The Grumpy Fairies work their magic at awards

Published: 2 July 2021 at 14:00

Book cover of The Grumpy Fairies

ARU graduate Bethan Stevens wins the Waterstones Illustrated Books prize

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) graduate Bethan Stevens has won the Illustrated Books category at the prestigious Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2021 for her debut book The Grumpy Fairies.

Bethan’s picture book tells the tale of some very grumpy fairies who live in a forest along with a goblin, whose favourite food happens to be grumpy fairies…

Bethan, who graduated with a distinction from the Children’s Book Illustration MA course at ARU in 2019, won the £2,000 prize which is voted for by booksellers.

The six-person Waterstones Illustrated Books shortlist included Eva Eland (Where Happiness Begins), who is also a graduate of the Children’s Book Illustration MA course at ARU’s Cambridge School of Art.

Bethan, who now lives in Balham, London, said:

“I’m so thrilled that The Grumpy Fairies has won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Illustrated Book category, I can’t quite believe it’s true! 

“It has been such a privilege to have been included on the shortlist with so many other talented authors and illustrators and it means so much to me that more readers will get to enjoy the antics of the grumpy fairies as a result of the award!”

Florentyna Martin, Waterstones Children’s Buyer, said:

“Between the fairies’ comical expressions and the plot’s light-hearted sense of peril, Bethan’s marriage of text and illustration crafts an entertaining tale. The Grumpy Fairies is a book that children gleefully request on repeat.”

Dr Katherina Manolessou, Senior Lecturer on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration course at ARU, said:

“I was impressed by Bethan’s work ethic during her time on the MA Children’s Book Illustration, how she would tirelessly work on her ideas, always drawing new versions of her characters and sequences until she got them right. 

“She has the ability to transform everyday events to magical and meaningful visual sequences for children. Bethan’s illustrations can be gentle and beautiful but at the same time they challenge the reader with new ideas, and they encourage conversations between parents and children. The Waterstones award is well deserved and we are all very proud of her.”

Pam Smy, Senior Lecturer Practitioner in Children’s Book Illustration at ARU, added:

“Bethan worked incredibly hard whilst studying with us, and developed work that is full of warmth. It is wonderful to see her skill in illustration and storytelling acknowledged by this prize, and to know that even more booksellers across the nation will now be recommending The Grumpy Fairies to customers as a result.”

The Older Readers’ category was won by Darren Charlton’s Wranglestone, while A Kind Of Spark by Elle McNicoll won the Younger Readers’ category and the overall Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2021, which comes with an additional £3,000 prize.

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