Children's Cover Award

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

My name is August.

I won’t describe what I look like.

Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

Moving, uplifting and hopeful, Wonder was first published in 2012 to critical acclaim and quickly established itself as a must-read for children (and adults!)

With the nature of friendship, tenacity, fear and, most importantly, kindness at its heart Wonder explores fundamental truths about how people behave and how they should behave. 

The Brief

You are invited to design a cover look for Wonder to bring this original and unforgettable book to new readers. The design should ensure that this important 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 19.5mm), incorporating the PUFFIN branding and all additional elements such as the barcode. Please refer to the Submissions Details page for full details of the spec and 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.

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 £250 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, John Green, Terry Pratchett, Malorie Blackman, Tom Fletcher, Ed Vere and Shirley Hughes as well as hugely successful children's brands – Peter Rabbit, Peppa Pig, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Snowman and Dr Who.

‘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 graduated in Graphic Design from 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.

Anna joined Puffin as Deputy Art Director in 2002 from Orchard Books. Anna became Art Director of Puffin in 2003 and in 2011 took on the role of Art Director for Penguin Children’s. Following the creation of the Penguin Random House UK Children’s division, she is now responsible for the art direction of everything published on the combined children’s lists.

Anna leads a fabulously talented group of designers who work with a dazzling array of illustrators, designing for some of the best authors and the biggest brands in children’s publishing. Her teams have included designers who were recruited following their success in the Children’s Cover Award.

Guest Judges - to be announced

Published covers