Results - 2nd Slush Pile Challenge

The winner of the second 2013 Slush Pile Challenge is Gill Hutchison.

Sarah Frost from Hodder Children's Books set the challenge in July 2013. The challenge was to send write a picture book (text or PB dummy) that celebrates the relationship of mother and child or a father and child - the perfect Mother's Day or Father's Day book. 

We sent all the entries to Sarah Frost without mentioning the names of the entrants. We asked Sarah to tell us about the entries and how she chose the winning entry.

Sarah Frost
"Our brief was for a picture book text of 500 words or under that celebrated the relationship between mother/father and child and would make the perfect Mother's or Father's Day gift. 

The winning text did the best job of fitting the brief. The story had lots of humour but also warmth and a sweet, satisfying ending that focused on the child. 

We liked the juxtaposition of Mum in a fantasy world and Mum in reality and felt this would give an illustrator scope to have lots of fun with the story and add to the humour. 

Finally we thought the voice of the narrator who let his/her imagination run wild felt childlike and convincing."

Gill Hutchison
We asked Gill about her experience of taking part in the competition and about her chat with Sarah Frost.

"I had SUCH an informative and inspiring One-to-One with Sarah Frost this morning. She has the gift of putting me right without putting me off!

Sara kindly telephoned me for the One-to-One, to avoid the long trip from Lincoln to London. 

The ideas she gave me for improving “My Mum’s bigger than your Mum”, which won the Slushpile Challenge, will be doubly useful because of the way they carry over to my other writing. 

I made notes as we talked, but I could hardly write fast enough to jot down all the ideas for improvements and for new directions which sprang up as a result. Thank you Sarah!

Like many other SCBWI members, I have entered the Slushpile Challenge on previous occasions without being “randomly selected”, but that’s all to the good. 

The Challenge is like the real world in miniature – there is a lottery element to as to whether your manuscript gets picked up at all and writing to a brief wonderfully concentrates the mind. 

I tried to pay special attention to the requirement that the PB text must “celebrate the relationship between mother and child”.

So thank you to Sarah Frost, Commissioning Editor at Hodder Children’s Books, for sharing her insight into what makes a picture book “work”, to the SCBWI Competitions team, and most particularly many thanks to a lovely 7 year-old called Aiden who listened (not very carefully) to my lesson on “Family Similes” and then missed the whole point by writing a story about how much he loved his Mum.

The “voice”, though not necessarily the words, in “My Mum’s bigger than your Mum” is Aiden’s.

Chitra has published over 20 books in Singapore, UK, USA and India. She loves writing picture books, folktales and is also working on fiction for 7+ with a lead character brightly named Aurora. Chitra is a member of the Words & Pictures' editorial team, managing The Slush Pile Challenge.


  1. Wonderful news Gill, I'm so pleased for you! Those of us who know you and your writing well, know how very much deserved this is!

  2. Congratulations, Gill. You're so right about the lottery element. My other half tells me I have to be good enough to be lucky. I think he means that luck doesn't help if you're not good enough and you obviously are! Brilliant, I hope the next step isn't long in coming.

  3. Congratulations, Gill! Really pleased for you!

  4. So happy and delighted for you, Gill!

  5. Well done! Sounds like a great story.


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