Camille Whitcher, a 2016 graduate of the Cambridge School of Arts Illustration MA, has won the 2017 Children’s Picture Book Prize, organised by the Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival and Brighton-based indie publisher Salariya Book Company.
Whitcher’s winning illustrated story was 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, 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,” said Whitcher.
The prize was launched last year to find undiscovered new illustrator talent and was judged by Sarah McIntyre (illustrator), David Salariya (founder of Salariya), Nick Butterworth (illustrator and author), Ashley King (bookseller at Waterstones), Jodie Hodges (agent at United Agents) and Tereze Brickmane (bookseller at Tales of Moon Lane).
McIntyre said Whitcher is a “fresh new talent to look out for”. “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.”
Salariya added: “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.”
Whitcher’s book will be published under the Salariya imprint Scribbers. She has also been given a £5,000 advance against royalties from Salariya and advice from Hodges.
The runner-up was Chris Young, a bookseller and self-taught illustrator from Edinburgh.