The BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award (now in its second year) is given to a children’s writer or illustrator whose body of work, in the opinion of the panel of judges, merits recognition for a lifetime’s achievement in children’s literature. It is a separate recognition to the Children’s Laureate in that it is purely celebratory and is not attached to any wider purpose of promoting children’s literature. Book Trust intends it to be awarded to a person who is not likely to become Children’s Laureate in the future.
Last year’s inaugural award winner was Shirley Hughes.
This year the award recipient is Judith Kerr now best known for her illustrated work in the Mog series and the classic, much-loved picture book The Tiger Who Came to Tea, but also celebrated for her writing for older children in novels such as When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, winner of the 1974 Deutsche Jugendliteraturpreis.
I am sure each of my own children learnt to read thanks largely by joining in and recognising the phrase “Bother that cat!” in the first of the Mog books.
Now in her 90s, Kerr (pronounced ‘car’) has recently been the subject of many feature interviews, some of which can be found by following this link.
The award presentation was held at London Zoo on a glorious summer’s day.
Kerr’s closing words were, “I love my work. I still do it. And this is a very happy day.”
The 93 year-old stood unsupported throughout the event and was still hard at it, being interviewed, photographed and videod by various media people long after most guests had gone on their way.
Michael Morpurgo, dressed as usual in faded red, anecdotally illustrated Kerr’s remarkable fitness:
In her acceptance speech – short, humorous and exceptionally gracious – Kerr praised this country not only for welcoming her all those years ago, a refugee child on the run from Hitler, but also for having such a strong tradition of and commitment to children’s illustration and publishing. It is that strong tradition which this new annual award has been established to celebrate. There will, for the foreseeable future at least, be no shortage of nominees.
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