Already Mariajo Ilustrajo is the winner of the 2023 Klaus Flugge Prize for the most exciting and promising newcomer to children’s picture book illustration. Mariajo is already overall winner of the Association of Illustrators World Illustration Awards, the English Association 4-11 Picture Book Award 2023 and the UK Literacy Association Picture Book Award 2023.
She won for her book Flooded (Frances Lincoln Books), a funny but powerful demonstration of the impact of climate change in which animals attempt to carry on with business as normal, even while their city is flooding. Finally, they listen to a voice of reason and work together on a solution. Humour lightens every page and the book’s ending is positive and upbeat.
Mariajo’s intention was to tell her story in a new visual language. By simplifying the colour palette, using grey wash and just two colours, she draws our attention both to the sea-green water as it rises, and to the yellow tail of the little tamarin monkey who is alert to the problem from the start. The Klaus Flugge Prize judges describe Flooded as fresh and beautifully drawn, and full of playfulness even as it delivers an important message.
Judge favourite illustrator Lydia Monks says, ‘I was really impressed with Mariajo Ilustrajo’s book. The sophistication and competence displayed is exceptional for someone so new to publishing. I’m excited to follow her career.’
Fellow judge and 2022 Klaus Flugge Prize winner Joseph Namara Hollis adds, ‘Flooded has it all! It absorbs you into a world teeming with life. The character details are captivating, drawing you closer. Each page is dynamic with plenty to discover as the drama unfolds. And whilst it is a fun story, it delivers an important message with warmth and humour. This is a book to enjoy again and again.’
Mariajo Ilustrajo says, ‘It’s difficult to describe with words the joy of winning this prestigious prize. I’ve been an illustrator for a long time but becoming a children’s book illustrator and author seemed like just a dream. This recognition makes me feel that I’m heading in the right direction and encourages me to keep exploring new ways of creating new stories. I am ‘flooded’ with happiness and proud to know my book touched the Klaus Flugge Prize judges amongst such an amazing shortlist.’
Chair of the judges, Julia Eccleshare says, ‘Picture book illustration is in a robust state of health and the submissions for this year’s Klaus Flugge Prize were very strong. Our five shortlisted illustrators have enormous technical skill as well as an exceptional understanding of how illustration carries story and meaning. Huge congratulations to Mariajo on winning this year’s Klaus Flugge Prize; Flooded is a book that speaks both to now and of universal themes.’
Established in 2016, the Klaus Flugge Prize honours publisher Klaus Flugge, a supremely influential figure in picture books. Flugge set up Andersen Press in 1976 and discovered and nurtured many of today’s most distinguished illustrators including David McKee, Tony Ross, Satoshi Kitamura, Ruth Brown and Susan Varley. In April he received the London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award to add to his list of honours.
As it becomes increasingly difficult for debut illustrators to break through, the Klaus Flugge Prize is already recognized as one of the most important and influential awards thanks to its spotlight on exciting new talent. Previous winners include Eva Eland, Jessica Love, Flavia Z Drago and Kate Milner.
Alongside Lydia Monks and Joseph Namara Hollis, this year’s judges are Urmi Merchant, founder and owner of independent bookshop Pickled Pepper, London; and Dr Sarah McConnell, Course Leader of the Masters in Illustration course at Nottingham Trent University. The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, Director, Hay Children’s Festival.
The announcement was made on the evening of Wednesday 13 September in the library at CLPE, Webber Street, London SE1.
Mariajo Ilustrajo wins £5,000.
The 2022 Klaus Flugge Prize shortlist in full
Lost in the City, Alice Courtley (Orchard Books)
Mildred the Gallery Cat, Jono Ganz, (Tate)
Flooded, Mariajo Ilustrajo (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
Saving the Butterfly, Gill Smith, text by Helen Cooper (Walker Books)
The Baker by the Sea, Paula White (Templar Books)