A Wide World of Wonders
Fabulous large-format children's book, 'Atlas of Adventures', has won the ALCS-sponsored Educational Writers' Award for 2015.
Lucy Letherland, illustrator (left), Ed Vaizey MP (centre) and Rachel Williams, writer (right)
The winner of the 2015 ALCS Educational Writers’ Award is Atlas of Adventures, illustrated by Lucy Letherland and written by Rachel Williams.
The result of this year’s Award – the UK’s only award for educational writing - was announced by Ed Vaizey MP, Minister of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, at the All Party Parliamentary Writers Group (APWG) Winter Reception at the House of Commons earlier this month.
Reacting to the announcement, Lucy Leatherland and Rachel Williams said: "We are surprised and honoured to have won the 2015 ALCS Educational Writer’s Award. We hope Atlas of Adventures proves that a non-fiction book doesn’t have to be boring. It can be entertaining, humorous, and make learning about the world fun and interesting".
Winning the 2015 Educational Writers’ Award is a particularly notable achievement for Lucy Letherland as Atlas of Adventures is the first book for children she has illustrated (read a short interview with both Lucy and Rachel at the end of this news report).
Between its beautiful butterfly and penguin-populated endpapers, Atlas of Adventures, published by Wide Eyed Editions, is a treasury of natural wonders, exciting experiences and festivities from around the globe. The book follows two children, a girl and a boy, as they travel to over 30 destinations across seven continents – seeing the sights from the London Eye, learning to steer a gondola in Venice, dog-sledding with huskies in Alaska, river-rafting down the Grand Canyon, riding with cowboys in Northern Patagonia, showering with elephants in Chiang Mai, going on a canoe safari down the Zambezi River and snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, while discovering dozens of facts in the process.
This year’s judges – school librarian Caroline Gosden; headteacher Michael Schumm and author Cath Senker - were unanimous in their praise for the winning title, describing it as:
“A beautifully designed, durable and hugely informative book, packed full of vibrant colour, and fascinating information and activities from countries around the world. Offering an experience not found on the internet, its roller coaster ride of a journey will encourage children across the primary school age groups to find out more about the world we live in.”
Presenting the winning authors with a cheque for £2000, Ed Vaizey commented: “I'm delighted to support this ALCS & Society of Authors award which rewards inspiring educational writing for children. Many congratulations to this year’s winners and to all the shortlisted authors on their outstanding writing."
The 2015 Educational Writers’ Award focused on books for 5-11 year olds, published in 2013 and 2014. Atlas of Adventures beat off strong competition from the four other titles shortlisted for this year’s Award. They were: Who Eats Who?, written by Teresa Heapy and illustrated by Rebecca Elliott (Oxford University Press); Marvellous Maths, written by Jonathan Litton and illustrated by Thomas Flintham (Templar); Dear Jelly: Family Letters From the First World War, written by Sarah Ridley (Franklin Watts); and Space Record Breakers, written by Anne Rooney (Carlton Kids).
Above: The shortlisted books
The Educational Writers’ Award was established in 2008 by the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) and the Society of Authors to celebrate educational writing that inspires creativity and encourages students to read widely and build up their understanding of a subject beyond the requirements of exam specifications.
A Short Interview with the Winners
Lucy Letherland (illustrator)
I continue to be inspired by certain picture books from when I was a child and it’s humbling to think that my illustrations may be having the same impact on others. I’m a firm believer in pictures and books being important in education, and so winning the Award helps reinforce the notion that they’re both still a relevant and enjoyable part of the learning process today.
Working on Atlas of Adventures with Rachel was a very collaborative experience. Once she had researched each adventure, she would send me the text, plus a brief outline of a scene and a list of items to include (e.g. types of animals, plants etc.) After reading about the adventure in question and looking at lots of images, I’d use all that information to help create a rough sketch. Then I would colour my drawings with ink, and use the computer to piece together the final image.
Rachel gave me the freedom to embellish each scene with my own ideas, adding playful touches to the narrative here and there. Often ideas would come as I was researching an adventure, like exaggerating an animal’s behaviour for comic effect, or making the two young adventurers - who provide the book’s overall thread - interact with each other in funny ways to create their own separate story.
As Atlas of Adventures was my first time working on a children’s book, I was excited and nervous all at the same time. I knew that this project was a great fit for me. It really suits my illustration style, my sense of humour and the way I work - exploring little details and piecing components together to make one big illustration.
I thought back to the picture books I loved when I was growing up, from people like Janet and Allan Ahlberg, and Richard Scarry. They are fantastic illustrators who created books that keep the reader coming back again and again. My aim was to try and do the same for a new generation of young readers, whilst bringing to life a whole world of adventures to capture their imagination.
Rachel Williams (writer)
The idea for the book came about because I wanted to create something that would give young readers a taste for the amazing cultural experiences our world has to offer, each experience on a single printed page. Atlases have always been a thing of magic to me, as maps and travel books allow you to cross time and space. My dad had an amazing collection of antique atlases and maps that we used to explore, conquering distant worlds from our living room.
Lucy's animal and human characters are what really make this book special. The briefs I sent her, outlining each experience or 'adventure', were quite straightforward and factual, and her artwork brings a real sense of warmth and excitement to every destination. We are now working on a follow-up, called Atlas of Animal Adventures (out October 2016), which charts amazing migrations, behaviour patterns and rituals of animals all around the world. I think it's just as good (or even better) than the first book.
See pictures and our round-up of the All Party Writers Group reception.