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Results of the 4th edition of the international competition for the illustrated children's book project CLAIRVOYANTS

Recently, we all had to face unusual situations and adapt to the new conditions. And so did the formula of the Clairvoyants competition. This year the projects were submitted digitally, and the jury met and deliberated remotely. Whether it was due to those new methods, or to the greater amount of time spent at home that stimulated creativity, or simply as a result of the competition's increasing recognition, this year we received a record number of entries - 1063 projects from 76 countries! For the first time, the number of foreign projectsexceeded the number of applications from the Polish artists.

All projects were assessed by two independent juries, which awarded prizes and mentions.

The international jury composed of: Jutta Bauer, Romana Romanyszyn, Joanna Olech and Piotr Socha awarded the EUR 2,500 main prize, four honorary mentions and one special mention:


Main prize: ‘Ola w rafie’ (‘Ola in the Reef’), Nina Budzyńska, Poland


Honorary mention: This is Not My Home’, text: Vivienne Chang, illustrations: Eugenia Yoh, USA

Honorary mention: ‘Blue Car’, Oleksandr Shatokhin, Ukraine

Honorary mention: ‘Ślonskie abecadło’ (‘Silesian ABC’), Adam Skrzypiec, Poland


A special mention for an original and important concept: 

‘Zamigaj mi!’ (‘Sign it to me!’) – a series of games and books for children and parents designed to teach Polish sign language, Oliwia Michniewska and Paulina Szuścik, Poland


The verdict of the international jury


Main prize: ‘Ola w rafie’ (‘Ola in the Reef’), Nina Budzyńska, Poland

‘Ola w Rafie’ is a great example of how to talk about serious matters with humour, in this case about climate change and coral reef extinction. Contemporary children need contemporary fairy tales, in which the main villains are no longer witches and dragons, but ecologically unsustainable production and plastic waste.

This one is risky, and we love risky books. We need them in the world filled to the brim with  boring, sweet and commercial books. The Godzilla at the end is crazy and surprising, but also justified. It stands for the really revolutionary big changes we need. By acting sheepishly, we are not going to solve the problems of our planet. We need a solution worthy of Godzilla.

The whole story is very synthetic, even minimalistic. This minimalistic language makes the message clear. At the same time the author’s style is humorous, which is ironic in the contex of the book’s subject.

Each double spread captures reader’s attention with the bold, but balanced compositions, the typography, the vibrant colours and the great balance of white background. There is a wonderful game of contrasts - of scales, colours, shapes, spots and lines… And in the end - contrast between the surreal and the real. The illustrations are made in a naive style, a bit like children's drawings with pencils and markers. However, do not be misled by this technique, as this project is very mature and well-thought-out, and the author is here in her element.

Honorary mention: This is Not My Home’, text: Vivienne Chang, illustrations: Eugenia Yoh, USA

This is a simple, unpretentious book that understandingly and empathically talks about something that everyone has to face sometimes: changes. It’s a story about a little girl, Lily, moving from the United States to Taiwan. In the new place, the girl does not understand the language, does not like local dishes, and finds the customs strange. Sad and resentful, she misses things that are familiar, but lost. But the sadness doesn't last forever. Slowly, not without some struggle, the girl tames the new, exotic reality.

Every child (as much as the adults) experiences such ‘changes; over and over again. You don't have to travel across the globe to find yourself in the Lily’s story. Sometimes the first day of school can be a child's ‘move to Taiwan’.

The illustrator found for this story a concise, friendly drawing style – she told it with a lapidary, friendly drawing and the pastel range of colours. The visual part is built on the principle of comic frames, which constantly change their proportions and give an effect of a photo slideshow. The protagonists of the book are sketched lightly, effortlessly, and at the same time they are well characterized. We can easily understand Lily's emotions. The elegant simplicity of the illustrations accurately accentuates what is the most important, without turning to excessive talkativeness. This formal restraint makes the book readable even to quite young children.

