Hachette Aotearoa New Zealand, local children’s imprint Little Moa and the Margaret Mahy Estate are proud to announce the return of the Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize for its sixth year.

Launched in 2019, the Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize is one of New Zealand’s leading illustration prizes with over 1500 entries since its inception. The prize has since paved the way for nine emerging artists to have their illustrations published by Hachette Aotearoa New Zealand and Little Moa.

2023 Illustration prize winner, Alba Gil Celdrán, re-imagined Margaret Mahy’s colourful and bold story 17 Kings and 42 Elephants, which will be published this August.

This year the Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize once again creates a unique opportunity for an unpublished New Zealand-based artist to illustrate Mahy’s work. The 2024 title is a much-loved and perennial international bestseller, The Great White Man-Eating Shark. Originally published in 1989, this classic story has been a favourite for generations.

The Margaret Mahy Estate, Hachette Aotearoa New Zealand and Little Moa are excited to see local illustrators take a bite at the opportunity and bring The Great Man-Eating Shark to life with colour, adventure, and humour.

Hachette Aotearoa NZ Managing Director Mel Winder says “This book is a hot favourite in our house, it has all the elements that make Margaret’s books great; a cautionary tale mixed with lashing of imagination, colour, word play and laughs.

Bridget Mahy, Manager of the Mahy Estate says the inspiration for The Great White Man Eating Shark had it’s humble beginnings in a packed public pool, “In the late '80s, Margaret was working her way through a busy book tour of the USA and found herself sitting on the edge of a hotel pool. Fellow hotel patrons happily floated by, but Margaret found herself wanting the pool all to herself. She began to imagine ways to get the other swimmers to leave and visualised herself swiftly and hungrily cruising through the water like a shark, ready to bite unsuspecting swimmers and frighten them out of the water. She was entertained by this image, and not long after returning to New Zealand, Margaret delighted in reading me the draft of a humorously subversive story involving Norvin and the innocent swimmers of Caramel Cove. Norvin’s tale is a ‘cautionary’ one, and while Margaret never got to shoot through the water 'like a silver arrow,’ both she and Norvin undoubtedly shared sharkish thoughts.

Working closely with the Margaret Mahy Estate, Hachette Aotearoa New Zealand and Little Moa 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 the 50th Anniversary of Mahy’s children’s picture book classic, A Lion in the Meadow.

Competition Opens Wednesday, 20 March 2024
Entries Close Thursday, 25 July 2024
Shortlist Announcement Thursday, 22 August 2024
Winner Announcement Thursday, 29 August 2024

Terms & Conditions

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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 five 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
  • 2023 winner Alba Gil Celdrán, 17 Kings and 42 Elephants

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
    Foreign Language Rights sold to Polish Publisher
  • 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
  • 2024: The New Zealand Easter Activity Book, illustrated by Hilary Jean Tapper
  • 2024: The Very Best Words, illustrated by 2021 and 2022 Runner Up Sarah Trolle
  • 2024: Let Me Be Frank, illustrated by Minrui Yang
  • 2024: Miles and Jones: The Anaconda Attack, illustrated by 2020 and 2022 Runner Up Cesar Lador

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


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