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ARU graduates dazzle judges of national awards

Published: 20 March 2024 at 14:40

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Children’s Book Illustration alumni feature on Yoto Carnegies and V&A shortlists

Talented graduates from the Children’s Book Illustration MA course at Anglia Ruskin University feature heavily on the recently-announced shortlists of two major national awards.

Three of the eight individuals on the illustration shortlist for the Yoto Carnegies – the UK’s longest running book awards for children and young people – are alumni of the Masters course at ARU’s Cambridge School of Art, while former students have also been shortlisted by the judges of the V&A Illustration Awards.

The Yoto Carnegies are managed by CILIP, the library and information association. The awards celebrate outstanding achievement in children’s writing and illustration, and are unique in being judged solely by librarians from across the country.

The Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration, established in 1955 and previously known as the Kate Greenaway Medal, is awarded annually to a children’s book illustrator whose artwork creates an outstanding reading experience. This year’s shortlist features ARU alumni Chloe Savage, Catalina Echeverri, and Mariajo Ilustrajo.

Chloe, who lives in Hitchin, is shortlisted for The Search for the Giant Arctic Jellyfish, an inspiring adventure about delving into the unknown told with “humour and playfulness in the illustrations”. This debut book has also secured Chloe a place on the shortlist of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2024.

Catalina’s April's Garden is a touching story about a young girl coming to terms with a dramatic change. The book uses nature to represent healing and growth, with the illustrations showing “a beautiful sense of continuity”. The judges admired Catalina’s “outstanding” use of colours. 

Mariajo’s Lost, which was created during her MA course at ARU, follows the story of a polar bear in a large city, with her illustrations conveying the sense of feeling overwhelmed and claustrophobic in an overbearing busy city, contrasting with the more expansive scenes in the Arctic. Mariajo’s previous book, Flooded, saw her win both a World Illustration Award and the 2023 Klaus Flugge Prize

Meanwhile, five former Children’s Book Illustration MA students, one of whom now teaches on the course, have been named by the V&A on the shortlists for their prestigious awards, in addition to a graduate from ARU’s BA (Hons) course in Illustration.

The V&A Illustration Awards were established by the world-famous design museum in 1972. The awards take place every two years and are judged by a panel of industry experts. This year's judges include cartoonist and illustrator Chris Riddell and former MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Education Tristram Hunt, who is now the Director of the V&A.

Lisa Sheehan has been shortlisted in the Advertising & Commercial category for her design for the brochure of a luxury hotel in St Moritz, which features a CGI recreation of a papercut illustration, while both Aditi Anand and Heike Scharrar, who are 2024 graduates, feature in the Emerging Illustrator category. BA (Hons) Illustration graduate Olivia Daw is on the shortlist in the Adult Fiction category, for her illustrations for the Agatha Christie book The Pale Horse.

The Illustration for Children category includes both Ella Beech and Bethan Welby from ARU’s Children’s Book Illustration MA course. After a 20-year career in the publishing industry, including being the former head of Campbell Books, part of Pan Macmillan, Cambridge-based Ella returned to university five years ago to study the MA in Children’s Book Illustration, and is now an Associate Lecturer on the course.

Shelley Ann Jackson, Associate Professor and Course Leader of the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at ARU, said:

“We’re absolutely thrilled that another group of recent graduates have been recognised for their work by the judges of two of the UK’s most prestigious awards, the Yoto Carnegies and V&A awards, and we’re wishing all of them the best of luck at their ceremonies.

“We’re also delighted to see our colleague Ella shortlisted for the V&A awards for her debut book, which has already received fabulous international acclaim, including from The New York Times. Ella has two decades of experience working in the children’s book industry and then followed her heart to focus on illustration, joining our course in 2019. We’re so pleased that Ella’s now helping us by passing on her skills and experience to the next generation of students at ARU.”


The winner of the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration will be announced on Thursday, 20 June at a ceremony at the Cambridge Theatre in London's West End. The winner will receive a £5,000 cash prize and a specially commissioned golden medal.

Each category winner of the V&A Illustration Awards will receive a £3,000 prize, while the overall winner receives an additional £5,000 and is named the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year. The V&A Illustration Awards will be announced at a ceremony in September at the V&A South Kensington.