The M.E.R. Prize was established in 1983 and is awarded annually by M-Net and Via Afrika in two distinct categories. A prize is awarded to the best illustrated children’s book and another to the best youth novel published during the previous year. The only condition is that the books must be aimed at younger readers and that the authors and illustrators must be South African citizens. The award is named after MER (Mimie E. Rothmann 1875-1975), for her groundbreaking work in the field of children’s literature. No distinction is made between English and Afrikaans books.
2010 M-Net/Via Afrika Literary Award Winners - MER Prizes
- The M.E.R Prize for best youth novel – The Bird of Heaven
- The M.E.R Prize for best illustrated children’s book – In the Never-ever Wood
MER Prize Winner for Youth Literature
An explorer of inner and outer spaces, the author Peter Dunseith lives in the magical Umbuluzi valley in the Kingdom of Swaziland. After practising for thirty years as a human rights lawyer and champion of the underdog, and a three year stint as the judge president of the Industrial Court of Swaziland, he has recently embarked on a new career in alternative medicine. His first novel The Bird of Heaven reveals his fascination with the myths and rituals that denote the cultural soul of the Swazi people.
The Bird of Heaven
Young Adult Fiction
Writer: Peter Dunseith
Publisher by Tafelberg Publishers in 2009
The plot follows the training and growth in power of Mandla, son of Ingwe.
Although it is superficially a fantasy adventure with some magic realism thrown in, it also deals with archetypes representing the struggle between innocence and corruption; transition from boyhood to manhood; the relationship between a boy and his distant father (a leopard in the body of a man); self-empowerment through the gifts of our ancestors
(the muti bag); and the transcendent victory of a noble spirit (the lightning bird).
MER Prize Winners for Illustrated Children’s Literature
Linda Rode & Fiona Moodie
Linda Rode was born on 3 July 1937 at Ladismith, Western Cape.
She matriculated at the Hoërskool Langenhoven in Riversdal in 1954 and studied at Stellenbosch University, where she obtained an Honours degree in German and a Teacher's Diploma (1963).
She taught school in Calvinia, in Hermannsburg, at the Pionierskool in Worcester (school for the blind) and at Herzlia in Cape Town and works as a free-lance translator for publishers. Linda is married to Erwin Rode. They live in Bellville and have two children.
Linda was the 1989 winner of the MER Prize for her book Goue fluit, my storie is uit. She also received the Tienie Holloway – medal for Goue Lint, My Storie Begint and for Verse vir Klientjies
Fiona Moodie was born in Cape Town on 6th May, 1952. She grew up on an apple farm in Elgin . She obtained a BA degree from UCT in 1971 and later a Secondary Teacher’s Diploma from the same university.
After university Fiona left South Africa for Europe. She taught English in Madrid and travelled in Greece, living for a while in an uninhabited monastery on the island of Siphnos and drawing.
She had always wanted to write and illustrate children’s books and with her parents’ support she was able to attend the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris (1975). By chance in Paris she met an Austrian book illustrator who advised her to go to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair with a portfolio of wo
rk. At Bologna she met several encouraging editors and many European illustrators. As a result in 1976 she began living outside a small village called Rugolo in Northern Italy, in the farm house of the Czech film animator and illustrator Stephan Zavrel. His home was an open house for artists who came to stay and work for various periods. There Fiona Moodie learned about illustrating and making books and has illustrating children’s books ever since.
In die Nimmer-Immer Bos
In the Never-ever Wood
Retold by Linda Rode
Illustrated by Fiona Moodie
Published by Tafelberg Publishers in 2009
Here are sixty stories, selected and retold by fairy-tale lover and compiler of children’s books Linda Rode.
It is a comprehensive collection that will open up the wide, wide world of fairy tales and other folklore to children.
A short annotation at the end of each story points out the land of origin and puts the stories from Africa, Europe, the East and other parts of the world in context with one another.
Fiona Moodie’s evocative illustrations are drypoint etches printed by hand and painted afterwards – an intricate process that took more than two years to complete.
(English translation by Elsa Silke)