Guus Kuijer's speech at the award ceremony

Guus Kuijer's speech from the award ceremony at Stockholm Concert Hall, May 28, 2012.

Your Royal Highness, your Excellences, my Corrie, members of the jury, ladies and gentlemen

Maybe some of you remember my reaction when the Chairman of the jury, Mr Larry Lempert, phoned me to inform me about me receiving the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. I was standing there with my coat on and had only one minute left to answer the phone. I told him that I was surprised and that I felt honoured. ´But,´ I concluded, ´the fact is that I have to go to the dentist.´

Before I try to express my gratitude to all of you, I therefore consider it to be my responsibility to start by giving you a well meant advice: never miss an appointment with your dentist. He might get angry and hurt you. And I, personally, don´t like to get hurt.

But after this serious warning I feel free to start expressing my gratitude.

I am thankful for the warm reception my wife and I got here in Sweden, the country where the sun always shines, as we noticed this week. We really felt at home thank to all the kind people we have met. I especially want to thank Helen for all the work she did to make our stay in Sweden so agreeable. And I want to thank Gert, our driver, who drove us smoothly wherever we needed to go.

I am grateful to my Dutch editor with that beautiful Spanish name: Querido, which means Loved One. This Loved One has always supported me loyally and with great enthusiasm. I especially want to mention the late Tine van Buul, who was like a mother to me when I did my first steps into the world of children’s literature.

I am grateful to all my editors abroad who took the risk to publish a writer whose name you cannot possibly pronounce properly.

I am grateful to the members of the jury, who are of course exhausted after reading so many good books from all over the world. And what difficult it must have been to make a choice!

But I am most grateful to Corrie, my wife, who is my life and my inspiration. Whatever I write I always read out loud to her and nothing is published without her consent. Whenever I hear the word freedom, I realize that I am free to let me be imprisoned by the woman I love and how happy that makes me.

Back home I will start writing again, because that´s what my life is about. I know that I am disappointing a lot of nice people who invited me to come over to their countries, but I hope they will understand my wish to go on writing and that they are willing to forgive me.

Let me finish with giving praise to Sweden. Dear Sweden, you are the only state in the world which proves to understand the importance of good books for children to read. Of course Astrid Lindgren taught you so, but what state is wise enough to listen to the teachings of its writers? Well, Sweden is, and I am sure that people all around the world will keep that in mind and be thankful for it.

Once a boy told me that to him reading was like bungee jumping inside his head. I therefore wish you all a great bungee jumping season.