29 March 2021 Share
This year’s winner is Lizzie Parmenter from St Austell, whose delightful rhyming story The Birthday Box is about a child who creates stories out of the cardboard box that came with a gift sent to him by his grandmother. The judges felt the story celebrated the imagination of childhood and the power of storytelling.
Lizzie (36) is a Learning and Development Advisor with twins of three and a sixth month old baby, and wrote the rhyming story during sleepless nights over the last few months. “The rhymes came to me as I tried to stay awake," says Lizzie, "I was inspired by my children playing with boxes that came with deliveries during lockdown, and that makes it really special to win with a story based on them.”
The competition, now in its fifth year, is open to unpublished and unrepresented authors and illustrators. Submissions have to be suitable for children up to five years and can be from illustrators with sample illustrations, author/illustrator teams, or simply authors as text only.
The prize of £1000 includes career advice from one of the judges, United Agents’ Jodie Hodges, and the potential to have the work published by Salariya Book Company. Previous winners include Camille Whitcher’s Luna and the Moon Rabbit and Manlu Tu’s Look, Daddy, Look!, both published by Salariya. The 2020 joint winner, Snow? by Jo Surman, is due to be published this autumn also by Salariya, and the other 2020 joint winner, Kael Tudor, has been signed by Emily Talbot of United Agents.
"The field of entries was stronger than ever," says Stratford Literary Festival Director, Annie Ashworth, "But we all felt that Lizzie’s story was charming and unusual and, in an age when children are increasingly attracted by screens, showed how important it is to fire their imaginations. We are in awe of the fact that she wrote it with three children under four years!’
The Stratford Literary Festival launches its online spring festival this weekend and runs from 8th to 16th May. The Festival has also established a free resource of author events for children learning from home and to support teachers to bridge the education gap forced by school closures. This is available here.