces the threatened godwit’s incredible cyclical journey around the world. Above all, her work exudes empathy with the landscape, with the flora and fauna it nourishes, and with the people who inhabit it. But this empathy is never sentimental. It is founded on the belief that living a life entails responsibility and that we are all partners in the local and global communities in which we live.

Jeannie Baker is one of Australia’s most internationally recognised and influential picture book artists. ‘If people’s feelings are affected, they might then be motivated to try and change things.’ (Baker 2016)

For further details contact:
Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright (Chair HCA Sub-Committee) rsheahan5 [at] bigpond.com

IBBY Australia Inc

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