Klaus Flugge Prize Shortlist: Kate Milner summarizes

klaus fluggeLast night the shortlist for the 2019 Klaus Flugge Prize was announced at Foyles, Charing Cross Road.

The Klaus Flugge Prize is awarded to the most promising and exciting newcomer to children’s picture book illustration, and the winner will be announced on 11 September.

This year the shortlist is all-female, and the books are particularly interesting for their mix of traditional themes of family and imagination with very modern commentary on the right to self-expression, and the structure of contemporary society.

More and more picturebooks are taking a stance with social and environmental messages. Here, last year’s winner, Kate Milner (My Name is Not Refugee) introduces the six shortlisted titles:

shortlist klaus flugge

The Extraordinary Gardener by Sam Boughton

Joe, the hero of this charming story, starts with a pip from an apple core and ends by greening the whole city; a message that feels very timely. The final fold-out spread is a riot of colour and life. There is so much to discover here, this is a city that anybody would love to live in. Sam Boughton has an extraordinary facility for turning apparently casual mark-making into glorious cityscapes as well as believable domestic interiors.

Looking after William by Eve Coy

This delightful book is a real evocation of the warmth and humour of family life. The little girl at the heart of the story has decided to look after her father for the day, and Eve Coy has caught the tone of a child mimicking the adults around her perfectly. The charming illustrations are full of empathy, generosity and wit. They really bring William, his little daughter, his cat, and their home to life in a way that will beguile parents as well as children.

The King Who Banned the Dark by Emily Haworth-Booth

It seems obvious that the way to make sure no one is ever afraid of the dark again is to keep the lights on all the time; but, of course, the citizens of Emily Haworth-Booth’s town soon start to miss the dark. There is so much invention and humour in this little yellow and black and white kingdom, from the rather troubling light inspectors to the light bulb hats worn by all the dogs. This book is a rollicking roller-coaster ride with some big themes and good jokes. The vibrant energy of the illustrations exactly match the funny, anarchic text.

I Can Fly by Fifi Kuo

Despite his best efforts, the young penguin at the centre of this story can’t fly but, with a little help from his father, he can swim. Fifi Kuo has beautifully captured this busy and determined little bird and the amazing landscape in which he lives. It truly feels freezing cold. The image of this little penguin lost in the vast, freezing ocean is chilling, and rather heart stopping. It is a relief when Dad comes to the rescue.

Julian is A Mermaid by Jessica Love

The little boy at the centre of this warm and delightful story is really a mermaid. Jessica Love has represented this little boy in the real world of trains and city streets, and the more colourful world of his day dreams, with such delicacy and tenderness. He springs to life on every page, and so do the vibrant characters around him. With the help of his wise and wonderfully drawn old Grandma, he does find his place among the mermaids.

Red And the City by Marie Voigt

The city that Marie Voigt has created for her Red Riding Hood to get lost in is, at the same time, wonderfully sinister and totally familiar.  This is a world of cash machines and advertisements and fast food; and, always lurking in the shadows, watching her, is the wolf. The reader is very glad that Red Riding Hood has her loyal and sensible little dog to keep her out of real trouble. Both are delightfully evoked. The imagery is simple but so eloquent about the thoughts and feelings of this intrepid pair.