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Philip Pullman today received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award at the open-air museum of Skansen in Stockholm. The award was presented by HRH Crown Princess Victoria in the presence of the Minister for Culture, Leif Pagrotsky.
The citation for the award calls him 'a master storyteller in a number of genres, from historical novels and fantasy to social realism and highly amusing parodies... Through his strong characters he stands firmly on the side of young people, ruthlessly questioning authority and proclaiming humanism and the power of love whilst maintaining an optimistic belief in the child even in the darkest of situations.'
Philip Pullman was last week feted at an event at the British Library in London and congratulated for his work by the culture secretary Tessa Jowell, 'on behalf of the government'. He has recently called for the setting up of a suitable award such as a medal for lifetime achievement in literature for children and young people. He pointed out that there were some who were very deserving of the Children's Laureate honour, but were physically unable to carry out the tasks that it required.
A former teacher and author of a range of books for children and young people, including the His Dark Materials trilogy, and a winner of the Whitbread Award, Pullman shares the Astrid Lindgren Award, the world's most valuable for children's literature, with Japanese illustrator Ryoji Arai.
In an interview with the Guardian yesterday, Secretary of State for Education and Skills Ruth Kelly said that she is prepared to reverse government policy by stripping responsibility for setting pay from local authorities and bringing the pay structure for support staff into line with that of teachers, thus creating a national pay structure for staff including librarians.
This should create a fairer and more equable system for support staff. Ms Kelly also said she will make it a priority to develop "a culture of professional development in our schools", another bone of contention for many librarians who find it impossible to secure funding for professional or personal development.
After several weeks of waiting the first winner of the SLA School Librarian of the Year Award was announced today.
Anne Robinson, librarian of Nicholas Chamberlaine School, Bedworth, Warwickshire, was presented with her title and certificate by her namesake, Anne Robinson, journalist and television presenter, on the set of the Weakest Link programme. She also received a limited edition print of a Raymond Briggs picture specially created as a prize for the award winner and a free place at the SLA Weekend Course to be held at the University of Surrey from 17th to 19th June this year.