Over the past few months it has been really exciting to be involved in the second Book People Bedtime Story Competition, in collaboration with Little Tiger Press.
When asked if I’d like to be the illustrator of this year’s winning story, as well as one of the judging panel, it wan’t a difficult decision. I had just seen “The Moon Man” by last year’s winner, Isabel Harris, illustrated by Ada Grey. It was a lovely story containing all the ingredients for great picture book - originality, humour, a clever structure and appealing characters. I bet it was a pleasure for Ada to illustrate, and it looks brilliant.
This year, the competition had over 1300 entries, and children between the ages of 5 and 11 took part. There were three category winners. 7-year-old Jackson Mendoza told the (real-life) story of a boy’s summer of intense friendship with a giant marrow. I loved "Jackson and the Marrow", it was touching one minute and and hilarious the next.
Amy Chick was the winner of the 10-11 year old category with “The Little One Said”, a story based on the trials of bed-sharing, with fantastic characters and brilliant comical scenes. I hope that we’ll hear more from Jackson and Amy. If they are showing so much talent, so young, I’m sure they’ll go on to do great things.
Our overall winner was 10-year-old Frasier Cox, and his story “There’s a Little Boy the Same as Me” was something quite unexpected by any of the judges. It’s a poem expressing the writer’s thoughts about another boy his own age, someone he has never met, and who is a refugee. It’s very open and direct, at times sad, but offering hope through the idea that children see more of the things they have in common than those which separate them. They feel connected, and dream of a friendship. It’s an extraordinary, moving piece of writing and I hope it reaches a wide audience. Partly, that’s up to me now. I’m about to begin the job of illustrating it, and I hope I’ll do it justice!
On Wednesday, I had the real pleasure of meeting all three winners at a celebration in London, where they were awarded their prizes and sketches of their characters. They also got to meet head judge Claudia Winkleman, and consume an eye-watering quantity of chocolate at an afternoon tea in the Willy Wonka-Mad Hatter-Surrealist world of Choccywoccydoodah. Tpf were there to capture it all and you can see some moments from the day in the video below.
I’ll try to post some updates on the progress (if I’m allowed!), as Frasier’s story becomes a book. It’s due to be published next summer and there is more info here; http://bit.ly/2z0ECE6.