So this month saw the winners of the 2012 V&A Illustration Awards announced. Among the categories, I am always especially interested in the book cover entrants – obviously. Fighting off stiff competition, this year’s winner of the Book Cover Illustration Award was Matthew Richardson’s abstract illustration for the cover of The Outsider by Albert Camus (above). Richardson chose to use subtle colours and a sparse composition to bring out the mood of the book and the character of Mersault. And alongside The Outsider, illustrators Petra Bӧrner and Vicky White were shortlisted for their designs for Emma (Bonniers) and Can We Save the Tiger? (Walker Books) respectively.

But how judges Orla Kiely, Emma Freud and Moira Gemmill made the decision is beyond me; there were so many great entrants. Here are just one or two that caught my eye…

Leela’s Book by Alice Albinia (Harvill Secker)
Lynn Hatzius’s illustrations are wonderfully unique. Leela’s Book is one of my absolute favourites. I love the intricate illustration on the board – this is one of those covers that the closer you look, the more you see.  I adore the image of Ganesh on the jacket, writing the title from his ink pot, much as he helps write Leela’s story in the novel when she returns to Delhi from her life in New York.

Long Time, No See by Dermot Healy (Faber)
This is Healey’s funny, touching tale of the capers and catfights of a small coastal town in Ireland. The hero, Mister Psyche, is a sensitive eighteen year old who survived a terrible accident that has changed his life for ever. I absolutely love Charles Shearer’s bold print illustration. It’s fun, timeless and full of life.

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers (Harper Collins)
This is easily my favourite of the children’s book covers. Oliver Jeffers, writer and illustrator and JM favourite, has created this gorgeous illustrated book about a boy who gets his kite stuck in a tree. Jeffers professes to show you ‘how to solve a problem by throwing stuff at it’. Pleasing in every way.

NIV Contemporary Bible (Hodder & Stoughton)
Hodder & Stoughton’s Contemporary Bible is just so fun and should, I’m sure, get one or two non-believers to flick through this version of the scriptures! Chris Martin hits exactly the right note with his playful, cartoonish illustration. How many biblical stories can you spot!?!


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