Jericho Prize is now a Community Interest Company (CIC)

Exciting update from us. Although the project has ended for this year, behind the scenes we have been busy making significant changes to our status. 

We are delighted to share that since 7 November 2023, we are now officially registered as a Community Interest Company (CIC).  

Becoming as a CIC, not-for-profit entity, formally solidifies our clear and legally recognised social purpose as an freely accessible writing competition and development programme. 

With CIC status comes more regulation and scrutiny, basically more paperwork for our founder Fabia, but we know this is worth the effort to  demonstrate our ongoing commitment to our cause, being accountable and serving the writing community. 

Image: Antoinette Brooks

Q&A with Jericho Prize 2022/23 winner: Antoinette Brooks

The amazingly talented Antoinette Brooks won our 2022/23 Jericho Prize for Best Picture Book Script with her wonderful story Friday Night Cake. A month on, our founder, Fabia, caught up with Antoinette to find out what life is like now she is an award-winning children’s writer and her thoughts on the future.

Antoinette, well done on winning the 2022/23 Jericho Prize! How did you feel when your name was announced at our awards ceremony?

In a word — shocked! I was enjoying the ceremony and, of course, listening to the extracts from everyone’s stories, and really didn’t expect to be announced as the winner. I think I screamed. I might even have shed a tear. It meant so much to me.


How did you celebrate and what was the reaction like to your win in the days that followed?

I didn’t have too much time to enjoy it at first. Immediately afterwards I had to do a little press — I’m also an illustrator and I was exhibiting some of my children’s illustrations at the City Literary Institute — so it was a busy evening! It was a wonderful experience to return to the exhibition and share the moment with everyone.


I was touched by the messages I received from people reaching out to say congratulations and well done. Later, I celebrated with a group of friends and a cocktail or two.

Image: Antoinette Brooks standing next to a gallery wall of her children's illustrations

Now that you have a publishing contract from Scholastic UK, which part of the book development process with a traditional publisher are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to meeting the team and learning how the entire publication process works. I want to take it all in, and savour and enjoy the experience. I know that Scholastic has a strong educational emphasis too — and I’m excited to learn the different ways that children will be able to enjoy and access the book through it being available in schools too.


I know you can’t share too many details but, in general, what was it like having your first-ever meeting with your editor at Scholastic UK?

I can’t share too much at the moment, but I can definitely say it was eye-opening, encouraging and exciting. It left me feeling exhilarated and ecstatic — I can’t wait to start working with them properly!


You’ve self-published several picture books previously. Would you like to tell us anything about those?

Thank you! There are three books which I published independently last year. I treated it as my own publishing venture, and I did everything! The illustrations, cover designs, layout and more. Two of them celebrate my Caribbean heritage. They are Motherland Sweet Motherland and Grandma, Grandma Brave and Tall. My third one is completely different. It’s about a mischievous little cat called Tippy Tappy — and she’s celebrating all the different things she loves to do.

Image: Antoinette Brooks with two of her self-published picture books.

You also won the Golden Egg Picture Book Prize recently, and you’ve been longlisted for the 2023 Mo Siewcharran Prize. How does it feel to be able to say you're a multi-award-winning writer?

In January, I was also selected to be part of the current Children’s Laureate’s Diversifying Children’s Literature Programme. How does it feel? It feels like it’s happening to someone other than myself! I think, as a writer, you need to believe in the power of the story that you’re telling but, of course, it’s wonderful to have the validation and recognition from those in the publishing industry too.


I also remember something I heard the Children’s Laureate Joseph Coehlo say in an interview — actually it was an interview last year with the Jericho Prize: “Don’t ever be envious of those who win prizes. That is temporary. What lasts are your books and the impact it has on the child reading it. That is what remains.” That helped me to see that once you enter a competition, you, as a writer, have done your part by meeting the deadline. Whatever happens after that is up to the judges, and I see it as a bonus.


As well as being a beautifully warm, well-written story, your winning picture book script, Friday Night Cake, was unapologetically authentic in its portrayal of Jamaican food (toto cake) and cultural practices. How important is it to share stories like this with a British audience, and do you think you will continue to write stories in this vein?

I’m so glad that the warmth and the love between the little girl and her grandmother came through. To celebrate the relationship and the sense of security that came from being in Grandma’s kitchen, through the process of baking a cake, was so important to me. I think this is something that anyone from any culture could identify with. The nuances might be different of course, but the underlying themes of what’s important stay from culture to culture.


I was born and grew up in London, with a Caribbean background, and that’s where much of my inspiration comes from. But, as a writer, there are so many different things I’ve experienced, and there are different ideas that get me excited, and I’d love to have the opportunity to share the diversity of stories that I write.

Are you on the hunt for an agent now, or are you flying solo?

I haven't got an agent as yet but am starting to have a look! 


If you could pick anyone to share a piece of toto cake with, who would it be, and why?

Ooh! There are so many people from history I’d love to have a chat and slice of cake with! So, if I am allowed to be greedy and have two slices of toto to share, I’d invite Rose Bertin, dressmaker and confidante to Marie Antoinette. She was so important that she was nicknamed the Minister of Fashion. In fact, it was her elaborate designs which helped fuel the French Revolution, but she managed to survive it all. I’d love to hear her eyewitness account of one of the most significant moments in history.


