Author Illustrator Petr Horáček spoke to LoveReading4Kids about his recent appointment to the judging panel for the 2024 Klaus Flugge Prize. Here's what he had to say,

"The Klaus Flugge Prize is awarded annually to the most promising and exciting children’s book illustration newcomer. Being asked to be one of the judges, along with with Mariajo Ilustrajo (the winner of the 2023 Klaus Flugge Prize), Olivia Ahmad (artistic director at the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration), Alex Forbes (founder of independent bookshop Fourbears Books) and chair Julia Eccleshare (director of The Hay Children’s Festival), was a great honour and of course a big responsibility.

As an illustrator I know how isolated you can feel when working on a book, locked in the studio for hours every day, for weeks, months. You can be completely focussed and engaged with your work, only hoping that at the end there will be someone who will appreciate it. Apart from this uncertainty and the worries which you bring on yourself, there can also be extra pressure from publishers, editors, and agents. An artist who is just starting a new career as an illustrator feels this pressure even more. That’s why an award such as the Klaus Flugge Prize is so important to new illustrators. To be noticed, to get that recognition at the start of your career is hugely important and much appreciated. 

Judging the nominated books and drawing up the shortlist was a great experience. I thought I was coming to the judging meeting well prepared. I thought I had a good idea about which of the longlisted books I liked the most and why. During the long and very lively meeting, I was quite surprised how much I had missed when looking at the books in the privacy of my studio and how my opinion about some of the work could change following discussion with others! Illustration is a very specific form of art so it shouldn’t be a surprise that each of us can have a different response, different opinion, different taste. Discussing the books with the fellow judges was incredibly inspiring for me. It made me look at some of the artwork again and from a different perspective. We chose a shortlist of six books from a longlist of seventeen and discussed each of the books thoroughly and with great care. Here’s our shortlist and some of my notes about each of the books we chose.

The Crown by Emily Kapff. This is a beautifully executed book. The illustrations are very engaging and I can imagine a child, or any reader in fact, spending a long time looking at it. It is a book which you could pick up again and again just to look at the artwork.

The Dream Book by Bia Melo. Bia’s illustrations have a vibrant energy and are fun to look at. I can see children looking at the book and wanting to pick up a pencil themselves, something I think is really important.

Henri and the Machine illustrated by Olga Shtonda. This is such a clever, funny and well-designed book. I like the graphically strong images which are in contrast to the loose drawing and collages full of texture.

Farah Loves Mangos by Sarthak Sinha. This is another playful, very funny book with illustrations that tell the story very well.  

Bright Stars of Black British History illustrated by Angela Vives. You might not see this as a picture book as such, but the illustrations are vital to its success and are very engaging and beautiful. They manage to be delicate and bold at the same time. Just looking at the pictures makes you to want to read the book.

The Fossil Hunter by Kate Winter. This is an incredibly complex work where the text and the illustrations are in perfect balance. The illustrations have great energy and atmosphere and are full of interesting details.

Our shortlist is wonderfully varied as I’m sure you’ll agree! In the end, only one book will be chosen as the winner, but just being shortlisted for this prestigious award is a great achievement and I congratulate all the illustrators on the list. I’m glad too that their work and that of the longlisted illustrators is receiving lots of attention, not just from publishers, teachers and librarians, but also from the public and indeed everyone who loves art and picture books. The illustrators and their work truly deserve it." 

Petr Horácek grew up on the outskirts of Prague. From the age of 15-19 he studied at the High School of Art in Prague. The school specialised mainly in design. From age 19 Peter worked in a state design studio for two years and then studied painting at the Academy of Fine Art in Prague from 1988. He graduated as a Master of Fine Art in 1994. Petr met his English wife Claire and in 1995 when they were both students and they moved to England.

Petr started to write and illustrate books soon after his first child was born. The first books Strawberries are Red and What is Black and White? were published in 2001 and he received the Books For Children Newcomer Award in the same year. Since then, Petr has written and illustrated many books for children including Puffin Peter, Blue Penguin and his latest book Tiny Owl’s Scary Day published Autumn 2023.  

Petr has won awards for his books in Britain, USA and Holland and has travelled all over the world doing events in schools and festivals. 

Petr loves going into schools and making art with children and encouraging them to send him their artwork. He believes that picture books are for everyone and that good picture books don’t just teach children to be readers, but develop a child’s imagination, encourage creativity and teaching them to be observant and investigative too.

Petr lives in Worcester, England with his wife Claire and has two grown-up daughters.

More about his books and paintings can be found on

Instagram: p.horacek_

Find out more about the Klaus Flugge Prize.

Click on the shortlisted books below to buy, read our expert reviews and download an extract.