Barbro Lindgren, born in 1937, is a Swedish author of innovative and multifaceted works for children of all ages. Her body of work includes picture books, poetry, plays, and books for young adults. Since her debut as an author in 1965, she has published over a hundred titles, and her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. The Jury’s Citation reads:
Barbro Lindgren is a literary pioneer. Using adventurous language and rich psychological nuance, she has re-invented not only the picture book for the very young but also the absurd prose story, the existential children’s poem, and realistic fiction for young adults. With perfect pitch, she presents to us both playful shenanigans and moments of bright joy, and the inscrutable nature of life and the nearness of death.
Barbro Lindgren’s stories are often humorous and always possess a uniquely warm tone of voice that speaks directly to the child, whether she is offering amusing escapades or more serious reflections. She has a singular capacity to remember and convey what it was like to be a child, and her seemingly simple style recreates atmospheres and moods that resonate with all her readers, regardless of their age.
Barbro Lindgren has an education in the arts and illustrated several of her own books, including her first book, Mattias sommar (Mattias’ summer, 1965), and the absurd tale of Loranga, Masarin och Dartanjang (1969), about a world where anything can happen. Sagan om den lilla farbrorn (The Story of the Little Old Man, 1979) marked the beginning of a long-lived co-operation with the illustrator Eva Eriksson. Their greatest success came with their series of picture books about little Max and the everyday adventures in the life of a small child. Meanwhile, in Mamman och den vilda bebin (The Wild Baby, 1980) a baby has adventures that are anything but ordinary.
More realistic works include the autobiographical series of books in diary form, Jättehemligt, Världshemligt and Bladen brinner (Big Secret, Top secret, Pages on fire, 1971-73). Here, the author portrays a young girl’s encounter with love and her existen-tial reflections about life. Death seems always close at hand, a theme we see again in the series about Sparvel (1976-79), which depicts the author’s life from age four until she starts school. Reflections on the meaning of life also appear in the fiercely original chapter books Vems lilla mössa flyger (Whose little hat is flying, 1987), Korken flyger (The cork is flying, 1990), and Vad lever man för (What-Are-We-Living-For, 2006), where worn-out stuffed animals are among the unusual cast of characters. Here, Barbro Lindgren finds humor even in a funeral, and refilling the stuffing of a toy elephant can bring it back from the dead.
The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) will be presented in a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall on June 2, 2014.