Linda Bondestam nominated for the 2021 Nordic Council Children's and Young People's Literature Prize

25 Mar 2021

We have exciting news to share. Multi-award-winning author and illustrator Linda Bondestam is one of the nominees for the 2021 Nordic Council Children’s and Young People’s Literature Prize for her picture book MY LIFE AT THE BOTTOM (Mitt bottenliv). 

MY LIFE AT THE BOTTOM (Mitt bottenliv) is a touching and surprising take on climate change. An enchanting illustrated story told by the voice of a rare and tiny axolotl enjoying life beneath the surface. As temperatures rise life becomes lonesome for this little being. A moving story combined with beautifully detailed illustrations takes readers on a joyous discovery of the wonders of the underworld.

Quote from the jury:

How do you go about making a picture book for children that touches on one of the most difficult and painful issues of our time – the climate crisis? Bondestam does just this, with heart and mind, in a breathtaking story that bypasses people (or “oafs” as they’re called in the book) and heads for the margins. The reader’s gaze is thus shifted from the navel of humanity and given a broader perspective with an emphasis on animals and nature. This daring theme is elegantly balanced by the loving portrait of a gorgeous protozoa bursting with vitality.

Bondestam’s picture book Mitt bottenliv is dramatic and superb. Each spread bursts with colour against dark suggestive backdrops. The suspense is skilfully built with the help of the drama in flicking through the pages. Underwater scenes and waves surge, stretching the imagination. The reader is invited to descend to the depths and be dragged along by the monster wave that rushes forwards over the pages of the book, bringing the terrified axolotl into the future where there’s a surprising outcome.

The language is flexible and inventive, rather ingeniously making the axolotl the narrator. Thanks to this irresistibly charming protagonist, the story is brimming with empathy and nerve. By reflecting the small in the big, the reader can recognise and get involved in the fragile globe that we all live on whose future concerns us all.

Linda Bondestam is one of the front-line talents in the Nordics who has received numerous recognitions. MY LIFE AT THE BOTTOM has also been nominated for Sweden’s biggest literature award, the 2020 August Prize and it was recently selected for the 2021 Biennial of Illustration Bratislava. World English rights have been acquired and the book is set to be published by US publisher Restless Books, which recently published Bondestam’s quirky bedtime book GOOD NIGHT, WORLD (God natt på jorden). 

The Nordic Council Children’s and Young People’s Literature Prize has been awarded annually since 2013 to a literary work written in one of the Nordic languages, that meets high literary and artistic standards. The prize represents the Nordic culture ministers’ long-held ambition to strengthen the profile of literature for children and young people in the Nordic Region.

The winner will be announced in November in Copenhagen.

Our warmest congrats to Linda Bondestam!