Jodie Hodges, literary agent at United Agents set this challenge.

I would love to see a picture book text that features a human child or children at its heart (so, no animal protagonists). Any theme at all but a story that toddlers and/or pre-schoolers and their parents can read together that makes them laugh or cuddle (or both). Word count of a maximum of 700 words and paginated in 12 spreads, please. 

Jodie Hodges

We received seventy-five entries from members across British Isles and Europe for this competition. And now we have a winner! This is what the agent told us when announcing the results.

As agreed with the SCBWI BI team, I've read a random selection of fifty of the submissions.  My Slush Pile Challenge winner is WHERE'S THAT TIGER? by  Cathy Bee.  

This entry had a fabulous, commercial and appealing central concept.

It had a great page turn moment from spreads 6 to 7 and the clever added bonus of the narrative slowly taking the protagonist and reader to bed. I always like a text to end with twist, a cuddle or in bed!

It had a really strong rhyming voice. 

I'd also like to give a special mention to the entry, 'THE CHRISTMAS SQUIRREL' more great rhyme here, strong structure and a nice twist on a Christmas story. 

And finally the entry, 'DEMOLITION BABY'; a great title! I like this central concept and the fun-read-aloud quality it has. A child reader could really get involved in the banging and the crashing of Demolition Baby! I also liked how it was very firmly in the younger end of the market where we see few new authors coming through. 

In the fifty entries I read I was quite taken by how many new sibling stories there were. Obviously this is a popular theme and one that is very often part of a toddler's life. However that does mean that publishers have this area pretty well covered, so a text would need to have a really strong new angle for it. There is also sometimes a tendency towards focussing on the adults (either in the story itself, or appealing to the adult reader) – I would advise against this; humour, interest, plot should all be firmly aimed at the child reader – if something goes over their head they won’t request a repeat read. And finally, there were a few texts which strayed into being too didactic – it’s easily done, but your message should be subtly woven into the text and allow for a swifter, funnier ending.

Congratulations to Cathy  from all of us at Words & Pictures team. We hope she's well on her way towards getting her stories published. 
Well done to the two writers for getting a special mention. Meridith Vigh for THE CHRISTMAS SQUIRREL and Pippa Wilson for DEMOLITION BABY.
Thanks to everyone who entered. Keep writing and we hope you will be encouraged to try your hand at appropriate competitions.

Jodie Hodges is a literary agent at United Agents. Founded in 2007, United Agents represents a broad range of authors, from prize-winning novelists and best selling writers to acclaimed biographers, specialist non-fiction and children's authors and illustrators. In December 2013, AP Watt, the world's oldest literary agency, joined United Agents, creating the UK's most prestigious literary, media and talent agency. 

Jodie represents children's illustrator and authors of picture books, middle grade, teenage and YA. She has an open list for submissions. In the spirit of adventure and not knowing what she's looking for until she sees it, she doesn't have wish-list for new clients. Her feelings don't change. She enjoys strong, original storytelling and a unique voice. She has a passion for funny writing for 7-12s and also a penchant for realisms of teenage life - be that gritty or hilarious - in writing for that age group. That said, she also loves classic, epic adventure stories and a sprinkling of the fantastic.  Additionally, Jodie is always searching for bold new voices in picture book writing and children's book illustrators or writer/illustrators with a contemporary, quirky style. 

Elaine Cline has been a SCBWI member for over four years and loves to write picture books, junior fiction and middle-grade. She lives by the sea and has two soft and silly cats.

Elaine is a member of the Words & Pictures' editorial team, managing The Slush Pile Challenge for writers.

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