2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award Laureate is Korean picture book artist Baek Heena.
The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature. The award, which amounts to SEK 5 million, is given annually to a single laureate or to several. Authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters are eligible. The award is designed to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature.
Baek Heena is one of Korea’s most recognized picture book artists. With a background in film animation, her unique visual style features handmade miniature figurines and environments painstakingly lighted and photographed. She has published thirteen picture books that are popular throughout Asia, a number of which have been translated. One of her most successful books, Cloud Bread, was published in English in 2011.
Citation of the jury:
With exquisite feeling for materials, looks and gestures, Baek Heena’s filmic picture books stage stories about solitude and solidarity. In her evocative miniature worlds, cloud bread and sorbet moons, animals, bath fairies and people converge. Her work is a doorway to the marvellous: sensuous, dizzying and sharp.
About Baek Heena: Baek Heena was born in 1971 in Seoul, where today she has her studio in the Ichon-dong district. She studied education technology at Ewha Womans University in Seoul and animation at the California Institute of the Arts in the United States. After working in advertising and multimedia for children, she began to create her own picture books when her daughter was born. Baek Heena’s picture book worlds open the door to magic and wonder, and her original techniques and artistic solutions breathe new life into the picture book medium. Her bookmaking is a time-consuming process requiring devoted attention to construction and sculpture as well as lighting design. Baek has won multiple awards for her work, both in South Korea and internationally.
Selected Books: Baek Heena’s debut book Cloud Bread invites readers into a world of “what if.” The story takes place on a rainy weekday morning when two kittens find a little cloud and take it home. From the cloud, their mother bakes magical bread that gives them the ability to fly. The book has given rise to a television series, a musical, and a line of toys.
Little Chick Pee-yaki’s Mum (2011) is one of the few picture books in Baek Heena’s oeuvre that is drawn in charcoal and ink. This crazy, quirky tale paints a portrait of parenthood that is both candid and comedic.
Baek’s most recent book, I Am a Dog (2019), is dedicated to the dogs of her childhood. It is a finely-tuned tale of a dog who misses his mother and siblings, but comes to realize that he has a new place in a loving household and a new job as its caretaker. For this book, Baek hand-crafted some fifty clay dogs, each with minute differences in posture and facial expression.
Other important works include Magic Candies (2017), Moon Sherbet (2011), The Strange Visitor (2018) and Bath Fairy (2012). Please note that the titles of published books used in this text are not the original titles; they are the titles used by Baek Heena’s publisher in its international marketing.
[Based on a press release.]