Øyvind Torseter’s “Mulegutten” and Ragnar Aalbu’s “Krokodille i treet” are both perfect for reading before bedtime. And now they have both been nominated for the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize.
It is with pride and joy that we today congratulate Øyvind Torseter and Ragnar Aalbu on their respective nominations for the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize 2016! Only two titles are nominated from each of the Nordic countries per year, so it is quite something that both Torseter’s Mulegutten and Aalbu’s Krokodille i treet were recognised. The prize will be awarded in October – we very much look forward to that time.
Mulegutten by Øyvind Torseter has enjoyed wonderful reviews, and earlier this year it won the Norwegian Critics Prize for the Year's Best Children's or Youth Literature 2016.
Torseter has received many prizes as an author and/or illustrator, including the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize 2014 (as the illustrator of Brune, written by Håkon Øvreås), the Norwegian Bokkunstprisen 2011 and the prestigious Bologna Ragazzi Award in 2008.
Mulegutten is nevertheless considered by many to be Torseter’s best and most distinctive publication. It is both a funny and very beautiful take on the old folk tale The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body: the king has sent six of his seven sons to find suitable princesses. They do not return, and seventh brother Mulegutten insists on finding out what has happened to them. He discovers that the troll has turned both them and their brides to stone!
Krokodille i treet by Ragnar Aalbu has also enthused reviewers. Aalbu has written and illustrated a number of books himself and also worked as an illustrator on a number of publications by other authors. He has received multiple prizes including the Norwegian Ministry of Culture’s Debutant Prize 2004 for Fokus på ku and the Norwegian Ministry of Culture’s Textbook Prize 2014 for Dra kraken bortåt glaset. Ei bok om Alf Prøysen (written by Stein Erik Lunde).
All of Ragnar Aalbu’s stories and illustrations are characterised by somewhat absurd humour, surprising ideas and charm, and the same is the case for Krokodille i treet: the little red crocodile is out for a walk in the fog – the crocodile loves fog, and this is a very foggy day! But suddenly he is scared by something that looks like a wolf, and then before you know it, the little crocodile is sitting high up in a tall tree.
Despite its simplicity and directness, this picture book has a dreamy allegorical quality that makes it possible to read it as a story about belonging and alienation. It also considers what it means to take chances, to feel brave, afraid and lonely, and to long for your mother and others that you know. But on a more concrete and pragmatic level, it is mostly about getting safely out of a predicament.