A wonderful, positive story imbued with patience and love. It was one of the two major runners for the main prize - and very close to win it.

Honorary mention: ‘Blue Car’, Oleksandr Shatokhin, Ukraine

‘Blue Car’ is a silent book with a fearless and crazy storyline, about the friendship between a car and a fish. Absurd as it may sound, the story is very well told. The author has managed to fit its plot within the form of a logically arranged graphic novel. It stands out because of a dynamic, cinematic storytelling style, richness and variety of frames. Every double-spread surprises us with an excellent play of colour contrast, of juxtaposition of darkness and light, of changing scales and angles. I really like how the illustrator works with the skyline and also how he introduces close-ups and long shots. To tell a story solely via pictures, with no words, is a real art, and not everyone can do it. Here it worked very well.

Honorary mention: ‘Ślonskie abecadło’ (‘Silesian ABC’), Adam Skrzypiec, Poland


‘Ślonskie abecadło’ is a designer book, an illustrated alphabet and a lexicon of the Silesian dialect in one. In the times of total globalization, it is very important to turn to our cultural background and highlight something unique that we own. Equally important is to interpret our traditions in a modern way, so they could last. So, this project ticks all the boxes. The author uses skilfully the iconic language, the language of symbols, in order to let us discover the Silesian dialect. Simple geometrical digital illustrations coexist perfectly with the archaic words. This contrast of the modern with the old works really well, portraying folk culture in a refreshing way. While the dictionary form leaves the viewer some space for their imagination. Nevertheless, the book would gain from accompanying the presented words with brief explanations.

A special mention for an original and important concept: 

‘Zamigaj mi!’ (‘Sign it to me!’) – a series of games and books for children and parents designed to teach Polish sign language, Oliwia Michniewska and Paulina Szuścik, Poland

Although this project is not entirely satisfactory in terms of the graphic design, it deserves a distinction for its original concept. The authors’ idea is complete and logically executed – it includes a series of books and games as well as an IT application dedicated to teach Polish sign language. It is an attempt to connect the worlds of the deaf and the hearing people, and to reduce the communication barrier between the deaf children and their hearing parents. An excellent, very useful and content-wise substantive project, perfect to spend quality time with your family. Undoubtedly, it deserves to be perfected and published.


Dwie Siostry Publishing House jury composed of Jadwiga Jędryas, Ewa Stiasny and Maciej Byliniak awarded one main prize, three equivalent honorary mentions and one special mention. The winning project will be published as a book.


Main prize: ‘Co to za kuleczka?’ (‘What Is That Little Ball?’), text and illustrations: Iga Ścibek, co-author: Przemysław Ścibek, Poland


Honourable mention: ‘My Family's Hair’, Thea Lu, China

Honourable mention: ‘Gudu & Gwai’, Maria-Luisa Uth, China

Honourable mention: ‘Where?’, María José de Telleria, Argentina

Special mention for artistic uncompromisingness and unbridled imagination:
‘Krowa i Krówka’ (‘The Cow and the Ladybird’), Michalina Mosurek, Poland

The verdict of the Dwie Siostry Publishing House jury

Main prize: ‘Co to za kuleczka?’ (‘What Is That Little Ball?’), text and illustration: Iga Ścibek, co-author: Przemysław Ścibek, Poland

The awarded project is a well-composed and an almost ready-to-publish book. It’s a story of an extremely fluffy fox called Tutek. This fluffiness is a burden to him and weighs him down, preventing him from enjoying his life. One day, Tutek stumbles across a small, red ball that will change his outlook on himself and his problems…

The book delighted us with a harmonious combination of many elements: a sophisticated graphic form, a likeable hero and an uncomplicated plot, that will easily strike a chord within a young reader. In a simple way the story touches upon subjects which affect most of us, regardless of age. It deals with topics surrounding self-acceptance issues, showcasing how an impulse from the outside can sometimes make us know ourselves better and look at ourselves differently.

