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German illustrator wins top prize with drawings of animals mimicking humans

STOCKHOLM: With his family of cats celebrating Christmas, bears arm-in-arm and even a crocodile in a sailor suit, German illustrator Wolf Erlbruch on Tuesday won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for literature aimed at children and young adults.

Erlbruch, who has written some ten books and illustrated almost fifty, scooped the prize for making “existential questions accessible and manageable for readers of all ages” over his 30 year career, organizers said.

“I’m still in shock and will be for some time. But it’s wonderful,” said Erlbruch. He is best known for illustrating “The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business” – a book about an angry mole searching for whoever pooped on his head.

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was established by the Swedish government to honor the writer best known for her Pippi Longstocking books.

The annual award is worth 5 million Swedish crowns ($554,000), with previous winners including British author Philip Pullman and Americans Maurice Sendak and Meg Rosoff.

Erlbruch, who has already been won the Hans Christian Andersen Award and the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, will receive his latest honor at a royal ceremony at the Concert Hall in Stockholm on May 29.

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