Vietnamese Writer Wins Yoto Carnegie Award for the First Time

At the Yoto Carnegie Prize ceremony, held this year for the first time, a Vietnamese artist made history as Jeet Zdung won the award in the illustration category.

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Vietnamese painter Jeet Zdung has been awarded the Yoto Carnegie Medal for his illustration of Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear. The book, written and inspired by the real life of Vietnamese wildlife conservationist Trang Nguyen, features 120 watercolor paintings produced by Jeet Zdung. These stunning illustrations were the result of a two-month field trip into the wild.

The story follows Chang, a young girl with dreams of saving endangered wildlife. Her adventure begins when she meets Sorya, a sun bear rescued from poachers by the Bear Rescue Center. Determined to return Sorya to the wild, Chang and Sorya take readers on a journey to discover the beauty of nature and the lives of wild animals.

Artist Jeet Zdung, born Nguyen Tien Dung in 1988, has won awards for his illustrations and has had his work featured at the Cartoon Festival organized by the Wallonia-Bruxelles Delegation in Vietnam. Zdung’s process of creating the book was a journey to satisfy his childhood longing for drawing cartoons. He drew influences from comics and manga to create an immersive film on paper.

To bring the paintings to life, Zdung conducted field research in the forests and volunteered at the bear rescue center. This allowed him to gain more experience and enrich the characters’ lives in the book.

“We hope the work will help raise public awareness about wildlife conservation by sharing our insights and passion with readers. Winning the Carnegie Medal for Best Illustration is a great honor for me. We hope this will have a broader impact and draw the public’s attention to the lives of sun bears and wildlife in general,” said Zdung.

In 2021, the book won the Prize A – National Book Award, one of the top book awards in Vietnam. Its copyright has been sold to many countries and territories around the world.

The Yoto Carnegies are prestigious children’s writing and illustration awards. The Carnegie Medal for Writing, established in 1936, recognizes an outstanding new English-language book for children or young adults each year.