Children's Cover Award

Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

As Britain stands on the brink of the Second World War, young Willie Beech is evacuated to the country. A sad, deprived child, he slowly begins to flourish under the care of old Tom Oakley – but his new-found happiness is shattered by a summons from his mother back in London. As time goes by, Tom begins to worry when Willie doesn't answer his letters, so he goes to London to find him, and there makes a terrible discovery.

Goodnight Mister Tom has delighted generations of children since it was first published in the UK in 1981. It has won numerous awards including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award. The book has sold in excess of 2.4 million copies in the UK alone and has been published in Denmark, the USA, Japan, Holland, Sweden, Finland, France and Germany. The 1998 BAFTA award-winning TV film of the book starring John Thaw attracted 14 million viewers. 

The Brief

You are invited to design a cover look for Goodnight Mister Tom to bring this original and unforgettable book to new readers. The design should ensure that this book remains a must-read for every child.

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 23mm), 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 Joe Bloggs’.

What the judges are looking for

We are looking for a striking cover design that is well executed, has an imaginative concept and clearly places the book for its market. The cover should encourage children to pick the book up and buy it for themselves and should also engage adults to want to buy it for them.

While all elements of the cover (front, back and spine) need to work together, remember that the front cover has to be able to work on its own, and to be eye-catching within a crowded bookshop setting as well as on screen at a reduced size for digital retailers.

The winning design will need to:

  • have an imaginative concept
  • be an original interpretation of the brief
  • be competently executed with strong use of typography
  • appeal to the broadest possible audience for the book
  • show a good understanding of the marketplace
  • have a point of difference from other books that it will be competing
    against in the market
  • be able to sit on the shelves of a supermarket or ebook store as easily as it sits on those of more traditional bookshops 

The Prizes

1st Prize

The winner of each category will be invited to spend four weeks in the Penguin Random House Design Studios on a work placement*, working on live briefs. The work placement will be paid at the current London Living Wage rate (subject to any applicable taxation) and the winner will also receive a cash prize of £1,000.

*Subject to agreeing terms in advance. Entrants must be eligible to work in the UK. The provision of the work placement prize shall be subject to any necessary restrictions under government guidance concerning the Coronavirus (COVID -19) outbreak.

2nd Prize

The winner of the 2nd Prize will receive a £500 cash prize.

3rd Prize

The winner of the 3rd Prize will receive a £350 cash prize.

All the shortlisted entrants will be invited to an award ceremony where the winners will be announced, and at which an exhibition of all the shortlisted designs will be on display.

The Judges

Penguin Random House Judges

Francesca Dow

Francesca Dow – Managing Director, Penguin Random House UK 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, Ed Vere, Nadia Shireen and Jan Pieńkowski as well as hugely successful children's brands – Peter Rabbit, Peppa Pig, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Snowman.

‘Excellent design and illustration are absolutely crucial to the success of children's books,’ says Francesca Dow. ‘As the leading children’s publisher, we have always promoted great design and supported new illustrators and the Penguin Random House Student Design Award continues that tradition. We love working with talented new designers. New ideas, new skills are vital to our business.’

Anna Billson

Anna Billson – Art Director, Penguin Random House UK 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 17 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.

Guest Judges 

Jamie Littler

Charlotte Knee Photography

Jamie Littler – Author and Illustrator

Jamie Littler is an author-illustrator whose debut Frostheart went on to become the highest-selling UK children's fiction book of 2019. His illustration work includes the bestselling Hamish and the Worldstoppers and Wilf the Mighty Worrier, both of which were shortlisted for the Laugh Out Loud Book Awards.  Other than constantly searching for those pens he keeps losing, his interests are pretty varied, but he does have a soft spot for wild animals and things that go bump in the night. 

Sarah Horne

Sarah Horne – Illustrator

Sarah Horne learnt to draw whilst trying to explain her reasoning for an elaborate haircut at the age of nine. 

An illustrator for over fifteen years, she started her Illustration career working freelance for newspapers such as The Guardian, The Independent On Sunday and Print Week. She also worked on commissions for advertising clients such as Nike, IKEA and Kew Gardens.

In 2010, Sarah published Paws, Claws and Frilly Drawers and Tantrums And Tiaras her first Author/ Illustrator young fiction titles with Stripes.  

Sarah has since illustrated many funny young fiction titles, including the Charlie Changes Into A Chicken series, the Fizzlebert Stump series by A.F Harrold (Bloomsbury), Llama United by Scott Allen (Pan Macmillan) and Ask Oscar by Alan MacDonald (Egmont).

She loves to include detail and extra visual narratives in her work. She works traditionally with a dip pen and Indian ink, and finishes the work digitally.

When not at her desk, Sarah loves running, painting, photography, cooking, film, and a good stomp up a hill.

Sarah can currently be found giggling under some paper, in her London studio.

You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Get insight from Junior Designers

Strictly Necessary


Preferences & Features

Targeting / Advertising