On July 24th, the 73rd birthday of poet Jānis Baltvilks (1944-2003), the panel of judges for the International Baltic Sea Region Jānis Baltvilks Prize announced the 2017 laureates.
Jānis Baltvilks award was presented to Māris Rungulis for his book “Pastaiga mirušo pilsētā. Pārupes spoku stāsti” (“A Walk in the City of the Dead. Ghost Stories from Over the River”, Liels un mazs, 2016), which is not only a compelling read, but also a wide range of modern folklore plots united in one coherent collection that addresses the storytelling tradition. The realistic writing makes stories believable, and allows the reader to both be scared and laugh out loud, thus developing a healthy outlook towards frightening situations.
Jānis Baltvilks Prize in book art was awarded to Elīna Brasliņa for her illustrations in Juris Zvirgzdiņš' book "Tobiass, Čārlijs un neredzamais spoks" ("Tobias, Charlie and the Invisible Ghost", Pētergailis, 2017) and Luīze Pastore's books "Operācija maska" (“Operation: Mask”) and "Pēdējais ķēniņš" (“The Last King“, Neputns, 2016). Brasliņa's illustrations attest to her wide knowledge and skill in showing her erudition through multilayered drawings and nuanced characters. The artist's signature style has become recognizable, yet each of her works displays diversity, high quality and a brilliant sense of humour.
The international laureate of the Baltic Sea Region Jānis Baltvilks Prize in Children's Literature and Book Art this year is writer Annette Mierswa from Hamburg. The prize for the translation of Anette Mīierswa's “Samsona ceļojums” (“Samson's Voyage”, Jānis Roze publishing house, 2016) went to translator Inga Karlsberga whose fine representation of the language flow allows the reader to precisely identify emotion and detail, and follow the unhurried pace of events.
The Young Growth Prize was awarded to Rūta Briede for her debut in literature and book art with illustrations for "Kaiju karalienes noslēpums" ("The Mystery of the Queen of Seagulls", Liels un mazs, 2017), a book that with its short text and precise format manages to convey hearty humour, social realism and accurate characterisation of Latvian mentality. The book is an example of tastefully illustrated literature where text and image contribute equally in revealing the richness of moods of the story.
This year, the books were judged by the president of IBBY Latvia, professor at the University of Latvia, Ilze Stikāne, director of the Centre of Children's Literature of the Latvian National Library, Silvija Tretjakova, associate professor at the Art Academy of Latvia, Aiga Dzalbe, cultural reporter Santa Remere, actor and director Jānis Znotiņš, and director of “Iespējamā misija” (“Mission Possible” education initiative), Kārlis Andersons.
The Baltvilks Prize in Children's Literature and Book Art is awarded every year since 2004 and, since 2008, the prize is awarded also to one author from the Baltic Sea region and the translator of their work into Latvian. The aim of the Prize is to promote a positive image – a child reading an interesting and beautifully designed book in Latvian.
The main objective of the Baltvilks Prize is to help Latvian children's literature reach new levels of development, attract talented authors and artists to children's books and motivate children and their parents to choose books of high merit.