Not yet forty years of age, Kitty Crowther, a Belgian author and illustrator with Swedish and British ancestry, has been given this year's $687,000 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) for children's literature.

The author of some 35 titles, most of which were first published in Belgium or France, Crowther describes herself as a story teller. "I’ve been steeped in stories from as far back as I can remember. Books were my refuge, my bubble," she remarked. She added that she portrays life with the freshness of line drawing and the direct appeal of images, and that she prefers starting over to revising.


Her principal works are her own picture books, including L´enfant racine (2003), La visite de Petite Mort (2004), Le grand désordre (2005) and the Poka & Mine series (2005-2010). She has also illustrated works by other authors. The books are often described as elegantly staged, with light and lines shifting to reflect events in the narrative. Her style makes readers feel the breathing and heartbeat of the images. Boldly facing the challenges of portraying difficult subjects including family conflict, personal shortcomings, loneliness and death, Crowther avoids deep despair and offers hope along with alternatives.

Calling her a master of line and also atmosphere, the ALMA jury of experts said, "She maintains the tradition of the picture book while transforming and renewing it. In her world, the door between imagination and reality is wide open. She addresses the reader gently and personally, but with profound effect. In her deeply felt empathy with people in difficulty, she shows ways in which weakness can be turned into strength."

ALMA is the world's largest prize for children's and young adult literature. There are two other literary awards related to Astrid Lindgren: Rabén & Sjögren publishers annually award a Swedish writer of children's literature and another Astrid Lindgren prize rewards research in the field of children's literature.