The project owes its clarity to the deliberate structure and the economical use of graphical means. The text is simple and concise, yet not devoid of character. The illustrations, drawn with a limited palette, are tasteful and at the same time witty and sensitive. They are a perfect combination of the artistic quality and communicativeness. Their fresh unattended style does not follow the mainstream nor is overfamiliar. Proportions between text and illustrations are well balanced, there’s nothing in excess.

We are sure that Tutek the fox will steal the hearts of readers as he immediately has stolen ours.

Honourable mention: ‘Where?’, María José de Telleria, Argentina

The author of this project managed to create an intriguing book out of the most ordinary, everyday situations. Two characters - a man and his dog – think back about what they have been doing over the last few moments. That’s how each of them is trying to find something that he has just lost. While the man is looking for his key, the dog is looking for his bone. The author presented the same sequence of events from two points of view - first we see them from the dog's perspective, then from the human’s one. Both perspectives are equally important here. This ingenious structure draws the reader into a search, invites them to pay attention to the details and at the same time it inspires to contemplate the differences in perception of the same situation depending on who sees it.

The graphic side of the book is extremely temperate - the author limited herself to three colours, and the entire story is built around two characters, two objects and few background elements. These reduced means are used with real mastery, we can see how easily and skilfully the illustrations are drawn. A vivid and expressive portrait of the dog, its master and their relationship emerge from simple daily life scenes. The whole is a complete and original book that deserves to be published.

Honourable mention: ‘Gudu & Gwai’, Maria-Luisa Uth, China

In this nested narrative, a group of bizarre, colourful creatures tells the story of two other characters, as strange as they are: Gudu and Gwai. They consider themselves so strange, that they are too shy to leave their homes, located in different parts of the same snail shell. One day, however, they meet, and then they realize that they are not as bizarre as they thought.

We were impressed by the colourful, fleshy illustrations, revealing an incredible imagination of the author. In this respect, it stands out not only among other competition works, but also from the contemporary trends in illustrating for children. These illustrations are so very theatrical, so magic, that sometimes they carry us for a moment to a completely different, extraordinary reality, just like it can happen in the theatre. The main role is played here by an array of strange, dream-like characters, whose visual weirdness harmonizes perfectly with the content of the story. All this bizarreness is used to express a universal truth. Everybody thinks they're weird sometimes, but if everyone is weird in their own way, then, as the weird among the weird ones, we don’t have to worry about it – after all, it's perfectly normal.

This is another project awarded with a mention which is ready to be published.

Honourable mention: ‘My Family's Hair’, Thea Lu, China

An adorable book in which a little girl presents her family members in terms of their hairstyles.
Their hairdos turn out to be an extremely rich means of expression: they can convey dreams and preferences, moods and character traits, one’s origin and professions. The project stole our hearts with its lightness and sense of humour, as well as the affirmation of diversity and freedom to self-expression through outward appearance. Since we are all different, why should we all look the same?

The project is clearly structured, humorously conceived and well-drawn. It does not lack anything to turn it into a book.


Special mention for artistic uncompromisingness and unbridled imagination:
‘Krowa i Krówka’ (‘The Cow and the Ladybird’), Michalina Mosurek, Poland

A hilarious, crazy, black and white story about a friendship between a cow and a ladybug. Everything is possible here: a ladybug can bite off a cow's chain and grow to a cow's size, play with a cow in a disco band and set up a dairy partnership with her. We were delighted with its boundless fantasy, uncompromising sense of humour and artistic freedom. While reading, we felt that the author must have had a great time working on it. The book has a brilliant, yet nonchalant style, the illustrations drawn only with black lines are full of expression and comedy, captivating with the intelligence of graphic abbreviations and satirical sense. This combination brings to mind the best traditions of Polish book illustration.

This is yet another submission that forms an entire, ready-to-publish book. Because of its type of humour and imagination it seems to be addressed to adults rather than children. However, we found it so endearing that we decided to award it a special mention for artistic uncompromisingness and unbridled imagination. We encourage the author to continue this way and we keep our fingers crossed for her further projects.