I’d also invite Madame C. J. Walker. She’s such an inspirational figure. She was an African-American woman who lost her parents by the age of seven and only had three months of schooling, yet went on to become a haircare entrepreneur and one of the world’s first self-made female millionaires. And she was a philanthropist too — helping thousands of women achieve economic independence. I think that’s amazing! I’d love to sit down with her and find out where her determination and resilience came from. I know there would be so much for her to share.


Anything else you’d like to share with us?

First of all, I really value this opportunity from the Jericho Prize and the support you give underrepresented writers like myself. I remember last year listening to a range of interviews you did with a diverse group of writers and agents — and I learned so much about the industry through those.


This has been a lifelong dream! My degree was in Economics but then I fell ill and savouring the stories from my parents’ generation, and writing and illustrating my own, became an important emotional expression for me. I’d say to anyone who wants to write that it’s important to believe in yourself by investing that time and commitment to become a better writer and illustrator. Last year, I was invited to work as a book illustrator on the We Can Be Heroes project in Scotland and that was such a significant moment for me.


I’d say that the writing community is an encouraging one, and I really appreciate the support I’ve received. So I’d encourage anyone to join groups like their local SCBWI, which I found so helpful, or the Society of Authors if you need advice. And write from your heart too.

Image: Antionette Brooks standing in a line with three other children's writers. They are all holding copied of their books.

Artwork for Jericho Prize 2022/23 by Ken Wilson-Max

The 2022/23 Jericho Prize focused entirely on picture books as we really need more Black-British writers involved in their creation, particularly when it comes to picture books about Black people.

While planning the writers' showcase for our awards ceremony this year, we wanted to do something a little different. We decided to include illustrations to accompany the writers' written words as, of course, in picture books the images have as much weight as the text. 

Our wonderful patron, Ken Wilson-Max, kindly offered to help bring each script to life by creating five absolutely stunning line drawings with black watercolour. 

If you want to see Ken's artistic process in action, creating these beautiful illustrations from scratch, you can watch our 2022/23 Awards Ceremony video on YouTube.

The original drawings are now hanging pride of place over our finalists' desks at home, but below are the still images of Ken's beautiful work for you to enjoy!

Friday Night Cake by Antoinette Brooks (2022/23 Winner)

Image of a grandma with a toto cake and her grandson who is eating a slice of toto cake.

Here Grandma shares a freshly baked Jamaican toto cake with her eager grandchild. Look at the incredible texture Ken achieves in Grandma's partially braided hair using brushstrokes of different lengths, size, shape and tone. 

And we love how he adds coconut-flake detailing to decorate the toto for that real authentic Caribbean feel. Just superb!

Timi and the New Yam Festival by Paula Sampson-Lawrence (Runner-up)

Image of a little boy having dinner and drinking a glass of water.

This comic moment in Paula's story is depicted gently using simple motion lines around Timi's head, as he drinks water to calm the burning caused by Grandma's spicy jollof rice. A careful balance is achieved here: Ken provides insight into Nigerian culture without going over the top with the comedy. 

We love how he has included a spoon for Timi, just as in Paula's text. This small object offers a nuanced perception of Nigerian village life, suggesting that time-honoured hand-to-mouth eating and the use of cutlery are both potential options at Grandmas' house. 

Stir De Pot! by Siobhan Graham (Runner-up)

Image of a little boy dancing. He is wearing a T-shirt that says 'Move it!'.

Ken's beautiful artwork encapsulates the energy, fun and joy in Siobhan's story all in this one image. The textual detail on Anton's T-shirt tells us a lot about our main character — he loves dancing, but perhaps he needs a lot of practice and encouragement. 

We love the way Anton is moving his hips to the rhythm— you can almost hear the soca beats reverberating off the page!

Where Are You From? by Sebrina O'Connor (Writer with potential)

Image of a little girl and a chick.

Sebrina's text was aimed more at the early years audience and this comes through so clearly in Ken's perfectly matched playful illustration. This gorgeous, quiet image of a preschooler having an intimate 'conversation' with a baby chick, in the grass, captures the child's innocence as well as her innate curiosity about the world around her. 

Her jet-Black cornrows are exquisite too, and Ken's gentle brushstrokes on the child's hair, and body of the bird, add real softness to this delightfully sweet piece. 

Whimsy by Krystal S Lowe (Writer with potential)

Again, Ken displays an effortless understanding of Black hair and hairstyles, with Whimsy's loose, chunky Afro twists so beautifully depicted. 

This image also supports Krystal's story incredibly well. What is quite a poignant moment in the story is given light and hope just with the simple addition of a black heart motif on Whimsy's jumper, along with uplifting, luscious over-sized, flowers and foliage

The above images have been kindly donated by Ken Wilson-Max. Thank you, Ken!

Winner of the Little Rebels Award 2023

The Little Rebels Children's Book Award showcases books that are deemed to be radical works of fiction for children aged 0-12. This year's ceremony was held at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education on 19 July. 

Patrice Lawrence won the award with her powerful teen novel, Needle, published by Barrington Stoke. Up for several other awards this year, including the Yoto Carnegie Medal, this is the first prize where this high-acclaimed novella has gone all the way to winning. You can read more on the Little Rebels website.

Jericho Prize 2022/23 Winner Announced!

Antoinette Brooks has won the 2022/23 Jericho Prize for Best Picture Book Script (3+) with her heartwarming authentically told story Friday Night Cake. Huge congratulations, Antoinette! 

