Children’s category

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

Murder Most Unladylike is the first marvellous mystery in the bestselling, award-winning series by Robin Stevens.

When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, two young would-be detectives, set up their very own, deadly secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t, really.)

But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident – but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place... and there’s more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.

Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

Murder Most Unladylike
Murder Most Unladylike
The first marvellous murder mystery in the bestselling Murder Most Unladylike series!

'Ripping good fun' The Times

'Plotting is what sets this book apart' Telegraph


At Deepdean School for Girls, Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong have set up their own detective agency. But they are struggling to find any real crimes to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia's missing tie. Which they don't.)

Then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. To add to the mystery, when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove one happened in the first place.

Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

'Enormous fun' Irish Times

'A skilful blend of golden era crime novel and boarding school romp . . . Top class' Financial Times

'I absolutely loved it' Susie Day

The Brief

We would like you to design a fresh and exciting cover look for this fabulous and fun book. Primarily aimed at children aged 9 to 11, your design should ensure that this book opens the door to reading the whole series and cements its place as a must-read for mystery fans, as well as welcoming new readers to the adventures that are full of friendship and intrigue.

Murder Most Unladylike is the first book in a series of 10. As part of your cover design, you are required to design a series logo. The logo can be any shape you wish, but it must include the series name – A Murder Most Unladylike Mystery. The logo can be typographic only or you may wish to include simple images or graphic icons. Your logo design will need to work effectively at different sizes and should appear on the front cover and the spine of your design. You should also consider that the logo needs to work in isolation as well as complementing your cover design.

Your cover design needs to include all the cover copy supplied and be designed to the specified design template (B format, 198mm high x 129mm wide, spine width 21.5mm), incorporating the Puffin branding and all additional elements such as the barcode. Please refer to the Submissions Details page for full details on how to submit your entry.

Copyright must be cleared for all images used in your cover design and you must include a credit line on the back cover of your design for any third-party images used. For example: ‘Cover photograph by Allen Lane’.

Read the book before you start designing

We recommend that you read the book before you start on your design in order to get a sense of the themes and of the author’s voice. Murder Most Unladylike is stocked in most bookshops and libraries.

What the judges are looking for in a winning design

Your cover design should encapsulate the essence or key themes of the book in an imaginative, instant and engaging way. To help you get started, we’ve set out the top things to consider when designing a book cover, and what we look for when narrowing down our shortlist. Read more here.

The Judges

Anna Billson - Art Director, Penguin Random House Children's

Anna leads a fabulously talented team of creative designers who work with a brilliant array of illustrators and design for some of the best authors and the biggest brands in children’s publishing.

Anna did a degree in Graphic Design at Middlesex Polytechnic, where she spent most of her time printmaking and producing hand-made books. After working in the newsroom at ITN for a couple of years she moved into publishing, where she was able to turn her love of design and her love of books into her dream career.

Before landing at Penguin 18 years ago Anna worked at HarperCollins and Orchard Books. Her teams have included designers who were recruited following their success in the Children’s Cover Award.

Francesca Dow - Managing Director, Penguin Random House Children's

Francesca Dow runs Penguin Random House UK Children’s, which comprises Ladybird and Puffin, and the Random House Children’s publishing division. Penguin Random House UK Children’s is home to popular children’s authors and illustrators such as Roald Dahl, Jeff Kinney, Jacqueline Wilson, Quentin Blake, Malorie Blackman, Tom Fletcher, Nathan Bryon, Dapo Adeola, Nadia Shireen and Jan Pieńkowski, as well as many hugely successful children’s brands, for example Peter Rabbit, Peppa Pig, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Snowman.

Guest judges

Robin Stevens - Author

Robin Stevens is the author of the award-winning and bestselling Murder Most Unladylike series.

She was born in California and grew up in an Oxford college, across the road from the house where Alice in Wonderland lived. She has been making up stories all her life.

When she was twelve, her father handed her a copy of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and she realised that she wanted to be either Hercule Poirot or Agatha Christie when she grew up. She spent her teenage years at Cheltenham Ladies' College, reading a lot of murder mysteries and hoping that she'd get the chance to do some detecting herself (she didn't). She went to university, where she studied crime fiction, and then she worked at a children's publisher before becoming a full-time author. She lives in Oxford.

Nina Tara - Designer & Illustrator

Nina Tara has worked in the creative field for many years, designing and illustrating book covers as well as art directing illustrators. She has worked for a variety of publishers and authors at Harper Collins, Penguin Random House, Hachette and Orion to name a few. Also having the great pleasure of working with ground-breaking authors such as Robin Stevens and her Murder Most Unladylike series. 

More recently Nina’s passion for creativity and Mental Health led her to undertake and MA in Art Psychotherapy. She still currently works as a designer and now also as an Art Psychotherapist both with children and adults. Also, producing mental health podcasts to break down the stigmas around mental health and open conversations around intersectionality, difference and race.

She is also a member of British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) and Black, African and  AsianTherapy Network (BAATN.org)


Your cover design should encapsulate the essence or key themes of the book in an imaginative, instant and engaging way. To help you get started, we’ve set out the top things to consider when designing a book cover, and what we look for when narrowing down our shortlist. Read more here.

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