2009 Batchelder Award honors Arthur A. Levine Books for “Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit”

Contacts: Macey Morales/Jennifer Petersen

ALA Media Relations


For Immediate Release

January 26, 2009

DENVER – Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., is the winner of the 2009 Mildred L. Batchelder Award for the most outstanding children’s book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States for “Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit.” The award was announced today by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA Midwinter Meeting held Jan. 23 – 28 in Denver.

Originally published in Japanese in 1996 as “Seirei no Moribito,” the book was written by Nahoko Uehashi and translated by Cathy Hirano. The book tells the story of Balsa, a skilled female warrior, who accepts the task of protecting a young prince from otherworldly demons and his father’s assassins. Prince Chagum is the Moribito, the guardian of the sacred spirit. If Balsa is unsuccessful in protecting the prince, the country will suffer years of devastating drought so together they must find in each other the source of strength they need to prevail.

“This sophisticated and complex Japanese epic is filled with political intrigue, mystery and danger,” said Batchelder Committee Chair Sandra Imdieke.

Two Batchelder Honor Books also were selected: “Garmann’s Summer,” published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., and “Tiger Moon,” published by Amulet Books, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

Originally published in Norwegian as “Garmanns sommer,” “Garmann’s Summer” was written and illustrated by Stian Hole and translated by Don Bartlett. Hole introduces us to six-year-old Garmann during his last summer before starting school. The humorous and poetic text, combined with surreal and multi-layered artwork, creates a truly unique and complex look at the universality of fear and uncertainty.

“This is a book rich with literary and visual complexity, but it will be Garmann who readers remember,” said Imdieke.

Originally published in German as “Tiger Mund,” “Tiger Moon” was written by Antonia Michaelis, and translated by Anthea Bell. A betrayed woman facing death, a most unlikely hero, and a sarcastic talking white tiger in colonial-era India come together in a magical story within a story. Antonia Michaelis’ masterfully crafted tale moves seamlessly from reality to fantasy as it reveals the profound power of story.

“‘Stories are an excellent way to escape,’says Safia, who in this tale literally proves this to be true,” said Imdieke.

Members of the 2009 Batchelder Award Committee are: Chair Sandra Imdieke, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Mich.; Peg Ciszek, Northbrook (Ill.) Public Library; Andrea Erickson, Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, Laurel, Md.; Elizabeth Ahern Sahagian, Fairfield (Conn.) Public Library; and Sue Sherif, Alaska State Library, Anchorage.

ALSC is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. With a network of more than 4,200 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries. To learn more about ALSC, visit their Web site at

For information on the Mildred L. Batchelder Award and other ALA literary awards, please visit