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MA Children's Book Illustration Award Winners and Publishing Success

Illustration of pigs and other animals enjoying a party
"I've witnessed first hand how the children's illustration program at Cambridge School of Art is absolutely dedicated to connecting its students to publishing professionals worldwide. Children's publishing is a global business, and this program smartly targets outreach to publishing houses unlike any other university. When I want to hire a debut illustrator, I don't waste my time sorting through portfolios at other schools who don't know how to market their students—I look straight to Cambridge. They produce serious, professional artists who are work-ready from all over the world, including here at home in the United States.


Illustration of fox in fields near windmill
I've been so impressed with graduates Emilie Gill (Kentucky) and Lauren Emmons (North Dakota). Emilie's charming character work in All By Myself (Peachtree, Spring 2023) enchanted our partners at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Lauren's vibrant work in Prak Fills the House (Peachtree, Fall 2023) is positioned to become a story time favorite! Both artists were a joy to work with at every stage, and their understanding of the production process and presentation of their materials was much more advanced than many agented illustrators. Skilled, refined, and a credit to the excellent training they received from proven industry professionals at Cambridge. I love finding US artists in their program, and I can't wait to hire more!"
Jonah Heller
Editor, Peachtree Publishing Company Inc., Atlanta

The first course of its kind, our MA Children’s Book Illustration was established at Cambridge School of Art in 2001, and is led by Course Leader Shelley Jackson. Our students and graduates often dominate national and international awards, or go on to have their work published - and the above quote from Jonah Heller shows that its reputation is well-earned.

Our recent award-winners and publishing successes include:

In the Batsford Prize 2024, students Charlotte Durance and Naomi Tipping were overall winners in their categories, with three alumni (Rose Grover, Yue An Xie, Aditi Anand) runners-up. Three more of our alumni (Katie May, Fatima Ordinola Guerra, Keiko) made the shortlist.

Four of our students and over 20 alumni made the longlist for the AOI World Illustration Awards 2024, with the winners announced in September 2024.

Three of the eight shortlisted entries for the 2024 Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration shortlist are graduates from our course: Catalina Echeverri (April's Garden), Mariajo Illustrajo (Lost) and Chloe Savage (The Search for the Giant Arctic Jellyfish). The winners will be announced on Thursday 20 June 2024 at a live and streamed ceremony at the Cambridge Theatre.

Illustration of fox cutting through starry sky with scissors

Alumnus Chloe Savage won the Best Illustrated Book category in the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2024 for The Search for the Giant Arctic Jellyfish. The judges described the book as "A truly gorgeous volume filled with the wonder and magic of science and nature."

Graduates Birgitta Sif (illustration pictured), Puck Koper and Thea Lu were all winners at the Bologna Book Fair 2024, with their work being chosen for the Illustrators Exhibition, which travels for over two years on an international tour of museums, art galleries and libraries in countries including Japan, Korea, and China, as well as appearing in the renowned Illustrators Annual.

Three alumni from our MA Children’s Book Illustration course have made the shortlist for the 2024 Klaus Flugge Prize: Bia Melo (The Dream Book), Angela Vives (Bright Stars of Black British History) and Kate Winter (The Fossil Hunter). The winners will be announced in September. Olya Anima (The Slug and the Snail) and Kate Rolfe (Wolf and Bear) also made the longlist.

Flooded, by Mariajo Ilustrajo

Graduate Mariajo Ilustrajo won the Klaus Flugge Prize 2023 for her book Flooded (pictured), developed while she was on the course. Three more of our graduates made the shortlist: Alice Courtley (Lost in the City), Gill Smith (Saving the Butterfly), Paula White (The Baker by the Sea).

Illustration of woman in kitchen

Graduates Thea Lu, Roozeboos (Anne Roos Kleiss), and Narisa Togo and current student Hu Huizi were 4 of 100 finalists in the Golden Pinwheel Competition 2023, and will get to show their work at China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair.

Students Aditi Anand (illustration pictured) and Charlotte Durance, and graduate Chia Hsieh won the Walker Books Picture This! Competition 2023.

Student Heike Scharrer and graduate Sandy Horsley were selected from 3,000 submissions to show at the prestigious Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2023 exhibition.

