Jan Pieńkowski wins BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award

Jan Pieńkowski wins BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award

Illustrator Jan Pieńkowski will today be presented with the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to children's literature.

Pieńkowski, who has published more than 140 books, is known for his silhouette cut-out illustrations, his pioneering work in pop-up books and the Meg and Mog series (written by Helen Nicoll). He was chosen as the winner of this year’s award by a team of judges, chaired by journalist Nicolette Jones.

“Jan Pieńkowski’s romantic and detailed silhouettes, which hark back as far as Asian shadow puppets, via the work of animator Lotte Reineger in the 1930s, have brought magic to children’s illustration, and enable all children to identify with his characters,” said Jones. “Not only has he been distinctive for this lovely tracery, but he has also been a pioneer of the pop-up book, and in his simply designed depictions of Meg and Mog has created an iconic picture book series.  I am delighted that this Lifetime Achievement Award has gone to Jan Pieńkowski.”

Pieńkowski was born in Poland in 1936 and his family fled the country when Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded during the Second World War. They later settled in Herefordshire and Pieńkowski read English and Classics at the University of Cambridge.

After graduating Pieńkowski set up the Gallery Five greetings card company with Angela Holder, who is now his agent, and began illustrating books in his spare time. His published works include Robot, Dinner Time and two biblical titles - Christmas and Easter - and he has won the Kate Greenaway Medal twice: for The Kingdom Under the Sea (written by Joan Aiken) and Haunted House.

Many of his books were published before Nielsen BookScan was set up in 1998 but according to BookScan sales data he has sold 59,000 titles in the UK, with a value of £623,000. The Meg & Mog series have sold 445,000 for £2.4m.

Pieńkowski, who now has Alzheimer's, joined forces with his husband David Walser for his latest book, a retelling of The Odyssey for Penguin Random House.  

Wasler said: “I think it’s wonderful that Jan has won the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award. He’s an exceptional children’s artist and writer and he’s given a huge number of children a lot of pleasure and perhaps it will go on after we’re all dead. I’m so glad this recognition has come in time.”