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Here be monsters: Child illustrators share their creations

Scotland's school children were challenged to draw a character for the Thumble Tumble book series.

The Earylugger: There were 1,500 entries across Scotland.
The Earylugger: There were 1,500 entries across Scotland. STV

Visual artists have always had an important place in children's literature.

But what happens when you hand over that job to the children themselves?

Last year, Glasgow born author Angela Proctor gave the creative role of coming up with a new illustration of one of her characters to primary school pupils across Scotland.

More than 1500 young illustrators responded.

Their task was to design an 'earylugger' - a tiny creature from the Thumble Tumble children's book series who spies on people by listening into their conversations.

What Angela got back was a glimpse into the boundless imaginative world of children and of the fantastic monsters who dwell there.

Rhys McMcMillan, Lawthorn Primary P5
Rhys McMcMillan, Lawthorn Primary P5 STV

This week, the winners of the Budding Illustrators Competition were named, after careful selection from judges at the Glasgow School of Art.

Dr Donna Leishman, Head of Communication Design at Glasgow School of Art, says it was a "privileged" to see what they had done.

"It's really fascinating because you can see that there are a lot of themes and trends within primary school imaginations," says Donna.

"We had so many entries come in you can really see the influence of cartoons, comics, or films.

"When you see that and then see them do something really interesting and different, for me that shows a bit of magic and not just emulating their heroes and the stuff that they love."

Magnus Davie, Craigdhu Primary P5/6
Magnus Davie, Craigdhu Primary P5/6 STV

"It's really humbling to come back to this age group...to see what's going on," adds Donna.

"There's a lot of talent there and how they respond to words, how they illustrate this world, it's really kind of magical."

The designs that came back were of pink smiling monsters, fairy like creatures with wings and even a hipster elf with an 'I heart moustaches' shirt.

Alina Shahbaz, Glasgow Academy Primary P7/3
Alina Shahbaz, Glasgow Academy Primary P7/3 STV

The overall winner though was one tiny creature with incredible extending ears and a hot cuppa.

Its talented creator was Laila Altschul, 10, from Hyndland Primary in Glasgow.

Winner: Laila Altschul, Hyndland Primary (P6A)
Winner: Laila Altschul, Hyndland Primary (P6A) STV

"I drew a picture of something almost like an elf, something that can go bigger or smaller and its ears can extend for miles," says Laila.

"I put it holding a coffee cup as I wanted to show it relaxing, listening to the radio."

Laila, though, has a down to earth approach about taking on illustration as a career.

"I want to keep drawing as I grow up but maybe not as a full time job because there are a lot of artists out there," she says.

"I'll probably have to get another job to keep it going."

Rachel Montgomery, Baljaffray Primary P7
Rachel Montgomery, Baljaffray Primary P7 STV

As the winner of the competition, Laila's illustration will be worked into the next instalment of the Thumble Tumble Book Series - immortalised in a book forever.

This is the third year Angela has run her annual 'Budding' competition to encourage children to open a book, and over the past three years she's had over 5,000 children enter the competitions.

Author Angela and the talented illustrators.
Author Angela and the talented illustrators. STV

The winning image will also be used as part of an ongoing charity partnership between the author and the Beatson.

One of the the main reasons for turning her stories into books, was Angela's sudden loss of her mother, Jessie to cancer. During her short battle, the Beatson were an enormous support to Jessie and all her family.

"This love of literature got me through everything," says Angela, whose books have gone on to help raise funds for the charity.

The Thumble Tumble book series follows a little witch along her many adventures on the magical Isle of Arran and beyond.

Laila's character will now be a part of it.

Coerray Steal, Gavinburn Primary P5
Coerray Steal, Gavinburn Primary P5 STV

Donna Leishman says that being able to help give children like Laila an outlet for their talent is a "privilege".

"I work with adults who are working professionally, writing, drawing and creating worlds and it takes a huge skill set to do," says Donna.

"And then you see young people at even this age showing glimmers of that talent and you know that if they keep it up they could even be the next JK Rowling."

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