Delightfully illustrated 'Carrot Crunch' story wins top MacMillan Prize

Published: 22 June 2010 at 12:03

Anglia Ruskin student who ‘forced himself to draw animals’ wins MacMillan Prize for Children's Picture Book Illustration

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Cambridge School of Art student Mike Smith of the MA Children's Book Illustration course,  has won first prize (and £1000) in this year's national MacMillan Prize for Children's Picture Book Illustration for his book ‘Edward Hopper and the Carrot Crunch’.

Three other students from Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University were highly commended, MA Children's Book Illustration students Birgitta Jonsdottir and  Matt Long  and BA (hons) Illustration student Dominic Mckenzie.

Mike's brilliant book is an allegory of the global banking crisis, related in the form of a story about Edward Hopper, a rabbit who sells 'futures' (carrots that haven't yet been planted).

Describing the books’ genesis Mike says:

"The book was part of the diploma project for the MA. I'd decided that I was going to force myself to draw animals, as I don't draw them very often. The story came out of me looking at rabbits and thinking that what they'd most like is a field full of carrots... This led to the idea of making it a kind of allegory of the credit crunch, but written for children, and hopefully adults could get something from it too. There is a small character in the story who wonders why everyone's falling for it, a bit like the child in the Emperor's New Clothes story. The pictures were all done in gouache and pencil (not computer!)"

Mike, who worked as a Graphic Designer for the last 15 years, has always written and drawn stories from picture books to comics and short stories and explains the affinity of the two disciplines:

"Telling stories is a bit like information design: you're trying to get something across in the clearest way. The MA has been great in helping me develop a way of drawing that is true to me, and not contrived. I think the emphasis on drawing is really important."

The MacMillan Prize is now 25 years old and many previous winners have gone on to become nationally and internationally known author-illustrators, including a number of Anglia Ruskin’s Cambridge School of Art graduates. Our students’ latest successes are yet further recognition of the quality of graduates produced by the MA Children’s Book Illustration and BA (hons) Illustration courses.

Proud to see another top illustration student making a name for themselves in the publishing world, Martin Salisbury Pathway Leader, MA Children's Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art, said:

"Like many students on the MA Children's Book Illustration programme, Mike works professionally in the design field but is looking to explore his own creative potential further. He is a natural storyteller and is full of original ideas. 'Edward Hopper' evolved as the banking crisis deepened and it works brilliantly on many levels. It's perfectly understandable by children as a simple story of greed but will also resonate with adults. Cambridge School of Art has had many MacMillan award winners over the years but I have to say that Mike's book is one of the most original that I can remember."

To see more of ‘Edward Hopper and the Carrot Crunch’ (and a world of illustration) visit Mike’s illustrated blog at ‘blogshank.com’.

For more information about MA Children’s Book Illustration and BA (hons) Illustration please visit: www.anglia.ac.uk/csa