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

The Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize is one of New Zealand’s leading illustration awards with close to a thousand entries since its inception. The 2021 Illustration prize winner, Minrui Yang, re-imagined Margaret Mahy’s previously unillustrated There’s a King in the Cupboard, 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This year, the Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize creates a unique opportunity for an unpublished New Zealand-based illustrator to showcase Mahy’s quintessential children’s favourite The Witch in the Cherry Tree, originally published almost 50 years ago.

Illustrators are asked to complement this mouth-watering tale of delicious cakes and wicked witches, from one of New Zealand's most celebrated children's writers. The Margaret Mahy Estate and Hachette Aotearoa New Zealand encourage illustrators to think as creatively and imaginatively as possible, and to use the illustrations to create a sense of wit and whimsy.

Hachette Aotearoa NZ Managing Director Mel Winder says “The Witch in the Cherry Tree is one of my favourite stories, who doesn’t love a greedy witch and cakes! The opportunity to illustrate this magical story is incredibly exciting and I look forward to seeing how our brilliant local illustrators take up the challenge”

Bridget Mahy, Manager of the Mahy Estate says “Mum had a beautiful cherry tree, the traditional spring blossoming pink kind, that was very pretty around September. I suspect she looked at it and imagined a witch dressed all in black sitting in it like one of the garden blackbirds. She would throw crumbs and crusts out to the blackbirds and they would come closer and closer to the door – hungry for more. For Mum, it wasn’t a big ask to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, melding domestic life and magic.”

Working closely with the Margaret Mahy Estate, Hachette Aotearoa New Zealand will award the opportunity for this project to be developed into a published picture book, a $1000 cash prize and a $500 library of books.

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.

How to Enter:

Scroll to the bottom of the page to register. Once registered we will email you:

  • The text for the story.
  • A brief with rubric included.
  • The storyboard template.
  • An illustrator questionnaire.
  • Instructions on how to submit your illustrations.

You have until 12pm Thursday 28th July 2022 to submit your entry. You will need to submit

  • Your submission (see below for specifications)
  • A completed illustrator questionnaire.
  • A media friendly photo of yourself (shoulders up and high res). The information from the illustrator questionnaire and photo will be used if you are a finalist or winner.

Your submission will need to fit the following specifications:

  • A storyboard* for 15 spreads** and final artwork for three spreads. The final artwork can be two spreads of your choice, but the third must be one of the compulsory spreads, as noted on the text and the storyboard template. The compulsory spread options are ‘pages 20-21’ or ‘pages 22-23’
  • There is a choice of two formats for the finished book: 250mm x 250mm or 250mm (high) x 180mm (wide). Please choose the format best suited to your style.
  • Artwork must be created in spreads, at 100% size, or up to 30% larger, allowing at least 5mm bleed
  • Any medium may be used, but final artwork must be flat so it can be scanned. Illustrations with novelty elements or 3D structures will not be eligible.
  • Artwork should be supplied digitally as one low res PDF. File size must be no larger than 100MB.
  • Original artwork should be created in high res should your entry be successful and selected for print.
  • Flattened text on a PDF is acceptable, but original high res files should place text on a separate layer. Text should be in black, either typed or handwritten.
  • Please ensure the file is labelled with your full name as follows: firstname_lastname.pdf.

*A storyboard is a visual narrative layout. It verifies that text, pacing and plot work within the picture book format. We will send you a template of a storyboard you can use once you have registered.

**A spread is made up of 2 facing pages. It might have lots of pictures on it, or one big illustration stretching across the two pages.

Read the Terms and Conditions

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens after I register?

Once you register, we will send you everything you need to get started: story text, brief with rubric and a storyboard template.

While the illustration prize is running we will email you with helpful hints, tips and guidance from our publishing team and previous winners to help you formulate the strongest submission you can. The information provided in the emails will be a helpful guide for future submissions.

Why do you ask for a full storyboard and three final art spreads to be submitted?

With picture books, one strand of the story is told via words and the other through the art. The storyboard allows the judging team to see how you will tell the story from page to page, beginning to end.

The final art showcases your use of colour and space and the little details that indicate you know your audience.

Our aim is to publish a picture book the following year using the winning submission as the first step in the publishing process.

What happens if I win the illustration prize?

Our publisher will talk to you and the Mahy Estate about the opportunity to develop your submission into published work. When agreement between all parties is met, a publishing contract, with standard advances and royalties on top of the prize money, will be offered.

You will also receive $1000 cash and $500 worth of Hachette books.

Are there further opportunities?

Since the inception of the Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize in 2019, we have published all three illustration prize winners:

All entrants are considered for further illustration projects. See below for further publications

2021: The Fairies’ Night Before Christmas, illustrated by Sarah Greig

2021: A Stick and A Stone, illustrated by 2019 Runner Up, Hilary Jean Tapper

  • Published in New Zealand, Australia and the UK
  • Turkish Language Rights sold

2022: Hachette Australia contracted Hilary Jean Tapper to illustrate What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say, written by the award winning Davina Bell, publishing 29th June

2022: The Fairies’ Night Before Christmas Activity Book, illustrated by 2019 winner Sarah Greig, publishing 27th September

2022: The Chaos Before Christmas, illustrated by 2020 winner Lily Emo, publishing 27th September

2023: 2020 runner-up Rehua Wilson, has been contracted for a yet-to-be-announced project.

There are more projects in the works, so watch this space.

Register your Interest

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