She will receive several prizes including a publishing contract and mentoring from Scholastic UK, a 12-month scholarship membership with the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and a 12-month membership with the Society of Authors

Our two runners-up were:

Both writers will be mentored by experienced author-editors, either Anna McQuinn from Alanna Max or Natascha Biebow at Blue Elephant StoryShaping, and Ken Wilson Max from Alanna Max

Our two Writers with Potential were:

Both writers will receive detailed script feedback and an editorial consultation with author-editor Naomi Jones.

Watch our 22/23 awards ceremony below:

And, finally, in case you missed it, here are the names of the other longlisted writers this year:

Lillian Anyadi — Ada's Afraid to Fly 

Abena Eyeson — Grandad's Smile

Rachel Brown Mummy, Can I Be...Everything?

Shana Byfield Malachi's Caribbean Adventure

Fola Awofadeju — The Elephant in the Room

Special mentions

Ranti Beyioku — Gboyega Never Gives Up 

Helen Kirby — Grandad’s Garden 

Fola Awofadeju — The Incredible Onesie  

Cyrelle Polimis — The Race to Sports Day 

Huge congrats to our winner, Antoinette Brooks, but also to our five finalists, longlistees and Special Mentions writers. We look forward to seeing what happens next for you all. 

Image of book cover: Lenny Has Lunch by Ken Wilson-Max

Review: Lenny Has Lunch by Ken Wilson-Max (Alanna Max)

As it's Father's Day this Sunday, we thought now would be a good time to share the latest high-quality picture book in the Lenny series, revamped and republished by inclusive publisher Alanna Max

Skilfully written and illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max, Lenny Has Lunch is a positive celebration of a father-child bond that's perfect to share and read aloud with toddlers and preschoolers.

As with many Alanna Max books, traditional gender roles and stereotypes are challenged here, as while Mum's out to work it's Dad who stays home to cook and care for toddler Lenny. Moreover, in the first spread, Dad's fluffy pink slippers mirror Lenny's furry teddy bear reinforcing not only their strong connection but, also, suggesting that this is a caring, uninhibited Black man with thoroughly modern family values.   

Much more than a simple cheerful story about preparing and eating lunch at home, young children, with adult support, can also identify a range of colours, fruit and vegetables and practise counting/naming familiar objects, thanks to cleverly constructed bold and textured illustrations in a signature palette of primary and secondary colours. 

Additionally, Wilson-Max's language choices provide opportunities to develop phonological awareness while children are listening and singing along to the story. For example, there's the inclusion of the rhyme 'Row Row Row Your Boat', plenty of repetition and alliteration plus ever-so-delicious onomatopoeia children will relish reproducing the juicy 'slurp', 'splash' and 'plop' sounds while 'eating lunch' alongside Lenny. 

Lenny also mimics Dad's actions while he prepares a lunch from scratch, and he points to the vegetable pasta on the hob, showing not only his growing independence and communication skills but also the strength of his relationship with this special trusted adult. And, of course, Lenny's pet dog Wilbur joins in the fun in nearly every spread. 

Produced with such care and attention, with highly relatable lovable characters, this adorable picture book gently promotes healthy eating and father-son playtime. It also reminds us to share in the joy young children find in simple everyday routines!  

Thanks to Alanna Max for sending us a copy. 

Out 23 June 2023!

Buy it, here, from Bookshop

Review written by our prize founder Fabia Turner.

Meet the Jericho Prize 2022/23 Finalists!

As judging is now complete, we are thrilled to be able to reveal the names of the 2022/23 Jericho Prize finalists, and they are, in alphabetical order:

Congratulations to all five talented picture book writers! Check out the teaser video, above left, that we made with the writers. 

We can also reveal the names of the other writers who made our longlist and they are:

Lillian Anyadi Ada's Afraid to Fly 

Abena Eyeson Grandad's Smile

Antoinette Brooks Motherland, Sweet Motherland

Rachel Brown Mummy, Can I Be...Everything?

Shana Byfield Malachi's Caribbean Adventure

Siobhan Graham My Brother's My Best Friend

Fola Awofadeju The Elephant in the Room

Special Mentions

Ranti Beyioku — Gboyega Never Gives Up 

Helen Kirby — Grandad’s Garden 

Fola Awofadeju — The Incredible Onesie  

Cyrelle Polimis — The Race to Sports Day 

If you want to know more about our five finalist and find out who has won the Jericho Prize, our awards ceremony will take place, online, on Tuesday 27 June from 7pm to 8pm. (This event is now closed.)

Jhalak Prize 2023 Children's & YA Winner is Announced!

Danielle Jawando has won the Jhalak Prize 2023 Children's & YA with her powerful YA novel When Our Worlds Collided by (Simon & Schuster). 

The awards ceremony, hosted by prize founder, Professor Sunny Singh, took place at the British Library and was attended by a host of book industry peeps. Inaugural Jericho Prize picture book winner, Diane Ewen, was commissioned to produce a piece of artwork as part of the winning writer's prize.  

Congratulations to Danielle and all the shortlisted writers, who read extracts from their brilliant work during the event. 

To get the full scoop and see who won this year's adult Jhalak Prize, visit the Jhalak Prize website

Summer reads!

It’s been extremely busy here at Jericho Prize HQ, but we’ve just about managed to find some time to read two brilliant new books by Black writers coming out next month. If you’re looking for summer reads, then check these out:

Review: Kofi and the Rap Battle Summer by Jeffrey Boakye, illustrated by Beth Suzanna (Faber Children's)

Eleven-year-old Kofi is an habitual entrepreneur whose innovative, often risky, money-making schemes invariably land him in trouble. His luck changes when the discovery of bestie Kelvin’s hyperlexic skills enables him to produce a ‘phat’ fanzine of song lyrics called Paper Jam, which fast becomes a hit with the music-mad school crowd. As the dosh starts to roll in, how long will the duo’s prolific streak last?

