"I am delighted, and so would Tom and William be, that this design award exists to highlight the talent of these wonderful artists. It also reminds us that there is more than one way to tell a story." – Michelle Magorian, author of Goodnight Mister Tom

1st Prize, Chi Park – Kingston University

Chi Park's cover design of 'Goodnight Mister Tom'

In this cover design, watercolour paint is used to set a particular restrained tone that evokes the dark war-time era, at the same still convey warm nostalgia through the texture. The characters are walking "into" a space where several visual elements of the narrative hint to what lies ahead of them and the audience who follows them behind. 

Judges' comments

"This cover stood out from the start – it spoke to us instantly. The attention to detail conveys the story perfectly and draws the reader in. I love the connection between the characters, and the deceptively simple colour palette perfectly encapsulates the warmth they share although surrounded by sadness and hurt. Beautiful – our standout winner." – Anna Billson, Art Director, Penguin Random House UK Children’s

"This design instantly stood out – I loved the simplicity and how delicate and sensitive it is. The typography, the childlike type and the use of white space is perfect, and the idea of the characters all walking 'into' a space also works extremely well. This was my first choice from the beginning, a stunning, stand-out cover." – Sarah Horne, Illustrator

"Chi's illustration is beautiful. The empty white negative space, whilst being incredibly eye-catching, also provokes a real sense of loneliness and isolation. That is, until you see the clasped hands of Will and Mister Tom - lending a sense of hope to the piece and underlining the bond they share. It's moving, it's sensitive, and I think it's fantastic. The watercolour/ink illustrations, all providing little snippets and clues from within the story, have been so delicately rendered, too, it's a joy to look at! I think this cover encapsulates the themes and feelings of the book perfectly, and just happens to look awesome whilst doing it." – Jamie Littler, Author and Illustrator

"We’re always looking for a great cover that helps tell the story and entice the reader to pick up the book. It’s so important for kids to feel intrigued enough to open and start to read and this stunning cover really does that." – Francesca Dow, Managing Director, Penguin Random House UK Children's

2nd Prize, Beatrice Simpkiss – Arts University Bournemouth

Beatrice Simpkiss's cover design of 'Goodnight Mister Tom'

The idea behind my design was to encapsulate a letter, which I feel underpins the main narrative of Goodnight Mister Tom. For example, a letter triggers Willie to return to his mother, a crucial point in the story. Writing letters was the main form of communication, for Willie and many other evacuees in World War Two. And could be seen as a metaphor for Willie leaving his old life behind. To strengthen this theme, the background of my design is created through superimposing real letters of evacuees from the time. I think the emotional signification of a letter from parent to child or vice versa really encapsulates the theme and emotions. Although it is a story based in wartime, I didn't want the design to be dark and depressing, therefore I made sure to include bright pops of color to inspire children to pick up and read this lovely heartwarming story. I hand rendered the text on my cover to evoke the sense of a letter being written. As well as wrapping Willie’s journey from countryside to city, his old to new home.

Judges' comments

"A fresh take, this design stands out amongst the crowd. I love the way it combines historical elements with striking contemporary typography. The wraparound design with its attention to detail really pulls you in – a fantastic cover." – Anna Billson, Art Director, Penguin Random House UK Children’s

"An amazing cover, very impactful – the yellow title typography is so playful and very effective. The use of collage and found imagery works really well, and it has somehow a feel of London to it. A thoughtful, well-executed and very striking cover." – Sarah Horne, Illustrator

"A stunning piece of design with a wonderful modern, vibrant feel to it. I love that Beatrice went to the archives and used evacuees’ letters which adds a whole layer of history to it which is so clever and gives it so many talking points." – Francesca Dow, Managing Director, Penguin Random House UK Children's

"Beatrice's design is incredibly striking - the bold, yellow type against the dark background works brilliantly to draw the reader in. I also love how clear the type is, despite sitting on top of what is effectively lots of other type! It's a real effective use of colour. Beatrice has put in a lot of thought with her design - the fact that it's been made a collage of evacuee letters lends a real human touch and I love how 'different' it makes the design feel - it was a brave decision and makes the design all the more unique for it. I love how the very subtle silhouette of London and yellow textures, whilst barely visible, somehow strongly creates a sense of wartime London, it's very clever atmospherics!" – Jamie Littler, Author and Illustrator

3rd Prize, Adriena Fong – Falmouth University

Adriena Fong's cover design of 'Goodnight Mister Tom'

The main symbol I used was the recurring image of the tandem bicycle – with one seat left empty to suggest the book’s themes of loss. I was inspired by the final scene where Willie learns to ride the bicycle on his own, gaining a sense of independence and the strength to move forward. I wanted to communicate the book’s difficult themes like war and abuse while conveying the importance of hope which underlies the story. I used hand-rendered type and childlike scribbles to communicate Willie’s passion for art and innocent outlook on life, standing out against the cloudy, grey sky.

