Winner of the Stratford-Salariya Children's Picture Book Prize 2017 announced!

A magical story inspired by Asian folklore has won the 2017 Stratford Literary Festival/Salariya Book Prize!

The Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival and the Salariya Book Company are delighted to announce that Camille Whitcher has been chosen as the winner of the 2017 Children’s Picture Book Prize.

Camille, who is a 2016 graduate of the Cambridge School of Arts Illustration MA, beat a very strong field of submissions with a magical story based on the Far Eastern folk legend of the Moon Rabbit, told to her by her Japanese mother. ‘She told me about Otsukimi (moon-viewing) festival,’ she explains, ‘which honours the autumn moon, and how people ‘offer’ food to the moon. She wasn’t sure about whether this involved any rabbits but as a rabbit lover myself, I had to put them together into a story!’

The competition was open to debut writers and illustrators, and Camille’s prize will include having her book published by Salariya imprint, Scribblers, later this year, as well as a £5000 advance against royalties from Salariya and advice from leading illustration agent, Jodie Hodges of United Agents, who was also on the judging panel.

'Camille Whitcher is a very deserving winner of the Stratford-Salariya picture book prize,’ said publisher David Salariya. ‘All the best bedtime stories end with the character's own bedtime, and this one is no exception! I was won over by the enchanting illustrations, the rhythm of the storytelling and the dreamlike quality of the narrative. I'm very much looking forward to introducing this fantastic picture book to our readers.'

Panel judge, illustrator Sarah McIntyre added: ‘Camille Whitcher's pictures are magic. They are just the sort of luminous dream world I would have wanted to explore as a child on the verge of sleep. A fresh new talent to look out for.’

Co-judge Nick Butterworth, the multi-million selling illustrator/author and creator of Percy the Park Keeper and Q Pootle 5, agreed: ‘With strong composition and technical maturity married to a confident text that complements the illustrations, this is a wonderfully appropriate bedtime story.’

Booksellers Ashley King of Waterstones, also a published illustrator, and Tereze Brikmane of the children’s bookshop Tales on Moon Lane brought their sales experience to the judging panel.

‘We were delighted by the volume and quality of the submissions,’ said Annie Ashworth, Stratford Upon Avon Literary Festival Director. ‘The Festival celebrates its 10th year in 2017 and the book prize is a brilliant way of confirming our commitment to championing reading and books, the enjoyment of which begins very young.

‘The judging was difficult, with an excellent runner-up in Chris Young, a bookseller and self-taught illustrator from Edinburgh, but in the end we felt that Camille’s story was both well planned and beautifully executed.’

The winning story will be published this year.

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