In this highly original tween debut, inspired by his own childhood growing up on a South London estate, author Jeffrey Boakye’s confident, humorous and authentic voice delightfully catapults readers back in time, with exquisitely well-observed retro details woven through a gently comic adventure story.

Set in the early ’90s, where Gameboys and Gladiators precede Switches and Strictly, the story is deftly written in short chapters and has broad appeal, providing a satisfying sense of nostalgia for older Gen X-ers and Millennials, while engaging the current crop of younger readers through relatable topics and characters.

Kofi is an enterprising, cheeky yet thoughtful pre-teen, whose life on the estate is sometimes ordinary but often thrilling, sometimes scary but, mostly, fun. Featuring themes of ’90s hip-hop/rap culture and artistry, with a brief but well-handled depiction of racial profiling of Black males by Met police officers, this is far from the expected urban tale of Black-youth trauma. 

Boakye warmly and effortlessly explores tween-boy friendships, Black-British family dynamics and snowballing school-day mischief, all with light and shade and overriding joy.

A truly surprising, refreshing read!

Thanks to Faber Children’s for sending us a book proof and final copy. Note: My review was based on the proof, so I haven't commented on the illustrations - I have only just received the final copy (shown in the pic).

Out 1 June 2023!

Buy it, here, from Bookshop

Review: Fablehouse by EL Norry, illustrated by Thy Bui (Bloomsbury Children's)

When children become inexplicably ‘changed’ at spurned orphanage Fablehouse, headstrong Heather and three friends make a legendary discovery that leads to a perilous quest in the magical realm of the Fae. Will the fearless foursome defeat the Fae’s leader, save the children and reclaim the one place that feels like home?

Set in 1954, this intriguing middle grade, the first in a series, is an extremely moving, magical adventure which uniquely combines lesser-known historical events and Arthurian legend.

Fablehouse is inspired by an actual nursery school, Holnicote House, which, during the 194Os, was commandeered by Somerset County Council as a children’s home for ‘brown babies’ born, largely illegitimately, to African-American soldiers and white-British women, during and soon after WWII.

Norry, who was herself brought up in care, portrays the orphaned children’s often conflicting feelings of anger, abandonment/loss, betrayal, love, reverence and hopeful nostalgia towards their estranged families with sensitivity and, at times, heartrending accuracy.


She demonstrates a nuanced understanding of what it’s like to navigate complex mixed-heritage identities, during an increasingly hostile post-war climate. Although racism and colourism are rightly explored throughout, these themes are handled in a well-balanced and thoughtful way for confident young readers, offset by the thrilling otherworldly encounters experienced by Heather and her fellow outcasts — ancient Black Knight of the Round Table Palamedes and the elusive Lady of the Lake are particular favourites. 


In addition, Norry gradually builds memorable dual realms rooted in glorious nature imbued with magic. In the human realm, her richly descriptive while easy-to-read prose provides a vivid sense of the homely-yet-eerie atmosphere at Fablehouse — a mansion home of faded grandeur. The mysterious ancient woodlands, the treacherous stony coastline and the atmospheric moors that surround the estate are also wonderfully depicted. We get a clear sense of vast wild expanses where the four young heroes are free to become ‘Roamers’. As much loving attention is given to the sinister decaying underbelly realm of Fae Feld, that lies beyond the cairn, whose devious inhabitants tantalisingly infiltrate human spaces.


With strong themes of abandonment and banishment but also of family, friendship and belonging, this impressive novel, with a strong lead in Heather, gives a voice to the unwanted brown babies of the past and will inspire every child to think about where they belong in the present.   


Thanks to Bloomsbury for sending us a proof copy.

Note: This book was produced in collaboration with StoryMix. I can't comment on the illustrations as I don't yet have a copy of the final book. Update: I have just received the published book so have added a photo. 

Out 8 June 2023!

Buy it, here, from Bookshop

Reviews written by our prize founder Fabia Turner.

Jhalak Prize 2023 Children's & YA Shortlist is Out!

This year's Jhalak Prize Children's & YA shortlist features the following brilliant titles from minoritised writers including two picture books:

The winner will be announced on 25 May. Read more here.

Oscar's Book Prize 2023 Winner Announced!

The winner of the 10th Oscar's Book Prize for picture books for young readers was announced on 9 May at a London-based ceremony.

A beautiful story about friendship, The Boy With Flowers in His Hair (Walker Books) was created by accomplished author-illustrator Jarvis. Jarvis was chosen from a wonderful list of six shortlistees, to take home the £10,000 prize. 

Read the full story here.

Oscar's Book Prize 2023 Shortlist Announced!

Oscar’s Book Prize is an annual award recognising the very best picture books for preschoolers, published each year in the UK. The prize is given in memory of a young boy, Oscar Ashton.

Here is this year's fabulous shortlist:

Billy and the Pirates by Nadia Shireen

Frank and Bert by Chris Naylor Ballesteros

Can I Play? by Nicola Kinnear

The Gecko and the Echo By Rachel Bright and Jim Field

The Boy With Flowers in His Hair by Jarvis

The winner will be announced on the 9th May 2023. 

Announcing the Jericho Prize Picture Book Shortlist 2022/23


All 12 longlisted picture book stories have now been thoroughly pored over and assessed by our shortlisting judges. We are delighted to announce the final five, and they are...


