International competition for an illustrated children's book project. Third edition.

We are happy to announce the third edition of the international competition for an illustrated children's book project CLAIRVOYANTS 2018!

Since the very beginning, the competition has been very popular  among Polish and foreign artists. Almost 1000 projects from all over the world have been submitted for the previous two editions! Some of the awarded projects - new, fresh and intriguing titles for children -  can be already found in bookshops, and others are slowly but surely following their steps.

Every edition of the competition is followed by an exhibition of the most original and captivating entries, that travels around libraries, schools and various cultural institutions in Poland and abroad. The first ’CLAIRVOYANTS 2014’ exhibition has been published as well as an interactive post-competition catalogue and the ‘CLAIRVOYANTS 2016’ exhibition was accompanied by a short animation – ‘The Prophecy

This year we are thrilled to announce that ‘CLAIRVOYANTS 2018’ has been recognized by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and received the financial support from their ‘Visual Arts Grant Program’.

We continue to cherish the ideas and values that had underlain the previous editions of the contest: the ambition to awake the creative potential of young artists and authors, the care for an aesthetic and editorial quality of children’s books, the pursuit to determine the highest standards in the field and to support development of Polish children’s books and their perception abroad.

The direct aim of the competition is to launch the process of creating beautiful and valuable books for children as well as to discover the talented artists and children’s books authors and give them a chance to become known both on the Polish and on the international book market.

The competition is open to both newcomers and experienced artists and children’s books authors from Poland and abroad, participating individually or in a team. Participants need to be at least 18 years old.

The purpose of the competition is to prepare a project (draft) of an illustrated children’s book in Polish or in English language. Submitted works should include a script or a storyboard of the whole book, together with 3 finished double spreads and the cover.

Submitted projects will be assessed according to the following criteria: artistic quality, originality, the form which inspires child’s imagination and the content which is aware of the child’s sensitivity.

The submitted entries will be assessed by two independent juries:
1. The international jury: Susanne Rotraut Berner, Bernardo P. Carvalho, Joanna Olech and Piotr Karski.
2. The Dwie Siostry Publishing jury: Ewa Stiasny, Jadwiga Jędryas, Joanna Rzyska, Maciej Byliniak.

Competitors may be awarded with three different prizes:
1. The main prize of EUR 2,500 and two honourable mentions – by the international jury; 
2. Book publication – by the Dwie Siostry Publishing House jury;
3. Admission in the post-competition exhibition.

To take part in the competition you need to fill-in the online application form and send the competition works via post. 
Works should be submitted between 15th of November and 15th of December 2018 to the following address:  CLAIRVOYANTS 2018
  Dwie Siostry Publishing House
  al. 3 Maja 2 m. 183
  00-391 Warszawa, Poland
Competition results will be announced on this website on 1st of April 2019.
Competition regulation:
.pdf file to be downloaded


Offline version of the application form (.doc) to be printed and sent via post together with the competition work.


International jury

Rotraut Susanne Berner
One of the most popular and highly acclaimed German graphic designers and children’s books illustrators. She illustrated more than 80 books and designed over 800 book covers. She is best known for a beloved series of wordless books (wimmelbooks), which has been sold in 1,5 million copies in twenty countries. Winner of many prestigious awards, among others – a triple recipient of the most important book prize in her homeland – Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, as well as of an honorary Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis for the lifetime achievement, and of Hans Christian Andersen Award. She has been also nominated several times to Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA).

Bernardo P. Carvalho
A Portuguese illustrator and publisher, a graduate of the Fine Arts and Design School in Lisbon. Co-founder of Planeta Tarngerina, the publishing house awarded Best European Children's Publisher of the Year 2013 (BOP). Carvalho has been awarded various mentions and prizes in the international book competitions.

Anna Maria Czernow
A literary critic and academic teacher specializing in children's and young adult literature. She is a president of IBBY Poland and a jury member in the Warsaw’s Literary Award. She has authored many articles and book chapters in Polish and English. She cooperates with the Children’s Art Center in Poznań on the Biennial of Art for Children and has participated in the fellowship programme of the International Youth Library in Munich.

Piotr Karski
A designer, illustrator and author of children’s books. A graduate of the Graphic Department at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. His first activity book ‘Head to the mountains ‘was nominated for the best popular science book of the year in Poland and Austria.

Jury of Dwie Siostry Publishing

Ewa Stiasny
Co-owner of Dwie Siostry Publishing; graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. She designs and illustrates books.

Jadwiga Jędryas
Co-owner of Dwie Siostry Publishing and a translator of many books from its catalogue. A graduate of the Applied Linguistics Institute of Warsaw University.

Maciej Byliniak
Editor, translator, literary researcher. He has been taking editorial care of most of the publications of Dwie Siostry Publishing since 2007.

