Piret Raud (1971) is the most successful contemporary Estonian children’s writer and illustrator. She graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts in graphic arts, and initially set off on the same path. After trying her hand at writing, Raud has since become the most renowned and widely-translated children’s author in Estonia. She has written 19 titles (six of which were commissioned by Japanese, French, and British publishers), has been translated into 14 different languages, and has illustrated more than 50 titles. Her writing has received spectacular recognition both at home and abroad. She was included on the 2012 IBBY Honour List as writer and in 2018 as illustrator, in the 2010 and 2013 White Ravens catalogue, and was awarded the Estonian Order of the White Star, IV Class in 2016.
I was born in the month of July in 1971 to a family of children’s literature authors in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. I have spent my entire life in Tallinn. As a child, I played with friends on the narrow streets of Old Town and in the courtyards of its romantic old buildings. I loitered on crumbling stone walls and skulked around dark attics. Later, during my studies at the Estonian Academy of Arts, I went around town with a drawing pad under my arm. I studied printmaking at the Academy. My master’s thesis was done in an old-style copper engraving technique rarely used today. I’ve always been fascinated by the world of black-and-white graphics, by small format and fine details. The connection between graphics and book illustration is so dense that it is no wonder I ultimately became an illustrator.
I illustrated other authors’ books for ten years, until one moment, I decided to try my own hand at writing. I took part in a children’s manuscript competition, and won. The manuscript became a book, which unexpectedly received very good reception. The path towards writing was opened. I truly enjoy my work. Room for goodness, for humor and happy endings can be found in children’s books. It is immensely revitalizing and pleasant to spend a little bit of time every day in a friendly world of my own creation.
Profile photo: Piia Ruber
Good Children’s Book (The Ear)
Good Children’s Book (The Story of the Little House Who Wanted to Be a Home)
Good Children’s Book (All My Relatives)
2014–2017 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award candidate
Order of the White Star, IV Class
Hans Christian Andersen Award nominee
Annual Children’s Literature Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (The Story of Sander, Muri, Eensy Mum, and the Invisible Aksel)
Good Children’s Book (The Story of Sander, Muri, Eensy Mum, and the Invisible Aksel)
Lire ici et là (Slightly Silly Stories)
"Järje Hoidja" Award of the Tallinn Central Library (Princesses with a Twist)
The White Ravens (Three Wishes)
IBBY Honour List (Princess Lulu and Mr. Bones)
Good Children’s Book (Slightly Silly Stories)
Children and Young Adult Jury (Bērnu un jauniešu žūrija), Latvia, 1st place (Grades 3-4) (Princess Lulu and Mr. Bones)
The White Ravens (Mister Bird’s Story)
Good Children’s Book (Tobias, Second Grade)
Estonian Children’s Literature Centre Raisin of the Year Award (Mister Bird’s Story)
Good Children’s Book (Princess Lulu and Mr. Bones)
Annual Children’s Literature Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (Princess Lulu and Mr. Bones)
Annual Children’s Literature Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (Sanna and the Poachers)
Children’s Story competition "My First Book", 1st place (Ernesto’s Rabbits)
Piret Raud at the International EU and China Literary Festival
Piret Raud at the Leipzig Book Fair on the 22nd of March, 2019
Piret Raud at the The South Ken Kids Festival
Emily e un mare di cose (Dehoniane, Italian)
Estonian Children Book “The Ear” by Piret Raud Released in English
The Ear (Thames & Hudson)
The Ear (Kirkus Review)
‘The Ear’ by Piret Raud. A Book About the Importance of Listening (Babbyccino)
Piret Raud. All My Relatives (ELM)
Piret Raud Participates in Festivaletteratura in Italy
Piret Raud at the London Book Fair on Wednesday, 15th March 2017
Premiere of the Theatre Play The Fishes’ Tea-Parties in Genf
Piret Raud at the Cultural Festival Les Boréales in France
President Awards Estonian State Decoration to Piret Raud
The Nominated Estonian Authors and Illustrators by IBBY Estonia
Piret Raud –Don't Fear More Serious and Mature Children's Books (ELM)
As such, several great talents hovered above Piret’s crib when she was born into this world in 1971. Studies at the Estonian Academy of Art gave her a master’s degree in graphic design. Piret appeared on the Estonian children’s literature scene in 1994 with illustrations for her mother’s Aino’s book Keeruline lugu (A Complicated Story), and her father Eno’s 1997 work Kala kõnnib jala (A Fish Takes a Walk).
By now, we can speak of Piret as a graphic designer for books, a writer, a journalist (she was an editor for children’s magazine Täheke for some time), as well as an art teacher.
As an illustrator, Piret has received an enormous amount of praise both in Estonia and abroad. She has received awards such as certificates for the 25 Best Designed Estonian Books and 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books; has participated in international exhibitions and competitions such as the Baltic States’ Book Art Competition, the Tallinn Illustration Triennial, and the Bologna Book Fair; has been awarded the Estonian National Library’s Golden Book Award, as well as the Estonian Children’s Literature Center’s title of “Raisin of the Year” for Most Interesting Children’s Publication (Härra Linnu lugu, Mr. Bird’s Story, 2009). As Piret has been both a writer and an artist for several of her books, both of those aspects are also blended in a number of the honors she has received.
As a writer, Piret Raud has received the Annual Children’s Literature Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia on three occasions: for her books Sanna ja salakütid (Sanna and the Poachers, 2005), Printsess Luluu ja härra Kere (Princess Lulu and Mr. Bones, 2008) and Lugu Sandrist, Murist, tillukesest emmest ja nähtamatust Akslist (The Story of Sander, Muri, Eensy Mum, and the Invisible Aksel, 2015). Piret Raud has been put onto the IBBY Honour List as the writer of Princess Lulu and Mr. Boney”.
In illustration work, Piret Raud’s style can be characterized via three types: while her earlier works were full-design picture surfaces, a picturesque and occasionally surreal background (A Complicated Story) supporting on carefully-drawn details, the artist has moved forward in a laconic direction. A large number of children’s books have been published with only black-and-white illustrations, such as Ellen Niit’s poetry collection and her mother Aino Pervik’s series “Paula’s Life”. At the same time, those sometimes extremely small black-and-white pictures are drawn with an extremely sharp mind, masterfully, so that every detail is rich in meaning. The synergy of picture and text in the “Paula’s Life” series is characterized as a graphic mini-short-story, so significantly does the picture support and amplify the message of the text. In her current creative phase, Piret prefers to leave color pictures on a white background, allowing the drawing’s playfulness, humor, and fine grotesques to be brought out.
We see a dominance of fairy-tale-type stories in Piret’s writing, yet the true story Tobias ja teine B (Tobias, Second Grade) is also very important alongside that tendency. The miniature multimedia work Emma roosad asjad (Emma Loves Pink) is an utterly unique achievement. Piret Raud’s fantasy deals very clearly with contemporary real-life issues in fairy-tale form: with unemployment, homelessness, uncertainty, the power of money and corruption, etc. Why? The writer has replied: “I suppose that I think about those things myself, and they’re reflected in my books. But I do believe that one can talk to children about such things already at an early age. All of the news and life in the whole world reaches them in the same way as it does adults. So, it’s good if the side of goodness and justice is supported in a book somewhere.”
Even the miniscule fairy tale about Emma’s love for pink things is quite true to life: no matter that Emma only enjoys pink things – a green cabbage brought by her green frog friend changes her outlook!