Friday Night Cake

Stir De Pot

Timi and the New Yam Festival

Where Are You From?



Massive congratulations to all the five shortlisted writers! All your scripts perfectly encapsulated the ethos of the prize and were enjoyed immensely. We know this news is exciting enjoy it but please continue not to identify yourself publicly (see below). You should have received a phone call from us already, and we will update you, via email, about the showcase for our awards ceremony. 


The shortlist features story titles only, without revealing the writers’ identities. This is because the competition is judged anonymously during the final phases.


To those longlisted writers whose scripts are not on the shortlist, please know that it was an incredibly tough decision for the second-phase judges, who thought all the scripts had enormous potential. We will email your script feedback to you this week, and hope that you will find it helpful in further developing your work, to make it as strong as it can be.


Thanks to our three shortlisting judges who gave up their time to read the scripts and did a fantastic job in creating the final five.


The five shortlisted scripts will now be passed to our final judges Caroline Carpenter, Stella Hine and Simone Taylor who will decide the overall winner and allocate the runner-up prizes, during a meeting in mid-May. 


Our online awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday 27 June 2023 and a limited number of free tickets will be released nearer the time. We would love Jericho Prize writers, family and friends, interested book industry peeps and members of the public to attend. 


The winner will be announced at the Jericho Prize online awards ceremony on 27 June 2023 (time TBC), so do check back nearer the time for an update.

Jhalak Prize 2023 Children's & YA Longlist is out!

Sister book award to the adult Jhalak Prize, the Children's & YA Prize is a fairly recent important addition that recognises the work of British minority-ethnic writers for younger audiences. 

This year, it's wonderful to see so many Black and mixed-Black British authors dominating the longlist, and they are:

Also, one of our fave friends of the Jericho Prize, Rashmi Sirdeshpande, is listed for her picture book Dadaji's Paintbrush! We wish them all the very best of luck with the next phase of the competition.  

You can see the full selection of longlisted titles in the image below And, if would like to find out more, and check out the adult longlist, visit the Jhalak Prize website.

Image, courtesy of the Jhalak Prize

Announcing the Jericho Prize Picture Book Longlist 2022/23


After carefully reading all 105 picture book stories by new writers, 12 scripts have been longlisted for the Jericho Prize for Children’s Writing 2022/23, and they are...


Ada's Afraid to Fly

Friday Night Cake

Grandad's Smile

Malachi's Caribbean Adventure

Motherland, Sweet Motherland

Mummy, Can I Be...Everything?

My Brother's My Best Friend

Stir De Pot

The Elephant in the Room

Timi and the New Yam Festival

Where Are You From?



Huge congratulations to all the longlisted writers! Do a little happy dance or shout and scream in private but please do not identify yourself publicly (see below).

Stories that deserved a special mention

The task of selecting only a dozen stories to go through to the next stage proved so difficult that this year we decided to give another four scripts a special mention in recognition of their amazing potential. Well done to the writers of the following four stories:


Gboyega Never Gives Up

Grandad’s Garden 

The Incredible Onesie

The Race to Sports Day


You may notice that the longlist only features story titles, without revealing the writers’ identities. This is because we have introduced anonymous judging for the next two phases.


The three second-phase readers will not know whose scripts they are selecting for the shortlist of five and neither will the final judges who will read the shortlisted scripts to select the overall winner in April.


Thank you everyone for being brave and submitting your work to us. If you don’t see your story on the longlist, please don’t be discouraged. Another unique feature of our process in 2022/23 is that our six first-phase readers have prepared feedback for each script, which you will receive in an email over the coming days. We hope their valuable, constructive comments, with a few suggestions for improvements and lots of encouragement, will guide you along your creative journey. Thank you to our volunteer expert readers, who included children’s authors, teachers and community leaders; they’ve offered a range of perspectives on each of the submitted scripts.


The shortlist will be announced on this blog around 11 April 2023 so do check back then for an update.

Image: Black woman's hand writing notes

Longlisting judge blog: Crystal Norbert

The Jericho Prize for Children’s Writing closed for submissions on 9 January 2023, and we were thrilled to receive 105 picture book scripts. Since then, every script has been read at least twice: all 105 had an initial eligibility read by two members of the Jericho Prize team and then the eligible scripts were passed to our longlisting team comprising six expert readers. So, there are two stages of reading even before the shortlist is created. 

In today’s blog, longlisting judge Crystal Norbert reflects on her experience of being a Jericho Prize reader for the first time. 

Having run the community project See Me On The Page for a year, it’s safe to say that I’m committed to ensuring that Black children and young people are featured as main characters in books. 

It was a no-brainer then that I’d want to get involved when the Jericho Prize put a call out for judges for their writing competition. I would get to support an organisation that closely aligns with my project and be part of an initiative which promotes Black and Black-mixed authors and their amazing stories. 

I put myself forward and kept my fingers crossed. About a month later, I received an email confirming that I had been selected as a longlist judge. I was nervous as I’d never judged for the Jericho Prize before, but I was keen to get stuck in. I received 70 submissions and had a month to read them.  

I thought that judging picture books without illustrations would be difficult, but it made things simpler. When the writing was good, the illustrations were easy to visualise. When marking, I thought not only about how the story would be received by the target audience of three-year-olds but also about what I would have benefited from reading at that young age. 

I really enjoyed seeing themes of family, culture and everyday life in many of the scripts but it would have been nice to read stories with more magic or that highlighted parts of the diaspora that aren’t usually mentioned (many of the scripts featured the same countries in Africa or the Caribbean). 

