Shyness and monsters: the Klaus Flugge Prize for most exciting newcomer to children’s picture book illustration awarded to Flavia Z. Drago for Gustavo the Shy Ghost

  • Little ghost sweeps all before him
  • Mexican Day of the Dead festival, old horror films and The Smiths all provided inspiration for the book
  • Renowned illustrator Posy Simmonds and 2020 Klaus Flugge Prize winner Eva Eland among judges

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Wednesday 22 September – Flavia Z. Drago has won the 2021 Klaus Flugge Prize for the most exciting and promising newcomer to children’s picture book illustration. She won for her book Gustavo the Shy Ghost (Walker Books) about a little ghost who despite being so shy he is invisible to the other monsters, eventually finds a way to make friends.

Flavia was born and raised in Mexico City and her book takes inspiration from her favourite Mexican tradition, The Day of the Dead celebrations, particularly in its bright pink and orange palette. Sharp-eyed readers will spot references to other influences on Flavia, including horror films and books, and The Smiths: a shy child herself, their song Ask has always been a favourite and a cassette of it is visible on Gustavo’s writing desk.

Read the full press release here

The Klaus Flugge Prize judges loved the balance of fun and fright in the book, and admired Flavia’s superb control of pace and the composition of her illustrations.

Judge and winner of the 2020 Klaus Flugge Prize, Eva Eland says: "There is so much to admire and enjoy in Flavia’s book. From the carefully selected colour palette of muted tones combined with bright orange and pink, to the myriad little details in the illustrations and her endearing and fun characters. Flavia has great control of many different facets of illustration and storytelling, including pacing, colour and a strong sense of design. She also has great drawing skills. She delivers a powerful and universal story, whilst maintaining a light-heartedness and a playful touch that will speak to many little children.”

Chair of the judges, Julia Eccleshare said: “Each year the Klaus Flugge Prize celebrates the art of picture book illustration and puts the brightest new talent in the spotlight. The illustrators on this year’s shortlist demonstrate extraordinary skill and their very different books bring light, colour, warmth and laughter to readers of all ages. Congratulations to them all and very special thanks again to Klaus Flugge who has done so much to support and promote illustrators throughout his career.”

The announcement was made on the evening of Wednesday 22 September. Flavia Z. Drago wins £5,000.

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The Klaus Flugge Prize is funded personally by Klaus Flugge and run independently of Andersen Press.

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