Judges' comments

"We had so many conversations about this cover and the emotional impact it has on us and I think that kids would really love it too – and that’s what we’re looking for. A striking cover that really tells a story. We kept finding extra layers to it – it’s really clever, it’s beautiful, it broke our hearts." – Francesca Dow, Managing Director, Penguin Random House UK Children's

"Adriena's cover provoked an immediate emotional response in me. As a children's book illustrator myself, I was instantly drawn to the beautiful, children's book-esque illustration, but it's Will's expression that gets you, and what is left unsaid: the empty seat on the tandem bike, the looming storm clouds on the horizon, the barbed wire on the beach. It stirs up a real sense of loss and foreboding, of the trying journey Will goes through in the story. But the idyllic countryside in the background and the touching illustration on the back cover provide the warmth and hope that is needed, and that Will enjoys in his new life with Mr. Tom. I also love the child-like type and little scribbles that remind you this is a story told through a child's eyes (not to mention the tag on the cover's spine, which I thought was a lovely touch!)." – Jamie Littler, Author and Illustrator

"An evocative piece of design which combines beautiful illustration with sympathetic typography. The way Adriena has used her illustration skill to capture the essence of this book – thinking about all the elements across the front, back and spine is really striking." – Anna Billson, Art Director, Penguin Random House UK Children’s

 "A brilliant cover. The first thing that struck me was the empty seat – it immediately evokes an emotional response, so simple and poignant, really tugging on the heartstrings. Love the hand-drawn type, the tag on the spine changing Willy to Will – all so well thought through." – Sarah Horne, Illustrator

Lotte Cassidy - Arts University Bournemouth

Lotte Cassidy's cover design of 'Goodnight Mister Tom'

For my design, I focused on Sammy the dog as I was drawn to the bond between him and Willie. Sammy brings warmth and safety to Willie and he symbolises the unconditional love and security of his new life in the countryside with Mister Tom. I wanted Sammy to leap across the cover and stand out against the colours of the night sky, as it is him who ultimately rescues Willie.

The bright orange train track depicts Willie’s journey, following round the whole cover. It represents Willie’s escape from his harrowing trauma of his life set in wartime London and to the safety of the countryside with Mister Tom and Sammy.

Bethany Free – Nottingham Trent University

Bethany Free's cover design of 'Goodnight Mister Tom'

My design is based on Willie’s drawing: “It was a copy of the carved eagle on the pulpit. Its strong stubborn wings were swept back into a magnificent curve... it appeared to be flying against a great wind.”

The eagle is a powerful metaphor for Willie’s strength and courage in facing his abusive past and WW2. His drawing pencils are a gift from Mister Tom, symbolising the father/son bond. Willie’s artistic expression helps with his healing and becomes his empowering voice. When showing his drawing to friends, he’s praised for his talent for the first time in his life.

Gita Govinda Kowlessur – Anglia Ruskin University

Gita Govinda Kowlessur's cover design of 'Goodnight Mister Tom'

The concept behind my design was to capture the moment in which the main characters are preparing to go for a walk. This moment represents the consolidation of a new friendship between two strangers who have just met.

I based my interpretation on Willie’s perspective of the world as a little boy. He often felt fragile and that he was so small compared to the ‘gigantic’ world around him. That is why I designed the viewpoint to crop the characters from the waist down reflecting how the book depicts a child’s point of view on a tragic world war.

Holly Lewis - Montana State University

Holly Lewis's cover design of 'Goodnight Mister Tom'

Taken from a moment of peace during troubled and war filled times, the bike ride Mr. Tom takes with Will and Zach is a representation of the characters. Zach’s bike breaks the color palette just as he stands out from the other characters. The tandem bike is perfect for Will and Mr. Tom who both need a little help because of their pasts. Other images scattered throughout the design give hints to important events. The illustration style was inspired by the work of Tom Duxbury, and meant to capture the look and feel of the English countryside.

Oda Margrethe Lilleaasen – Solent University Southampton

Oda Margrethe Lilleaasen's cover design of 'Goodnight Mister Tom'

My design focuses on Will’s immense character development. The part of this story that really stuck with me, was Will learning to ride Zach’s bicycle. It shone like a symbol in so many ways, of Will’s freedom, friendship, and of the results of war, both death and silver linings included. The placement of the boy suggests movement, both because he is on a bike, and referring to his life’s journey. Colours are chosen to represent both joy and pain. My design includes small nods to parts of the story, like Will’s love for drawing.

Cara Rooney – University of Dundee

Cara Rooney's cover design of 'Goodnight Mister Tom'

My inspiration was Magorian’s description of Will and Zach running in and out of the shadows the hedges create and “constantly moving into patches of gloom and out into sudden patches of sunlight”. For me, this reflects the periods of darkness and happiness they experience throughout the book. The hedgerows were used as a visual device to capture the essence of the setting, time period and the healing friendship between Will and Tom. I wanted to create a bold and playful design that would resonate with readers who are familiar with the story as well as younger generations to come.

Isabelle Walker – Falmouth University

Isabelle Walker's cover design of 'Goodnight Mister Tom'

I used vibrant complementary colours in order to capture the attention of young readers. I also wanted to visually reference wartime, to set the context for the story, in a way that would not intimidate or deter children from picking up the book. With this in mind, I used the image of an evacuee label to incorporate the copy on the front cover, as well as searchlights illuminating the London skyline in the background. I used the traditional media of cut paper as well as textured brushstrokes and pencil marks to create a handmade feeling, referencing Will’s own artistic creations in the story.


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