Cover of Gino book, with illustration of brown dog

Simona Massa won the New Talent category in the 2023 AOI World Illustration Awards for her book Gino. Fellow students Ziqian Lin and Xinyue “Panda” ZhuBA and alumni Julia Woolf, Lisa Sheenan, Dorothy Luo, Kate Rolfe, Paula Heister and Joy Li all made the shortlist.

Forest Xiao won the Children’s Illustration category of the Batsford Prize 2023 for How To Catch An Idea.

Abi Xinyi Bi and Aditi Anand were awarded the overall second and third place prizes in the Macmillan Prize for Illustration 2023 respectively, while another 7 of our students were highly commended.

Flora Delargy was shortlisted for the 2023 Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration for her book Rescuing Titanic. The longlist for the award also included Mariajo Illustrajo, Ruchi Mhasane, Roozeboos, Gill Smith and Paula White - all graduates of the course.

Illustration of girl and two birds transporting huge piles of food

Emilie Gill and Lauren Emmons provided the illustrations for two books published by Peachtree in 2023 - All By Myself (pictured above) and Prak Fills The House (pictured top) respectively. See the quote above by Peachtree Editor Jonah Heller for an idea of how well their work was received!

Katarina Dragoslavić (Devlin) won the 2022 Stratford Salariya Children’s Picture Book Prize with her book The Little Hungry Dinosaur (pictured right). She took away a prize worth £1000, including career advice from a leading literary agent, publicity through Stratford Literary Festival and the possibility of publication by The Salariya Book Company.

Flavia Z Drago with her prize

Flavia Z. Drago (pictured) won the 2021 Klaus Flugge Prize for her book Gustavo the Shy Ghost. The Klaus Flugge Prize awards the most exciting and promising newcomer to children’s picture book illustration and was won by alumni Eva Eland in 2020 and Kate Milner in 2018, making MA CBI grads winners for three of the prize’s six years.

The AOI’s 2021 World Illustration Awards saw student Dide Tengiz recognised as the New Talent in Children’s Publishing Category Winner for her children’s picturebook Mai, while 2020’s Awards recognised student Mariajosé Gajate Molina (otherwise known as Mariajo Ilustrajo) as the New Talent Overall award winner with her children’s picturebook Flooded.

Home in Kakuma Refugee Camp - by Sally Dunne

The prestigious V&A Student Illustrator of the Year prize was awarded to Sally Dunne in 2020 for her work Home in Kakuma Refugee Camp (pictured). It was the fifth successive win for an MA Children’s Book Illustration student at the annual V&A Illustration Awards, organised by the world-famous design museum.

Grads Anne Roos Kleiss (also known as Roozeboos) and Dian Li won two of the three Special Mention Awards at the 2021 Golden Pinwheel Young Illustrators Competition.

The 2020-21 Batsford Prize saw seven of our students shortlisted, with Kin Choi Lam winning the Children’s Book category, plus four classmates as runners-up in the Children’s Book, Illustration, and People’s Choice categories.

The 2021 Macmillan Prize chose 18 of its 25 winners from MACBI students, including Laura Winstone and Yichun Ma as second- and third-place winners, respectively.

Book cover of The Grumpy Fairies

Alumna Bethan Stevens won the 2021 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Best Illustrated Book The Grumpy Fairies (pictured).

Puck Koper is a Children’s Illustration Laureate 2021 and Victoria Crossman a Non-Fiction Illustration Laureate 2020 in the International Illustration and Book Design Competition.

Flavia Z. Drago’s debut picturebook Gustavo the Shy Ghost spent nine weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers List in 2021, including two weeks as the top-selling children’s book in the United States.

Samareh Azadi won second place in Illustration in the 2021 Faber and Andlyn (FAB) Prize for new writers and illustrators from underrepresented backgrounds.

Ellan Rankin was the 2020 winner of the Carmelite Picture Book Prize. Second place, was awarded to fellow ARU student Fiona Fogg.

Umbrella book cover

Elena Arevalo Melville was named as the inaugural winner of the Queen’s Knickers Award in 2020 for her book Umbrella (pictured).

Graduates’ books were selected for Best Children's Books lists of 2020 by dPictus, the Guardian and the Times.

In 2019 Melissa Castrillon was awarded the Gold Medal at The Original Art exhibition by the Society of illustrators in New York City for her wordless picturebook The Balcony.

Find out more about Cambridge School of Art's award-winning students, alumni success and outstanding alumni.