Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize turns five!

MEDIA RELEASE: 22 March 2023

Hachette Aotearoa New Zealand and the Margaret Mahy Estate are excited to announce the return of the Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize for its fifth year.

The Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize is one of New Zealand’s leading illustration prizes with close to a thousand entries since 2019. The prize has since paved the way for eight emerging artists to have their illustrations published by Hachette Aotearoa New Zealand.

The 2022 Illustration prize winner, Jessica Twohill, re-imagined Margaret Mahy’s quintessential children’s favourite The Witch in the Cherry Tree which will be published this August.

This year the Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize creates a unique opportunity for an unpublished New Zealand-based illustrator to showcase Seventeen Kings and Forty-Two Elephants. Originally published in 1972 this poem is one of Mahy’s earliest works.

The Margaret Mahy Estate and Hachette Aotearoa New Zealand encourage illustrators to think as creatively and imaginatively as possible, and to play to children’s love of colour, adventure, and humour.

Hachette Aotearoa NZ Managing Director Mel Winder says “Seventeen Kings and Forty-Two Elephants is ready to be reimagined by a fabulous illustrator. The story is full of colour, light and adventure. I cannot wait to see how illustrators capture this on the page”.

Bridget Mahy, Manager of the Mahy Estate says “I was enthralled by this book as a child, elephants and kings were so romantic and colourful. It was like a book full of jewels and words that sounded like velvet when spoken. It is exciting to imagine what a local illustrator can do with this enchanting book.”

A review in the New York Times (circa 1973) from Arthur Yorinks said, “The rhythmic verses in Seventeen Kings and Forty-Two Elephants displays language that is a miraculous mixture of concision and freedom, joy and mystery, silliness and seriousness, all rolled into one".

Working closely with the Margaret Mahy Estate, Hachette Aotearoa New Zealand will award a $2000 cash prize, a $500 library of books and the opportunity for this project to be developed into a published picture book.

The Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize was launched in 2019 to celebrate and honour the 50th Anniversary of Mahy’s children’s picture book classic, A Lion in the Meadow.

Important dates to note:

Competition Opens: Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Entries Close: Thursday, 27 July 2023

Shortlist Announcement: Thursday, 17 August 2023            

Winner Announcement: Thursday, 24 August 2023

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