Win an amazing illustration by Dapo Adeola – and the chance to appear in his new book!

Our Writer-Illustrator in Residence has an amazing competition for children of primary school age: all you need to do is create a fun character and you may just see them popping up in a future book. Dapo Adeola explains more below...

Illustration of Rocket by Dapo Adeola: a character from the book Look Up!, written with Nathan Bryon

Hi guys – I’m really excited to announce this new competition for anyone of primary school age.

As you might know, I’m an illustrator and one of my favourite things to do is to design characters. I look for inspiration all around me – from people I know, people I see if I’m out and about and even from trees and animals. Characters can also evolve from ideas like space aliens or crazy monsters! I look at people’s hair, how they walk, their eyes, their clothes and shoes, what they carry, like a toy or a bag, or maybe whether they have a pet.

More about Dapo Adeola, our Writer-Illustrator in Residence

I love bringing a character to life with their own special qualities. When I’m designing a character, I also think about their personality as well as what they look like: what they like, what they don’t like, what makes them laugh, what makes them sad, who their friends are. If I know all of that about a character then I find it a lot easier to design them on the page. They might have a frowny expression if they’re sad, or I might draw them next to their best friend, or they might have a special interest like Rocket in Look Up!, who’s mad about space and her heroine, Mae Jemison. Because Rocket loves space and the stars, I dressed her in a kind of orange spacesuit. 

Pencil, pen, paper, digital - however you design your character, just have fun! Watch this video for some extra tips from Dapo Adeola

I also use shapes to help design my characters. As you’ll see in the video above, all characters can be broken down into shapes. This makes drawing them much easier.

How to enter and what you could win

What I’d like you to do is design a character for me, using all of my tips above. Don’t worry if you’re not great at drawing – it’s your ideas that count.

Design me a fun character that means something to you – a crazy character or a normal person or a character with the head of a cat, or a funny character or a cross character or whatever you want.

I’m going to choose my favourite three entries and draw my version of those characters as individual prizes. So, each of the three prize winners will get a nice full-colour version of your character, drawn and styled by me.

And, for my absolute favourite character and overall winner, I’m also going to include your character in the background in one of my upcoming books.

OK! So get drawing and designing your character, and email all your entries in to me at by 5pm on Friday 28 January 2022.

Have fun!

Recap on the important bits

This is a competition for children of primary school age and either teachers or parents and carers can enter children. You can also send entries on behalf of more than one child, e.g. a teacher could send in entries for an entire class. 

  • The deadline is 5pm on Friday 28 January 2022
  • Scan and email your entries to with the subject title 'Writer-Illustrator in Residence competition'

Terms and conditions

  1. To enter the competition, you must be a resident of England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland
  2. The competition is not open to employees (or members of their immediate families) of BookTrust
  3. This competition is for children of primary school age only, i.e. aged 4-11 years
  4. Entries must be submitted by 5pm on 28 January 2022
  5. BookTrust reserves the right to amend the competition end date at any time, so do keep checking the website
  6. Entries will be judged by BookTrust and Dapo Adeola. Our decision will be final, and no correspondence will be entered into
  7. Winners should be notified by end of February 2022, although this is subject to change
  8. By entering you are agreeing to the terms and conditions in our privacy statement

More about our Writer-Illustrator in Residence

Writer in Residence

Our current Writer-Illustrator in Residence is Dapo Adeola, who is writing blogs, running competitions and giving us their unique perspective on the world of children's books.

Find out what they're up to