The annual non-profit awards were launched in 2020 to honour the best works by and for children.

The award title is taken from the main character in De Men Phieu Luu Ky (Diary of a Cricket) by To Hoai, one of the most well-known Vietnamese children’s books.

Since its launch in April 2022, the De Men awards 2022 received nearly 90 entries in various genres of poetry, animation films, novels and both short and long stories. The entries included 60 drafts and 29 published ones, which were released from the second quarter of 2021 to May 2022.

While the previous two editions only attracted Vietnamese entrants, this year’s awards witnessed the participation of Overseas Vietnamese and foreign authors and painters who have worked in Vietnam for many years.

Another highlight of the awards 2022 was the increasing number of child authors. In addition to poetry and short stories, the child authors also submitted fiction, each with hundreds of pages, creating a vivid world of childhood. Some of them even penned long stories in English, then translated them into Vietnamese and released their works as Vietnamese-English bilingual books.

Notably, up to three entries that went into the final round were on the theme of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of which, ‘Co Ban La Co Ban’ (Basic is Basic) was written by Pham Huy Thong within one week when he underwent a quarantine period after having contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. It was a simple story conveying an education philosophy which encourages parents to let their children be self-reliant.

Some of the award-winning books (Photo: courtesy of The Thao Van Hoa daily)

Two other works on COVID-19 were ‘Truong Hoc Chang Co Gi Vui’ (There’s nothing fun at school) by Hai Nam, and ‘COVID Trong Mat Tre Tho’ (COVID in the eyes of children), which is a work by a team of eleven children.

Belgian writer Geralda De Vos and Swedish illustrator Sofia Holt are the first foreign winners of the De Men awards with their bilingual picture book entitled ‘Chiec Dep That Lac’ (The Lost Sandal). They are both living and working in Vietnam. The book was translated into Vietnamese by Kim Ngoc and published by Kim Dong Publishing House.

Released by the Kim Dong Publishing House, the book conveys a lesson for children to love and value their belongings while encouraging them to be helpful and share with the people around them.

Meanwhile, Quyen Gavoye, a Vietnamese expat who is living and working in France, was honoured for her two long stories entitled Biet Doi Tham Tu (Detective Team) and Emma Tham Hoa (Disaster Emma). Her works show a careful observation of childhood life and the lessons on the importance of life skills and education.

Within this year’s award ceremony, the organising board hosted an art auction, which raised more than 500 million for the construction of a new school for the children in Nam Man Commune, Song Ma District in the northern mountainous province of Son La.