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Inese Zandere is a Latvian poet and writer, editor-in-chief of the Liels un mazs publishing company, engaged and creative member of IBBY-Latvia, and an eager participant of the reading promotion programs. She was born in Dobele, Latvia, in 1958 and grew up in a family of teachers. She graduated from the University of Latvia with a degree in philosophy. She has worked as a compiler, editor, and scriptwriter for several newspapers, magazins, publishing houses, and film studios.
Zandere has written more than thirty books for children and young people and, over the last twenty years, has been actively involved in projects related to children's literature and cultural education. Alongside creative writing, she frequently reviews the works of others and has a strong presence on the culture scene, providing well-balanced opinions. She is one of the founders of the Annual Baltic Sea Region Jānis Baltvilks International Prize in Children's Literature and Book Art, which since its inception in 2005 has become the highest Latvian award presented to an author, an illustrator, a foreign author from Baltic Sea states, and a translator of children's and youth books.
Her conceptual book of poems for children Innies and Outies (Iekšiņa un āriņa, 2002, 2004) embodies the intention of thinking characteristic of contemporary Latvian children's poetry in general: feel first, think and understand afterwards. These poems, in which humorous characters and great seriousness live side by side on the same page, encourage the young reader to think honestly about difficult matters; to observe closely the outward manifestations of each thing, phenomenon, or creature and examine its essence with equal care; and to rejoice in the world and reveal its multilayered nature, from the outside to the innermost and deepest levels, with enthusiasm and enjoyment. "Anything that has its innies has also outies around it"—that is a funny line from a children's poem and a classic principle of philosophy at the same time.
Zandere's poems are musical and easy to memorise, frequently used as song lyrics. Her collections of fairy tales make the reader experience the involvement of all living beings in the great mystery of nature's course, and they animate the emotions as well as the intellect. Zandere's poems, fairy tales, plays, and scripts have inspired the creation of several animation films, theatre plays, and operas for children. Many poems have inspired composers to compose songs. Her short fairy tales about the curious characters called the Shammies—Sockie, Hankie, Mitten, and Pillow—have earned wide recognition and love and have been turned into eight colorful, witty, and musical animation films. Inese Zandere's writing—considered honest, informed, warm-hearted, and well-rounded—is often awarded important literary prizes. [End Page 27]