Ana Maria Machado
2010 Prince Claus Laureate Ana Maria Machado (1941, Rio de Janeiro) creates compelling children’s stories that deal with prejudices and human rights. She developed a passion for storytelling during her traditional rural upbringing, studied humanities, became a visual artist and curator, was arrested and exiled during the dictatorship, completed a PhD in linguistics and semiotics, lectured and worked as journalist. The author of more than 100 books, translated into 11 languages, she opened the first children’s literature bookshop in Brazil. Machado shares a way of looking at the world that is original, funny and poetic. She has a mother’s faith in the child’s imagination, an ear for natural patterns of everyday spoken language and a painter’s eye for colour, composition and detail. Her experiments with narrative structure, symbolic language and combinations of the real and the fantastic are evidence of her consummate mastery of the writer’s craft. Above all, Machado is able to express complex concepts with skilful simplicity and subtle passion. Edged with excitement, tension and humour, the intriguing scenarios she creates become personal encounters with difficult subjects such as racism, gender discrimination, poverty and identity. Machado interrogates Brazil’s historical memory, bringing past experiences alive as part of everyday life in a way that appeals to children. In From Another World (2005), her characters and the readers confront the realities of slavery through the unquiet ghost of a slave girl who seeks their help. Presenting distilled wisdom in an unpretentious style, her stories encompass understanding of difference, courage in the face of tyranny and respect for others, and insist on delight and the joy of living. Ana Maria Machado is awarded for her outstanding children’s literature, for opening frontiers of reality for young people and communicating essential human values to impressionable minds and hearts, and for her significant contribution to recognition of the importance of children’s literature in the formation of worldviews.