The Power of Stories: Reflections on the IBBY Congress 2022 – part 3

by | Oct 4, 2022 | Blog

Evelyn Arizpe
Evelyn Arizpe

Marie-Aude Murail, winner of the 2022 Hans Christian Andersen Author Award 

Evelyn Arizpe

Suzy Lee, wiiner of the 2022 Hans Christian Andersen Illustrator Award 

Evelyn Arizpe

Winner of the 2022 IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award: Ilitaqsinniq – Pinnguaqta of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.

Celebrating the Awards in the Power of Stories

IBBY is responsible for some of the most significant awards in the world of children’s books and, every two years, these prestigious awards are presented to the winners at the congress.

The Hans Christian Andersen is the highest international recognition given to an author and an illustrator of children’s books. This award is presented to an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made an important, lasting contribution to children’s literature. Each national section submits an in-depth dossier celebrating an author and an illustrator from their country. These are then reviewed by a carefully selected jury, overseen by an elected chair.

This year, it was a real honour to hear Hans Christian Andersen winners Marie-Aude Murail and Suzy Lee talk about their work:

Marie-Aude Murail has written nearly a hundred books for children and adults and is acclaimed in her home country of France and abroad. Writing novels about the ‘everyday’, to adventure, fantasy and historical fiction, as well as social themes, such as homophobia (Oh Boy! 2000) and undocumented migrants (Viva La Republique! 2005), Marie-Aude’s work has been translated into more than 27 languages.

In her talk at the congress, Marie-Aude touched upon themes of authenticity (How do you tell stories that aren’t yours? Ask, be humble, admit that you don’t know) and censorship – in some cases religious or political but also economic. Some of her books wouldn’t be published in Malaysia, or equally in Italy, where her books about abortion were challenged as her publisher is based in the Vatican or in the USA where many librarians are afraid for their jobs if they champion ‘controversial’ books.

Another form of censorship, one we’re more familiar with here in the UK, is economic – the fear of publishing anything controversial or niche because of sales. Marie-Aude celebrated the smaller, braver indies publishers and discussed the negative consequences of centralisation in publishing. She urged us all to follow the example of one small village in Gaul and be like Asterix and Obelix, “we resist!”

  • Read Marie-Aude Murail’s dossier here.

Suzy Lee is an illustrator from South Korea, whose wordless picture books have been recognised as unique literary and aesthetic innovations. Her Border Trilogy: Mirror (2003), Wave (2008) and Shadow (2010) are three wordless stories which use the physical centre of the book, known as the gutter, which acts as a border between fantasy and reality. For Suzy, as a picture book creator, the form of the book itself is crucial to her storytelling – it becomes part of it and she often integrates every element of the book into her narrative.

Suzy’s Border Trilogy has received numerous awards, including the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book in 2008 and 2010 as well as the Premio FNLIJ, Brazil and Premio Albumilustrado, Gremio de Libros de Madrid. Her story of a rescued dog Kang-yi (River, 2018) was selected for the 2020 IBBY Honour List and won the Korea Book Award. Dreams of Becoming Water is a 5-meter-long accordion fold picture book which is told alongside the lyrics of Lucid Fall’s poetic eponymous song.

  • Read Suzy Lee’s dossier here.


  • IBBY UK’s nominations for the 2022 HCA Award are Marcus Sedgwick (writing) and David McKee (illustration). These were selected by the committee from a shortlist of nominations by members. You can read the full nominiation portfolios for Marcus Sedgwick here and David McKee here.

Reading Promotion Awards

IBBY also bestows two important awards to celebrate organisations and individuals that promote reading. It was a real honour to hear about the work of the following winners:

The winner of the 2022 IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award is Ilitaqsinniq – Pinnguaqta of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. This Intergenerational and Family Literacy Initiative is one of Ilitaqsiniq’s main pillars of work. Included in this initiative, Pinnguaqta is an inclusive and culturally meaningful community-based early childhood education programme that is designed and centred on Inuit societal values. The programme supports and encourages parents and caregivers in the development of life, literacy and essential skills in their infant and preschool children in preparation for formalized education. The target group of Pinnguaqta is children from birth to six-years old, as well as their parents and caregivers. Full and part-time staff, content specialists, and community Elders work together to provide “wraparound support” for informal culture-based learning in a warm, safe and welcoming environment.

The winners of the 2022 IBBY-iRead Outstanding Reading Promoter Award are Zohreh Ghaeni from Iran, nominated by the IBBY sections in Canada and Iran, and Jane Kurtz from the United States nominated by USBBY.

Zohreh Ghaeni is a children’s literature expert, lecturer, researcher, and major reading promoter. She has worked as a teacher in rural areas of Iran, studied librarianship and information science at the Open University in Tehran and is now the co-founder and director of the Institute for Research on the History of Children’s Literature in Iran founded 20 years ago, which is a non-governmental and non-profit organization. In that capacity, she has directed and co-authored the publication of a ten-volume history of children’s literature in Iran, a monumental achievement. As part of the Institute for Research on the History of Children’s Literature in Iran, Zohreh designed and developed a reading programme that has had huge success all over Iran and Afghanistan: Read With Me. This project makes high quality books accessible to children who normally do not have access to books, such as street and working children, those living in remote and deprived areas, and those living in crisis due to unrest, natural disaster and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Read Zohreh Ghaeni’s full interview here

Jane Kurtz grew up in Ethiopia and has spent the last 25 years helping to develop indigenous authors and illustrators in Ethiopia—and in multiple languages—while also establishing an infrastructure for publishing books and promoting literacy with training for teachers and librarians. Her work began in 1998 when she co-founded Ethiopia Reads and developed a strategy for starting libraries to support literacy development. In early 2016, Jane initiated a workshop in Ethiopia with artists, children and adult volunteers, which resulted in a prototype for Ready Set Go books. Created in partnership with Open Hearts Big Dreams, these books are colourful, easy-to-read, culturally appropriate, and published in English and one local language. Jane’s work with literacy addresses the challenges of multiple official languages; lack of books reflecting Ethiopian culture, history, and landscape; obstacles in the translation, publication, and distribution process; and insufficient professional opportunities for educators and librarians. With her vision and collaboration with others, she has planted the seeds of literacy all over Ethiopia.

  • Read Jane Kurtz’s full interview here


For more information:

  • All recordings of plenary session presentations, including opening and closing ceremonies, as well as gala dinner and award presentation ceremonies have been uploaded on the MBBY YouTube Channel. You can view sessions you may have missed, and revisit those you wish to see again. These can be accessed here.
  • The virtual exhibition in conjunction with the Congress has been extended and you can re-visit the platform here: Power of Stories Virtual Exhibition – IBBY Congress 2022.
  • Visit the congress website:

Sophie Hallam attended the 38th IBBY World Congress in Putrajaya, Malaysia, from 4-9 September. In this series of blogs, she shares her experience at the congress and reflections on her final term on IBBY’s Executive Committee (EC), after serving two consecutive terms.