News & Media

Astra Publishing House Announces Winners of Two Children’s Book Publishing Contests


25 Winners and $50,000 in Prizes

November 22, 2021: Astra Publishing House is pleased to announce the winners of two children’s book publishing contests: The Astra International Picture Book Writing Contest, the first worldwide contest for picture book writing; and the Golden Pinwheel Astra Award, connecting talented young illustrators with award-winning storytellers.

The Astra International Picture Book Writing Contest

Astra designed this unique writing competition to encourage, discover, and honor talented writers of texts for picture books for children ages 3–8 from around the world. Chosen from nearly 1,700 manuscripts submitted by writers from 68 countries working in one of the contest’s five official languages (Chinese, English, French, Spanish, and German), the following 24 winners have been selected:

Yun Dai, from China, is the Gold Prize winner with the manuscript titled “Sherjahaan” and will receive $10,000 (US) and the opportunity to sign a publishing contract for publication of the manuscript in one or more languages.

The 3 Silver Prize winners—Freda Lewkowicz, Canada; Sandra Markle, US; and Teresa M. Robeson, US—will receive $5,000 (US) each; and the 20 Finalist Prize winners, listed on the contest website are to receive $1,000 (US) each.

“Judging by our winning stories, I have no doubt that picture-book writing is today a lively, worldwide going concern. Writers everywhere seem to understand that young children need good stories—whether funny or sad, true to life or make-believe—to nourish their minds and hearts and imaginations, to transport them out of themselves or deeper into themselves, and to give a name and a shape to the increasingly complex world in which they must make their home,” says Leonard S. Marcus, Astra International Picture Book Writing Contest jury chair. “I offer my warm congratulations to our contest winners and my sincere thanks to all the writers who generously entrusted their work to us.”

The Astra International Picture Book Writing Contest is a unique competition from Astra Publishing House US, minedition Switzerland, minedition France, and Thinkingdom China, open to children’s picture-book writers, regardless of their publishing experience or country of residence, and held every two years. Contest entries may be submitted in English, Chinese, French, Spanish, or German. The next round of applications will be open in October 2022. Additional details about submissions may be found at

The Golden Pinwheel Astra Award

The aim of this new award is to foster innovation and excellence in books for young children and to promote international understanding and cooperation through picture books. The winner of the Golden Pinwheel Astra Award, selected from 2,426 entries from 82 countries and territories, is Yuliya Gwilym from Ukraine, currently living in The Hague, the Netherlands. Gwilym will receive a $5,000 (US) prize and the opportunity to sign a publishing contract with Thinkingdom Media Group to illustrate one of the winning manuscripts from the Astra International Picture Book Writing Contest.

“The Golden Pinwheel Astra Award creates beneficial synergies for both award programs as well as for their participants,” says Donna Chai, general manager of Ronbo BolognaFiere Shanghai Ltd., organizer of the China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair. “I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the collaboration between Yuliya Gwilym and one of the winners of the Astra International Picture Book Writing Contest. Yuliya is a talented illustrator and the picture book she will make out of the Astra writing contest winning story will be a beautiful symbol of empowerment for emerging writers and illustrators, a symbol we are proud to be part of.” Leonard S. Marcus, who is also Astra’s editor-at-large, adds: “Who knows where the next great children’s book writer or artist may be waiting to be discovered. We can’t wait to find out!”

About the Golden Pinwheel Young Illustrators Competition

Created in 2015, Golden Pinwheel has been providing a venue for emerging illustrators to showcase their talent. It aims to build bridges between them and children’s publishers, both locally and globally. In so doing, it has given fresh life to China’s children’s book industry. Every year, an international jury formed by well-known publishing professionals of different backgrounds is tasked with determining the winners of the Golden Pinwheel Grand Awards (given respectively to a Chinese and an overseas illustrator) and Special Mentions. Supported by the Shanghai Press and Publication Administration, the competition has become one of the most eye-catching events organized by the Shanghai International Book Fair. In 2021, it received over 2,400 submissions from illustrators hailing from 82 countries and territories. Submission information may be found here.

About Astra Publishing House

Astra Publishing House includes Astra House, dedicated to publishing the best adult nonfiction and fiction writers from the US as well as from around the world; the newly formed Astra Books for Young Readers features six children’s book imprints: Astra Young Readers, Calkins Creek, Hippo Park, Kane Press, mineditionUS and Wordsong; and Astra Magazine, an international literary magazine, launching in spring 2022. For more information, visit