Kate Milner, a former librarian, has won this year’s Klaus Flugge Prize for the most exciting newcomer to children’s picture book illustration.
Milner received the award for her picture book My Name is Not Refugee, published by Barrington Stoke last year, about a boy and his mother who leave their home to find somewhere to live.
Milner studied illustration at St Martin’s College as a young woman but spent most of her career working as a librarian. When cuts to the library service resulted in her losing her job in her 50s, she applied to do an MA in children’s book illustration at Anglia Ruskin University and created the story that became My Name is Not Refugee as part of her degree show.
“I felt absolutely amazed and delighted when I heard that I’d won,” she said. "I was very, very pleased to be shortlisted but I explained to everyone at the time that there was absolutely no chance of me winning. I was quite clear about this. When I got the good news I was alone in the house apart from my son who was still asleep. I was beside myself with delight; he didn’t get to stay asleep long.
“I have done all sorts of things in my working life. I have painted pub signs and made prints; been a teacher and a carer. I have always made images and thought up stories, but it was a job at the local library that changed everything for me: I fell in love with children’s books… Despite my great age, I am, in many ways, about eight years old, and I still love to draw and make up stories. Becoming part of the world of children’s book feels like coming home.”
Andersen Press created the Klaus Flugge Prize in 2016 to hour the career of its founder, Klaus Flugge. The entries are judged by an independent judging panel including children’s laureate Lauren Child.
Julia Eccleshare, head of the panel, said: “For the second year running the prize has gone to a book which describes the refugee experience. Klaus Flugge has always championed picture books for children that challenge them to think about the world and how it works and it’s fitting that the prize in his name once again demonstrates that picture books can cover the most important and most topical subjects.”
Last year’s winner was The Journey by Francesca Sanna (Flying Eye).