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Lara Kate Jones (Born 1975 – died 26 March 2010, aged 34) was a British artist, children's author and illustrator. She is best remembered for her Poppy Cat series of books, written for the very young, which have been published in 20 languages and sold over two and a half million copies.
In 2012 a major award was set up in her name by Macmillan Children's books, called The Lara Jones Illustration Award, with a prize of £500 for the best illustration for a children's book by a new illustrator. So far there have been four winners.
Lara Kate Jones, was born in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire and spent her childhood in Shropshire. Both of her parents were writers. Her father was Ivan Jones the best selling fiction writer and poet, and her mother Mal Lewis Jones was also a children's writer. Lara was the first born of their three children, her siblings being Levin, a professional violinist and Jessica an artist, poet and singer songwriter.
Lara studied art at Canterbury College of Art and then at Cheltenham College and went on to work at the Royal Academy and the Inkshed artists' agency before becoming a full-time writer and illustrator.
As a writer
She published many books, but is best remembered for her Poppy Cat series which are published by Macmillan/Campbell Books. These books, for the very young, have sold in 20 languages and nearly two million copies. They are published in Brazil, Spain, France, Italy, Mexico, Finland, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Japan as well as other countries. To date there have been two major Television animated series of 52 episodes each and were produced by Nick Jr. and BAFTA award winning King Rollo Films. The 104 episodes are shown all over the world including America and Great Britain.
Jones was awarded the 2004 Sheffield Baby Book prize (bronze) and then a Booktrust Early Years Award for "Poppy Cat's Farm" in 2005.
"Poppy Cat Hug" won the Bronze Award at the Right Start Best Toy Award 2006 and
"Swap the Scene Poppy Cat" is a recent Bronze Award winner of the Practical Parenting Award 2006.
Good Night, Poppy Cat was acclaimed as one of the best ten books for the under fives in the Independent, by Boyd Tonkin.
The recently published, "Poppy Cat's First Word Book" has been highly praised by pre-school magazine containing over 50 words which toddlers can learn.
She illustrated numerous other books, including her own picture books, "I Love Hugs" and "I Love My Potty". Other books illustrated by Jones include "Mermaid Poems" (Clare Bevan), Mermaid Stories, "Fairy Poems" and "Fairy Stories" (all published by MacMillan) as well as "Babies Can" by Ian Whybrow and "Pip and the Edge of Heaven" by Elizabeth Liddle (Lion, 2002). Her final book was I Want a Mini Tiger written by Joyce Dunbar and published by Macmillan Books. She also had other projects in the pipeline, notably a book with Orchard Books, for which she had done initial drawings.