Themes of community, adventure, real life experiences, and the Tate Modern’s cat Mildred inspire the year’s most talented new picture book illustrators

Shortlist announced for the 2023 Klaus Flugge Prize for the most exciting newcomer to children’s picture book illustration

  • Shortlist revealed at a live event at Waterstones Piccadilly
  • Award-winning illustrator of favourites including What the Ladybird Heard, Lydia Monks and 2022 Klaus Flugge Prize winner Joseph Namara Hollis among judges
  • Support for new illustrators increasingly important as they struggle to break through

#KlausFluggePrize / #KFP23

Watch the 2023 shortlist announcement here:

The shortlist for the Klaus Flugge Prize is announced today (Wednesday 17 May). Established in 2016, the prize was set up to honour Klaus Flugge, founder of Andersen Press and a leading light in the world of children’s publishing and illustration. It is awarded to the most promising and exciting newcomer to children’s picture book illustration.

From a longlist of fifteen picture books by debut illustrators, the panel of judges have chosen five to shortlist. This year’s judges are multi award-winning illustrator Lydia Monks; Joseph Namara Hollis, winner of the 2022 Klaus Flugge Prize; Urmi Merchant, founder and owner of independent bookshop Pickled Pepper, London; and Dr Sarah McConnell, Course Leader of the Masters in Illustration course at Nottingham Trent University. The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, Director, Hay Children’s Festival.

The judges are looking for freshness and technical skills as well as a talent for creating character and in storytelling. The five shortlisted books star a boy helping his father bake bread for the people of a small fishing village; a little girl exploring the city with her Gran and adventurous orange kitten; and Mildred, a gallery cat with an urge to create great art. Demonstrating picture book creators’ ability to explore contemporary issues, in Saving the Butterfly, two young refugee siblings are inspired to find new hope for the future, while animals of all kinds work together as their city is submerged by rising waters in Flooded.

Lost in the City, by Alice Courtley, editor Elaine Connelly, designer Izzy Jones (Orchard Books)

Maya is a bit nervous about a trip to the big city, but little kitten Sammy, who’s stowed away in her bag, has no fears. Chasing Sammy leads to fun adventures, and a spot-and-find game for readers too. The judges admire Alice Courtley’s control of the story, and her use of composition and colour. They praise the consistency of the lively world she creates.

Thank you @alice_courtley for this introduction to LOST IN THE CITY

Mildred the Gallery Cat, by Jono Ganz, editor Cherise Lopes-Baker, designer Roanne Marner (Tate)

Inspired by the real gallery cat of Tate Modern, Jono Ganz’s story describes what Mildred gets up to when all the visitors have gone home. As she explores the different rooms, she wonders if she too could be an artist, and what it takes. The judges love the exuberance of the story and its joyous, playful communicativeness. The design skilfully maintains a balance between control and chaos.

Jono Ganz introduces us to MILDRED THE GALLERY CAT

Flooded, by Mariajo Ilustrajo, editor Lucy Brownridge, designer Karissa Santos (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)

It’s business as usual for these animals even as their town is flooded. Preoccupied by their own concerns, they deal with the practical inconveniences of rising water in humorous and inventive ways until finally they listen to the one voice urging action, and work together on a solution. This is an important story, cleverly told and beautifully drawn, say the judges, full of little details that allow children to explore its world, even if they can’t yet read the story.

Mariajo Ilustrajo explores FLOODED here

Saving the Butterfly, by Gill Smith, written by Helen Cooper, editor Denise Johnstone-Burt, designer Louise Jackson (Walker Books)

Two young siblings are rescued from the sea and start a new life in a new country. The older struggles, choosing to stay in their dark house until her little brother brings her a beautiful butterfly and new hope. This is a special book, say the judges. Smith handles a difficult subject really well. The illustrations are atmospheric and expressive, and we connect with the characters.

Gill Smith shares insight into the creation of the illustrations for SAVING THE BUTTERFLY

The Baker by the Sea, by Paula White, editor Ruth Symons, designer Genevieve Webster (Templar Books)

Written in homage to her grandad and a tribute to an enduring way of life, Paula White’s book describes a young boy helping his father, the baker in a fishing village. The boy thinks fishermen have the most important job, but working with his father changes his perceptions. The judges admire the lyrical depiction of the landscape, the strong sense of place and the rolling tempo: ‘It works magic’.

Paula White reveals the inspiration for THE BAKER BY THE SEA

Chair of the judges Julia Eccleshare says, “From a very strong longlist, our judges have selected a shortlist that celebrates community, creativity and adventure. Here are books that are sophisticated, playful, serious. The five illustrators are technically accomplished but bring a freshness which is very exciting. At a time when it is particularly hard for new talent to break through, we are grateful to Klaus Flugge for his generosity in sponsoring the Prize and for his lifelong support for authors and illustrators.”

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on Wednesday 13 September 2023 and will receive a cheque for £5,000.

KFP 2023 Shortlist Twitter card 1

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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