Nguyen Nhat Anh signs the book Being Friends with the Sky at Culture & Sports newspaper's head office in Hanoi. The book won him the Grand Prize at the Dế Mèn Award 2020 to honour works for children. Photo courtesy of Thể Thao Văn Hóa

The Dế Mèn (Cricket) Awards were named after the main character in a classic Vietnamese children's story, Dế Mèn Phiêu Lưu Ký (Adventures of a Cricket) by Tô Hoài. 

The Grand Prize went to renowned writer Nguyễn Nhật Ánh for his book Làm Bạn Với Bầu Trời (Being Friends with the Sky). 

Ánh's latest book for children was released last year. The 220-page book features Tèo, a boy with physical disabilities, as he discovers the world through his imagination.  

"Ánh still preserves an innocent soul which enables him to write pure and honest stories," said Trần Đăng Khoa, chairman of the jury panel. 

Ánh is known for writing incisive stories for both teenagers and adults and is regarded as one of the most successful writers for teens.

His most well-known novel Kính Vạn Hoa (Kaleidoscope) which contains 45 volumes, was recently made into a drama series of the same name.

His Cho Tôi Xin Một Vé Đi Tuổi Thơ (Give Me a Ticket to Childhood) was the most successful book in the history of the Vietnamese publishing industry with 400,000 copies sold and was translated into various languages.

The HCM City-based writer travelled to Hà Nội to receive the award and signed 100 books at the ceremony. 

 

Four Cricket Desire awards were given to primary school students Nguyễn Đới Chung Anh and Cao Khải An, teacher Nguyễn Chí Ngoãn, and musician Nguyễn Văn Chung. 

Ten-year-old Anh won the award for a series of paintings about COVID-19, and An, 12 years old, picked up the prize for a long story entitled Chuyện Của Bắp Ăn Mơ Và Xóm Đồi Rơm (Story about Bắp and Rơm Hill Hamlet).

From the southern province of Kiên Giang, primary school teacher Ngoãn took the award for his short stories Mộng Giang Hồ (Dream of Being Gangster), whilst Chung was awarded for his 12 new songs for children released last year. 

The annual non-profit awards aim to encourage compositions, art performances and entertainment programmes by children or for children.

"The awards were held during COVID-19 time and their success is meaningful to nurture the children’s souls," said Lê Xuân Thành, editor-in-chief of Thể Thao & Văn Hóa.

“In Việt Nam today, most awards are aimed at adults, while there is a shortage of national awards with high professionalism to promote literary works and art performances by children and for children,” he added.

The award ceremony is one of the activities to celebrate writer Tô Hoài's 100th birthday (September 27). 

The late writer (1920-2014) won the Hồ Chí Minh Prize for literature and arts and is well-known for several works, including Dế Mèn Phiêu Lưu Ký in 1941, O Chuột (Hunting Mice) in 1942 and Ba Người Khác (Three Others) in 2006.

Dế Mèn Phiêu Lưu Ký has been reprinted several times and in 37 languages, including English, French, Thai and Russian. — VNS