BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award

The BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a children's writer or illustrator whose body of work, in the opinion of the panel of judges, merits recognition for a lifetime's achievement in children's literature.

It is a separate recognition to the Children's Laureate in that it is purely celebratory and is not attached to any wider purpose of promoting children's literature. BookTrust intends it to be awarded to a person who is not likely to become Children's Laureate in the future.

2019 winner: Jan Pienkowski

Jan Pieńkowski, the award-winning Polish-born author and illustrator, famous for his iconic Meg and Mog books, has been awarded the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award 2019.

Jan, aged 82, was born in Poland in 1936 and spent his early years there and in Bavaria, Vienna and Italy before arriving in England at 10 years old.

He is renowned for being one of the greatest innovators in book illustration, particularly for his signature silhouette cut-out illustrations and his pioneering pop-ups. His books tread the perfectly fine line between being slightly frightening but also humorous and fun. 

Pieńkowski now has over 150 books to his name, including his most prolific artwork for the Meg and Mog series, written by Helen Nicoll (until her death in 2012) and David Walser.

Jan says his fondest memory is of his mother reading to him when he was four years old, often after lunchtime when they were relaxing in a hammock. On discussing the importance of children’s books, Jan observes that 'it’s their first experience of culture and it helps to open their minds. It can be incredibly influential in the early years and gives them building blocks to make sense of the world.'

Jan’s partner and collaborator author David Walser said of Jan being recognised for a lifetime of achievement:

'I think it’s wonderful that Jan has won the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award. He’s an exceptional children’s artist and writer and he’s given a huge number of children a lot of pleasure and perhaps it will go on after we’re all dead. I’m so glad this recognition has come in time.'

Read the full news story

Read an interview with Jan Pieńkowski


Nicolette JonesNicolette Jones (Chair)

Writer, critic and broadcaster

Nicolette Jones is a writer, critic and broadcaster specialising in literary and arts journalism. She has been the Children's Books Reviewer of The Sunday Times for more than two decades, and in 2012 was shortlisted for the Eleanor Farjeon Award for distinguished service to the world of children's books.

Smriti Prasadam Halls

Smriti Prasadam-Halls


Smriti Prasadam-Halls is an award-winning, bestselling author, published in 30 languages worldwide. Her books include I Love You Night and Day (Publisher’s Weekly #1 bestseller, Wall Street Journal bestseller), The Ways of the Wolf (English Association Non-Fiction Winner) and Don’t Call Me Sweet (BookTrust Treasure Pack). 

Ed Vere

Ed Vere

Author and illustrator

Ed Vere is an award winning and New York Times bestselling writer and illustrator of picture books. His latest book is How To Be a Lion.

Lucy Mangan

Lucy Mangan

Journalist and author

Lucy Mangan is the Guardian's TV critic and the author of five books, the most recent of which is Bookworm: a Memoir of Childhood Reading. She is also the columnist for Stylist magazine and has been a judge for the BookTrust Roald Dahl Funny Prize as well as this year's Lifetime Achievement Award.

S F Said


S F Said's first book Varjak Paw won the Nestlé Smarties Prize for Children's Literature. The sequel won the BBC Blue Peter Book Of The Year and his third book, Phoenix, represented the UK on the IBBY International Honour Book List and was shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Award. 

Diana Gerald

Diana Gerald

BookTrust CEO

Diana Gerald joined as Chief Executive in March 2015 and works closely with partners in Government, the Arts Council, publishing, libraries, children's centres, school and local authorities. She is also a trustee of SA-YES, a South African charity which mentors young people leaving care homes in Cape Town.

Reasons to love Jan Pienkowski

Why so many famous authors love Jan Pienkowski

Reasons for winning the Lifetime Achievement Award

He's a pioneer of paper engineering and an exceptional storyteller, so it's no wonder that so many well-known names wanted to tell us why Jan Pienkowski is such a worthy winner.

See a list of Jan Pienkowski's books

Our favourite books

Check out some of our favourite picture books by Jan Pienkowski.

Hear from Jan Pienkowski himself

Read our interview with Jan Pienkowski

Author Jan Pienkowski and his partner and collaborator David Walser reflect on decades of creating the much-loved children's books we know so well.

Former Lifetime Achievement Award winners

Lifetime Achievement Award 2018: John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury

John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury, couple and one-time picture book collaborators, were the first-ever double BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award winners in 2018.

Lifetime Achievement Award 2017: Raymond Briggs

Raymond Briggs, author and illustrator of The Snowman and many other brilliant children's books, was awarded the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.

Lifetime Achievement Award 2016: Judith Kerr

Judith Kerr was the second winner of the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award, picking up the prize in 2016.

Lifetime Achievement Award 2015: Shirley Hughes

Shirley Hughes was the first ever winner of the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award, picking up the prize in 2015.

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