Blake, Ahlberg, Jeffers and Gaiman in line for ALMA

Blake, Ahlberg, Jeffers and Gaiman in line for ALMA

Shirley Hughes, Quentin Blake and Allan Ahlberg are just some of the UK-based authors longlisted for the 2016 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) for outstanding commitment to children’s literature.

The award is run by the Swedish Arts Council in honour of Astrid Lindgren, the Swedish author of Pippi Longstocking who died in 2002.

The longlist, comprising 215 candidates from 59 countries, also includes writers such as Jacqueline Wilson, David Almond, Raymond Briggs, Patrick Ness and Neil Gaiman, illustrators Michael Foreman and Oliver Jeffers, and organisations like Letterbox Club and Book Aid International.

In total, the UK has 21 spots - nearly 10% of the total.

Several countries who haven’t featured on the list before, including China, Nicaragua, Palestine and the United Arab Emirates, received nominations for the first time.

Jury chair Joel Westin, who announced the list at the Frankfurt Book Fair today (16th October), said: “We are deeply impressed by the work of the nominating bodies in proposing qualified candidates for ALMA. I hope the nominee list will be an active reference for literacy promoters and educators around the world as they seek out the most outstanding contemporary literature for children and young adults.

 “The jury now has the hard but very pleasant and rewarding job of finding one or more laureates for 2016. We have meetings once a month and between meetings we read piles of books and documents.”

This year the 2015 award was given the to Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA), which encourages children in the country to read.