For immediate release | January 27, 2020

2020 Batchelder Award honors Enchanted Lion Books for Brown

PHILADELPHIA – Enchanted Lion Books is the winner of the 2020 Mildred L. Batchelder Award for “Brown.” 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 & Exhibits held January 24 - 28, in Philadelphia.

The Batchelder Award is given to the most outstanding children’s book originating 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 Norwegian in 2013 as “Brune,” the book was written by Håkon Øvreås illustrated by Øyvind Torseter and translated by Kari Dickson. When bullies destroy his fort, Rusty dons superhero garb to seek revenge. Adopting the alter-ego moniker “Brown,” he gives one bully’s bike a new coat of paint, beginning a whirling series of nocturnal adventures that cement new friendships and growing acceptance of the loss of his beloved grandfather.

“Dry humor and tight pacing capture beautifully the awkwardness of new friendships and the anger of grief, gently extended with cartoon illustrations,” said Batchelder Award Committee Chair Dr. Lauren Aimonette Liang.

Four Batchelder Honor Books also were selected: “The Beast Player,” published by Godwin Books/Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group; “The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree,” published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division; “Do Fish Sleep?” published by Enchanted Lion Books; and “When Spring Comes to the DMZ,” published by Plough Publishing House.

Originally published in Japanese in 2009 as “Kemono no Sōja,” “The Beast Player” was written by Nahoko Uehashi and translated by Cathy Hirano. In this complex fantasy, the future of the kingdom falls in young Elin’s hands when she discovers she can communicate with Royal Beasts. Elin must decide to sacrifice her beliefs to save the kingdom from ensuing chaos or preserve the dignity and freedom of the animals she loves.

“Captivating, well-paced action draws the reader deeply into Elin’s beautifully harsh world, emerging only to ask questions about control, misuse, and responsibility to nature,” said Aimonette Liang.

Originally published in Italian in 2018 as “La distanza tra me e il ciliegio,” “The Distance between Me and the Cherry Tree” was written by Paola Peretti, illustrated by Carolina Rabei and translated by Denise Muir. Fifth grader Mafalda is on the hunt for her “essential thing,” while simultaneously creating a list of things she loves but can no longer do as she loses her sight to Stargardt’s disease. Readers spiral directly into Mafalda’s world, where the harsh situation is balanced with everyday realities, growing friendships, and new joys.

“Strong voice, exquisitely detailed school scenes, and excellent capture of a child’s understandings, and misunderstandings, create a coming-of-age novel with a fresh perspective,” said Aimonette Liang.

Originally published in German in 2017 as “Schlafen Fische?,” “Do Fish Sleep?” was written by Jens Raschke, illustrated by Jens Rassmus and translated by Belinda Cooper. Ten-year-old Jette poignantly describes the death of her terminally ill younger brother, Emil. Consumed with grief, Jette’s parents are emotionally unavailable to answer her many questions, but Jette’s ideas, first for comforting her brother, and later for his funeral, empower her as she comes to terms with the devastating loss.

“This powerful book rings true to a child’s voice in the face of intense loss, and provides opportunities to comprehend the pain of grief,” said Aimonette Liang.

Originally published in Korean as “Bimujang chidae e bom i omyon,” “When Spring Comes to the DMZ” was written and illustrated by Uk-Bae Lee, and translated by Chungyon Won and Aileen Won. Each season, a grandfather brings his family to visit the 154-mile wide DMZ. From the observatory, the family observes rare animals frolicking in the inadvertent nature preserve formed between the barbed wire, while soldiers march and warships gather in the distance. Meanwhile, grandfather gazes wistfully across to the other side.

“The juxtaposition of the wildlife refuge and the military remains, of gentle familial love and sharp grief, create a haunting and emotional impact,” said Aimonette Liang.

Members of the 2020 Batchelder Award Committee are Chair Dr. Lauren Aimonette Liang, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT; Dr. Danilo M. Baylen, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA; Dr. Marianne Martens, Kent State University (iSchool), Kent, OH; Jan Watkins, Southern Shores, NC; and Pam Werre, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Moorhead, MN.

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 members are committed to engaging communities to build healthy, successful futures for all children. To learn more about ALSC, visit their website at

For information on the Mildred L. Batchelder Award and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit


Macey Morales

Deputy Director

American Library Association

Communications and Marketing Office