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Anthony Browne made new Children's Laureate
01.01.70 | Philip Jones
Children's writer and illustrator Anthony Browne has become the sixth Children's Laureate. Announced today (9th June), Browne told The Bookseller that he would campaign to raise the profile of picture books in the trade and to encourage adults as well as children to draw.
Browne takes over from Michael Rosen and is the second illustrator to become the children's laureate since Quentin Blake took on the role when it was first launched ten years ago. Acknowledging the anniversary, Browne said that the role of children's laureate had played a part in helping to raise the profile of children's books. He told The Bookseller: "Children's books have a higher profile and are discussed with more seriousness than they were ten years ago."
However, Browne added that while children have been encouraged to read more fiction, picture books have been left behind. He said, "One of my main aims as laureate will be to raise the profile of, and respect and enthusiasm for, picture books."
Waterstone's, which sponsors the role, is promoting the new laureate in all its stores, including dumpbins with Browne's books in around half of its branches, laureate POS and activity packs.
Browne's first title, Through the Magic Mirror, was published by Hamish Hamilton in 1976 and he has gone on to write and illustrate some 40 books. One of these, The Shape Game, published by Corgi, will take a central role in his campaign as laureate to promote drawing. He explained, "When I was a child we used to play this game where someone would draw a shape and the next person would make it into something. That's the idea behind The Shape Game and I would like to use that idea to get everyone drawing."
Browne would also like to see more risks taken in publishing picture books. He said: "There is a sense of safety in what is being published today. The books tend to be clear, straightforward, and to steer away from ambiguity." Had a publisher seen his early portfolio today, Browne said, "I don't think I would ever have been published."