‘The shortlist gave us so much food for thought – and fun! We were blown away looking at all the different approaches – it’s extraordinary how one book can bring out so many different ideas’

- Francesca Dow, Managing Director, Penguin Random House UK Children’s


1st Place, Aphra Blunt – University of Dundee

Aphra Blunt's cover design of 'Talking Turkeys'

Benjamin Zephaniah’s poems enter with a bang. To create similar impact in my design, I used the imagery of a turkey bursting through a doorway – powerful and ready to challenge the reader, but with a playful twist. Taking inspiration from superhero posters – a genre popular with the age range and linking to the book’s own themes of heroism – I gave the turkey a bold stance, reinforced by a vibrant, Reggae inspired colour scheme. His shadow stretches down behind the title, hinting at more to come and implying, like the poems, that one turkey (or person’s) potential is bigger than they know.

Comments from the judges:

‘This is an amazing cover – it’s very striking and stood out from the other entries with its bold design. I love the brilliant use of the black and yellow, and the characterful turkey in its superhero pose. It has humour and confidence and we think kids would reach to pick up Benjamin Zephaniah’s wonderful collection of poems with this cover design’ Francesca Dow – Managing Director, Penguin Random House UK Children’s

‘This cover stood out amongst the hundreds of entries from the minute we first saw it. All the elements, image, typography and colour combine perfectly – it’s spot on and there was no doubt that it was the winner’ Anna Billson – Art Director, Penguin Random House UK Children’s

‘This cover was very much “it” from the jump for me. It does everything Aphra wanted it to do. We loved the front cover, we loved the turkey, we loved the type, we loved the spine and the back . . . perfect!’ Dapo Adeola

‘I loved this cover – all the key ideas are communicated so well and it shows a great use of colour. I think it’s edgy and will appeal to children and teens. It looks very good as a thumbnail as well as a printed cover – it ticks all the boxes – it really is a winner in our eyes’ Sabina Radeva

2nd Place, Sebastiano Fossali – University of Dundee

Sebastiano Fossali's cover design of 'Talking Turkeys'

The cover is designed to represent the originality of the book while making it accessible to a wider audience. Hence, the position of the three turkeys is to highlight the sense of community and solidarity expressed in the poems. Additionally, the characters use symbols and signs to convey a message of peace and inclusivity (rainbow arm) enhanced by the musicality of poetry and the strength of words (trumpet and megaphone). Finally, I linked the front with the back by adding a turkey on a flying rainbow-pen so as to illustrate the power of the message that comes from the author’s writing.

Comments from the judges:

‘We were really excited by this cover – the simple striking totem pole of turkeys, the lovely clever type design. And I love all the attention to detail, in the spine and the back cover design: the details demonstrate a creative and thoughtful approach for the whole cover. A beautiful piece of design’ Francesca Dow – Managing Director, Penguin Random House UK Children’s

‘A great cover – we loved the use of colour, the turkey illustrations combined with all the different inclusive elements that Sebastiano has managed to get into it. Great spine and back cover too, which bring the whole design together’ Anna Billson – Art Director, Penguin Random House UK Children’s

‘I personally really loved this cover from a character design perspective. I love the characters, I love the consistency and thought that’s gone into how the characters have been used, the detail of the “V” sign on the spine and, my favourite, the turkey riding a pen on the back!’ Dapo Adeola

‘This was one of my favourite covers from the start. I loved the clean background and the sense of community and character that are communicated in the design. I love the typography, and the spine is very cool as well’ Sabina Radeva

3rd Place, Mason Latter – Coventry University

Mason Latter's cover design of 'Talking Turkeys'

My design was inspired by Benjamin Zephaniah’s history, and how it influenced his poetry. His aim to share his own life lessons to a children’s audience, reminded me of story time in pre-school. I have tried to replicate this within the front cover illustrations, illustrating Zephaniah as the turkey, reading aloud his stories. Additionally, my illustrations try to capture the playful nature and hip-hop language Zephaniah uses, as well as hinting towards his Rastafarian culture throughout the colour palette.