I found that, in some cases, representation wasn’t very strong and the characters appeared a bit generic. This was surprising to me given the focus of the competition. I also felt that there were some entries that didn’t leave space for the illustration.

I really appreciated my experience as a judge and the guidance from the Jericho Prize team made the process smooth. All the stories were enjoyable to read and showed the importance of this platform in creating a space for writers to advance.

I wish all entrants the best of luck and, for those who didn’t make it to the next round, don’t give up! Hopefully the feedback will help you on your journey as a picture book writer.

About Crystal: Crystal is the founder of See Me On The Page, a community project which seeks to promote Black and Black-mixed main characters in print. She runs an outdoor library and events to highlight the initiative. Follow her on Instagram: @SeeMeOnThePage and Twitter: @SeeMeOnThePage1.

Image: See Me on the Page Outdoor Community Library box of Black books

Image: courtesy of See Me On the Page

Waterstone Children's Book Prize 2023: shortlists announced!

This annual prize, chosen by Waterstones' booksellers, celebrates the very best in new talent in children's writing. We are thrilled to see a couple of our favourite Black-British writers in the Illustrated Books category. I'm Not A Prince by Rachael Davis, illustrated by Beatrix Hatcher and the surprisingly wonderful The Missing Piece by Rizzle Kicks star Jordan Stephens. 

In the Young Readers category, JT Williams has been shortlisted for her first novel in the Lizzie and Belle mystery series, The Lizzie and Belle Mysteries: Drama and Danger, illustrated by Simone Douglas. (JT Williams is the pen name of author Joanna Brown.) 

There are three categories for these prestigious awards: Illustrated Books, Younger Readers and Older Readers. Click here to see full details of all three shortlists. 

February’s hot picks!

Introducing an exciting new feature for our blog! 

From now on and every month, Jericho Prize team member and booklover, Rachel, will bring you a handpicked selection of the best Black children’s books releasing in the UK from picture books to YA. All the books will feature the work of Black authors and/or Black illustrators. Here are February’s hottest releases:

Unspoken by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Dare Coulter (Anderson Press)

Unspoken is a powerful and vitally important non-fiction book about the history of slavery. A perfect introduction to the topic for both children and adults, this accessible book never shies away from the horror of slavery. Told through the lens of a teacher speaking to their pupils, this is a very important and impactful book.

This book is out on 2 February 2023. 

Buy it, here, from Hive

The Missing Piece by Jordan Stephens, illustrated by Beth Suzanna (Bloomsbury)

Another beautiful picture book out in paperback, in February, is The Missing Piece. This is a lovely picture book about family and friendship, as Sunny goes on a journey to find the final piece of her jigsaw puzzle.

This book is out on 2 February 2023. 

Buy it, here, from our favourite bookshop Afrori Books

Secret Beast Club: The Unicorns of Silver Street by Robin Birch, illustrated by Jobe Anderson (Puffin)

Robin Birch is the joint pen name of author Rachael Davis and StoryMix series producer Jasmine Richards, and this is their first chapter book in an exciting new series filled with magic, friendship and magical creatures. Aisha and Jayden find themselves members of the Secret Beast Club, an ancient club that protects mythical creatures, and are thrown into a whole world of new adventures! This book is inspired by the life of Pablo Fanque, who was the first Black circus owner. Perfect for younger readers aged 6+

This book is out on 16 February 2023.

Preorder it, here, from Bookshop

Kyan Green and the Infinity Racers by Colm Field, illustrated by David Wilkerson (Bloomsbury)


Featuring the artwork of Afro-American illustrator Dave Wilkerson, this chapter book, perfect for younger readers, is an action-packed adventure novel about a magical racing-car game. When Kyan finds an old racing game in his loft, little does he know he is about to be pulled into a racing game that will have him travelling through the Universe!

This book is out on 16 February 2023.

Preorder it, here, from Bookshop

If you've got a great book coming out by a Black creative (author or illustrator) that you'd like us to feature, do get in touch. We'd love to hear from you!

Rachel Gray is an Edinburgh-based book lover with a real passion for children’s literature. She volunteers as social media and comms assistant for the Jericho Prize and currently works for Scottish Book Trust, a Scottish charity encouraging reading across the country. Rachel runs a book blog A Cascade of Books and social-media accounts where she shares her love of books! 

The 2023 Newbury and Caldecott Medal winners have been announced!

John Newbury Medal (Newbury Medal) is the most prestigious award given to an author deemed to have made the most outstanding contribution to American children's literature. 

The 2023 Newbury Medal winner, announced earlier this week, is Amina Luqman-Dawson, who has won with her debut, historical middle-grade Freewater (published by Little, Brown/Patterson), edited by Alexandra Hightower. 

It's actually a double celebration for Afro-American author Amina, who has also won a Coretta Scott King book award. The Coretta Scott King awards are given annually to Afro-American authors and illustrators 'who demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values'. What a fantastic achievement!

Another prestigious American award, the Randolph Caldecott Medal (Caldecott medal), is given to the most distinguished children's picture book of the preceding year, and Doug Salati has won the 2023 Caldecott Medal for his joyful work Hot Dog (published by Knopf), edited by Rotem Moscovich. 

The Newbury and the Caldecott awards are given annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC).

Founder Fabia Turner’s initial thoughts on Jericho Prize 2022/23

Jericho Prize 2022/23 closed for submissions midday on 9 January. We received a whopping 105 submissions which is more than double our inaugural year, far exceeding our expectations considering we are a niche award. 

