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 design for the original front cover was from designer and illustrator Tad Carpenter.

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 £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, 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 

Laura Ellen Anderson

Laura Ellen Anderson – Illustrator

Laura Ellen Anderson graduated in illustration from University College Falmouth and since then she has been lucky enough to work with many UK and US publishers on some wonderful books.

 Laura has illustrated a range of book covers such as Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series, The Amazing Maurice, Dodger and is currently illustrating the cover of Nation. Laura also illustrated the covers for the relaunch of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series, Cornelia Funke's Dragon Rider series and the most recent Dr Who book, The Secret of Vault 13, written by David Solomons.

The Amelia Fang series is Laura’s first fiction series as author and illustrator, which has been published in over 20 languages. The first book, Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball was Waterstones Book of the month for October 2017 and won the Leeds Book Award for the 7-9 category in 2018.

Laura is also the creator of the Evil Emperor Penguin comics, and her debut picture book I Don't Want Curly Hair is the first of a series of future I Don't Want... books published by Bloomsbury.

 When she’s not working, Laura loves creating 3D models, creating Harry Potter fan art, baking (and eating) and making ‘To Do’ lists. 

Jan Bielecki

Jan Bielecki – Cover designer and Illustrator 

After a two year comics course in his native Sweden, Jan moved to London in 2008 to study at Central Saint Martins. After graduation he started working at Hot Key Books and went freelance three years later to divide his time between design and illustration. Jan has since worked on book covers for Walker Books, Bloomsbury, Faber & Faber, Egmont and others, but a personal milestone was working for a year on the Puffin fiction list at Penguin Random House. Today he is represented by Central Illustration Agency.

Published covers

  • Wonder

  • Now an Oscar nominated film starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay.

    'My name is August. I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.'

    Auggie wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things - eating ice cream, playing on his Xbox. He feels ordinary - inside. But ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids aren't stared at wherever they go.

    Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he's being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted - but can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all?

    WONDER is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.

  • Explore the book