About a week ago I visited the city of Varkaus in Eastern Finland. As part of their week-long children’s culture festival, they awarded the prize for year’s best young people’s book to my novel Kadonneet kyyneleet.
The winner was chosen by a jury consisting of six 10 to 12-year-olds. They read seven children’s and young adults books, and chose their favorite. Many adults had called Kadonneet kyyneleet too difficult or too dark for young people, but kids proved them wrong!
Grown up literature is divided into entertainment like detective stories and romances on one hand, and quality literature on the other. But many seem to think that bulk literature is enough for kids. Fantasy series and horse books. Kadonneet kyyneleet strives to be quality literature for young people, and it’s simply fantastic that it’s recognized as such. This is the only award in Finland given to a young people’s book by the readers themselves.
The event was touching: an eight-year-old sang accompanied by a piano, a speech from representatives of the local cultural board and the sponsoring paper factory, then the child jury got on stage, and revealed the winner. Then I got up, and was given a fruit basket and said a few words myself.
The money (3500e) will come in handy since I try to combine the lives of an artist, an enterpreneur and a student, three venues not known for their great wages…