This year the original judges – Leah Thaxton, Davinia Andrew-Lynch, Emma Eldridge and Donna Payne – were joined by author-illustrator Nadia Shireen and author Smriti Prasadam-Halls.
Reba Khatun, whose short work has been selected for other publications since the FAB Prize, won with her middle grade novel Made in Bangladesh. The judges described it as ‘a powerful and immediate piece of storytelling, vibrating with truth and rooted in a familiar context of family. We felt Reba was a writer who showed tremendous promise, originality and versatility’.
Yu-Hua Lo, currently studying Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art, won the illustration prize with her picture book Pepe Wants to Fly. The judges said: ‘The decision was unanimous that Yu-Hua should be our first place winner. Her character, Pepe the mole, is adorable, perfectly rendered in soft pencil. She uses a beautiful soft limited colour palette with clever and varied compositions, often playing with scale, keeping the reader engaged. It is pitch-perfect.’
The Faber Andlyn BAME (FAB) Prize launched in December 2016 as a joint initiative between Faber Children’s and the Andlyn Agency with the purpose of helping discover new writers and illustrators from BAME backgrounds, and to provide a year-long mentoring scheme for one author and one illustrator.
For writing, the second prize was Maliha Basak with Rumbumble, a middle grade adventure story. Malisa has worked on CBBC’s Hey Dugee! and was recently awarded a PHD studentship at Canterbury Christ Church University. On Rumbumble the judges said: ‘witty, idiosyncratic, confident – a writer that knows how to appeal to children’s sense of crazy, and to cater for those with a short attention span and the jaded!’
The second prize for illustration was awarded to Allen Fatimaharan, a recent graduate from Central St Martins with an MA in Character Animation, who submitted a portfolio of different work. The judges added: ‘Allen’s work is accomplished and versatile. His illustration, which often uses strong fluid lines, looks dramatic in colour or black and white. He shows skill in character development and storyboarding, no doubt owing to his animation background.’
The first prize winners will receive £500 plus a year of mentoring with Faber and Andlyn, and the second prizes will have a consultation meeting to discuss their work.
The judges have also selected a list of Highly Commended and Commended entries, who will also be invited to the prize celebration in July, where their work will be available for press and agents to view.
Numerous entrants commented on how much they valued the network of writers and illustrators built up through entering the FAB prize – each supporting each others’ endeavours.
‘We are delighted to see how all our winners are faring a year on, and very, very proud of the instances in which authors and illustrators have credited the FAB prize with boosting their confidence and inspiring their creativity. I am particularly thrilled that the FAB Prize has helped create a support network for all winners, including all the Commended and Highly Commended authors and illustrators – as mentoring and support is such a vital part of what can be a long and lonely creative process. Literary and commercial success never, ever comes easy!’