“I Talk Like a River” Wins 2022 HUCKEPACK Prize

For the seventh time, the Phantastische Bibliothek library in Wetzlar and the Institute of Storybook Research at the university have awarded the HUCKEPACK Storybook Prize. The winner was the Canadian book “I Talk Like a River” by Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith.

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 identity-creating power that is held within the text and images.

Author Tells His Own Story in Book

In the picture book, published by Aladin Verlag (Stuttgart), a boy who remains nameless tells a story in the first-person perspective of a key experience that contributes in a decisive way to his ability to accept himself. After a particularly bad day at school, when the boy is unable to speak in front of the class because of his speech disorder, his father invites him on a trip to the river. There, the father gives his son an inner image that will accompany him throughout his life: "You are like the river," he says, and the identification with the lively water calms the boy. He, who previously became tangled up in words and suffered due to individual words intertwining like roots in his mouth, finds himself in the metaphor and can finally accept himself. In an afterword, readers learn that author Jordan Scott is telling his own story. The Canadian poet uses the text to thank his father. Illustrator Sydney Smith, who was also shortlisted for the HUCKEPACK Storybook Prize last year with his picture book "Small in the City," translates the boy's hardships by initially letting the colors blend into one another, as if one were looking through a veil of tears. At the river, the imagery changes: the colors become cool and clear, the scenery depicts an almost palpable tranquility.

Jury: A Stuttering Child is Given a Piggyback by His Dad

"The book is simply incredible," says Bettina Twrsnick from the jury, referring on the one hand to the pictures, but on the other hand also to the lyrical text, which was translated into German by Bernadette Ott. "There are only a few picture books that address stuttering – the fact that it has been so poignantly realized here is a real stroke of luck," she continues. "The way the father in this book figuratively gives his child a piggyback and provides him with support for life with the inner picture serves as a model for all parents." More than 400 picture books from 2021 were thoroughly examined and evaluated by the jury before the picture book experts from Bremen, Wetterau, Wertheim, and Wetzlar agreed on this winning book.

May 24: Bremen Institute Holds Workshop on "Strengthening the Ego with Picture Books"

The prize was presented on Friday, May 6, 2022, to representative Amelie Sturm from the Aladin publishing house, which belongs to the Thienemann publishing group, as part of an educational conference on the topic of "Time for Strong Children" ("Zeit für starke Kinder"). In Bremen, the Institute of Storybook Research team is offering a workshop for teachers and educators on the topic of "Strengthening the Ego with Storybooks" (“Ich-Stärkung mit Bilderbüchern”) on May 24, 2022. It will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Wallsaal of Bremen Central Library.


Further Information:

Find out more about the prize and winning book with a link to an audio version:

A didactic review, the link to a podcast, and lesson materials are available for download on the Bremen Institute of Storybook Research’s page: .

Workshop information:



Dr. Elisabeth Hollerweger
Institute of Storybook Research
Faculty of Pedagogy and Educational Sciences
University of Bremen
Email: hollerwegerprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Maren Bonacker
Head of Press and Public Relations
Phantastische Bibliothek Wetzlar
Phone: +49 163-7203200
Email: Maren.Bonackerprotect me ?!wetzlarprotect me ?!.de

Portrait of a man with cap and beard
The author Jordan Scott has told his own story in the awarded book. The Canadian poet uses the text to thank his father.