Ex-Leighton Buzzard librarian wins book illustration prize

Kate Milner
Kate Milner

A former Leighton Buzzard librarian has won a top book illustration prize.

Kate Milner has won the 2018 Klaus Flugge Prize for the most exciting and promising newcomer to children’s picture book illustration.

She won for her book My Name is Not Refugee (Barrington Stoke), which follows a young boy as he and his mother set out from their home to find somewhere safe to live.

Although Kate studied illustration at St Martin’s College as a young woman - and illustrated magazines on Commercial and Housing Law for a while - she then spent most of her career as a librarian at Leighton Buzzard library, developing a passion for children’s books in the process.

When her job at the library ended, she decided to apply to do an MA in children’s book illustration at Anglia Ruskin University. She created the story that was to become My Name is Not Refugee as part of her degree show, and with it won Student Illustrator of the Year in the V&A Illustration Awards.

Winning the Klaus Flugge Prize marks her out as an important and extremely talented illustrator with a very special gift for creating picture books.

Kate said: “I felt absolutely amazed and delighted when I heard that I’d won. I was very, very pleased to be shortlisted but I explained to everyone at the time that there was absolutely no chance of me winning.”

The book asks children from a safe, comfortable background to think about what it must be like to leave your home and make a journey into the unknown.

Her experience as a children’s librarian was invaluable. Kate said: “It was a job at the local library that changed everything for me: I fell in love with children’s books. Part of my job was to read to groups of pre-school children at Rhyme Time, which was an excellent way of discovering which books kept their attention, indeed which books kept my attention. Despite my great age, I am, in many ways, about eight years old, and I still love to draw and make up stories. Becoming part of the world of children’s book feels like coming home.”

The Klaus Flugge Prize was founded to honour publisher Klaus Flugge, a very influential figure in picture books.