2012 Batchelder Award honors Eerdmans Books for Young Readers for 'Soldier Bear'

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/23/2012


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations



DALLAS – Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., is the winner of the 2012 Mildred L. Batchelder Award for “Soldier Bear.”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. 20 – 24, in Dallas.

The Batchelder Award is given to 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.

Originally published in Dutch in 2008 as “Soldaat Wojtek,” the book was written by Bibi Dumon Tak, illustrated by Philip Hopman and translated by Laura Watkinson. Based on a true story and set during World War II, the novel follows the journey of refugee Polish soldiers and the mischievous young bear they acquire in the Iranian desert while transporting equipment for the British army. More than a mascot, Voytek the bear becomes an integral part of the war effort, raising morale—and passing ammunition—in the battalion.

“Dumon Tak has woven a humorous and bittersweet story from a little-known historical episode. Voytek will charm readers every bit as much as he did the British officers who declared him an official soldier in the 2nd Polish Corps,” said Batchelder Award Committee Chair Susan Stan.

One Batchelder Honor Book was also selected: “The Lily Pond”published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Originally published in Swedish in 1997 as “Näckrosdammen,” “The Lily Pond” waswritten by Annika Thor and translated by Linda Schenck.A sequel to “A Faraway Island,” “The Lily Pond” continues the story of thirteen-year-old Stephie Steiner, a Jewish refugee whose parents have sent her from Nazi-occupied Vienna to Sweden.  Facing loneliness and discrimination while attending school in the city, Stephie deals with unrealistic romantic hopes and discovers true friendship.                                                                                                          

“Readers will identify with Steffie as she struggles to fit into yet another new situation and meet a host of conflicting expectations,” said Stan. 

Members of the 2012 Batchelder Award Committee are: Chair Susan Stan, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant; Rita Auerbach, New York; Ann Crewdson, Issaquah (Wash.) Library-King County Library System; Helen Kay Kennedy, Kent District Library, Spencer Township Branch, Gowen, Mich.; and Roger Sutton, Horn Book Inc., Boston, Mass.


ALSC is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children.  With a network of more than 4,000 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 www.ala.org/alsc.

For information on the Mildred L. Batchelder Award and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit www.ala.org/yma.