Nordic Literature Prize to Explosive Icelandic Picture Book

Rán Flygenring was born in Norway but grew up in Iceland – where she lives and works as an author and illustrator. During the Nordic Council's award ceremony at the Norwegian Opera & Ballet in Oslo, she was presented with the "Nordlys" statuette and NKK 300 000 for the book Eldgos(Photo: Magnus Fröderberg/

On Tuesday, the Nordic Council's Children and Young People's Literature Prize was awarded to the Icelandic author and illustrator Rán Flygenring for the picture book Eldgos. "The story bursts with power, both capturing and propelling our fascination with extreme natural phenomena," writes the jury.

Norsk versjon.

The Icelandic author and illustrator Rán Flygenring is this year's winner of the Nordic Council's Children and Young People's Literature Prize for the picture book Eldgos.

The award ceremony took place in Oslo, Norway, on Tuesday night in connection with the Nordic Council's annual session, which has taken place at the Norwegian Storting this week.

Eldgos ("volcanic eruption") offers a playful and humorous depiction of a motley crowd of tourists meeting with an awakening volcano.

"The story bursts with power, both capturing and propelling our fascination with extreme natural phenomena. Yet it also touches on conflicting emotions that arise as the land collapses, lava flows, and new mountains emerge, as well as the emotions connected to more mundane matters such as a lice epidemic or seeing your surroundings being flooded with tourists," writes the jury.

This children's book is inspired by Flygenring's many trips to lively volcanoes on the Icelandic peninsula Reykjanes. There are around 30 larger volcanoes and 700 craters there.

Frothing lava in the Eldgos book. (Photo: Rán Flygenring)

Room for laughter and admiration

The prize came as a surprise for Flygenring.

"There are so many important and amazing books out there on difficult subjects – on hard stuff that happens to people, children, and animals. My book is not exactly that. Although it also deals with serious subjects, it is characterized by a lot of humor. Therefore, I did not think I would be standing here tonight, but I am – and I am very proud to represent a quite wild homage to volcano eruptions," she says during the award ceremony.

"I think it is important to have room for laughing and for admiring that we live on a planet that can suddenly open up and spew fire and new mountains. Thank you for this prize!"

Rán Flygenring's humorous twist on the small human's encounter with a fire-breathing mountain.

Important reminder

Eldgos contains rich and subtle illustrations that manage to grab hold of young readers, according to the jury.

"Japanese ink is used for the pitch-black volcanic ash, which is accompanied by intensely glowing red lava, the color of which is reflected in a colorful hallway runner. Alongside this colorful spectacle, the pale, colorless people stand out as a reminder that, like tourists, we’re all just here for a visit," writes the jury and continues:

"Does nature exist only to entertain us, or should we ourselves take greater responsibility for how we interact with it? Eldgos gives hope that we can find a way to live in harmony with nature."

The 14 nominated books for the Nordic Council's Children's and Young People's Literature Prize 2023 are written in Icelandic, Faroese, Greenlandic, Northern Sami, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, and Swedish. (Photo:

Works in Nordic languages

The Nordic Council's Children's and Young People's Literature Prize was awarded for the first time in 2013 – and thus has its 10th anniversary this year.

It was created out of the Nordic Ministers of Culture's desire to promote and strengthen children's and youth literature in the Nordic region.

The prize goes to works of fiction for children and young people that are written in one of the Nordic languages – and that meets high literary and artistic requirements.

This year's 14 nominated books are from Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, the Sami language area, Finland, Åland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. See all here.

The Nordic Council's session in Oslo has brought together a large number of Nordic parliamentarians and ministers. The agenda has included topics such as the Nordic countries in NATO, acceleration of the green transition and young people's participation in democracy.

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