Swiss illustrator Albertine wins 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award

Swiss illustrator Albertine (Zullo) in front of one of her frescoes at the Ibis Styles hotel in Geneva, which is entirely dedicated to comic books. Keystone / Magali Girardin

Albertine, a Geneva-based Swiss illustrator, has won the prestigious 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Prize 2020 for her illustrations for children's books. 

This content was published on May 5, 2020 - 14:31
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“Albertine creates books with multiple levels of interpretation, with drawings made with infinite precision that are lively and full of humour,” the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) said on Monday in a press release.

The Hans Christian Andersen Award, which the NGO hands out every two years, is considered one of the highest international awards for authors and illustrators of children's books.

The illustrator told Swiss public television, RTS, that the news had taken her by surprise.

"I was in my garden in my rubber boots and got a call from someone in English. I thought I'd won a mattress from the supermarket Conforama or something like that. It took me several hours to realise. It's a crazy surprise. I didn't expect it at all. The best prizes are the ones you don't expect," she declared.

Albertine is the fourth Swiss illustrator to be awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Prize after Alois Carigiet (1966), Jörg Müller (1994) and Jürg Schubiger (2008). An international jury selected her from among 36 candidates from all over the world. 

Albertine, whose family name is Zullo, has shown her work in many exhibitions in Switzerland and France. She has produced numerous children’s books, illustrations, posters and other artwork. 

She was the first Swiss artist to be awarded the prestigious Golden Apple in Bratislava, which she received for her Marta et la bicyclette. In 2009 she won the Schweizer Kinder- und Jugendmedienpreis for La Rumeur de Venise. Her Les oiseaux, a collaboration with the writer Germano Zullo, was awarded the Prix Sorcières and was listed by the New York Times Book Review as one of the Top 10 Books of the Year in 2012. Mon tout petit was awarded First Prize at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in 2016.

At the online ceremony on Monday, American author Jacqueline Woodson also won the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Prize for writing.

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