More writers outside of London and the South East engaged with the project this year including a small proportion from Wales and Scotland, but just like in 2021, there were no entrants from Northern Ireland. As you can see from the pie chart, below, we still have more to do in terms of spreading the word across the UK to engage members of Black communities:

Out of the 105 submissions, the majority were new, original pieces of writing with a small percentage of self-published scripts. 

A higher proportion of stories were written in prose this year and, as expected, the most popular genre by far was everyday/familiar settings, ie realistic stories featuring children with their families at home. There were not many submissions in the funny or imaginative (out of this world) categories — we would have loved to have seen more of these. That said, a significant slice of submissions (18.6%) were unclassified. There were far fewer stories about Afro hair but many of the scripts focused on loving grandparent-child relationships just like in 2021. Numerous submissions featured Caribbean and West African food/recipes with the common theme of handing down knowledge to the younger generation. Interestingly, we received a handful of traditional tales/retellings, which we did not see at all in 2021:

I am reassured by all the pretty pie charts above that the Jericho Prize is fast becoming an important launchpad for emerging Black-British writers with a serious desire to create inclusive books for young children. That said, only nine writers returned from the 2021 cohort which is lower than expected but, hopefully, this is because some have been offered new writer development opportunities. I know of at least nine Jericho Prize 2021 longlisted writers who have gone on to find literary agents, are working with mentors or have been shortlisted for other competitions, plus a couple who have even secured publishing contracts. Approximately 10 of the writers who either attended our free Scholastic UK picture book workshops/author talks or our monthly reading group submitted scripts – most of the 105 submissions were from complete newcomers. 

This year's award focuses entirely on picture book scripts, a very special format that presents stories in a unique way, quite different to chapter books or novels. In great picture books (apart from wordless picture books) the text and images are more equally weighted, dovetailing to convey a story, often in a layered way, for the reader. 

The best picture book stories are like theatre primarily because, like plays, they are designed to be read out loud and have cracking plots with lines delivered by characters and narrators (actors), but all conveyed concisely, in 32 pages, rather than a two-hour stage play. There are other similarities too. The front and back endpapers of a picture book are like a theatre backdrop (curtain-up/curtain-down). The single or double-page spreads are like stage scenes and, instead of set design with backgrounds and props, picture books have page design (layouts) and scene-setting illustrations. All the drama of a stage play can be found in a picture book, through more than just the characters’ actions. It can come from suspense-filled page turns or surprising wordless pages; variation in pace or line length; or climactic central spreads. Even more deliciously, drama can often be found in the intriguing contradictions between what the text says and what the pictures reveal to the audience. 

The Jericho Prize is looking for writers who not only demonstrate potential to write these captivating pieces of mini-theatre but who also have some market awareness, crafting stories that, with development, 21st-century children will want to read time and time again. 

Writers who are willing to improve their craft by reading current picture books; who are non-precious about their text; who are flexible and imaginative in their thinking; who consciously leave space for the illustrator when writing; who understand that picture book magic happens between the writer and illustrator — these are the people we are looking for as they are likely to become the best picture book writers of the future. 

We are looking forward to reading all 105 submissions with the above considerations in mind. More updates soon! 

The Yoto Carnegie 2023 nominations announced!

The annual Yoto Carnegie 2023 nominations have just been announced and it's an exciting, diverse selection of books and creatives this year! It is particularly brilliant to see so many Black creatives on the lists including Dean Atta, Natasha Bowen, Yaba Badoe, John Agard, Alex Wheatle and Dapo Adeola. Click on the links below to view the nominees for both categories:

Yoto Carnegie 2023 nominated titled for writing

Yoto Carnegie 2023 nominated titles for illustration

Formerly known as the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, the Yoto Carnegies is the longest-running and most-loved children’s book awards in the UK. 

Run nationally, including a wonderful shadowing scheme for schools and libraries, it offers two main awards for outstanding work in writing and illustration in books for children and young adults. 

Last year's winner for illustration was Danica Novgorodoff with a graphic-novel edition of Jason Reynold’s 2019 Carnegie-shortlisted title, Long Way Down (Faber).

Image of Yoto Carnegie 2022 winner for writing Katya Balen

Image: Tom Pilston 

For writing, Katya Baylen (above), won with her exquisite middle-grade novel October October (Bloomsbury). She also won the Shadower's Choice Award so it was a double celebration for her

The winner of the shadower's choice award for illustration was Mariachiara Di Giorgio for her glorious wordless picture book Midnight Fair, which is on our Jericho Prize picture book reading list

The 2023 longlist will be announced on the 15 February so watch out for that!

Image: Emma Norry

Reflections from Jericho Prize 21 shortlisting judge: Emma Norry

The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) ‘Reflecting Realities’ report on diversity in UK children’s publishing came out in November 2020 and, at the time, publishing seemed a discouraging space for Black-British writers. But then, in May 2021, I became aware of the Jericho Prize, set up to specifically encourage Black-British writers. What a fantastic and necessary initiative! When Fabia approached me to create a five-minute video for their website, encouraging authors to enter their writing contest, I jumped at the chance. 

I loved that the award was so inclusive by being free to enter. Keeping it free definitely helps to make the contest accessible. The Jericho Prize is also open to self-published writers. Sometimes the industry can seem like a closed, almost impenetrable, shop if you aren’t from a creative or publishing background, but the last few years have proved that self-publishing can be an amazing way to reach an audience on your own terms as successful, popular writers Tọlá Okogwu and Kandace Chimbiri have proved! 

