LOS ANGELES – Japanese children’s book author Nahoko Uehashi has received the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Author Award, the highest international recognition given to authors and illustrators of children’s books.
The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) decided on the winner of the award, also known as “the Little Nobel Prize,” during a meeting Wednesday in Mexico City.
“Uehashi conceives worlds in which relationships exist among different planes: worlds seen as a network within the universe rather than merely as a space,” IBBY said in a statement.
“She has an extraordinary ability to create different fantasy worlds and her work has tenderness and a great respect for nature and all sapient creatures,” it said.
Uehashi, 52, said in her award speech, “Stories give us the ability to be someone else.
“The moment we open a book, it opens the door to a completely different culture and environment; it gives us the chance to become the protagonist of the tale, to live another’s life, to see the world through other eyes and to experience it through other senses,” she said
The only other Japanese to win the award was Michio Mado in 1994. Including the illustrator award, Japan has four Hans Christian Andersen award winners. Suekichi Akaba won the Illustrator Award in 1980 and Mitsumasa Anno won it in 1984.
The 2014 Hans Christian Andersen illustrator award went to Roger Mello of Brazil.
The author’s award began in 1956 and the illustrator’s award in 1966. The award consists of a gold medal and a diploma, presented at a ceremony during IBBY’s biennial international congress.
IBBY biennially presents the awards to a living author and illustrator whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature.
The nominations are made by the national sections of IBBY, and the recipients are selected by a distinguished international jury of children’s literature specialists.
For this year’s author award, 10 jury members selected Uehashi from a group of 28 other authors nominated from around the world.