The Washington Post

CHILDREN’S LIT: Australia’s SHAUN TAN wins Astrid Lindgren award

Director Shaun Tan — holding his new Oscar last month — has won the Astrid Lindgren award for children’s literature. (Kevork Djansezian/GETTY IMAGES)

The next thing the sublimely talented Aussie illustrator Shaun Tan might need to render is a blueprint for a trophy case — something, at least, to hold all his new hardware.

Tan is the 2011 recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children’s literature, the prize jury announced Tuesday.

Last month, the author-artist won an “animated short film” Oscar for the adaptation of his book “The Lost Thing,” the Tim Minchin-narrated work about a beachcombing boy who sees a creature that seems part-mechanized and part marine life.

According to the Astrid Lindgren folks, Tan, 37, is a “masterly visual storyteller, pointing the way ahead to new possibilities for picture books.” Tan’s more than 20 works include “Tales From Outer Suburbia,” “The Red Tree” and “The Rabbits.”

The award group continues: “His pictorial worlds constitute a separate universe where nothing is self-evident and anything is possible. Memories of childhood and adolescence are fixed reference points, but the pictorial narrative is universal and touches everyone, regardless of age.”

In 2007, Tan won the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books award for his work “The Arrival.”

Tan told the Astrid Lindgren group: “I was very surprised. It took me awhile to register. I have been following the award since Sonya Harnett received it, and I know I was on the list, but I never expected to win.”

Besides Harnett, other previous winners include Maurice Sendak, Christine Nöstlinger and Ryôji Arai.

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA), which is organized by the Swedish Arts Council, says it’s the world’s largest prize for children’s and young-adult literature.

Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.

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