Key Colours 2016 – Report of the jury


Members of the jury:

Anita Bijsterbosch, illustrator;

Aurélia Higuet, illustrator en winner Key Colours 2014;

Karolien Mondelaers, councillor for education and culture at the city of Hasselt;

Philippe Werck, editor at Clavis Books.


The jury assembled at Friday the 19the of august 2016. Out of a total of one hundred entries they selected the following seven nominees. (Note: between brackets are the literal translations of the titles).


Nr. 10: Filippo e l’oggetto misterioso [Filippo and the mysterious object] by Francesca Pirrone from Prato, Italy

During a walk through the forest the bear Filippo finds a mysterious magical apparatus: a cell phone! He gets obsessed by the strange object: during dinner, before he goes to sleep and even when he goes to the toilet he plays with it. It makes Filippo even forgets about his friends …. Until the batteries run down and it becomes clear that, after all, real friends are better than virtual friends.

A beautiful and present-day story. Recognizable, even with bears as main characters. The pictures have a special atmosphere, with original perspectives and an intelligent use of shades. At the same time very attractive for kids and very professional. Simply a beautiful picture book.


Nr. 23: La couronne du rampant [The crown on the slope] by Hélène Hürner from Genval, Belgium

On top of the mountain king Snakes’ castle is standing. Everyone is afraid of him and of his monster-servants. Not so strange, because they drink your blood! Furthermore the castle is surrounded by thorn-bushes and quicksand. Nobody has ever entered the place. Then comes the day Simon is challenged at school to steal king Snake’s crown.

A sturdy, but well-balanced story for children that are a little older. The excellent illustrations are mostly in black and white, but are full of details and expression, partly because areas of color are used to evoke tension and emotion. Children won’t be able to resist looking at this story again and again and each time they will discover new details.


Nr. 30: De wereld op zijn kop [The world upside down] by Paul Oole from Zutphen, the Netherlands

Imagine everything in the world would be upside down: parents are going to school, children are driving cars, clocks are going backwardly, we have ice-cream for breakfast, in the library people are making as much noise as possible, and the winner is the one who passes first not the finish, but the start.

The illustrator clearly gave himself free rein in this absurd story. The result: humor, a feast for the eye, and situations that go bananas. The images are almost cartoonlike. The sketches are very nice (and are sometimes even better than the colored illustrations). It is clear there was a very gifted draughtsman at work. A very successful project.


Nr. 44: Mijn oma is een superheld [My granny is a superhero] by Marloes van Loon from Bergeijk, the Netherlands

Lotte and her grandmother are good friends. Often they play superhero together. But recently grandmother gets more and more forgetful. That is why Lotte sets off to look for grandmother’s memory (and for the objects grandmother loses all the time). The reader cheerfully joins in searching by moving parts of the book that can slide and turn.

A book about dementia that will be helpful to discuss this difficult topic with children. The illustrations are present-day and colored with a suitable palette: they are light and cheerful and this contributes to making the heavy and difficult theme more approachable. The use of different techniques to make parts of the book moveable will persuade children to relate to the story in an interactive way. A really valuable entry.


Nr. 57: Lieveheershondje [Ladybirddoggy] by Debby Peeters from Reuver, the Netherlands

Once upon a time there was this very very tiny dog, as little as a ladybird. Nobody took notice of him. In order to get attention, he starts biting everyone with very very tiny bites. But even that doesn’t work. Till the day a little girl finds out about him and wants to take him home with her.

A simple and clear story: everybody wants to be seen, but sometimes we ask for attention in the wrong way. The images are done powerfully in black, red and green. Where colors overlap, new shades spring forth. Because the dog is so tiny all the rest of what you see is largely magnified. A special technique that goes very well with the story.


Nr. 58: Ik zet de zon aan [I switch on the sun] by Marieke van Ditshuizen from Amsterdam, the Netherlands

I am switching on the sun. Crocrocrocrocrocodile, from the outside you are hard, from the inside you are soft as a baby’s bottom. Moons are little boats on the sea of the stars. The air is waiting. I am a tiger, a huge roaaargh. I cannot sleep, my head is still busy. There is a whale in the pond. Dragon. Do not be afraid, mammy. Spring. Breathing is blowing backwardly. What do you want to dream about, tonight?

This is a poema. I just read it, from A till Z. But the illustrations are a poema too: beautiful and full of atmosphere. Perhaps the most beautiful illustrations in this contest. Soft, esthetical, technically very well done. There is just one word to describe them: beautiful.


Nr. 72: Froid de canard [Duck’s coldness, meaning freezing cold] by Pascale Moutte-Baur from Auderghem, Belgium and Zineb Mouhssin from Brussels, Belgium

Camille is a duck heading south. On the road he decides to stay overnight at a lake. But it is very cold … and Camille freezes on to the ice! A rabbit, a merlin, a moose, a small fish and a beaver try to free the unlucky duck.

A not so very traditional story about somebody getting in trouble and needing help. Not everybody is able to help, but in the end everything will turn out right. An intelligent use of strong contrasts – black of the night versus white of the ice – helps suggesting the animals rather than showing them. Intriguing and well done: an excellent mastery of digital illustrations.