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Hachette Children’s Group have announced the winner of the second Carmelite Picture Book Prize. Isobel Evans, a third-year illustration student at the University of Hertfordshire, has been selected as the winner of the 2017 prize.

The Carmelite Picture Book Prize, which launched in 2015, is a new award designed to recognise the most talented undergraduates, with the aim of encouraging and inspiring the next generation of illustrators for picture books.

The first prize of £1000, and the opportunity to publish a book with Rachel Bright, working with Orchard Books (an imprint of Hachette Children’s Group) has been awarded to Isobel Evans.

For this year’s prize, acclaimed author and artist Rachel Bright wrote a picture book text called Free-range Freddy. Hachette Children’s Group invited students, aged 18 and over, who are studying illustration and design at a further or higher education institution in the UK, to submit two colour spreads and a visual plan for the whole book.

Isobel Evans (left) and Rachel BrightIsobel Evans (left) and Rachel Bright

Entries were judged on 19th April, by the senior creative team at Hachette Children’s Group, CEO Hilary Murray Hill, Rachel Bright (author and artist) and Emma O’Donovan (book reviewer).

Winner Isobel said: “Rachel’s text appealed to me because it’s about accepting who you are, and that it’s okay to be different. That’s something that will always be relevant, particularly for children, as growing up can be really tough on those who don’t fit the mould. I really enjoyed illustrating Rachel’s text and it’s a huge privilege to be part of the 2017 Carmelite Prize.”

Sophie Stericker, Group Creative Director at Hachette Children’s Group, commented: “The standard of entries was extremely high. It was wonderful to see such stylistically diverse interpretations of Rachel’s text, by students from so many universities all around the country. The finalists demonstrated tremendous competence and creativity in visual storytelling, their approaches unique and entertaining. Isobel delivered a story beyond the words, with subtle, visual subplots and masterful characterisation.”

The second prize of £500 goes to Molly Fairhurst from Leeds College of Art and the third prize of £250 goes to Kate Sheehy from Cambridge School of Art. Simina Popescu (Central St Martins) and Rose Robbins (Cambridge School of Art) are highly commended for their submissions. All five individuals will be invited to Carmelite House for portfolio advice from the Hachette Children’s Group Art Directors.

Rachel Bright, author and illustrator said: “To my mind, a competition like this offers a rare and precious thing to an aspiring children’s book illustrator…the potential of a glittering bridge from ‘one day’ to ‘today’. It was such a privilege to be invited to author the story and be part of seeing the first chapter of someone’s professional career unfold.”

Hilary Murray Hill, CEO Hachette Children’s Group commented: “We were impressed, moved, made to laugh, and to sigh at the poignancy of some of the work.  We had an even larger crop of entries for the competition this year, from more different art schools and colleges. Word really is spreading about this opportunity for new illustrators to forge a creative relationship with a large publisher on a level playing field.  I congratulate Isobel on her outstanding submission and I thank all our judges including our wonderful author Rachel Bright for giving so generously of their time to each entry, making the second Carmelite Prize so worthwhile – and also a lot of fun.”

Last year’s prize was won by Mark Nicholas from Anglia Ruskin University, who illustrated Cressida Cowell’s The Story of Tantrum O’Furrily which will be published in hardback in spring 2018.