The Return of the Spoon-Billed Sandpiper

23 November - 3 December 2023

General Public, Free Admission, by appointment (contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

4 P8 9 Linh Vuong

Linh Vuong - Image courtesy of the artist


Ngo Hai An | Nguyen Cam Anh | Cacho | Chyn | Vu Dinh Dinh | Dinh Kieu Duong | Nguyen Vu Xuan Lan | Lapule | Le Minh | Tra Nhu | Trang Pham | Thanh San | Tat Sy | Linh Vuong

This exhibition is the culmination of a year-long collaboration between Pop Up Projects (UK children’s literature development agency), Nhã Nam (Vietnam publisher) and Simon & Schuster (UK children’s publisher). 

Individual Artwork Cam Anh

Cam Anh - Image courtesy of the artist


In Vietnam there are very few home-grown children’s picture books. This means that most children in Vietnam grow up reading picture books that do not reflect the cultures and communities they live in. As a world-leader in the craft of picture book making, a team from Simon & Schuster worked with Nhã Nam, children’s writer Trang Nguyen, and 15 experienced illustrators to develop a story that would resonate with children in Vietnam. 

Individual Artwork 1 right hand side page only Vu Dinh Dinh

Vu Dinh Dinh - Image courtesy of the artist



Trang Nguyen wrote a new narrative nonfiction picture book text called The Return of the Spoon-Billed Sandpiper. It tells the story of a near-extinct bird species returning to Vietnam, due to the efforts of conservationists to restore and protect its habitats. 


Individual Artwork Chyn

Chyn - Image courtesy of the artist


Pop Up Projects then presented a two-week picture book course in Hanoi in September 2023, for 15 illustrators selected from a nationwide competition. Led by Jan Fearnley, best selling illustrator of 26 books for children, and Jane Buckely, Simon & Schuster’s award-winning art director, the course supported the illustrators to develop their own, diverse approaches to illustrating the story. Just six weeks later, each artist submitted four spreads from the 30 page story.

Individual Artwork Cacho

Cacho - Image courtesy of the artist


This exhibition allows each illustrator to tell one part of that story through 15 double-page spreads, presented in sequence along with the text for those pages. 18 additional pictures, extracted from the sequence as stand-alone pieces, are also presented throughout the exhibition. 


9 P18 19 Tat Sy

Tat Sy - Image courtesy of the artist

Individual Artwork Vu Dinh Dinh

Vu Dinh Dinh - Image courtesy of the artist

Individual Artwork Nguyen Cam Anh 8 91

Nguyen Cam Anh - Image courtesy of the artist


The Return of the Spoon-Billed Sandpiper will be published by Nhã Nam, featuring the work of just one of the illustrators in this exhibition. But this is just the start of the story. The ultimate aim of this project is that all the participating illustrators will go on to make picture books that continue to reflect the people and places of Vietnam - and that will travel beyond Vietnam to reach young readers everywhere.





The exhibition will be presented at the Royal Over-Seas League in London, Manchester School of Art’s Vertical Gallery at Manchester Metropolitan University, and in Hanoi at Nhã Nam’s bookstores.


This exhibition is part of


The project and exhibition is supported by