This year marks five years since the inauguration of the FAB Prize and we could not be prouder of the amazing achievements of our esteemed alumni! Here are just a few of the things they have accomplished in the last year.
Faber is the proud publisher of two books illustrated by last year’s illustration winners. Ngadi Smart has illustrated Musical Truth by Jeffrey Boakye and Akhran Girmay is the artist behind a new edition of Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely’s novel, All American Boys. In addition, Hannah Lee and Allen Fatimaharan have released The Rapping Princess, their second picture book with Faber. Mariesa Dulak and Janelle McCurdy also have publishing deals with Faber, each for three books.
Michael Mann released Ghostcloud with Hachette, who are also publishing Sadé and Her Shadow Beast by Rachel Faturoti. Tola Okogwu has a deal with Simon & Schuster for her middle-grade duology Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun and two picture books. Knights Of are publishing the Mayhem Mission series by Burhana Islam, Arathi Menon has a deal with Yali Books and Sai Pathmanathan published Utterly Jarvellous with Bloomsbury. Varsha Shah was the winner of the Times Chicken House Award with Adjay and the Mumbai Rail Times. Aisha Busby has had three books published with more planned. Casey Elisha is working with the Arts Council to donate her latest book, I Can Be That Too!, to schools, libraries and families.
More than forty-five of our alumni now have agents: Sojung Kim-McCarthy, Su Jang Jang, Farah Shah, Clara Kiyoko Kumagai, Christine Lalla, Nilesha Chauvet, Beatrice Anobah, Ngadi Smart and Pam Aculey all signed up with agents over the last year.
Several of our previous winners have also been bestowed with awards and other accolades. Mónica Ibarra Parle was shortlisted for the Wasafiri Writing Prize as well as the Bridport Prize and the Peggy Chapman Writing Prize. Nilesha Chauvet is the winner of a 2021 London Writers Award and Habon Jama won the Golden Egg Award. Seema McArdle has been shortlisted for the WriteNow programme. As well as publishing four books Rashmi Sirdeshpande has gone on to win the Society of Authors Queen’s Knickers Award and be shortlisted for the Lollies and the Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Award. In 2022, she is an official author for World Book Day and the WriteMentor Picture Book Writer-in-Residence.
We could go on to list even more achievements from our alumni from this year alone, as there are so many we haven’t touched on, but time would fail us. There are not enough words to describe how proud we are of all those who have passed through our doors. We feel privileged to be included in their journey and we are truly excited to see what else lies in store for them.
2021 Text prize winner
Narjas Zatat was born in Hungary to an Algerian dad and a Greek mum. When she moved to London at the age of eight, the question ‘Where are you from?’ became a bit of an existential crisis. As a child, she tried to understand her identity by writing stories. As an adult and journalist, she continues to write with a passion for diverse stories. Narjas is our FAB 2021 Text Prize Winner. Her epic YA fantasy submission, Djinn-touched, was described by the judges as ‘engaging, sumptuous and magical. Narjas is an incredibly talented storyteller with the potential to be a true writing star. The decision was unanimous.’
An amateur geek and professional daydreamer, Ben Williams discovered that writing middle-grade fiction came easily to someone who never quite grew up. He studied English Literature at Queen Mary University and has since gone on to work in publishing and the arts sector. His work has been shortlisted for the 2021 WriteMentor Novel-in-Development Award and the PRH WriteNow 2021 editorial programme, and he hopes one day that young readers will be able to enjoy his daft adventures.
Shirley Hottier is a French Edinburgh-based freelance illustrator and urban designer. She has a passion for promoting diversity as a way to celebrate her multiple cultures, through the warm, lively scenes and characters she crafts. With a dash of humour, she designs her illustrations as captures of the small moments that make life beautiful. She specialises in digital art, incorporating a rich palette of vivid and bold colours, soft sketches and textures.
