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2022 HCAA(Hans Christian Andersen Awards) Winner Suzy Lee's Books
Date : 2022.03.22
Lee Suzy, Children’s Book Artist, is the winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award
On March 21, 2022, the winner of the 2022 Hans Christian Andersen Award given by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) was announced at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Lee Suzy from the Republic of Korea was the recipient for illustration of this prestigious award.
The Hans Christian Andersen Award is the international prize of distinction that is regarded as the Nobel Prize for children’s literature. It is the highest international honor given every other year to a living author and an illustrator of children’s books whose complete works have made “an important, lasting contribution to children’s literature.” The criteria used to assess the nominations include aesthetic and literary quality as well as the freshness and innovation of each nominee’s work; the ability to see the children’s point of view and to cultivate their curiosity; and the continuing relevance of the works to children and young people. The Award recognizes the entire body of works of a lifelong achievement. Sixty-two candidates from thirty-three countries were nominated for the 2022 IBBY Hans Christian Anderson Award. The jury reviewed all these nominations of highly qualified candidates, carefully and thoroughly assessing each one while maintaining carrying on discussions related to the criteria.
Lee Suzy, Iwona Chmielewska, Sydney Smith, Beatrice Alemagna, Ryoji Arai and Gusti, who were candidates of the 2022 shortlist, are known for their innovative styles, are younger in age than previously, and engage in remarkably experimental works, exerting much influence on the younger writers. Lee Jiwone, a member who was part of the 2022 HCAA International jury, described the works of Lee Suzy as follows. “The six final candidates create works of an experimental nature and artistic merit; in Lee Suzy’s books children are always emphasized as being pivotal. She sees them as inscrutable, magical, and mysterious yet full of joy and hope and it is the children who are focal point of her work that the author delineates in her solely unique way. Herein lies the reason why she was highly evaluated. Her entire oeuvre and in light of further development as an author, indicate the level of Lee Suzy’s books are consistently outstanding, demonstrating her endless attempt for a new approach; she was thereby viewed as an author who would undoubtedly continue to contribute to the world of children’s literature.”
Beginning with Alice in Wonderland (2002), Lee Suzy has explored the tension in the children’s “world of reality and fantasy” with the basis of the material nature of a book, and delving into the universal theme of the connection between people and animals, thereby broadening the expressive scope of children’s illustrated books. Through wordless picture books, she experiments with the full potentiality of visual language. One should also note how she usually has female characters as autonomous entities, exploring the world about them. The wordless picture books of Suzy Lee have been recognized as unique literary and aesthetic innovations. The following is the author’s statement about wordless picture books. “In wordless picture books, the pictures tell all the stories. Since there aren’t any written words, the eye must follow every single picture and listen to what it’s saying. The unspoken words are actually stories derived from my heart. You can read it quietly to yourself or tell them aloud to a friend or younger sibling. I enjoy seeing the readers fill in the gaps and that’s why I like working on wordless picture books.”
Lee Suzy is the illustrator of the following picture books, Waves, Lines, The Zoo, The Black Bird and Simcheong. Central to these works is the free-spirited play of the children. This is what she said about the play of children: “Children can play in all places. When there’s water, they can play with water; when there’s earth, they can play with earth; hence, anything can be a source of play. I want to show the natural world of play that is available to us at all times. Water, in particular, can be found anywhere, is free and formless, connects to everything, is beautiful, and cool—and children love it more than anything.”
The story of Simcheong is a classic Korean tale that is also performed as pansori and Lee Suzy used it as a motif for her independent publication, Simcheong, to recount the narrative of a fifteen-year-old girl who embraces death before the dark Indangsoo Sea to save her father. The artist focused on the character’s mind and its tragic aspect and had the book published independently because of its challenging content and theme. Along with several other children’s illustrated book writers, she founded an artist collective called “Vacance Project” with the aim of creating works that reinterpret the traditional Korean stories, expanding the world of children’s picture books, and making it richer.
The 2022 Hans Christian Andersen Award Ceremony will be held during the 38th IBBY World Congress with the global children’s literature community and dignitaries in attendance and will take place from September 5 to 8, 2022, in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Lee Suzy will take part and give a reading of her work for her readers around the world.