Dwie Siostry Publishing House jury has also selected the most interesting projects that, together with the winning works, will be presented at the post-competition exhibition. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the formula and date of the exhibition have not been established yet. Further information about it will be published on the competition's website and in the social media of the Publishing House.

At the exhibition, together with the awarded and mentioned projects, will be displayed:

'A Wish', text: Katya Brezgunova,
ill: Vlada Soshkina, USA

'Co mówi? Bạn này nói gì?', Julia Ninh, Poland

'Confused', Eka Tabliashvili, Georgia

'Forbidden', Yael Frankel, Argentina

'Greta', Samanta Rito Araujo, Mexico

'Guma', Kasia Gala, Poland

'Hiena i Gwiazdy', text: Joanna Tomaszewska-Kołyszko
ill: Aleksandra Słowińska, Poland

'Impeco', Wojciech Węgrzyński, Poland

'In a Silent Way', Lorenzo Megni, Italy   

'Just as I am', Reza Dalvand, Iran

'Kitek Kotek', Aleksandra Słowińska, Poland

'Kwiaciarka', Anne-Christin Plate, Germany  

'Lady and Possum', Katya Klimova, Russia

'Lonesuns', text and ill: Laura Micieli,
co-author: Anna Gussoni, Italy

'Maniacs', Bea Lozano, Spain

'Mark and his Shadow', Viktors Kozers, Latvia

'Nelly', Anne Yvonne Gilbert,
Great Britain

'Nie, bo rak', text: Agata Łuczak,
ill: Łucja Trzebiatowska, Poland

'Nijaki znaczy jaki?', Ksenia Tracz, Poland

'O Borsuku, który chciał zostać Pandą', text: Magdalena Galas-Klusek,
ill: Natalia Mecnarowska-Legutko, Poland

'O Ligibitkach słów kilka', Klementyna Epa, Poland

'Od Bieguna do Bieguna. Podróż wzdłuż południka 20*E.
W poszukiwaniu zagrożonych gatunków', text: Monika Smetaniuk,
Marcin Dąbrówka, ill: Monika Smetaniuk, Poland

'Pan Pin', Aleksandra Słowińska, Poland

'Pan Żabka', Marta Domagała, Poland

'Perfect Child', He Zhu Zhu, Great Britain

'Słoń, który językiem chciał dotknąć trąby',
Paulina Strojniak, Poland

'small cats/LARGE CATS', Sophie Iremonger, Germany

'Someone Once Said', text: Dolores Fernández, ill: Paula Walter, Argentina

'Sznupanie z Pieskiem', Zbigniew Flakus, Poland     

'The Fart', Suolan Zhou, China

'The Miracle of the Apple', text: Babak Saberi, ill: Noushin Sadeghian, Iran

'The Words of the Wind' Samantha Sirtori, Italy

In this edition of the competition, we planned to invite the authors of the awarded and mentioned entries to take part in the masterclass workshops lead by the jurors. Due to the ongoing pandemic, we are not able for the moment to give any precise information about it at the moment, but we are not losing hope and doing all our best to make it happen, in one form or another. We will contact the winners directly on this matter.


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. We already invite you to participate in the fifth edition of the competition!

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

We thank our partners: Arctic PaperPigeon studio, EuropapierUkrainian Book Institute, Warsaw Academy of Fine Art and Goethe Institut.

We thank our honorary partners:  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: LubimyCzytać.pl, „KSIĄŻKI. Magazyn do czytania”, „Nowe Książki”, „Magazynowi Literackiemu KSIĄŻKI”, , Xiegarnia.plTVP KulturaPolskie Radio RDCPolskie Radio TrójkaGRAFMAG and Ryms.

Download the press materials:

The fourth edition of the international competition for an illustrated children's book project CLAIRVOYANTS 2020 has received the financial support of the Ministry of Culture and the National Heritage of the Republic of Poland (Visual Arts Grant Program).