The winners of the third edition of the CLAIRVOYANTS 2018/2019 competition

The third edition of the Clairvoyants competition has come to an end, and it was as rich and inspiring as the previous two. We are glad to see a growing interest in the competition, both in Poland and abroad, proven by the number of submissions. In this edition we received 530 projects from 35 countries: 370 from Poland and 160 from all over the world! The submitted entries represented a vast range of styles, conventions and genres of children’s books, and their authors demonstrated an impressive creativity.

The jury sitting took place at the end of February in Royal Łazienki Park in Warsaw. Projects were evaluated by two independent juries.

The international jury

The international jury composed of Rotraut Susanne Berner, Bernardo P. Carvalho, Anna Maria Czernow and Piotr Karski awarded the EUR 2,500 main prize and three honorary mentions:

The verdict of the international jury:

The international jury of the Clairvoyants competition was yet again faced with a difficult task of selecting just a few projects from between few hundred various submissions. Within this year’s edition of the competition a small number of fine and amusing projects stood out among the majority of serious, sometimes openly moralistic works devoted to difficult or nostalgic subjects, and these titles had drawn jury’s attention. While analysing the entries, we paid particular attention to the balance between illustrations, graphic design, text and the way a story was developed, as – in our opinion – this difficult-to-obtain balance generates a proper narrative in an illustrated book. After discussions full of twists and turns we decided to award one main prize and three equivalent mentions.

The main prize: ‘Daj mi spokój (‘Give me a rest’) by Ania Gawron
Such a balance – crucial in an illustrated book – is featured in the entry by Ania Gawron entitled ‘Give me a rest’. The jury was delighted by its consistent graphic form, skilfully combining a limited palette of three colours and the simplicity of illustrations. Such reduction of means of expression resulted in a clean and strong narration, perfectly fitting the expressive figure of the main character. An interesting typography draws attention, the comic speech balloons suggest a direct communication with the reader. The text plays with the ambiguity of the word ‘rest’ in a witty way and builds an original story around it. ‘Give me a rest’ is one of the very few competition submissions that reach for humour and grotesque. The book encourages the reader to make an interpreting effort and asks questions about being a parent and a child in a modern non-didactic context.

The honorary mention: ‘Pan Plama’ (‘Mr Spot’) by Dominik Nawrocki
The illustrations are the asset of this work: clear, casual and unstudied while professional at the same time. We liked the story: it was a well-chosen idea to put the abstract character in a universal situation of searching his place in the world. The adventures of the funny Mr. Spot are subtly emphasized by the colour discipline and the effect of griminess of the pages. However, the typography and a slightly monotonous composition still needs to be corrected. Lack of balance between illustrations and the text is also a weakness of this work. It is a pity that the text is too heavy and unduly philosophic, not corresponding to the amusing lightness of the graphic design. It is also overly explanatory and doesn’t leave the reader much space for interpretation nor imagination.

The honorary mention: ‘Ogłoszenia dzieci, nie dzieci, stworzeń i rzeczy” (‘Ads by children, non-children, objects and other beings’), written by Dorota Kassjanowicz and illustrated by Paulina Daniluk
The ‘Ads …’ project grabbed our attention with an interesting idea of amusing advertisements, which invite a young reader to use his creativity and invent his or her own ads. The elegant texts nicely match the expressive, flowing and vigorous illustrations. We liked the choice of colours, fancy forms, mischievous details and the idea for the typography. The authors could maybe try to differentiate the characters a bit more as well as put some more work in the page design, which is a bit overwhelming. The overall design of the project may be considered too monotonous, and this monotony affects the dynamic of the book.

The honorary mention: ‘Grandpa’s Fantastic Garden’ by Wei Fu
Should the Clairvoyants exhibition reward exclusively illustrations, ‘Grandpa’s Fantastic Garden’ would most probably win the main prize. Wei Fu’s technical skills deserve special credit. The artist created a complicated, delicate and subtle world that invites a reader to explore its enchanting details.
The lack of typographic finishing is a weakness though – there’s no space for the texts left within the illustrations. We have also some doubts about the story itself; it gives impression of a being a mere pretext for creating the illustrations.

Dwie Siostry Publishing House jury

Dwie Siostry Publishing House jury – Maciej Byliniak, Jadwiga Jędryas and Ewa Stiasny – awarded the main prize, three equivalent mentions and one special mention.

The main prize: ‘Bestiarium Amadeusza Foczki’ (‘The Bestiary of Amadeo Seal’) written by Maria Sternicka-Urbanke, illustrated by Justyna Sokołowska, Poland

The honorary mention awarded to the work ‘A moja ciocia mieszka w Australii’ (‘My auntie lives in Australia’), written by Lidia Iwanowska-Szymańska and illustrated by Zofia Zaccaria (Poland), was withdrawn, and the work disqualified, due to a breach of the competition regulations and to copyright infringement commited by the author of illustrations.

The verdict of the Dwie Siostry Publishing jury

The jury of the 3rd edition of Clairvoyants competition unanimously decided to single out five submissions from among all received works. We awarded one main prize, which equals to the publication of the book, three equivalent honorary mentions and one special mention.

