Monday 23 July 2012

French Children's Literature Prizes

I was inspired to write this post after reading this informative post on French Literary Prizes by Tamara at Thyme for Tea. There are so many of them, and it's all rather confusing for the sadly non-French. Her post gave me the idea to look at French Children's Literary Prizes.

It's hard to pull the information together. Wiki is a great place to start of course. They list prizes in French literature. I think perhaps my favourite is the Prix de Flore, which gives the winner a cash prize and a daily glass of Pouilly-Fume at Cafe de Flore.

There are two major international prizes for Children's Literature. The Hans Christian Andersen Award has been awarded for writing since 1956, and illustration since 1966. Rene Guillot won the writing prize in 1964. Tomi Ungerer was awarded the illustration prize in 1998.

The other major international prize is the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. This award, the richest children's literature prize, and indeed one of the richest literary prizes  in the world, was established in 2002. As yet no French author has been lucky enough to win it.

I'm aware of two French children's prizes. The Prix Sorcieres is for works written in French, or translated into French. As yet I haven't found a condensed list accessible in English to list past winners. British powerhouse Michael Morpurgo has won the Prix Sorcieres three times. King of the Cloud Forests in 1993. Wombat goes Walkabout 1999. Kensuke's Kingdom (read my review) in 2001. Many of the French language books are not available in English, which is such a shame.

The Prix Jeunesse ran from 1934 to 1972. There is now another prize also called Prix Jeunesse, but it seems to relate to German children's television.

Occasionally I will find a book that will proudly proclaim to have won a French Children's Literary Prize of some sort, and I'm powerless to resist them. They're so different. I like European picture books, they have such a different sensibility. Like The Scar.

Recently I bought Anne-Laure Bondoux's The Killer's Tears, winner of the Prix Sorcieres in 2004 (published in French as Les larmes de l'assassin). A cheery book set in Patagonia about a lonely boy, "Paolo, was like a seed planted in bedrock condemned never to bloom" and a killer.

I also bought a second hand copy of Rene Guillot's Sama which was awarded the Prix Jeunesse in 1950. It is the life and adventures of a young African elephant.

I look forward to reading these and more French prizewinners in the years to come.

Paris in July is cohosted by Karen at BookBath 
and Tamara at Thyme for Tea 


TBM said...

I really know nothing about book awards for adult or children's literature. I love books and I feel bad that I don't take the time to learn more about the honors. Thanks for sharing.

Jeanie said...

I'm seeing some favorites here. Long ago I was very much in love with children's books. It's been awhile since I've spent time with them, but this post makes me nostalgic in a way!