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We aim to inspire children to read and have even more fun with books.

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BookTrust announces winners of new Pictures First Competition

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BookTrust announces winners of new Pictures First Competition

April Prendergast

Six budding young illustrators, Janisha Paravastu, Miki, Silver Sleightholme, Gabriella Unciano, Olivia Snookes and Joe Smith have been revealed as winners of BookTrust’s Pictures First competition.

BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity launched the competition in February with Writer-Illustrator in Residence Sarah McIntyre. Children were asked to draw a picture using Sarah’s newly created Dumpling the Unicorn, as the central character. The prize for the six lucky winners, aged between eight and twelve, is to have their pictures inspire an exclusive short story or poem by a famous writer.

Sarah McIntyre, Philip Reeve, Holly Smale, Piers Torday, Candy Gourlay and John Agard have all written special stories or poems to accompany each colourful picture, which sees the adorable Dumpling encounter exciting escapades from discovering magic mermaids to cosmic adventures in the stratosphere.


Sarah created a step by step guide to drawing Dumpling, so children would easily be able to create the character and make each adventure as interesting and exciting as possible. For example, getting the size of Dumpling accurate is important: is it the size of a pony or enormous like Godzilla?  Are there other characters in the picture? Elves may suggest a forest, whilst different colours will influence the mood - yellow backgrounds might make it look cheerful and sunny or a hot pink splotch can make something stand out.

Author/Illustrator and BookTrust’s Writer-Illustrator in Residence Sarah McIntyre said: “I love the way each author has taken the children's ideas and added their own style and humour to them.  In talking about stories, people so often think first of the writers, imagining that they provided the first creative spark that got the project rolling, but it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes a picture will come first: a drawing or doodle, possibly even an image in a writer's mind. Even when the words come first, many illustrators take the stories to completely different levels, showing people all sorts of things with pictures that they won't find in the text. I'm keen for people to pay attention to the pictures in stories, and take note of the people who created them. Many children come to stories through pictures and drawing. We wanted to celebrate that pictures-first process by showcasing their artwork, and to encourage them to keep drawing stories!”

Diana Gerald, CEO of BookTrust said: “We’re delighted to have worked with Sarah on such a fantastically fun competition. Engaging in reading isn’t just about the words of a story. Drawings depict the fun in a story and help bring it to life and we’re pleased so many children got involved to send Dumpling on lots of adventures.”

Holly Smale, author of the Geek Girl series said: “Nothing sparks a story quite like the imagination of a child, so writing Dumpling the Unicorn with such a creative and ingenious origin was a joy. After all, why shouldn’t a unicorn go scuba diving with maverick mermaids if he wants to?"

Congratulations to all of the winners.  It really is a fantastic achievement and something you should all be very proud of.  We're sure you've inspired lots of others to draw some fabulous pctures too.  Thank you also to BookTrust for running such a lovely competition which really highlights the importance of pictures in books.