The first prize goes to the book project ‘The Bestiary of Amadeo Seal’ by Maria Sternicka-Urbanek (text) and Justyna Sokołowska (illustration). This submission drew our attention from the very start of the jury sitting. It is as distinctive as its main character: the animal hairdresser of a dual, seal-and-beaver, nature. The book’s charming and funny idea has been very cleverly crafted: both text and its graphic representation show high level of professionalism. The problem of dualism in nature and of searching for one’s identity has been tackled upon in an easy-going and endearing way, without a didactic stiffness. And interestingly, the entry itself was of a dual nature: first of all, there were finished illustrated double-spreads, but next to them – a storyboard composed of sketches that at least equally conquered our hearts. These sketches display a completely different character than the illustrations, nevertheless they measure up their graphic strength and expressiveness. While working on this project in future, we will surely be tempted to follow the message of the story and opt for a less straightforward solution than simply choosing one of these graphic identities. In any case we have no doubts that this submission is a strong material for an exceptional book.

[The honorary mention awarded to the work ‘A moja ciocia mieszka w Australii’ (‘My auntie lives in Australia’), written by Lidia Iwanowska-Szymańska and illustrated by Zofia Zaccaria, was withdrawn, see information above].

The project called ‘Vertical | Horizontal’ by Bartosz Sztybor (text) and Łukasz Golędzinowski (illustrations) receives the second equivalent honorary mention. Although ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’ seem the concepts more suitable for a bricklaying handbook than for a children’s book, this submission proves that combining sense of humour with graphic skills can turn a stone into gold. Or – more precisely – into a brilliant children book. The work enchanted us with its graphic wit and intelligent play with one of the most basic parameters of any book: spatial orientation of text and illustrations. Thanks to its extreme simplicity this project seems ideal for a board-book for the youngest – to be read both vertically and horizontally.

The third equivalent mention is awarded to the submission called ‘Where Is My Next Home?’ by Janas Lau. It grabbed our attention as one of the most complete entries, practically a finished picture book. The story takes place in Hong Kong, but its theme is universal, dealing with questions like: ‘What is home?’ and ‘What happens when one is forced to leave it?’. It is a moving story based on experiences lived by many Hong Kong families, told by a concise text and realistic, detailed and powerful illustrations. They make the reader enter into a rich, clear-cut and extremely realistic world. It is formed by both huge and overwhelming city, full of dilapidated tower blocks and cramped flats, as well as by the countryside submerged in green, where strong forces of nature are allowed to speak. But, most of all, the illustrations let us enter an intimate world of an eight-years-old narrator and his relatives, allowing the reader to cohabit in it almost as a family member.

A special mention is awarded to the book project by Karolina Jakubowska, called ‘The Mysterious Story of Disappearing Socks’. It is a complete and attractive pop-up book, and a proof of author’s high technical skills and her exceptional spatial imagination. Although stylistically the book is quite distant from our publishing house’s profile, we were so much impressed by its inventiveness, variety of technical solutions and their resourceful integration with the story, that we decided to distinguish it with a special mention.
We warmly congratulate the authors of the awarded works and acknowledge all participants of our competition.

Jury comments on awarded projects

Dwie Siostry Publishing House jury had also chosen 40 most interesting projects that, together with the winning works, will be presented at the post-competition exhibition.
The opening of the exhibition will take place on Thursday 23rd of May 2019 at 6.30 PM in Galeria Milano (Washington Roundabout 2a, Warsaw). The exhibition will be open until the 3rd of June 2019 (in the opening hours of the gallery: Mon. – Fri. 11.00 AM – 7.00 PM, Sat. 11.00 AM – 3.00 PM).

The entries selected for the exhibition:

Big thank you to all the participants – authors of the submitted projects! We wish you all good luck on the difficult way of creating books for children. Please take part in the next, fourth edition of the competition, that will be announced in 2020!

We would like to thank all and each of those who contributed to the success of the third edition of the competition for an illustrated children's book project CLAIRVOYANTS 2018/2019.

We thank our partners: Arctic Paper, Pigeon studio, the Royal Łazienki Museum in Warsaw, Europapier, Paper Design and the Goethe Institut in Warsaw.

We thank our honorary partners: the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Mayor of the capital city of Warsaw, the Polish Section of IBBY, the Association of the Applied Art's Creators, the Polish Society of Book Publishers and the Children's Books Museum in Warsaw.

We thank our media partners: the LubimyCzytać.pl portal, the 'KSIĄŻKI. Magazyn do czytania' magazine, the 'Magazyn Literacki KSIĄŻKI' magazine, the ‘Nowe Książki’ magazine, the Qlturka.pl portal and the Wydawca.pl portal.

Video interviews with the jury members on the competition and on the winning projects together with pictures to be seen in 'gallery' section in the GALLERY section.

Download the press materials:

Press info
Samples of the winning projects

The third edition of the international competition for an illustrated children's book project CLAIRVOYANTS 2018 has received the financial support of the Ministry of Culture and the National Heritage of the Republic of Poland (Visual Arts Grant Program).

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