CULTURE

Children’s book prize ceremony

Music, laughter and the presence of many children enlivened the Greek children’s book awards ceremony at the Athens Concert Hall on Monday. For the second time, writer Eugene Trivizas emceed his successful child-centered format. There were pupils from all over Greece, and there was deliberate emphasis on including the widest range – from multicultural schools to schools for children with special needs. In a touching moment, choirs from the historic Zofrafeio School of Istanbul and the Muslim minority school of Alma, Xanthi, in northern Greece, joined voices to sing the song written for the awards by Trivizas and set to music by Giorgos Kouroupos. The formalities had been cut to a bare minimum and leavened with entertainment by singers, dancers and actors backed by the Orchestra of Colors. Dignitaries asked to present awards mostly kept their contributions brief, with Education Minister Marietta Giannakou quoting Kant on books being a window into the soul and the National Gallery’s director, Marina Lambraki-Plaka, simply urging children to love books and read them. The evening ended with toffee apples for everyone. The award for children’s literature went equally to Angeliki Darlassi’s «Oneirofylakes» (Dream Guards), published by Patakis, and Ioulita Iliopoulou’s «Ti zitaei o Zenon?» (What Is Zenon looking For?), published by Ypsilon, which also took the illustration award. The special award for a foreign illustrator of a children’s book went to Italian Marina Marcolion for her illustrations of Manos Kontoleon’s book «Mazi tha perasoume to heimona» («We’ll Spend Winter Together,» Said the Fir Tree), published by Patakis. Mariza Decastro and Panos Valavanis won the educational book award for their «Mikres istories tou mouseiou» (Short Museum Stories), published by Kastor. Pilot selection process All the jury decisions were unanimous. This was the first year of a pilot program devised by Trivizas with the Culture Ministry to streamline the selection process. Under the new system, academics, teachers, librarians and publishers make written recommendations, which go to a team of assessors (academics, postgraduate and doctoral students) who have the task of sifting through the list, with a backup team at Yale University available to adjudicate if major discrepancies emerge. The Hellenic Studies program at Yale is translating the winning titles and will promote them abroad. The books will also be translated into Braille for children with vision impairment.