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“Ein eiskalter Fisch” Wins HUCKEPACK Storybook Prize

Each year, the Phantastische Bibliothek library in Wetzlar and the Institute of Storybook Research at the university award the HUCKEPACK Storybook Prize. This year, “Ein eiskalter Fisch” (An Ice-Cold Fish) by Frauke Angel and Elisabeth Kihßl, which was published by the TYROLIA in 2020, won.

The award is endowed with 1000 euros and mainly honors storybooks that have the potential to support children mentally. The jury, which is made up of staff members from both institutions as well as representatives from the book trade, pedagogy, and journalism, does not only assess the literary and visual-aesthetic quality, but also pays great attention to the storytelling power that is based on the combination of text and images.

About the Book

The death of his beloved fish turns into the trigger for the nicest day of the narrating child’s life. With this opening sentence, Frauke Angel directly had the attention of big and small storybook fans. The interest of the jury, who is this year awarding the HUCKEPACK Storybook Prize for the sixth time, was also piqued. The story that is continually told from a child’s perspective centers on a small family where not everything appears to be running smoothly. The mother has gone and only left a note on the table: “I love you, even though you’re an ice-cold fish.” The child copies the letter in order to have something for the funeral and the father immediately breaks into tears when he sees the empty aquarium. It remains open whether he is crying about the fish, his marriage, his child, or himself in that moment. What is far more important is that he hugs his child and holds it really tight. This strange situation is so beautiful for the child that it continues to cry for a little longer to make the moment last longer. And when the mother returns - “Mom always comes back” - they prepare the funeral together.

Jury: A Grieving Child is Given a Piggy Back by Its Parents

According to the jury, the book addresses several heavy topics at the same time: Death, conflict, emotional neglect.  Frauke Angel tells the story from the perspective of the child protagonist and manages to find both touching and comforting words to make the child’s emotional world tangible. In her soft, mainly blue-gray watercolors, Elisabeth Kihßl portrays the need for closeness and distance that is felt so differently by everyone, she captures the moments of intimacy between father and child, and takes the heaviness out of the story with her feather-like brush strokes.

Thus, a child is given a piggy back by its parents for many different reasons – in the direct sense as well, as the cover shows the father carrying the child on his shoulders. In the jury’s opinion, the children’s book “Ein eiskalter Fisch” is the undisputed prizewinner that competed successfully against 443 submitted storybooks.

Podcast and Free Teaching Material

It is now the second time in a row that the awarding of the HUCKEPACK Storybook Prize, which usually takes place as part of a subject-based pedagogic day on the storybooks from the best-sellers list, has had to be carried out virtually due to corona. To mark this occasion, the publishing house has uploaded a storybook cinema experience, read by Cornela Tillmanns and mastered by Marcel Hallenslebens from SoundSquirrel Braunschweig, to .

Marc Kudlowski and Elisabeth Hollerweger interview both storybook artists in the frame of their podcast “Bremer Bilderbuchgespräche.” You can listen to it here:  .

Elisabeth Hollerweger has created free teaching materials surrounding the winning book at .

Further Information:  (in German only)


Dr. Elisabeth Hollerweger
Senior Lecturer of Literature Didactics
Director of the Bremen Institute of Storybook Research (BIBF)
Faculty of Pedagogy and Educational Science
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 179 456 8620
Email: hollerwegerprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Coloured drawing showing a man with a child on his shoulders from behind. On the right you can see flowers in the picture.
The photo shows part of the cover of the award-winning storybook “Ein eiskalter Fisch.”