Children’s Books Edition: Vietnam’s Ehomebooks Opens Its Second Picture Book Competition

In News by Publishing Perspectives Staff

The biennial International Children’s Picture Book Award now is open for 2022 submissions by writers and illustrators everywhere. (Sponsored)

Image: Ehomebooks

Publishing Perspectives Staff Report

Deadline for 2022 Submissions: October 31
As Publishing Perspectives readers will remember, it was October 2020 when Vietnamese children’s book publisher Ehomebooks inaugurated its biennial International Children’s Picture Book Award. The creation of this award was in part, organizers told us then, “to contribute to the global publishing industry,” as well as “to draw more awareness of, and interest in, picture books.

What’s more, the new competition—for unpublished children’s picture books—was designed to help authors and illustrators get some early-career traction in a the crowded field of youngsters’ literature. And this year’s theme, Ehomebooks CEO Trịnh Minh Tuấn tells us, “is designed to motivate people, big and small, to move forward with possibilities not only in picture books but also in their lives, including, but not limited to, entering the competition.”

Today (May 6), we have news of the 2020 competition’s winners, and of an October 31 deadline this year for the program’s second biennial cycle. We’ll look first at winners from the first awards sequence in 2020, then at points about this year’s second iteration of this prize program.

2020 Winners: Ehomebooks Children’s Picture Book Awards

There are three honors in the Ehomebooks program:

  • Best Picture Book Award (a purse of US$6,000)
  • Best Story Award (US$3,000)
  • Best Illustrations Award (US$3,000)

Having been introduced in June 2020, Ehomebooks’ Tuấn says, international attention ran high in the competition, drawing submissions from many parts of the world with the theme of “Celebrating Childhood Drams.”

  • The winner of the Best Story Award 2020 was The Golden Heart, written and Illustrated by Nguyen Ngoc Bich.

In commentary about The Golden Heart, they jury said, “The Golden Heart has a familiar opening of an old tale, but it will surprise all readers with its unexpected and amusing events along with its unique illustrations.

“Though set in a dark underground kingdom, the whole book is bright with light and hope, not only catching the eyes of the readers at first sight but also lingering long in their mind. “

  • The winner of Best Illustrations Award 2020 was Din, written and illustrated by Nguyen Thuy Tien.

Writing about this selection, the jury rationale says, “Din totally captures the theme of ‘Celebrating Childhood Dreams’ with its illustrations.

“Through very meticulous and eye-catching drawings, Din has brought readers a feast for the eyes and the soul, leading them into a wonderland of dreams, hope and faith.

“Readers are invited to discover the various possibilities not only in the story but also in their lives’ journeys.”  

  • A winner of the top Best Picture Book Award was not named in the 2020 cycle.

Publishing Perspectives has inquired about why the jury process hadn’t resulted in a selection for this honor. Tuấn says that, in essence, none of the entries fully rose to the level needed to be recognized for the top prize.

“For the 2020 award,” Tuấn says, “we looked for works that could ignite childhood dreams in both children and adults with their stories and illustrations. For the biggest prize, the criteria are higher. Childhood dreams are a familiar theme, so we looked for something unique and fresh, out of the familiar, engagingly rendered through both illustrations and story.

“Some had good stories,” he says, “and some had beautiful illustrations. But their textual and visual combinations in storytelling and delivering the theme did not meet the criteria. That’s why the 2020 Best Picture Book could not find its winner.”

The 2022 Competition: Now Open for Submissions

This year, as the International Children’s Picture Book Award opens its second biennial round of competition, the theme is “The World Is Your Oyster and Ours.”

“‘The world is your oyster,’ says Tuấn, “is often said to be an encouragement. We want this year’s theme first to be a gentle reminder for authors, illustrators, readers, and children–a reminder of their own abilities in real life.

“Given the award, our theme goes a little further. Picture books open up possibilities for writers, illustrators, and readers. Wearing a different hat, each will have his or her own way to access that realm of possibilities.

“Writers and illustrators are encouraged to create and experiment with various possibilities in their work. At the same time, the theme is directed at children and readers, motivating them to explore and experience the possibilities that picture books bring.

“This year’s theme ‘The World Is Your Oyster and Ours’ is designed to motivate people, big and small, to move forward with possibilities not only in picture books but also in their lives, including, but not limited to, entering the competition.”

Eligibility and a Tip to Entrants

Writers and illustrators preparing entries now for the 2022 award can be of any nationality but must be 18 or older. Their manuscripts, focused on readers 10 and younger, should have no more than 1,000 words of text and should run to no more than 64 pages.

“New perspectives, new angles, and new styles always draw my attention, and they’re welcome because they contribute to the endless possibilities in picture books.”Trịnh Minh Tuấn, Ehomebooks

This year’s purses are offered at US$2,000 for the top Best Picture Book Award, with an extra $1,000 to buy and donate copies as the winner sees fit. In the Best Story and Best Illustration categories, there’s a prize of US$1,000 each, with an additional $500 each for buying and donating copies.

In each case, a publishing contract with Ehomebooks is included–and that may, of course, be the most valuable part of each prize to an emerging writer or illustrator.

Full details on entering this year’s program are here.

And we’ve asked Tuấn in Hanoi what the 2020 competition has indicated that a hopeful author or illustrator should concentrate on, he says, “Make yourself stand out in the crowd by showing us something new, unique, fresh–as this year’s theme invites. New perspectives, new angles, and new styles always draw my attention, and they’re welcome because they contribute to the endless possibilities in picture books.”

He’s also aware, however, of the individual artistry that goes into each entry, and wants to be careful not to risk unduly influencing an entrant: “I think this is enough advice,” he says. “I had better not say anything more as my experience and opinion will somehow affect or limit the participants in terms of creativity, imagination, and possibilities.

“This year’s theme leaves the door open for free interpretation and expression, and so should I.”

On the Ehomebooks site, the ‘Coming Soon’ shelf includes ‘The Golden Heart’ and ‘Din’–the winning books from 2020, each now in print thanks to the competition. Image: Ehomebooks

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 85th awards-related report produced in the 89 publication days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.

More from Publishing Perspectives on children’s books is here, more on publishing and book awards is here, more from us on Vietnam’s market is here, and more on the publishing industry in Asia is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

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