Samareh Azadi was born and grew up in Iran and this has been a source of inspiration throughout her work. She is inspired by the geometrical shapes, textures, and patterns in Iranian art. As a Baha’i woman in Iran, Samareh experienced discrimination which has formed her feelings and fields of interest in creating picture books. Samareh has recently completed a Masters in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art.
Mariesa Dulak was born in Yorkshire of dual heritage (Barbadian/White British). Her Dad taught her how to hold a cricket bat, prune roses and master long division while her Mum fed her a nutritious diet of Fairy tales, Pam Ayres and Yorkshire puddings. A love of bookish things led to a degree in English Literature, an MA in Children’s Literature and a career in publishing. The GEA helped Mariesa turn her scribbles into stories – she now writes picture books about identity and family life. Mariesa is a freelance Marketing Consultant and lives with her family in West London. She is now represented by Gill McLay at Bath Literary Agency and has a three book deal with Faber.
Janelle is an author and fully-fledged gamer. Having started writing and querying at only sixteen years-old, she joined JULA in her early twenties. After graduating from Royal Holloway University with a Criminology and Sociology degree, Janelle moved back home to London, and began writing middle-grade fantasy. In her free time, you can find her holed-up in her room, gaming and watching anime (some of her favourites being Inuyasha, Dragon Ball Z and Death Note), or attending numerous comic cons and gaming events. Her FAB Prize winning story was acquired by Faber in a major auction.
Ngadi Smart, who was awarded first place for the illustration prize, is motivated by the representation of minorities, cultural identity and gender roles within her art. Judges described her submission as ‘wonderfully arresting portraits with an astonishing degree of dynamism and energy to both the figures themselves and the vibrant spaces they inhabit. We love the effervescent colour palette and know Ngadi has a big future ahead of her’.
Akhran Girmay, a Bristol-based illustrator who uses a mixture of fantasy and folktales within his illustrations, was awarded second place for the illustration prize. Both illustration winners have been signed for upcoming publications with Faber. Akhran is set to illustrate a new edition of Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely‘s bestselling YA novel, All American Boys.
The judges described Reba’s writing as ‘a powerful and immediate piece of storytelling, vibrating with truth and rooted in a familiar context of family. We felt Reba was a writer who showed tremendous promise, originality and versatility’.
Illustrated Galileo (Les Petits Platons), Illustrators Annual 2019(Maurizio Corraini) and Cherry Moon(ZazaKids Books). Was selected for the Bologna Fiere 2018 exhibition, shortlisted for the V&A awards in the student category and longlisted for the House of Illustration/Folio Society Book Illustration Competition.
Of Rohan’s work, the judges said, ‘Rohan Agalawatta’s story was funny, atmospheric, and self-assured, with a charm all of its own. The setting and characterisation was very strong. A combination of pacy storytelling, super dialogue and laconic humour made for an extremely engaging, witty text, starring a boy called Odel and a deadpan talking yeti.’
Of Ramsey’s work, the judges said, ‘The dialogue was bursting with life and humour, and was pitch perfect. The humour, tone and voice made for a poignant but age appropriate text about the author’s own experience of coming to the UK as an asylum seeker.’
Of Cindy’s work, the judges said, ‘A gentle, magical colour palette moderated by strong, confident lines and a lovely sense of movement. Cindy’s eye for design, facial expression and humour made for a very strong 2nd prize winner. Her work stood out for its ability to tell a story.’
Illustrator of How the Stars Came to Be (Tate) and You’re Safe With Me, You’re Snug With Meand You’re Strong With Me(Lantana), shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal and contributing illustrator of Ladybird Tales of Super Heroes(PRH).
Author of Remembered(Dialogue Books), longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, contributing writer of Ladybird Tales of Super Heroes(PRH). Winner of New Writing North’s Northern Writers Award for Fiction 2017. Represented by Elise Dillsworth (Elise Dillsworth Agency). (Photo credit: Ian Robinson).