Members of the jury at a meeting

"It feels a little bit like reaching the finish line after a long race."

What is life like for our jury on the eve of the announcement? Are they feeling the heat from people who can’t wait to know? We quizzed five jury members about the challenging but rewarding job of choosing the 2019 ALMA laureate.


How are you feeling on the eve of the ALMA announcement?

Katarina Kieri: "I’m looking forward to it. It feels a little bit like reaching the finish line after a long race. The difference is that the medal isn’t going to the jury!"

Are there a lot of people trying to get you to reveal what the jury is thinking?

Boel Westin: "It’s always exciting, of course. Will we get through? What will the laureate’s reaction be? Anything can happen. Carole Bloch of PRAESA gasped; it took her breath away. Meg Rosoff said “No!” when we told her. Wolf Erlbruch said under his breath, “Oh dear. Oh dear.”

After the jury has made its decision, you break the news to the laureate by phone. Which phone call do you remember best?

Mats Kempe: "Probably our call to Isol in 2013. We called in the forenoon, Swedish time, as we always do, but local time in Buenos Aires was early morning. At that time, Isol had a small child. Her exhausted husband picked up. No, he wouldn’t put Isol on the line. Mother and child had just gotten to sleep and he was not going to be the one to wake up his wife. The jury chair gave him some pretty nicely put hints—that this might be a situation where she would want to be woken up. And finally, he agreed."

What is the most fun thing about being on the ALMA jury?

Annika Edlund: "Getting to discuss children’s literature with a jury where everyone is well-informed and passionate. And discovering new authors from around the world. It is a privilege."

And what has been most challenging?
"Having to weigh so many fantastic but very different artists and organisations against one another."

The idea behind the ALMA is to focus attention on good children’s and YA literature worldwide. Why is this award worth discovering?

Boel Westin: "It raises awareness for different kinds of literature, the art of illustration, and truly excellent work in reading promotion. The list of laureates offers so much to explore. The award truly raises the profile of children’s and YA literature internationally—not least thanks to the prize sum of five million Swedish kronor. But above all, the award shows how extremely important it is for children and young people to read and come into contact with literature."