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Nando von Arb nominated again for the Children’s and Youth Book Prize

Five books in three national languages have made it onto the shortlist for the Children's and Young Adult Book Prize 2024. Among them is the Zurich comic author Nando von Arb. He had already won the prize in 2020.

"Fürchten lernen" is the graphic novel by Nando von Arb, "Alua - Garten/Urwald" the textless picture book by Reto Crameri, "Collections" the picture book by Victoire de Changy with illustrations by Fanny Dreier, "Kurz vor dem Rand" the young adult novel by Eva Rottman and "Insektorama" the non-fiction book for children by Lisa Voisard. These are the nominees for the Children's and Young People's Book Prize 2024, as announced by the organizers on Thursday.

Illustrator and comic author Nando von Arb can therefore once again hope to win the prize. He already won the prize in 2020 with his first book "Drei Väter" (Three Fathers), and was the first winner of the Swiss Children's and Young Adult Book Prize at the time. Then, as now, he is nominated with a graphic novel that is aimed less at young people than at adults.

For teenagers and adults

Von Arb devotes himself to the theme of fear with expressive depictions. The title "Learning to fear" is quite ambiguous. The fears he names are not only contagious, the pictures may also help us to deal with our fears - to learn to fear.

"The book does indeed deal with a dark subject," jury member Kathrin Jakob told the Keystone-SDA news agency. But the book is not gloomy. Von Arb manages "the balancing act of making the reader empathize, even suffer, without the book being overwhelming". The main character copes with situations, deals with her fears and learns strategies to deal with them. "This gives the text a hopeful note." In addition, von Arb shows the absurdity of some situations "without ridiculing the main character's emotional state". Von Arb has thus made a challenging topic accessible.

Jakob is a language teacher at a vocational school in Bern and is currently working on her dissertation on fictional non-fiction books for children. She believes that it is generally a sign of quality when children's and young adult books are "also very readable for adults".

In addition, one of the jury's criteria for selecting the works is that the titles offer a stimulating reading experience, so that readers can take something away with them, as Jakob explains further. In addition to aesthetic qualities and the overall impression of the selected works, accessibility for the target group also plays an important role for the jury. This means, for example, that "the language and images or age-appropriate identification figures must relate to the world of the children and young people being addressed", explains Jakob.

140 books to choose from

The jury scrutinized over 140 titles for their selection. The assessment was a challenge, Jakob admits. The criteria for the selection had to be objectively comprehensible. But: "The evaluation process is also subjective." The personal opinions and expertise of the jury members should be incorporated into the assessment, says Jakob. The result is a shortlist with genres as diverse as picture books, non-fiction, comics and young adult novels.

The Swiss Children's and Youth Book Prize is endowed with a total of 20,000 francs. It will be awarded on May 11 as part of the Solothurn Literary Festival. The prize is sponsored by the Swiss Booksellers and Publishers Association (SBVV), the Solothurn Literature Days and the Swiss Institute for Children's and Youth Media (SIKJM).

©Keystone/SDA

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