Woutertje Pieterse Prize 2017 for Gerda Dendooven
Gerda Dendooven has won the Woutertje Pieterse Prize 2017 for her original and timely picture book ‘Stella’. This award for children's and youth books is accompanied by a sum of 15,000 euros and was presented this weekend for the thirtieth time. The jury, chaired by Noraly Beyer, chose ‘Stella’ because it is “a book that tells a disturbing story in robust images and a language that dances, a story that grates but is also light in tone. A story which, between the lines, raises more questions than it answers, that allows for telling and retelling and through its many layers speaks to children and adults alike. It’s a timeless story that is simultaneously written in response to current events, and subtly but clearly shows how small we all think when the great big world comes knocking. It is a plea for unlimited reading and unlimited thinking.” The book was published by Querido.
About the author
Gerda Dendooven (b. 1962) is highly regarded both as an author and as an illustrator and is internationally renowned for her plays for young audiences. She often employs archetypes and absurd humour. Dendooven has gone on to win just about every major Flemish and Dutch award, amongst others the Flemish Cultural Prize for Youth Literature (2004). The Woutertje Pieterse Prize 2017 is yet another acknowledgement of her talent.
About the book
One day a fisherman and his wife find a little girl in their nets. No one knows who she is or where she’s from. They decide to keep the child and they call her Stella, Star of the Sea. Stella turns out to be different from the other children in the village; she grows quickly and keeps on growing, until she’s too big for the classroom, for her bed, even for the house. Then she no longer feels at home and decides to go in search of the place she came from. ‘Stella’ is a tale about loneliness, being different and searching for your place in the world. When writing this story, Dendooven was inspired by disturbing photos of refugees and by the horrors experienced by children in war zones.
The other nominees
The jury nominated the maximum of six books from the complete range of children’s and youth books that were published in 2016. Apart from ‘Stella’, the jury chose ‘Aap Beer Zebra’ by Bette Westera & Henriette Boerendans, ‘De ring van koning Salomo’ by Lida Dijkstra & Martijn van der Linden, ‘Het grootste en leukste beeldwoordenboek ter wereld’ by Tom Schamp, ‘Hoe Tortot zijn vissenhart verloor’ by Benny Lindelauf & Ludwig Volbeda and ‘Op een ochtend vroeg in de zomer’ by Toon Tellegen & Sylvia Weve. All nominees received a certificate and an amount of 1,000 euros.