Comments from the judges:

‘This made us smile. I love the playful, exuberant design, and the colour palette. The cover really makes you want to pick up the book and get reading – a great result!’ Francesca Dow – Managing Director, Penguin Random House UK Children’s

‘Such a fun cover – so much to look at and you find something new every time you look. The attention to detail, including the sticker for the Puffin Poetry logo, is great’ Anna Billson – Art Director, Penguin Random House UK Children’s

‘I loved the playfulness of the whole pre-school element that Mason was going for, which really came across, by the way. It’s giving me big Saturday or weekday morning cartoon vibes – I love what he’s done with the back and spine as well’ Dapo Adeola

 ‘I kept looking at it – it’s very playful, it is very well designed. I like the little characters and the cartoon quality. Overall it’s very enjoyable to look at!’ Sabina Radeva


Georgina Bishop – University Hertfordshire

Georgina Bishop's cover design of 'Talking Turkeys'

The key idea around this book cover design was to make it fun! I wanted the cover to draw young people in to make them want to read poetry, in the same way that Benjamin Zephaniah does. As I feel that Benjamin was able to create poetry not only for young people but for all generations with different backgrounds to relate to. I wanted my design to create a vibrant atmosphere that would represent the poems. I chose to play on neon signs to give a young atmosphere. I also feel that it adds a connection to poetry slam where people would all come together in bars and spaces to express themselves to others.

Leanne Goodall – Robert Gordon University

Leanne Goodall's cover design of 'Talking Turkeys'

My design portrays a fun, wacky vibe that reflects the author’s Reggae style. I wanted to capture the rhythm and personality of the poems in a way that appeals to both children and adults, projecting subtle nuances to the true meaning and metaphorical aspects behind Benjamin Zephaniah’s work. The design is inspired by the sense of community and inclusion within an urban lifestyle and influenced by Zephaniah’s unique storytelling techniques. I chose to express a vibrant complementary colour palette that is unique and draws audiences in, reflecting the fun, energetic and vibrant contents of the book.

Matthew Kam – ArtCenter College of Design, USA

Matthew Kam's cover design of 'Talking Turkeys'

The word play in the title Talking Turkeys sets the tone perfectly, the language of the book is fun while the messages are serious. Zephaniah’s straight-talking poems playfully made me think twice, and I felt it is important that the design does the same. In this cover, what appears to be a speech bubble entices a reader to dig a little deeper, and entertains them for doing so. This is to visually mirror what Zephaniah achieves so brilliantly with his words.

Joe Learmonth – Glasgow School of Art

Joe Learmonth's cover design of 'Talking Turkeys'

Zephaniah’s voice comes across really strongly in his prose, so I felt it was important to have his presence on the cover. Because I wanted to reflect his playful way of seeing the world, I drew his eyes as colourful concentric circles, which also work as a possible window into his imagination and mind. My design was partially influenced by 50s, 60s and 70s childrens’ food design, which often used playful cartoons and animal mascots to appeal to kids. I was thinking about how a theme of Talking Turkeys is food and veganism, and it reflects an alternative message to the adverts and packaging I had been looking at. So I went for a design that references this era visually, but also has an unusual, unexpected element - like Zephaniah’s poetry.

Haryung Lee – Loughborough University

Haryung Lee's cover design of 'Talking Turkeys'

I wanted my cover design to reflect the poems' tone of voice like the author conveyed his ideas simply but effectively in a straightforward and humorous manner. From the self-titled Talking Turkeys, the two lines – 'Turkeys just wanna play reggae / Turkeys just wanna hip-hop' hugely inspired my design. Based on these lines, I wanted to design a DJ turkey character talking on the microphone whilst appearing fun and playful. The dark colour background was chosen to make the turkey character bold and outstanding, and I used hand-drawn texture for illustration and typography to give the conversational style.

Amanda Rizqi Nursidin – Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia

Amanda Rizqi Nursidin's cover design of 'Talking Turkeys'

This cover design sets the turkey as the main focus. This design visualises the journey of the turkey as it stands up for its freedom of not being eaten and able to enjoy Christmas as humans do. The colours are vibrant so that it is attractive for childrens. I use a cheerful, lively, and silly visual style that manifest how talkative this turkey is on the poet.

Connor Ridley – York St John University

Connor Ridley's cover design of 'Talking Turkeys'

The concept behind this design is inspired by the hidden messages behind each of Benjamin’s poems. As each poem aims to hide a greater meaning, I aimed to replicate this through representing each poem through a simplistic illustration. These illustrations, seeming charming and creative, would draw the audience in but, as the reader delves deeper through the book, they discover the meaning behind each artwork, prompting the audience to read more, to understand all the illustrations presented on the book.

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