Kiwi kids’ character designs to feature in bestselling book

Five budding young illustrators from Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch are about to see their ideas in print for the first time.

Last year acclaimed author and illustrator Donovan Bixley ran a competition asking his fans to design a new character to appear in Downfall, the next adventure in the Flying Furballs junior fiction series. 

Entries paw-ed in from across Aotearoa  with an equal mix of boys and girls all hoping their creation would be selected. Some gave their characters witty catch phrases, some were cats, some were dogs, some had elaborate backstories, some had hair-larious names, some incorporated the most wonderfully cheesy puns, and some were extraordinary artworks. There were male and female characters from all manner of backgrounds.

This abundance of high-quality drawing presented a huge challenge for Donovan, who faced the daunting task of whittling the 150 entries down to a shortlist of five. In the end he was so smitten with all five finalist entries that he decided to pick one cat and one dog character as joint winners, but also give the other three designs cameos in the story.

Donovan's version
Amelia Ferguson’s Furgus McLongtail

Those children have all been excitedly awaiting the release of the title, which hits stores on Thursday 12 March. Each winner will receive a copy of Flying Furballs Downfall personally signed by Donovan and a sketch of their character as it appears in the book.

Donovan's version
Donovan’s version of Furgus McLongtail

Donovan will also present two of the winners with their prize in person. On Monday 16 March he will attend a special presentation at Tauranga’s Bethlehem School to congratulate Luke Dickinson in front of his school mates. 

Then on Saturday 21 March he’ll speak at a book launch at the Airforce Museum of New Zealand, where another winner, Mindi Bosher of Christchurch, will be presented with her prize.