Illustrator and author Nicola Kent has been awarded the inaugural Independent Booksellers’ Best New Illustrator Award, which celebrates new talent in children’s illustration, as voted for by independent booksellers across the country.
As part of her prize, Nicola has designed the cover for The Best New Kids Books 2019, an annual supplement published in The Guardian on the first Saturday of Independent Bookshop Week (15th June). She will also receive a £1,000 cash prize and £500 worth of books to donate to a library of their choice.
The prize aims to raise the profile of debut illustrators as well as recognising the valuable contribution that independent booksellers make to promoting new talent.
Shortly after graduating from Cambridge School of Art with an MA in Children’s Book Illustration, Nicola was highly commended in the Macmillan Prize for Illustration 2016. She now has three books published by Macmillan Children’s Books: The Strongest Mum; Vera Jewel is Late for School and Terry and the Brilliant Book. The Strongest Mum is available in eight co-editions and is currently shortlisted for The World Illustration Awards.
The 20-page supplement The Best New Kids Books Summer 2019 contains 129 titles ranging from babies to Young Adult, selected by publishers and independent booksellers.
This year, publishers and booksellers have featured a number of inclusive titles, such as The Whispers (Puffin), The Same But Different Too (Nosy Crow), Julian is a Mermaid (Walker Books), Heartstopper (Hodder Children’s Books), Wizard vs. Lizard (Simon & Schuster Children’s UK), High Rise Mystery (Knights Of), Kick the Moon (Macmillan Children’s Books), Watch Us Rise (Bloomsbury YA) and Black Enough (HarperCollins Children’s Books).
Hilary Murray Hill, CEO of Hachette Children’s Group and Chair of the Publishers Association’s Children’s Publishers Group, said: “As children’s publishers, we are proud to support illustrators from the earliest stages of their careers right through the years and books that may follow. We hope that by recognising excellence in emerging talent, we will encourage and inspire the next generation of illustrators.”
Nicola Kent, winner of the Independent Booksellers’ Best New Illustrator Award, said: “Independent bookshops play a hugely important role in supporting new voices like mine and in sharing a love of children’s books with their communities. I am absolutely delighted to have been voted best new illustrator by these wonderful people. It’s a very exciting time to be making children’s books. Our high tech world has turned us back to books that you can hold, with proper pages to turn, especially for our children, and what better portal to their myriad worlds than our local bookshops!”