I was very fortunate to be invited to review the incredible selection of books shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize. The Prize will be awarded on 12th September to a debut illustrator of a published picture book. The five books on the shortlist will make judging the winner very difficult, such is the talent they demonstrate!
I enjoyed each of these very different titles and am delighted to share my reviews with you today.
My Name is Not Refugee written and illustrated by Kate Milner (Barrington Stoke) is a moving and sensitively portrayed journey of a refugee inviting young readers to think how they might feel if they had to leave their homes. A mother explains to her son the journey that lies ahead, some of it scary and some of it exciting but above all hopeful. Muted colours, use of light and shadow and blank space encourage you to stop and think and ultimately understand that refugees are just like us. The narrative is simple and each spread holds a direct thought-provoking question. A brilliant book to prompt discussion, particularly with (but not limited too) young children, this is a great example of how picture books and illustration can be used to aid understanding of important issues.
Big Box, Little Box illustrated by Edward Underwood (Bloomsbury) written by Caryl Hart is a light-hearted tale of curiosity and an unusual friendship. If you’ve ever had a pet cat you’ll know how much they love to play inside, outside and all over the place with boxes! The cat in this story is no different and has a wonderful time exploring all sorts of boxes, only to discover one is being in habited – by a mouse! Thankfully, the cat doesn’t respond as most cats would and a happy ending beckons. The lyrical, rhyming narrative is perfectly reflected in the colourful images creating a really enjoyable story. I particularly love the movement and expressions of the cat! I can imagine this being a story youngsters will want to read again and again.
The Night Box illustrated by Ashling Lindsay (Egmont) written by Louise Grieg is an enchanting tale of day turning into night. Little Max holds the key to the Night Box and as Day starts to wind down, it’s time to open the box! Night spreads across the land and out come the woodland animals, stars in the sky and of course, peaceful sleep. This is such an evocative tale you can almost feel night time cover you! Gorgeous illustrations, reminiscent of Oliver Jeffers in style, beautifully portray all the elements of night time from the animals to stars to the drip of a tap! Warm colours wrap around you like a blanket and bring to life the peace that can be felt at night time. This would be a wonderful story to allay young children’s fear of the dark and show them just how magical it can be.
Curiosity The Story of a Mars Rover written and illustrated by Markus Motum (Walker) tells the incredible journey of a real life mission to Mars. A fine example of the amazing non-fiction books available for children today, Curiosity is full of fascinating facts that will have young readers on the edge of their seats. Told from the robot’s point of view, the narrative brilliantly sparks the imagination around the wonder of the universe. Amazing and detailed illustrations share the world of space exploration and show just how advanced it has become, with double page spreads that highlight just how vast the solar system is. A completely fascinating story and visually stunning book, this is a fantastic way to encourage youngsters to be curious about their world and beyond!
The Real Boat illustrated by Victoria Semykina, (Templar) written by Marina Aromshtam is a wonderful tale about a tiny paper boat venturing to the big wide ocean. The paper boat wants to be a real boat and believes if he can get to the ocean his wish will come true. He journeys along the river and meets many other boats along the way, from rowing boats to tug boats, fishing boats and once at the ocean, vast steam ships. The dangers of the seas overwhelm him, but even as he sinks to the ocean floor, all is not lost and a perfect and happy ending is reached. Beautiful, intricate illustrations bring the wonderful world of boats to life and portray just how vast and precious our waterways and oceans are. Full of heart, the narrative also shares insight into the many and varied activities around boats and water. I love the little boat’s wonder at the world around him and his fearlessness in realising his dream. This is a lovely picture book story to share and the longer length makes it a really satisfying read.
I couldn’t pick a winner; they’re all brilliant! The judging panel has a difficult task ahead; the panel comprises Children’s Laureate and acclaimed illustrator Lauren Child; Francesca Sanna, 2017 Klaus Flugge Prize winner; leading art director Goldy Broad; and Charlotte Colwill, head of children’s books at Foyles, selected a shortlist of five. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on Wednesday 12th September 2018 and will receive a cheque for £5,000.
With thanks to the award organisers for sending me these books to review! For more information visit www.klausfluggeprize.co.uk