In bringing the Key Colours Competition, an international biennial contest for picture book creators founded in 1979, to the United States, Clavis Publishing is looking to discover talented new illustrators and writers.

Wrapping up on Aug. 17 in a livestreamed event, the inaugural U.S. Key Colors Competition handed out its top prize to Amal Karzai’s My Key and named two runners-up: Susie Oh’s Soomi's Sweater and Emma Ward’s Doris’s Dear Delinquents. Karzai, who is based in New York, will be awarded $8,000 and a publishing contract from Clavis. Oh and Ward will both receive publishing contract from Clavis.

“Clavis Publishing believes there is illustration talent all over the world,” said Clavis CEO and Publisher Philippe Werck, who founded Clavis in his hometown of Hasselt, Belgium in 1979. “The themes of children books are universal, the way illustrators give color to these themes may vary based on their cultural background and environment. We would like to see as many different colors in our picture books as possible. So we want to uncover and get a taste for the U.S. color pallet. That’s why we organized this Key Colors’ edition.”

That color pallet included 156 entries to the first U.S. Key Colors Competition, 12 of which were named finalists and five of which were shortlisted. The shortlist included, Soomi’s Sweater, My Key, Doris’s Dear Delinquents, Whose Dress Is This by Dora Wang, and The Shadow by Lara Vallance.

Clavis Publishing has offices in Belgium, Amsterdam, and New York. The company currently publishes approximately 250 children’s books annually internationally and 60 in the U.S. For more information about the Key Colors Competition, visit