We always like to celebrate success, especially in these difficult times, so we say congratulations to NICOLA DAVIES and CATHY FISHER who have been nominated for the 2022 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal (for illustrations) in their latest picture book, THE NEW GIRL.

The Medals are the UK’s longest running and best-loved children’s book awards, recognising outstanding reading experiences created through writing and illustration in books for children and young people. 

To be honest Nicola and Cathy aren’t new to these things as this latest follows their longlist for Perfect in 2017 and nomination for The Pond in 2018.

THE NEW GIRL explores the importance of understanding others and how differences of race, culture and nationality can bring people together rather than drive them apart.

The new girl is beginning school in a new country, where she finds that the children in her class are unfriendly towards her, refusing to include her because of her strange lunches, her unfamiliar clothing and her inability to understand their language. The narrator and her classmates become locked in a cycle of cruelty, but when beautiful paper flowers begin to appear in their classroom, something starts to change.

Entranced by their beauty, the class come to realise that the new girl is the maker of these lovely things, and that despite their unkindness she is willing to share her skill in the art of paper folding. She helps the children to create many different kinds of paper flower, introducing them to her culture and transforming both their attitude towards her and their vision of themselves and their own lives in this poignant and uplifting tale.

Spread from The New Girl, words © Nicola Davies, illustrations © Cathy Fisher.

Pembrokeshire based Nicola is an award-winning author, whose many books for children include The Promise (Green Earth Book Award 2015, Greenaway Shortlist 2015), Tiny (AAAS Subaru Prize 2015), A First Book of Nature and Whale Boy (Blue Peter Award Shortlist 2014).

Her books, published by Cardiff based publisher Graffeg include Perfect (Greenaway Longlist 2017), The Pond (Greenaway Longlist 2018), Animal Surprises (Klaus Flugge longlist 2017), the Country Tales series, the Shadows & Light series.

She graduated in Zoology from King’s College, University of Cambridge, and studied geese, bats and whales before becoming a presenter for The Really Wild Show and the BBC Natural History Unit. She has been writing for children for more than 20 years.

Underlying all Nicola’s writing is the belief that a relationship with nature is essential to every human being, and that now, more than ever, we need to renew that relationship.

Nicola told us about the inspiration behind her latest book…..

“I went to several primary schools so I was always the New Girl; I was often teased and sometimes teased others in an effort to fit in, so I understand how bulling works. I wish I had thought of the wonderful way that the New Girl in our story responds to bullying. She creates something lovely that makes the bullies see her for herself and regret their bad behaviour.”

Cathy and Nicola

It’s easy to see where Cathy gets her artistic inspiration from. She grew up with eight brothers and sisters, playing in the fields overlooking Bath.

She has lived and worked in the Seychelles and Australia, where she is currently based. Her first collaborations with Nicola Davies were Perfect and The Pond, (CILIP Kate Greenaway Longlist 2017 and 2018) followed by a series of books called Country Tales.

Her art shows her deep connection with nature and her tender and insightful observation of human behaviour and emotion. Her illustrations add layers of visual narrative and meaning, making stories richer, deeper and more accessible.

The illustrations in The New Girl are really something special, Cathy Fisher told us…..

“I wanted to convey a sense of isolation that the New Girl, who had come from a different country and culture, might feel. I tried to show how something broken can be mended by the actions of quiet, gentle and beautiful kindness. The New Girl is a celebration of new ways to think and behave towards each other, however different we are.”

Spread from The New Girl, words © Nicola Davies, illustrations © Cathy Fisher.

THE NEW GIRL is out now, to find out more about the book, and get your copy, just go HERE.

And you can keep in touch with the progress of the awards, HERE.