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, was awarded the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award in 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 was 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 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 said his fondest memory was 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 observed 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.'

Jan sadly passed away in February 2022.

Read the full news story

Read an interview with Jan Pieńkowski