I asked if there was any other way I could be involved with the Jericho Prize, apart from creating video content. In the end, I helped with the shortlisting judging stage of the Chapter Book category. I wanted to show my support – I honestly don’t know how Fabia does it all – she’s a powerhouse!

I really enjoyed the judging process. It was wonderful to see the wealth of talent that’s out there now. In each script I was specifically looking for a strong hook and a voice which carried me along. I also wanted to see a strong sense of cultural identity, so that our Black-British children, who perhaps might read these stories one day, would recognise themselves and their cultures on the page. The entries did not disappoint!

I’m not a picture book writer and so didn’t feel qualified to help with judging this year, but I’d say that all good stories – whether in a picture book or chapter book – will have elements in common. We need characters that we care about and can root for. 

Our youngest readers need to see themselves reflected in the books available and what better way to begin than with those first books we all love to share together? I’m so excited to see the Jericho Prize grow and can’t wait to see the winner pair up with Scholastic UK this year!

Image of the book The Book of Legends by Lenny Henry, illustrated by Keenon Ferrell

Review: The Book of Legends by Lenny Henry, illustrated by Keenon Ferrell

“An effortlessly witty delight that transports readers to a new world.” 

By Tennille Rolingson

From the moment I picked it up to the moment I set it down, one thing remained ingrained in my mind: this is the book I wish I’d had growing up.

Lenny Henry has successfully offered middle grade readers, particularly Black kids, an insight into a world that previously seemed inaccessible.

The thoughtfulness put into making the story relatable to Black-British children is evident from the fictional setting in the diverse South Midlands town of Ruthvale, to the descriptions of the homemade jollof rice and stew. It’s deliberate and relatable without trying too hard.

A newcomer to children’s fiction having only previously written The Boy with Wings (Macmillan Children’s, 2021), Henry quickly gains his balance within the first few chapters establishing loveable characters, twelve-year-old twins Bran and Fran. From here onwards, all the unique characters hold their own weight within the story.

As the story gains momentum, we find ourselves navigating an exciting adventure, alongside the twins, in an imaginary realm created by their storyteller-mother Effiya. This other world, the Nine Dominions, is filled with wonderfully eccentric characters, from the wicked ‘handsome’ prince to the talkative Zebracorn, ensuring there is never a dull moment.

The fantasy of the Nine Dominions directly contrasts with their real world which is temporarily in shambles. However, more than a means to escape, the twins’ journey into this world is one of discovery. In fact, it’s the key to solving all their problems (and finding their mum).

Henry’s charming wit comes through masterfully on every page, his inner child fully in tune with young readers. It’s fair to say that The Book of Legends is filled with magic and Henry has certainly earned his status as a ‘comedy legend’. It’s also telling how his words speak to those who tend to get lost in their imagination. In a way he is telling us it’s okay to do so, once in a while, and as someone who tends to drift off ‘to another planet’, I rather enjoyed that concept.

At the same time, Henry tackles difficult real-life situations in digestible bitesize scenes which aren’t too forceful for their young audience, reminiscent of books by one of my favourite childhood author’s Jacqueline Wilson. To finally see topics such as loneliness and family drama explored by characters that resemble me, brings joy to the little Black girl I once was. From laughing one second, to tearing up the other, this novel left me thoroughly entertained and wanting more.

As the plot reaches its crescendo and all the loose ends are perfectly tied up, you’re struck by how much the twins’ mother’s words hold a lingering power through magic. The Book of Legends is a much-needed book about friendship, family and imagination. It truly is an effortlessly witty delight that transports readers to a different world.

The Book of Legends by Lenny Henry, illustrated by Keenon Ferrell, is out on 13 October!

Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Books for sending me a proof copy. (I haven’t commented on Keenon Ferrell’s illustrations, although the few roughs that I saw were brilliant!

Image: book cover Pierre's New Hair by Joseph Namara Hollis

Klaus Flugge Prize 2022 Winner announced!

Joseph Namara Hollis has won the Klaus Flugge Prize 2022 with his joyful picture book Pierre's New Hair. Read more here

Klaus Flugge Prize logo
Image: Klaus Flugge Prize logo

Klaus Flugge Prize 22 shortlist is out!

The Klaus Flugge 2022 shortlist has been announced! Click this link to watch a video and learn more from the judges about the six chosen picture books. 

Image: montage of six picture book covers, i.e. Pierre's New Hair; Mammoth; Rescuing Titanic; Alley Cat Rally; Tale of the Whale; and Choices
Image of Maybe by Chris Haughton

Oscar's Book Prize 2022 winner announced!

Chris Haughton has won the 2022 Oscar's Book Prize with his hilarious picture book Maybe... Find out why the book is a winner here by visiting their website.

Image of My Dad Is a Grizzly Bear by Swapna Haddow and Dapo Adeola

Update on the Woke Babies 2022 Book Awards

My Dad Is a Grizzly Bear by Swapna Haddow and Dapo Adeola has won the Woke Babies 2022 Picture Book of the Year Award.

Image of Sunflower Sisters by Monika Singh-Gangotra and Michaela Dias-Hayes

Update on the Klaus Flugge Prize 2022

The longlist for the 2022 Klauss Flugge Prize has been announced. Take a look at Judge Mat Tobin's longlistee presentation to find out about the best newcomers in picture book illustration as well as their beautiful books.