Flavia Z. Drago has been named winner of the 2021 Klaus Flugge Prize for the most exciting and promising newcomer to children’s picture book illustration. She won for her book Gustavo the Shy Ghost (Walker Books) about a little ghost who despite being so shy he is invisible to the other monsters, eventually finds a way to make friends.
Flavia was presented with her award by renowned illustrator and cartoonist Posy Simmonds at an evening ceremony at CLPE (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education) on Wednesday 22 September. All five shortlisted illustrators were able to attend the event with their publishers together with previous winners and shortlisted illustrators, including the inaugural winner of the award, Nicholas John Frith. Klaus Flugge, the man behind the award, was there of course and ebullient as ever.
Accepting the prize, an emotional Drago said, “I feel incredibly happy and honoured to have won this year’s Klaus Flugge Prize. Getting my first picture book published was a dream that started about ten years ago. The journey was filled with ups and downs, rejection, uncertainty, and constant learning. I am so grateful to my lovely team in Walker Books for giving me the opportunity to make a story about shyness and monsters, and for having allowed me to share a glimpse of Mexico and its most beautiful celebration, The Day of the Dead with the rest of the world. Making picture books is a privilege and joy, and I hope that I will be able to keep doing this for many years to come.”
Congratulating her, Posy Simmonds described Gustavo, the Shy Ghost as, “Fresh, witty, well-paced and a visual treat.”
Chair of the judges, Julia Eccleshare said: “Each year the Klaus Flugge Prize celebrates the art of picture book illustration and puts the brightest new talent in the spotlight. The illustrators on this year’s shortlist demonstrate extraordinary skill and their very different books bring light, colour, warmth and laughter to readers of all ages. Congratulations to them all and very special thanks again to Klaus Flugge who has done so much to support and promote illustrators throughout his career.”
Established in 2016, the Klaus Flugge Prize was founded to honour publisher Klaus Flugge, a supremely influential figure in picture books. Flugge set up Andersen Press in 1976 and has discovered and nurtured many of today’s most distinguished illustrators including David McKee, Tony Ross, Satoshi Kitamura, Ruth Brown and Susan Varley.
Flavia Z. Drago receives £5,000 as winner.
The 2021 Klaus Flugge Prize shortlist in full is:
Child of Galaxies, Charlotte Ager, text Blake Nuto (Flying Eye Books)
While You’re Sleeping, John Broadley, text Mick Jackson (Pavilions)
Gustavo the Shy Ghost, Flavia Z. Drago (Walker Books)
I’m Sticking with You, Steve Small, text Smriti Halls (Simon and Schuster)
My Red Hat, Rachel Stubbs (Walker Books)
Alongside Eva Eland and Posy Simmonds, the judges are Darryl Clifton, Illustration Programme Director at Camberwell College of Arts; Fleur Sinclair, owner of Sevenoaks Bookshop; and Mat Tobin of Oxford Brookes University. Julia Eccleshare, director of the Children’s Programme at the Hay Festival, is Chair of the Judges.
New! Books for Keeps interview: Klaus Flugge Prize judge Mat Tobin interviews Flavia Z. Drago