The Chalkface Challenge: The Shadowing Results

So far no one has told me that the Chalkface Challenge isn't the only kidlit competition wholly judged by children so, so far, we are! Half way through the preparation for our first Chalkface Challenge I thought wouldn't it be interesting to find out if some industry professionals chose the same as the children....

...or not.

Here are the three industry professionals I asked to Shadow Judge and who all, wonderfully, said YES:

Imogen Cooper              Sara O' Connor           Gemma Cooper
All very good friends of SCBWI and Words & Pictures.

The three shadowing judges chose from the five shortlisted entries. They were asked for their 'favourites'.

Imogen, Senior Editor, Chicken House Books
"I have eventually decided on entry 1. The author knows how to handle their material, the voice is consistent and by the end of the excerpt the reader knows where the novel is going." Jennifer Killick, Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink

Sara, Editorial Director, Hot Key Books
"I'm really liking entry number 10... And I'm really pleased to see how many middle grade stories there are floating around in SCBWI land!" Mike Pringle, Autopet Farm

Gemma, Literary Agent, The Bent Agency
"What I liked about this one (entry 10) was that it instantly threw us into a world that had android dogs (of sorts), but it didn't dwell on this or explain it." Mike PringleAutopet Farm

Gemma went on to comment further about Mike's winning entry:
"The world just is this way, and because the opening is so confident and the first paragraph so fantastic, the reader is happy to go along for the ride. I loved the little details thrown in, like Cedric eating a curry without any lubricating oil additives - it added to the world-building without being a massive info dump. The main character, Berthold, is likable because he's been given this faulty little terrier, but despite having to clear up all his poo, he shows a lot of affection for the little dog. I found the beginnings of their relationship rather sweet, with Cedric slobbering in Berthold's ear. I'd love to read more. "

In fact all three judges wanted to read more. I'm so pleased for the authors and for everyone who was brave enough to enter, as they all ticked boxes for the young judges.

In the autumn we'll have a new Chalkface Challenge for  a younger age group, I'd love to hear from any industry professionals who would like to shadow judge, do contact me at

Meanwhile all good wishes to Mike and Jennifer and again, many heartfelt thanks to Gemma, Sara and Imogen.

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