A new prize is being launched to champion young, illustrated children’s fiction, which often goes unnoticed or underappreciated by other awards, according to judge Axel Scheffler.
The Alligator’s Mouth Award, created by Richmond-based children’s bookshop The Alligator’s Mouth, in partnership with illustration and literary agency The Bright Agency, will celebrate the authors and artists behind illustrated books published in the UK for readers aged six to eight years old.
The winner will be chosen by a team of judges led by Scheffler and comprising Margaret Wallace-Jones and Tony West (co-owners of The Alligator’s Mouth), Arabella Stein (director at The Bright Agency), acclaimed poet Joseph Coelho, children’s literature expert Andrea Reece and teacher and blogger Ben Cooper.
West said readers are made between the ages of six and eight and claimed some of the most inventive children’s fiction is being published for this age group, citing Dave Pigeon by Swapna Haddow and Sheena Dempsey, The Cat and the King by Nick Sharratt, Swashbuckle Lil by Elli Woollard, and Mango and Bambang by Polly Faber as examples.
“Our favourites sell brilliantly for us and we know that they make children into readers because parents, teachers and children tell us so,” he said.
“We love these books, would like to see more, and want to celebrate the valuable contribution these authors and illustrators make to developing a nation of thoughtful readers.”
Stein added: “I’m thrilled to be supporting an award that celebrates such an important and flourishing area in the market. Highly illustrated fiction offers a wonderful format for storytelling which not only beautifully marries art and text, but also acts as a crucial bridge in children’s reading journey as they progress from picture books to fiction.”
Short, illustrated children’s books published between September 2017 and September 2018 are eligible and submissions must come from publishers. Further details about the entry process for The Alligator’s Mouth Award can be found via the bookshop’s website.
Margaret Wallace-Jones, Tony West and Arabella Stein