Bold, graphic of three prospective book covers in orange, black and white

Children’s category

City of Stolen Magic by Nazneen Ahmed Pathak

City of Stolen Magic is a spellbinding fantasy adventure woven together with threads of magic, secrets and colonial history.

In 1855, the British rule India and across the land Indian magic is being stamped out. More terrifying still, people born with magic are being snatched from their homes and rumour has it they are being taken across the sea to England.

When Chompa’s house is attacked and her mother is kidnapped, Chompa – born with powerful and dangerous magic that she has always been forbidden to use – must travel to London to find her. In London, Chompa will discover far more treachery than she had bargained for – and will learn that every act of her rare magic comes with a high price . . .

The Brief

We would like you to design an exciting cover look for this fabulous story filled with multiple layers of detail and drama and incredible characters in a truly multicultural Victorian London. 

Primarily aimed at children aged 9 to 11, your design should convey the key themes of the book imaginatively and in a way that will instantly engage the core audience as well as those who buy and recommend books for children – parents, carers, teachers, booksellers, etc. 

Your cover design needs to include all the cover copy supplied and be designed to the Puffin standard design template (B format, 198mm high x 129mm wide, spine width 20mm), incorporating the Puffin branding and all additional elements such as the barcode. Please refer to the submissions details page for full details on how to submit your entry. 

Copyright must be cleared for all images used in your cover design and you must include a credit line on the back cover of your design for any third-party images used; for example: ‘Cover photograph by Joe Bloggs’.

Read the book before you start designing

We recommend that you read the book before you start on your design in order to get a sense of the themes and of the author’s voice. City of Stolen Magic is stocked in most bookshops and libraries, or if you would like to be sent a link to download a free digital copy please register your request here. 

What the judges are looking for in a winning design

Your cover design should encapsulate the essence or key themes of the book in an imaginative, instant and engaging way. To help you get started, we’ve set out the top things to consider when designing a book cover, and what we look for when narrowing down our shortlist. Read more here.

The Prizes

1st Prize 

The first prize winner of each of the three categories will receive a six-month-long mentorship programme with a member of the Penguin Art Department (dates to be confirmed). They will also receive a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium tablet and Penguin Random House design books to the value of £100. 

2nd Prize 

The second-prize winners of each category will receive a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium tablet and Penguin Random House design books to the value of £100. 

3rd Prize 

The third-prize winners of each category will receive a Wacom Intuos Medium tablet and Penguin Random House design books to the value of £100. 

The Judges

Anna Billson - Art Director, Penguin Random House Children's

As Art Director for Penguin Random House UK Children’s, home to the iconic Puffin and Ladybird lists, Anna leads a fabulously talented team of creative designers who work with a brilliant array of illustrators and designers for some of the best authors and the biggest brands in children’s publishing.

Anna did a degree in Graphic Design at Middlesex Polytechnic, where she spent most of her time printmaking and producing handmade books. After working in the newsroom at ITN for a few years she moved into publishing, where she was able to turn her love of design and her love of books into her dream career.

Before landing at Penguin 21 years ago, Anna worked at HarperCollins and Orchard Books. Her teams have included designers who were recruited following their success in the Children’s Cover Design Award.

Francesca Dow - Managing Director, Penguin Random House Children's

Francesca Dow is the Managing Director of Penguin Random House UK Children’s, which includes the successful children’s publishing imprints Puffin and Ladybird, and is home to many of the world’s favourite children’s storytellers. Our incredible children’s authors and illustrators include Tom Fletcher, Malorie Blackman, Roald Dahl, Jeff Kinney, Jacqueline Wilson, Quentin Blake, Nathan Bryon, Dapo Adeola, Nadia Shireen and Jan Pieńkowski, as well as many hugely successful children’s brands including Bluey, Peppa Pig, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Snowman. Alongside this wonderful publishing list, Penguin Ventures is our expert children’s licensing business, for characters such as Peter Rabbit, The Snowman, Flower Fairies and Spot – taking these characters off the page and into licensing, consumer products, music, theatre and live experiences. We love finding and sharing stories for children, seeking out new talent and working with our classic heritage brands and authors.

Guest judges

To be announced

Penguin Cover Design Award

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