The Eugenie Summerfield Children's Book Prize 2018 was established by her daughters the playwright Caroline Summerfield and the artist and art historian, Dr Angela Summerfield to celebrate Eugenie's life and work as a children's author, best known for the Wriggly Worm Stories.
The inaugural prize was awarded earlier this month to South West based author Chitra Soundar for her book A Jar of Pickles and Pinch of Justice. Literature Works would like to extend our congratulations to Chitra.
To find out more about the prize, its inspiration and the winning book, we caught up with Caroline Summerfield, daughter of the late Eugenie Summerfield and one of the judges on the prize.
Tell us about the prize and its inspiration.
Eugenie Summerfield (in whose memory the prize is run) who passed away in 2016 was very active in the writing community of Gloucestershire and was involved in the South West branch of the Society of Authors. She was passionate about reading and literacy particularly for children.
She was keenly involved in World Book Day in Gloucestershire and as well as giving readings, she also appeared at several World Book Day events as a judge for the ‘come as your favourite book character’ fancy dress competition.
The Eugenie Summerfield Children’s Book prize celebrates work in the area which promotes reading and literacy for children.
Tell us about the winning book a Jar of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice and its author Chitra Sandour.
Chitra was brought up in India in the traditions and festivals centred around retelling of stories. The book is a retelling of stories told by Chitra’s grandmother and is a celebration of the art of storytelling.
A Jar of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice has crossover appeal for both adults and children, promoting reading, sharing stories and the importance of literature. There is a real sense of originality to the work and a quality of the literary classic to it.
What made the book stand out for the judges?
For us, the book has a timeless quality and a beautiful style very much in the literary tradition. There is a childlike joy to the stories but also a richness to the writing that make this a book to be shared intergenerationally.
What do you think makes good children’s literature?
Writing that has a timeless quality, a clear passion for the subject and a style that can be enjoyed by children of all ages!
The prize was for writers based around Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset. You are a writer yourself, can you tell us a bit about the writing scene in the area?
There a good number of writers in the area but it can be difficult for them to garner recognition by the industry, we thought the Eugenie Summerfield Prize for Children’s Books was an initiative which could help to raise the profile of the writers in the area and in the South West more generally.
The prize will be biennial, with the next round of submissions opening in 2020.
Thank you Caroline!