„Ausflug zum Mond“ - John Hare

© Moritz Verlag

The 18th Pied Piper literary prize is awarded to the US- American artist John Hare for his storybook „Ausflug zum Mond“ (Moritz Verlag, Frankfurt/Main) that amazed the jury as an all-around excellent form of a book. As master of suggestion – so the jury in its unanimous decision – Hare succeeds to tell a tender, hopeful story about the future of a mankind that affects and changes the dialog partners without words.

The Pied Piper literary prize is endowed with 5,000 Euro. Since 1984, the prize is awarded every two years by the city of Hameln for outstanding books of fairy tales and legends, fantastic tales, modern arty fairy tales or stories from the Middle Ages for the target group children and young people. Totally 199 books, which were published between 1st of January 2018 and 31st of December 2019, have been submitted for the prize.

Reason for the jury’s decision

The 18th Pied Piper literary prize is awarded to the US- American artist John Hare for his storybook „Ausflug zum Mond“, that amazed the jury  as an all-around excellent form of a book. Without any words Hare evokes a wondrous world of black and grey with bright dashes of color – and tells the story of a moon landing of another kind: We live in an unspecified future where the technology enables us to just hop on the moon. The book cover shows a group of relaxedly chatting children, who, packed in spacesuits and having their helmets clasped under the arm, just enter the spaceship through a Plexiglas pipe. But, what does that mean spaceship: With its round forms and the warm yellow color it looks like a mixture of school bus and Yellow Submarine.

© Moritz Verlag

On the moon everything is grey – an enchantingly strange desert or snow landscape invites the school class to jump over ditches and climb craters. But it is almost a miracle that this easily reachable moon shows no trial of human appropriation except of the traces of children’s feet. It seems that mankind learned in the meantime, because instead of colonizing the mood, everything is cleaned up after the school trip. This is hardly surprising when looking at the double page where John Hare lets rise the earth on a deep black sky. Blue and green and yellow with delicate high clouds that’s how the earth  shines in the absolute darkness – so enchantingly beautiful, that one of the children loses sight of the enterprising group, sits down and begins to draw the magical view.

The child, that all the time had dawdled rather dreamy behind the group, has with it a sketch block and wax crayons. While painting, the child dozes off - and misses the departure of the spaceship. Being now all alone in the space the child however continues to draw and suddenly, there are plopping out of the not at all monochrome grey by-and-by first heads, then the rest of the bodies of curious moon creatures: their eyes are really going over when they see the dashes of color which the child brings into their world.  That frees the child from its self-absorption and a special first contact unfolds: without words, but in all colors of the rainbow – soon the moon creatures to whom the eyes belong, use the colored chalks and paint themselves and the moon rocks with much enthusiasm.


© Moritz Verlag

„Ausflug zum Mond“ is an atmospheric picture story which contains a lot of knowledge and stories that can be told when flipping through the book together. But the picture book is also a plea for deceleration, for the aimless but creative dawdling. Because the tight excursion program allowed no stay and therefore also no contact with the one-eyed moon inhabitants. And it is a tender, hopeful story about the future of a mankind, who has learned in the meantime a sustainable interaction with the universe. From the childlike enthusiasm about the beauty of the space art is born and from the art results quite organically a playful form of communication with extraterrestrial creatures, that touches and changes the dialog partners without any words. Or was all just a dream? Like so many other things in this wonderful book also this is left to the reader’s phantasy. Because John Hare is a master of suggestion – although if he invites us to mirror ourselves with the help of the opaque space helmet visors into the story. But also, he does not need to draw the facial expression of the child how relieved it feels when it is rescued - and its stubbornness when on the next picture it has to wipe off its drawing.

If you close the book at the end, the entrance gate to the interplanetary school bus on the backside invites you just again to enter the vehicle and to go on once again on an adventure trip. An invitation which we follow without hesitation – again and again.

Click image below for a reading sample

© Sherry Hare

John Hare, born 1976 in St. Charles, Missouri (USA), spent his youth in Kansas (USA). Already as child he drew a lot and constantly, for example snakes and crocodiles, until he finally became graphic designer and Art Director. He lives with his family in Gladstone, Missouri (USA). "Ausflug zum Mond" is his first picture book.


Recommendation list of the 18th Pied Piper literary prize

Ideally awarded:  
Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, Jørgen Moe, Kat Menschik
Die Puppe im Grase
Verlag Galiani Berlin, 2019
Ben Guterson, Chloe Bristol
Verlag Freies Geistesleben, 2018
Barbara Cantini
Mortina. Ein Mädchen voller Überraschungen
dtv Verlagsgesellschaft, 2019
Rudyard Kipling, Jonas Lauströer
Das Elefantenkind
minedition, 2018
Dave Cousins
Verlag Freies Geistesleben, 2019
Frida Nilsson, Torben Kuhlmann
Sasja und das Reich jenseits des Meeres
Gerstenberg Verlag, 2019
Michael Ende, Wieland Freund, Regina Kehn
Rodrigo Raubein und Knirps, sein Knappe
Thienemann Verlag, 2019
Michael Roher
Frosch und die abenteuerliche Jagd nach Matzke Messer
Tyrolia-Verlag, 2018
Heiko Hentschel
Das hungrige Glas
Südpol Verlag, 2019
Annet Schaap
Emilia und der Junge aus dem Meer
Thienemann Verlag, 2019
Finn-Ole Heinrich, Rán Flygenring
Die Reise zum Mittelpunkt des Waldes
mairisch Verlag, 2018
Øyvind Torseter
Hans sticht in See
Gerstenberg Verlag, 2019
Jury members 2020  
Dr. Christine Lötscher jury chairman, literary scientist, Zurich
Dr. Felix Giesa literary scientist, Aachen
Doris Hedemann graduated librarian, Hameln
Dr. Johannes Rüster teacher and literary scientist , Nuremberg
Wiebke Schleser bookseller, Berlin
Bernhard Schmitz picture book museum, Troisdorf
Doris Schneider teacher, Hameln