A counter to COVID: the year’s best new picture book illustrators bring children love, warmth and reassurance

Old friends, new friends, peace and security fill the five books shortlisted for the 2021 Klaus Flugge Prize

  • Shortlist announced for the award that highlights the most promising and exciting newcomers to picture book illustration
  • Iconic cartoonist Posy Simmonds and 2020 winner Eva Eland among judges
  • Messages of friendship and belonging explored via richly varied illustration styles

Watch the 2021 shortlist announcement here:

The shortlist for the Klaus Flugge Prize is announced today (Wednesday 19 May). Established in 2016, the prize was set up to honour Klaus Flugge, founder of Andersen Press and an extremely influential figure in children’s picture books. It is awarded to the most promising and exciting newcomer to children’s picture book illustration.

From a longlist of twenty picture books by debut illustrators, the panel of judges comprising award-winning illustrator Posy Simmonds; Eva Eland, 2020 Klaus Flugge Prize winner; Darryl Clifton, Illustration Programme Director at Camberwell College of Arts; Fleur Sinclair, owner of Sevenoaks Bookshop; and Mat Tobin of Oxford Brookes University, have chosen five to shortlist.

The five books couldn’t be more different in illustration style but, countering our experiences of the past year, find creative ways to portray love and friendship, security and comfort to the very young. The five shortlisted books are:

Child of Galaxies, Charlotte Ager, written by Blake Nuto, editor Emily Ball, art director Lilly Gottwald (Flying Eye Books)

What the judges said: ‘an impressive interpretation of really big, abstract ideas; the images leap off the page to stimulate young imaginations; beautiful use of colour and pace’.

Charlotte Ager uses painterly, full-bleed spreads to give children a sense of the world, the universe and their place within it, her bold brushwork clearly visible across images of sea, sky and fields.

While You’re Sleeping, John Broadley, written by Mick Jackson, editor Neil Dunnicliffe, designer Sarah Crookes (Pavilion)

What the judges said: ‘Original and interesting; the details are so comforting; his handling of sea and sky is excellent, very muscular and with lots of theatrics; he’s had fun creating this!’

John Broadley uses intricate, detailed pen and ink illustrations, reminiscent of Edward Bawden’s work, to open the curtains on the teeming night-time world, where busy people go about their jobs and foxes, owls and hares come out in the countryside while a child sleeps soundly, tucked up in bed.

Gustavo the Shy Ghost Flavia Z Drago, editors Tanya Rosie and Maria Tunney, art Director Anne-Louise Jones (Walker Books)

What the judges said: ‘A visual treat and the text and illustrations work very well together; it’s full of detail but never cluttered; pace is cleverly controlled; just the right balance of fun and fright!’.

Flavia Z. Drago introduces us to Gustavo, a gorgeous little ghost who is so shy he’s literally invisible. Her folk-art style with its palette of orange and Rosa Mexicana creates a distinctive playground for Gustavo as he suddenly and unexpectedly makes new friends.

I’m Sticking with You, Steve Small, written by Smriti Halls editor Helen Mackenzie Smith, designer Jane Buckley (Simon and Schuster)

What the judges said: ‘Really well crafted, particularly in the relationship between the characters; lovely deadpan humour with lots of clever touches in the illustrations; love the pace and the way the story moves.’

Already an award-winning animator, Steve Small’s debut picture book celebrates an unusual and enduring friendship, and his illustrations bring odd couple Bear and Squirrely vividly and comically to life, images perfectly placed on clean white pages for maximum impact.

My Red Hat, Rachel Stubbs, editor Denise Johnstone Burt, designer Charlie Moyler (Walker Books)

What the judges said: ‘Really impressive use of colour and the characters are really alive; the hand-lettered typography works very well as do the compositions; there’s a wonderful sense of looseness to the pictures, which is very hard to accomplish; there’s a special tension in the final pages before a happy ending.’

Rachel Stubbs celebrates another special relationship, that between grandparent and child. With fluid, elegant line, a delicate limited palette and hand drawn typography, she conveys an extraordinary depth of emotion and love.

Chair of the judges Julia Eccleshare said: “It is always fascinating to examine the books that make up the shortlist for the Klaus Flugge Prize. These five superb books provide a creative counter to the anxieties of the past year, the illustrations conveying a strong sense of comfort, reassurance and joy that even those too young to read will understand. The shortlist is testament to the illustrators’ skill as artists and to the special ability of picture books to define a young child’s world.”

The winner will be announced on Wednesday 22 September 2021 and will receive a cheque for £5,000.

Klaus Flugge 2021 Shortlist book covers

For more information, interview requests and images contact Andrea Reece
020 8889 1292/ 07807893369


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

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