Meet the Judges for the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition 2024!

Posted by Jazz on Friday March 22nd, 2024

It's time to reveal our all-star lineup of judges for the 2024 competition ...

We are so excited to showcase the amazing panel for this year's competition. Manuscript reading is underway, and the submissions portal is still open, so if you want to be in with a chance of having these incredible industry professionals read your story, make sure to head over to the submissions page. But first, read on to see who those incredible industry professionals are ...




Barry Cunningham has had an impressive career in publishing. After an English degree at Cambridge, he joined Penguin Books in 1977. As Children’s Marketing Director for Puffin, he worked with all the great names in children’s books including Roald Dahl and Spike Milligan, and was responsible for the re-launch of Beatrix Potter. In 1984 he was promoted to the Penguin Board and became responsible for the marketing of all Penguin Books, a position he held until 1988, when he was headhunted by Random House. In 1994 he was approached by Bloomsbury to set up their first children’s book list. Barry left Bloomsbury at the height of its success and, in early 2000, decided to start his own publishing company. The result was Chicken House, a lively and creative company publishing highly original and enjoyable children’s books, with a special emphasis on new fiction. He has been a judge for the competition since it's fruition.



Lucy Bannerman is an award-winning journalist at The Times, who has been chasing stories for the past 20 years. She has reported from 24 countries around the world, covering everything from the funeral of Nelson Mandela to the Eurovision Song Contest in Azerbaijan.

She is a regular contributor to The Times magazine, Times Radio and the Stories of Our Times podcast. As the newspaper's children's book critic, the best part of her working week is sifting through the hundreds of stories and picture books - from the fantastical and magical to the comical and historical - that arrive in the mail room every week to find the one that will become 'The Times children's book of the week.' It is the only weekly review space dedicated to children's literature in the mainstream press.

She was Young Journalist of the Year 2006 but is older now.



Tim Compton is joint Head of Kids & Family (alongside Angelo Abela) at Lime Pictures. Prior to this, he was a script editor and producer at HIT Entertainment and CBBC. For Lime, Tim was the story producer and core writer on the global hit House of Anubis (Nickelodeon) and producer and co-creator of Evermoor, which was the Disney Channel's first direct drama commission from outside the US. Tim produced and wrote for Free Reign, the Emmy award-winning Netflix original and was executive producer on the Emmy-nominated limited series Zero Chill, also for Netflix. He is currently executive producer on Wereworld, Lime’s first animated series for Netflix.



Lydia Silver is a Senior Literary Agent at Darley Anderson Children’s Agency. Since joining the agency in 2018, Lydia has built a wide-ranging list of dynamic and diverse writing and illustrating talent. Among other accolades, her authors have been picked as Blackwell’s Book of the Month, been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Jhalak Prize, and won the Diverse Book Award. She was chosen as a Bookseller Rising Star in 2022.



Tessa is a literary scout for Children's and YA books, working with Lucy Abrahams Literary Scouting. Tessa studied Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge before taking up a work experience placement with a literary scout. She went on to work as a literary agent for translation, selling international rights for a wide list of Children's and YA authors. Since then, Tessa has written, edited and translated books for children, as well as moderating the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course. Tessa writes fiction for both adults and young adults, and she currently works with the Professional Writing Academy, providing editorial feedback for new writers.



Joel Rochester is your friendly neighbourhood cozy curator with a taste for the magical and macabre. Both an award-winning content creator, and an academic possessing a BA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Winchester. Between playing video games, browsing the nearest bookstore, and writing new stories, they possess an eagerness to embark on new adventures to undiscovered worlds.



Frank Cottrell-Boyce is a children's novelist who won the Carnegie Medal for his first book - Millions - in 2004 and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize for The Unforgotten Coat in 2013. Millions was made into a film by Danny Boyle, for whom Frank went on to work as the writer on the London Olympics Opening Ceremony, 2012. His other books include Framed (filmed by the BBC), Cosmic, The Astounding Broccoli Boy and Runaway Robot. He also wrote the three official sequels to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. His films include 24 Hour Party PeopleGod on Trial and Hilary and Jackie. His short work, The Great Rocket Robbery, was published for World Book Day in 2019. His latest novel, The Wonder Brothers, was published by Macmillan in July 2023.


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