An art school graduate has scooped a top award for her illustrated book There’s a Tiger in the Garden.
Lizzy Stewart was presented with the prestigious accolade at the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize – which has been honouring emerging talent for 13 years – by the book shop’s Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell at a ceremony in London.
Former Edinburgh School of Art student Lizzy took home £2000 and the promise of an ongoing commitment to her books from all Waterstone’s shops nationwide.
Reacting to the unexpected award, Lizzy, 30, admitted she was quite dazed, adding: “It’s a strange and lovely thing and I am very touched.
“Illustrating and writing a book is a solitary thing and it feels like a miracle that anyone has even read it, so the minute it was in print was success enough.
“And now it has just got better and better especially as the other people in the category shortlist have written amazing, exciting and diverse books.”
There’s a Tiger in the Garden is a colourful picture book about the power of the imagination.
Lizzy said: “There’s an age when you start to feel like you are growing out of imaginary games, but you’re not! I wanted to sneak that in there.”
Lizzy was also inspired by her real-life childhood experiences.
She said: “The grandma in the book is my grandma and the garden is based on my grandma’s garden, and the expeditions you go on in the garden when you’re a kid.”
Illustrator Lizzy also drew inspiration from her days in the city. “I studied for four year at ECA and then stayed for a couple of years afterwards because I love the city so much and I and miss it a lot.
“The book is about a garden and I particularly loved visiting Edinburgh Botanical Gardens when I lived there – especially the bright, vivid colours. I also loved walking around Edinburgh which I found and still find inspiring and exciting.”
Lizzy graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2009 and received an MA in Communication Design from Central St Martins in London in 2013. She is now based in Crystal Palace and is one half of independent publishers Sing Statistics and an associate lecturer at Goldsmiths College.
Florentyna Martin, Waterstone’s children’s buyer, said: “Lizzy Stewart’s There’s a Tiger in the Garden is bold, bright and beautiful. Lizzy’s immediately assured artistic style conveys a classic tone, allowing her charmingly told story of imagination to leap off the page.
“This is a timeless picture book which will be much loved by children and adults alike, and is a promising start to what will be an inspiring career.”
The Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize is unique in that it is voted for solely by booksellers.
Already pronounced winner of the Younger Fiction category, The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave secured the accolade of overall winner of the prize, and Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence took the Older Fiction category.