It is above all famous for the “Ritter Trenk”, “Skogland” or “Möwenweg” series. She also tackles dark topics, as in the novel “Dunkelnacht”. For that, the Hamburg author Kirsten Boie has now been awarded the Catholic Children’s and Young People’s Book Prize.
Kirsten Boie as “German Astrid Lindgren”
Some call her “the German Astrid Lindgren”. In fact, Kirsten Boie appreciates the ideal world of her famous Swedish colleague, but she also tackles difficult and painful topics, as in the novel “Dunkelnacht”, published in 2021. For him, the 72-year-old will be honored next Thursday in Würzburg with the Catholic children and Youth Book Prize 2022 from the German Bishops’ Conference.
The Catholic Children’s and Youth Book Prize has been awarded by the German Bishops’ Conference since 1979 and is endowed with 5,000 euros. “Praise will be given to German-language books that convey religious experiences in an exemplary and age-appropriate way, open up knowledge about the faith and clarify Christian attitudes to life,” reads the German Bishops’ Conference. Since 1997, the award winners have been presented with a cast bronze statuette, “The Reader”.
“Dunkelnacht” is about the end of World War II
Boie’s excellent novel “Dunkelnacht” is about the meaningless death of 16 people in Penzberg, Bavaria, shortly before the end of World War II. Boie addresses the issue of individual and collective guilt. In 2020, she came across the case and did intensive research on the spot.
“Kirsten Boie carefully weaves the historical facts about this last phase of crime into her narrative and fictionalizes the events with the help of three young people,” the Bishops’ Conference jury statement said. Without moralizing, Boie exhibits ethical attitudes and enables resistance and self-empowerment in storytelling – sensitively worded for a generation that is unlikely to have authentic access to events, the bishops believe. “Right now, a text must be awarded in which and through which social responsibility and charity are demanded in a special way,” it continues.
Adoption of her first son causes Boie to write
Social responsibility and charity are values that Boie repeatedly expresses in her more than 100 books – also influenced by her own experiences. Boie came to write through youth care: After she adopted a son with her husband in 1983, the authorities ordered her to stop working. So the teacher decided to write instead.
Her experiences then flowed into her debut novel: “Paule ist ein Glücksgriff” tells the story of a black adopted child and inspired audiences and critics in 1985. The novel even came on the shortlist for the German Youth Literature Prize. A little later, the son of the Boie family was joined by an adopted daughter. And the author achieved further literary successes.
Her themes: racism, AIDS orphans, escape and war
Over the years, books such as “The Little Knight”, “Pirate Moses”, “Skogland”, “Lena”, “Sommerby” and above all the “Möwenweg” volumes followed. The author does not shy away from serious topics. “Schwarze Lügen” (Black lies) is about racism, “Everything will be fine” is about a Syrian family fleeing the civil war, the novel “There are things you can not tell” is about AIDS orphans and “Ringel, Rangel , Rosen “and” Dunkelnacht “Boie reconsider the Nazi period.
“Everything that exists in life should also exist in children’s literature,” Boie told the Catholic News Agency (KNA). “When children are confronted with crises at some point, I think it’s very important that there are texts that tell them about it and help them deal with it.”
In 2021, a children’s and youth book prize was not awarded
Last year, the decision of the Permanent Council of the German Bishops’ Conference drew attention and criticism that “no prize book would be chosen” in 2021. At that time, the jury selected the novel “Paper Piano” by the Austrian author Elisabeth Steinkellner from the list of nominees and suggested that The Permanent Council was to give it a prize. But the council refused.
A 16-year-old fictional diary is about death, poverty and puberty. The topic of transsexuality is also addressed in it. “However, the opinion prevailed among the bishops that the book did not sufficiently meet the criteria for the prize,” said Matthias Kopp, spokesman for the German Bishops’ Conference, explaining the rejection at the time. But he did not say what the criteria were.
In an open letter, 222 authors and writers then expressed their misunderstanding of this decision – one of them was Kirsten Boie. In an interview with BR, she primarily criticized the reasoning of the German Bishops’ Conference: “Reasoning is not a reasoning.” Whether the reason for the rejection was the transgender figure or the mixed family stood open.
Boie: “Bishops live in a bubble”
The lack of awarding the prize also shows the bishops ‘increasing alienation from the grassroots, said Kirsten Boie in 2021: “My guess is that the field of view at the bishops’ conference is limited: what the jury finds in the absolute normal. Reach is no longer understandable to the bishops,” said Boie to BR at the time. “The bishops apparently live in a bubble. I hope some bishops can be uncles or great-uncles and get in touch with books for young people from time to time. But the world of young people is very foreign to most of them. And you can see that it removed the official church from many members. “
At the time, she feared that the image of the prize could be damaged and that the prize would be devalued, “because only a narrow spectrum is considered acceptable, which fits the standard of living of the Catholic Church.”