Derry illustrator nominated for prestigious children’s book prize

A Derry illustrator has been shortlisted for a prestigious prize for her debut children’s book.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 12:31 pm
Derry illustrator Dawn Coulter-Cruttenden has been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2021 for her first book 'Bear Shaped'.
Derry illustrator Dawn Coulter-Cruttenden has been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2021 for her first book 'Bear Shaped'.

Dawn Coulter-Cruttenden, who was born in the city but has lived in England for many years, has been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2021.

The prize is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious accolades for children’s books in the UK and Dawn has been nominated in the Illustrated Books category for ‘Bear Shaped’.

Every year Waterstones’ expert booksellers vote for the books they believe are the very best in new children’s writing and illustration.

The shortlists consist of eighteen books across three categories, with the three category winners then vying for the overall title of Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year 2021.

Bear Shaped was inspired by the true story of the real-life Jack, a six-year-old boy with Autism who Dawn met through Twitter almost three years ago.

Jack Barnfield had lost his beloved Teddy Bear and his father reached out on social media in a bid to reunite them.

Dawn sent Jack a quick sketch of a bear. They later met in person and Dawn presented Jack with a proper portrait.

The encounter inspired Dawn to write and illustrate the heartwarming book, about a boy who finds a way to move forward from sadness with the help of kindness and sharing.

She previously told the ‘Journal’ that although the book is about a boy who loses a bear, it is about any kind of loss and adults are particularly moved by it.

“The book is called Bear Shaped because that is the shape of the hole left behind and it is about how kindness and time can repair that.”

Dawn said she is ‘ridiculously proud’ to have been shortlisted for the prize.

“On the day Bear Shaped was published I went to Waterstones in Piccadilly to look for it. Because, until I saw it in there, it wasn’t real. To know it’s been shortlisted by Waterstones has me beside myself with joy and more than a little disbelief.

“I - and Bear and Jack- feel so honoured and ridiculously proud. This is the biggest Bear-shaped joy that I’d never imagined.”

Dawn was an award-winning copywriter in advertising for many years, before becoming a full-time artist.

She also taught art to children and adults.

The year after her first collection of fairytale inspired drawings was bought by Fleetwood Mac star Stevie Nicks, she became the first woman to be artist in residence at The Savoy in London.