Al Rodin awarded Sebastian Walker Award for Illustration

News - Prizes Thursday, 14 February 2019

Prize was set up in honour of Walker Books' founder

Al Rodin has been awarded the eighth annual Sebastian Walker Award for Illustration. The award is run in collaboration with the MA course in Children's Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University.

Set up in honour of Walker's founder, Sebastian Walker, the award is dedicated to 'discovering and celebrating exciting new unpublished illustration talent.' Walker Books has published more than 20 books by Cambridge School of Art graduates since Birgitta Sif's Greenaway Medal shortlisted Oliver in 2012, and continue to work with many previous award winners and shortlistees.

Walker Books picture book publisher and creative director Deirdre McDermott and her colleague executive art director Ben Norland head up the award alongside Shelley Jackson, course leader in MA Children's Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art.

Rodin said: "I am inspired by an ever-growing gang of artists and writers including William Kentridge, Ben Shahn, Chaim Soutine and Dylan Thomas. The Bash Street Kids, Calvin and Hobbes, and Winnie-the-Pooh have also been major influences. I like to make stories that playfully explore the experience of childhood, particularly through character driven narratives that focus on relationships and feelings from the perspective of a child."

In 2018 Rodin was a UK winner in The Worldwide Picture Book Illustration Competition, and recently he was selected for the Illustrators Exhibition at the Bologna Children's Book Fair 2019.

McDermott said: "We were completely compelled by Al Rodin's bold and characterful artwork. His painterly style captivated us immediately because he combines highly expressive brush work with real energy to create pictures that excite and entice with their fluidity and motion. With a keen eye for movement and gesture, Al creates truly inclusive artwork that we are positive children everywhere will respond to and enjoy greatly. We look forward to seeing his first picture books and believe that he will grow into an important and original contemporary picture book maker."

Mirabel Cecil, author, said: "I know that my brother, Sebastian Walker, who founded Walker Books nearly four decades ago, would have been incredibly proud of his company as it exists today – maintaining its independence and continuing to publish vibrant and relevant picture books for children everywhere. Walker Books remains the same generous and inclusive company as it was when it was originally conceived by Sebastian, and which is reflected in their giving this award in his memory to an outstanding student at the Cambridge School of Art."
To find out more and to see a showcase of the 2019 graduates’ work, visit:

Illustration by Al Rodin

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