Antonio Skármeta (Chile) and Jenny Robson (South Africa) win 2003 UNESCO Children's Book PrizeParis - Antonio Skármeta from Chile and Jenny Robson from South Africa were today named winners of the 2003 UNESCO Prize for Children's and Young People's Literature in the Service of Tolerance by UNESCO Director-General Koichďro Matsuura.
Skármeta's book, La Composición (The Composition), illustrated by Alonso Ruano and published in Venezuela by Ediciones Ekaré, won the first prize in the category of books for children under 13 years old. The story is about a boy living with his family under a military dictatorship. He sees the father of one of his school-friends taken away in an army jeep. One day a man in uniform visits the school and asks the children to write a composition about "What my family does at night." With the creative force of a child's words, Pedro invents a story that will save his parents from coming under suspicion.
Robson was the winner in the category of books for 13-18-year-olds with Because Pula Means Rain, published in Cape Town by Tafelberg. It tells the story of Emmanuel, an albino child who lives in a small village in Botswana with his grandmother. His greatest wish is to be brown like everybody else and not be shunned by them. The writer deals with all kinds of discrimination and says that "in such a wide and open land spread out under such a wide and open sky, there is room enough for many beliefs and many truths."
The two winners get $8,000 each, donated by the Spanish publishers SM, which sponsors the prize. The jury also awarded four Honourable Mentions in each category.
In the under-13s, these were: Wir alle für immer zusammen (All of Us Together Forever), the German version of a book originally written in Dutch by Guus Kuijer, translated by Sylke Hachmeister and published in Hamburg by Verlag Friedrich Oetinger; Meu Vô Apolinário (My Grandpa Apolinário), by Brazilian writer Daniel Munduruku, illustrated by Rogério Borges and published in Brazil by Studio Nobel; Huff Bluff, written in Arabic by Egyptian author Amal Farah, illustrated by Safaa Naba'a and published in Egypt by Al-Shourouq; and Nips XI, by Australian Ruth Starke, published in Australia by Lothian Books.
In the 13-18 category, the Honourable Mentions were: Caged Eagles, by Canadian author Eric Walters, published in Canada by Orca Book Publishers; Grenzen (Borders), written in Dutch by Belgian Katrien Seynaeve and published in Belgium by Averbode; El Diario Violeta de Carlota (Carlota's Violet Diary), by Spanish writer Gemma Lienas, published in Spanish by Alba and in Catalan by Empúries; and Le Meilleur Choix (The Best Choice), a collective cartoon story published in French in Burundi by Studio A.V. Buja.
The prize, founded in 1995 and awarded every two years, drew 353 entries written in 36 languages from 54 countries. All were read by independent judges who produced a shortlist of 55, which were considered by an international jury in Paris on December.
The prizes will be presented at the Children's Book Fair in Bologna (Italy) in April, 2003.