Hachette Aotearoa New Zealand announces the winner of the Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize for 2023

Hachette Aotearoa New Zealand and the Margaret Mahy Estate are delighted to announce Alba Gil Celdran as the winner of the 2023 Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize.

The judging panel said Celdran’s illustrations of Margaret Mahy’s children’s book Seventeen Kings and Forty-Two Elephants were mesmerising, and full of humour.

They also said the winner’s illustrations had a fantastic sense of movement. “Her clever use of the kings and the animals led us on a very exciting, very humorous and very vibrant adventure.”

Bridget Mahy, from the Margaret Mahy Estate, said there was so much to examine, including “The mix of jungle and tropical animals and then a sweetly inserted fantail to bring home a kiwi element.”

Fellow judge Ant Sang loved the way the characters invited you in to explore their world, saying that “the spread was so unique, carefully composed and so beautiful to look at.”

This year’s Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize winner, Alba Celdran, is an art teacher based in Tāmaki Makaurau, though she is originally from Barcelona. She has a Bachelor of Criminology but now pursues her passion of teaching art to children and adults.

She is inspired by jazz and is a swing dancer. “All of the kings’ dance moves in my illustrations are actual jazz dance moves.”

The winner of the Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize wins $2000 plus a collection of books valued at $500. Each runner-up receives a collection of books valued at $250 and a 30-minute individual mentoring session with the Hachette representative on the judging panel.

Runner's Up:

Grant MacDonald

Judges comment: “What an atmospheric entry! I loved Grant's illustration style and distinctive choice of colour palate. The sense of movement and travel through the spreads and pages was incredible”.

Matthew Hock

Judges comment: "'I loved the wonderful humour in the animals. It really brings life to the illustrations. I could look at it these illustrations all day and keep seeing more. It’s so vibrant and detailed”.

Previous Winners

The Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize was launched in 2019. You can see precious winning entries at https://www.themargaretmahyillustrationprize.co.nz/past-winners/

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 two 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 $2000 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 four illustration prize winners:

  • 2019 winner Sarah Greig, The Boy With Two Shadows
  • 2020 winner Lily Emo, The Boy Who Made Things Up
  • 2021 winner Minrui Yang, There’s a King in the Cupboard
  • 2022 winner Jessica Twohill, The Witch in the Cherry Tree

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

  • 2021: The Fairies’ Night Before Christmas, illustrated by Sarah Greig
    #1 NZ Children’s bestseller
    Smith and Caughey’s Christmas Window
    Inspiration for The Coaltion For Books 2021 Christmas Catalogue
  • 2021: A Stick and A Stone, illustrated by 2019 Runner Up, Hilary Jean Tapper
    Published in New Zealand, Australia, the UK and the USA.
    Foreign language rights sold to Turkish publisher
  • 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
  • 2022: The Fairies’ Night Before Christmas Activity Book, illustrated by Sarah Greig
    Also available in te reo Māori, Ngā Ponimatarau me te Pō i Mua i te Kirihimete He Puka Ngohe
  • 2022: The Chaos Before Christmas, illustrated by Lily Emo
    Smith and Caughey’s Christmas Window
    Featured on Seven Sharp
  • 2023: The Fairies’ Easter Egg Surprise, illustrated by Hilary Jean Tapper
  • 2023: Hachette Australia have contracted Hilary Jean Tapper to illustrate the sequel to What To Say When You Don't Know What To Say.
  • 2023: The Gnomes’ Very Berry Christmas, illustrated by Minrui Yang

Further Projects:
Lily Emo, Rehua Wilson (2020 Runner-Up) & Sarah Trolle (2022 Runner-Up), have each been contracted for yet-to-be-announced projects.

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

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