2024 Hans Christian Andersen Award Winners

The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) has named Heinz Janisch from Austria and Sydney Smith from Canada as winners of the 2024 Hans Christian Andersen Awards.

Given every other year by IBBY, the awards recognize lifelong achievement and are presented to an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made an important, lasting contribution to children’s literature.

The criteria used to assess the nominations included “the aesthetic and literary quality as well as the freshness and innovation of each nominee’s work; the ability to see the child’s point of view and to stretch their curiosity; and the continuing relevance of the work to children and young people.” The Award is based on the entire body of work.

The Author’s Award has been given since 1956, and the Illustrator’s Award since 1966. The winners each receive a gold medal and a diploma.


Heinz Janisch maintains that “nothing is too small for literature”. He was born in 1960 in Burgenland not far from the Hungarian border and now lives in Vienna. According to the Jury, Janisch is a master of the short-form story that leaves room for the readers’ imagination. Although many of his works are humorous, even sometimes absurd, he has a philosophical element to his writing that often makes his books profound. His simple texts are meaningful, and the saying “less is more” can be applied to the 2024 author winner. His writing is universal, and it appeals to children and young people everywhere. Additionally, his contribution to literature is enormous, not only through his writing, but also by his many readings, workshops on literary and creative writing for children and adults, including creative workshops for disabled young artists. Janisch’s writing is nuanced with many layers, which makes it universal, as well as uplifting.


Sydney Smith said in an interview with Prof. Deirdre Baker in April 2022, “listening … is more in line with how I approach stories” when he is illustrating the texts of others and as well as illustrating his own stories. Smith was born in 1980 in rural Nova Scotia and has now returned to the province with his family after living for several years in Toronto. The jury noted that Smith’s work is like a visual narrative or a short musical memory, which echoes his statement that listening is how he approaches stories. He uses seemingly simple techniques to tell the story—really a result of intense practice. His modest but authentic characters are sympathetic as well as gentle. He uses colour to introduce nature, smells and drama to each book. The saying “less is more” can also be applied to every one of his works as he strips away the superfluous to express emotions. Smith is a truly universal artist.

[Based on a press release.]

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