Il­lus­tra­tor’s hon­our

Townsville Bulletin - - The Goss -

AUS­TRALIAN il­lus­tra­tor Shaun Tan’s life in re­cent weeks has been as fan­tas­tic as his chil­dren’s books.

The au­thor and il­lus­tra­tor of five books last month won an Os­car for his short film adap­ta­tion of one of those tales, The Lost Thing.

This week he was awarded the Astrid Lind­gren Me­mo­rial Award in Swe­den – the world’s largest chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture prize, which car­ries with it five mil­lion krona ($ 765,000) in prize­money.

Tan was wash­ing-up at his Mel­bourne home when he re­ceived the call late on Tues­day night from the Swedish judges.

‘‘ I had my hands in the sink when this phone call came and I thought, ‘ Who’s ring­ing me now?’ I was ac­tu­ally slightly an­noyed by it,’’ Tan said.

‘‘ I couldn’t recog­nise the num­ber or the coun­try code.

‘‘ I was on the verge of dis­miss­ing it, but I thought, ‘ I’m prob­a­bly go­ing to have to ring them back and it’s go­ing to be ex­pen­sive, so I bet­ter an­swer it’.’’

The Astrid Lind­gren Me­mo­rial Award is pre­sented an­nu­ally to hon­our an out­stand­ing au­thor, il­lus­tra­tor or oral sto­ry­teller in chil­dren’s and young adults’ lit­er­a­ture.

The panel lauded Tan for his rein­ven­tion of the pic­ture book.

‘‘ Shaun Tan sees ev­ery book as an ex­per­i­ment in vis­ual and ver­bal sto­ry­telling,’’ his award ci­ta­tion read.

‘‘ Tan has rein­vented the pic­ture book by cre­at­ing vis­ually spec­tac­u­lar pic­to­rial nar­ra­tives with a con­stant hu­man pres­ence.’’

The hum­bled au­thor/ il­lus­tra­tor said he was hon­oured and stunned to win the award from the 170-odd nom­i­nees world­wide.

‘‘ Many of these peo­ple I’ve grown up read­ing. Their books are all over my book­shelves, many of them have been in­spi­ra­tions for me in de­cid­ing to be­come a pic­ture book il­lus­tra­tor so this feels re­ally bizarre,’’ he said.

Tan pre­dicts the award will act as a con­fi­dence booster next time he sits down in front of a blank page.

It should also se­cure in­ter­est in his next book pro­ject, cur­rently be­ing shopped around Europe by his pub­lisher.

The 37-year-old said he had barely had time to work out how to spend his prize­money.

His most notable works in­clude il­lus­trat­ing The Rab­bits, writ­ten by John Marsden, and writ­ing/ il­lus­trat­ing The Ar­rival, The Red Tree and The Lost Thing.

In Fe­bru­ary Tan won the Os­car for Best An­i­mated Short Film for his 15-minute film The Lost Thing.

The story is set in a fic­tional Perth town and fol­lows a boy’s at­tempts to find a home for a crea­ture, part in­dus­trial ma­chin­ery, part crus­tacean.

He is tight-lipped about his next book, ten­ta­tively set for a 2013 re­lease date.

‘‘ I think it’s go­ing to be some­thing to do with sib­ling re­la­tion­ships,’’ he said.

JUDGED: Artist and book il­lus­tra­tor Shaun Tan

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