Children's Cover Award

Talking Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah

Talking Turkeys is an unconventional collection of straight-talking poems about heroes, revolutions, racism, love and animal rights, among other subjects, that will entice many new readers to poetry. A ground-breaking children’s poetry collection – playful, clever and provocative – this is performance poetry on the page at its very best.

Who’s Who

I used to think nurses
Were women,
I used to think police
Were men,
I used to think poets
Were boring,
Until I became one of them.

Benjamin Zephaniah is one of the most high-profile authors writing today, with an enormous breadth of appeal, equally popular with adults and children. His collections Talking TurkeysWicked World and Funky Chickens broke new ground in children’s poetry. He is the only Rastafarian poet to be shortlisted for the Chairs of Poetry for both Oxford and Cambridge University and has been listed in The Times’ list of 50 greatest post-war writers.

  • Talking Turkeys

    Puffin Poetry

  • A reissue of TALKING TURKEYS by street poet Benjamin Zephaniah. Talking Turkeys is an unconventional collection of straight-talking poems about heroes, revolutions, racism, love and animal rights, among other subjects, that will entice many new readers to poetry. It is his very first ground-breaking children's poetry collection - playful, clever and provocative - this is performance poetry on the page at its very best.

    Benjamin Zephaniah was born in Birmingham and then spent some of his early years in Jamaica. He came to London when he was 22 and his first book of poetry for adults was published soon after. He appears regularly on radio and TV including a Desert Island Discs appearance, literary festivals, and has also taken part in plays and films. He is most well-known for his performance poetry with a political edge for both children and adults and gritty teenage fiction. His collections Talking Turkeys, Wicked World and Funky Chickens broke new ground in children's poetry. He is the only Rastafarian poet to be short-listed for the Chairs of Poetry for both Oxford and Cambridge University and has been listed in The Times' list of 50 greatest postwar writers. Benjamin now lives in Lincolnshire.

  • Find out more

The Brief

You are invited to design a cover look for Talking Turkeys to bring this original and unforgettable book to new readers. Primarily aimed at children aged 8 to 12, your design should ensure that these poems are 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 7mm), 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’.

Read 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. Talking Turkeys is stocked in most bookshops and libraries or if you would like to be sent a link to download a free digital copy please register your request here.

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 themselves but 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 receive a cash prize of £1,000 and be invited to spend four weeks in the Penguin Random House Design Studios on a work placement* if it can be offered as part of the prize, working on live briefs. The work placement will be paid at the current London Living Wage rate (subject to any applicable taxation).

*Subject to agreeing terms in advance. Entrants must be eligible to work in the UK. The provision of a work placement prize shall be subject to any corporate policies, government guidelines, laws or other recommendations issued or in force at the time as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic or otherwise.

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.

The Judges

Penguin Random House Judges

Francesca Dow

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.

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 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.

Guest Judges 

Portrait of Dapo Adeola

Photo: Tim Lane, Penguin

Dapo Adeola

Dapo Adeola is an award-winning illustrator and designer who creates characters and images that challenge expectations in a fun and upbeat way. He is the co-creator and illustrator of the bestselling picture book Look Up! – winner of the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and the No. 1 debut picture book of 2019. London born and bred but of Nigerian heritage, when he’s not busy cooking up new characters and adventures you can find Dapo running illustration and character design workshops with children or organising events to help highlight the possibilities of a career in illustration to underrepresented members of the Black diaspora.

Portrait of Sabina Radeva

Sabina Radeva

Sabina Radeva is a graphic designer and illustrator based in London, UK. After graduating MSc in Molecular Biology at Max Planck Institute, Germany in 2008, she left science for a creative career. Sabina graduated MA in Illustration (with Distinction) from University of Hertfordshire in 2019. Her debut picture book retelling of Darwin’s On The Origin of Species was published by Penguin Random House UK and became an instant bestseller. The book has been translated in 31 languages and was shortlisted for Waterstone’s Book of the Year 2019, the prestigious German Youth Literature Award 2020 and awarded Highly Commended by the Klaus Flugge Prize 2020.

Sabina is passionate about projects that blend science with art. She is a mom of two little girls that are her source of daily inspiration.

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