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News story

Winners of the first-ever Doncaster Illustrator and Author Prize Announced at Doncaster Storytelling Festival

26 Jun 2024

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1500 students from 24 schools gathered to celebrate ‘The Power of Pictures’ at The Dome on Tuesday 25 July, as part of the Doncaster Storytelling Festival, hosted by the National Literacy Trust in Doncaster.

A Picture-Packed Schedule

The day began with a fun and interactive session from poet Paul Cookson, featuring live illustrations from Liz Million, which were signed and gifted to the various schools in attendance. From sing-a-longs with Paul’s ukelele, to cheeky drawing tips from Liz, the children enjoyed an unforgettable, laugh-a-minute show.

Liz and Paul were followed up by poet and author of The Cheat Book, RAMZEE, who shared his writing and illustration journey, from a student doodling at the back of his class, to working on Spiderman UK with Marvel. RAMZEE entertained the crowd with quick drawing tutorials, taking requests from the crowd to draw everything and anything from baboons, to beans and cheese on a jacket potato.

Whirling onto the stage to the tune of “snotball disco” author Anna Brooke wowed everyone with her very own song, and invited ten children to the stage to help create some of their own fun and slimy words, with some brilliant suggestions from the crowd as to what their new meanings could be.

The First-Ever DIPDAP Winners

To round off the day, the National Literacy Trust in Doncaster also announced the inaugural winners of the Doncaster Illustrator and Author Prize (DIPDAP) as author Anna Brooke and illustrator Owen Lindsay. The duo have been recognised for their incredibly funny and slimy tale, Monster Bogey, published by Chicken House.

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Reacting to the news, Anna Brooke said, “As a children's book author, winning any literary competition is brilliant. But winning one voted for by children is ‘snot’ to be sniffed at! I'm over the moon that my words and Owen Linday's illustrations have been chosen by so many of Doncaster's schoolchildren.”

“Storytelling (and when I say that, I mean both the act of telling a story and reading or hearing one) is central to who we all are. It helps us connect with other people, helps us make sense of the world, and helps us consider new ideas. And it can help us escape and find comfort too. It's how we learn things about ourselves, and it's why giving children access to books is so important.”

Owen Lindsay also shared his thoughts, saying: “I'm very honoured to receive this award, especially because it's been chosen by kids. When I was a little kid I was obsessed with anything spooky and gross, and Anna's story is exactly the sort of book I would have loved. Inspired by her amazing writing, when I drew Bogey I tried to imagine the sort of monsters that haunted my world back then. I'm so glad kids loved it!"

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Anna Brooke and pupils from Hilltop Primary celebrate the winning "pick"

Organised by the National Literacy Trust in Doncaster, the winners of the DIPDAP were chosen after votes on the six shortlisted books were submitted by 534 children from 13 local primary schools, who read and discussed each book with their classmates.

Phil Sheppard, Manager for the National Literacy Trust in Doncaster, said,Opportunities like this help children to discover books they enjoy , and provide them with a platform to share their thoughts and experiences. Whether through reading, writing, speaking – or illustrating – letting children’s voices be heard in a fun and interactive way can help them develop literacy skills for life.”

This matters because last year 1 in 4 11-year-olds in Yorkshire and the Humber left school without the reading skills they need to thrive. Building an enjoyment of reading is a vital way to tackle this and the National Literacy Trust in Doncaster uses illustrations to bring stories to life in a different way.

From poetry to comedy, the DIPDAP shortlist featured a wide range of books from authors who have written and illustrated their novels, and author-illustrator duos who have worked together to create an unforgettable reading experience. Monster Bogey received an incredible 130 votes, with pupils writing in to share their enjoyment of reading it – and others on the shortlist.

Rafaz, pupil at Hill Top Academy, Edlington, Doncaster, said, “We loved reading the different book(s) for the DIPDAP award. We’ve been using the illustrations too to work on our sketching skills.”

Amelia, another Hill Top Academy pupil shared,I was really excited to vote for the winning book. It has inspired us to read more and I have started to do some of my own writing based on the books.”

Anna and Owen each received bespoke trophies, created by talented local ceramicist, Emily Rowley.

The Doncaster Illustrator and Author Prize is set to return in January 2025, with a longlist of new books, chosen by librarians, teachers, families and schoolchildren from across Doncaster.

For more information about the Doncaster Storytelling Festival, visit our webpage, or follow us on Facebook.

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