John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury Win First Ever Double BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award

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John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury, two iconic children’s authors and illustrators have won the first ever double BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award.

The BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates the body of work of an author or illustrator who has made an outstanding contribution to children’s literature. The award was set up in 2015 to recognise an author or illustrator’s lifetime of work. The first winner was Shirley Hughes, author of Dogger and the Alfie series, Judith Kerr was awarded the accolade in 2016 and The Snowman author Raymond Briggs was honoured with the prize in 2017.

John Burningham is famous for books such as Borka: The Adventures of a Goose with No Feathers, Husherbye, Avocado Baby and Granpa, which tackles important issues such as bereavement. Helen Oxenbury, meanwhile, is best known for illustrating titles such as The Three Little Wolves, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. The couple, who married in 1964, have won several literary awards individually but have only collaborated on one book together, There’s Going to be a Baby, published by Walker in 2010.

John said of winning the award: “I’m incredibly grateful to be given an award for a lifetime of work. I’m so very flattered when I hear people now say they love my books and that something I did 50 years ago still works and is enjoyed by their family.”

Helen commented “It’s particularly lovely as we have been awarded this honour jointly – and to get an award from BookTrust who know everything there is to know about children’s books is just wonderful.”

The adjudicating panel was made up of six prominent industry figures: current Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child; author and television presenter Dame Floella Benjamin; writer and illustrator Anthony Browne; poet and playwright Joseph Coelho; CEO of BookTrust, Diana Gerald and chair, writer and critic Nicolette Jones.

To celebrate BookTrust’s Lifetime Achievement Award there is a special FREE event held at The Southbank Centre as part of the Imagine Festival, honouring John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury’s brilliant books. On Thursday 15th February at 11am, well known authors and illustrators such as Chris Riddell, Polly Dunbar, Sophy Henn, David Roberts and David Melling will draw, sign books and share stories with a young audience. CLICK HERE to find out more about the event.

Michael Morpurgo, author and President of BookTrust said: “For hundreds of thousands of children over several decades the first books they ever fell in love with were by one or both of these wondrous storymakers. To turn the pages of their books is to travel into other worlds, to discover and marvel, and to want to return again and again for another visit. To read, to be read, Oi Get off my Train, or We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, and so many other iconic books is for so many the beginning of a great adventure, a whole lifetime of reading. In themselves they are works of two great artist/storytellers. They make books you never forget, that you hold in your head and heart. As enjoyable for the grown-up child often reading them out aloud, and the smaller child, listening and looking, lost in words and pictures. How right and proper that they share this honour. Their readers everywhere will be full of hoorays and huzzahs, as I am!”