The shortlist for the Klaus Flugge Prize has been revealed. Established in 2016, the prize was set up to honour Klaus Flugge, founder of Andersen Press and one of the most influential figures in children’s picture books. It is awarded to the most promising and exciting newcomer to children’s picture book illustration.
From a longlist of twenty-four picture books by debut illustrators, the panel of judges have chosen six to shortlist. This year’s judges are award-winning illustrator Emily Gravett; Flavia Z Drago, 2021 Klaus Flugge Prize winner; Nikki Bi, Co- Founder and the Beyond Books Lead at Civic Square in Birmingham; and Martin Salisbury, Professor of Illustration at Cambridge School of Art in Anglia Ruskin University. The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, Director, Hay Children’s Festival.
They were looking for fresh, exciting picture book illustrators and, after two years of pandemic isolation, stories that reflected our desire for community, freedom and joy. The six shortlisted books star a lonely mammoth (in New York), a bear with extraordinary hair, and an alley cat rally driver (at the wheel of a washing machine); one is set at the swimming pool, another on the deck of the RMS Carpathia, the ship that sailed to the Titanic’s rescue. Themes include the importance of choice, the urgency of cleaning our polluted oceans, and being yourself.
The six shortlisted books are:
Mammoth, Adam Beer, written by Anna Kemp, editor Helen Mackenzie Smith, art director Jane Buckley (Simon and Schuster)
The story of a mammoth with nobody to trumpet with, the judges found this joyful and full of humour. They loved how Adam Beer gives this mammoth real personality and admire the way the illustrations are full of detail, offering a wonderful variety of perspectives. They felt the text and illustrations work together particularly well.
Rescuing Titanic, Flora Delargy, editor Lucy Brownridge, art director Karissa Santos (Wide Eyed Editions)
Flora Delargy’s book is an illustrated version of the true story of the RMS Carpathia, which changed course mid voyage to help rescue survivors of the Titanic disaster. The judges admired her use of colour and light and the way she fills the different scenes with life and movement, capturing the full drama of the events.
Pierre’s New Hair, Joseph Hollis, editor Emilia Will, designer Jade Wheaton (Tate) Pierre is a bear who loves hair and roller-skating. But can his moves and his quiff impress his favourite roller disco team, the Poodle Squad? The judges loved the anarchy and edge Joseph Hollis brings to his story, and his clever use of the pages and layout. Despite the absurdity, he builds a believable world, the details adding up into something real.
The Tale of the Whale, Padmacandra, written by Karen Swann, editor Janice Thomson, designer Ness Wood (Scallywag Press)
A small child begins a magical journey on the back of a huge and beautiful baleen whale. Together they sail the oceans, dancing with dolphins, diving through the blue seas and exploring the ocean beds. The judges admired the way the illustrations carry the story “so that you are swimming with the whale”. Padmacandra’s images are full of atmosphere and beautiful to look at.
Choices, Roozeboos, designer Sarah Dellow (Child’s Play)
This book is all about choices: little ones (like which ice cream to have), big ones (such as whether to go on the super-duper giant slide), and whether to dive into the swimming pool, even though you are afraid. The judges describe this book as freewheeling and full of energy, with an unruly chaos that feels completely genuine. The message about the importance of making choices is subtly delivered, and Roozeboos is clearly a great observer of humanity.
Alley Cat Rally, Ricky Trickartt, editor Emily Ball, designer Ivanna Khomyak (Flying Eye Books)
Asta the ginger cat reengineers the family washing machine into a racing car and signs on for the big cat auto race. She’s determined to show the other racers she’s no slow-poke but winning, well, that would be a dream come true. The judges loved the fizz and fun of Asta’s world and the clever details. Ricky Trickartt controls the pace of the story superbly and children will relish it.
Chair of the judges Julia Eccleshare said: “Our judges have selected a shortlist full of humour, drama, beauty and big ideas. We can see in these six books values that are intrinsic to so many of the picture books published by Klaus Flugge: empathy, diversity, a child-centredness and a generosity of spirit. The illustrators’ ability as artists and storytellers is very exciting. Post-pandemic, picture books are booming.”
The winner receives a cheque for £5,000.