Chris Riddell crowned children’s laureate

Chris Riddell crowned children’s laureate

Author and illustrator Chris Riddell has been revealed as the new children’s laureate.

Riddell was crowned at a ceremony at BAFTA headquarters in London today (9th June) and is the ninth UK children’s laureate.

He takes over from Malorie Blackman, who spent two years in the role. 

In the new role Riddell will champion creativity and the importance of visual literacy, and will call upon everyone to enjoy the “joy of doodling” by drawing every day. He will also, like other laureates before him, champion the role of libraries, particularly in schools.

He said it is “bizarre” that it is not a statutory requirement for all schools to be equipped with a library as they are “the very places where children will learn how to read, draw, think and create”.

Speaking to The Bookseller for an interview that will be published on Friday (12th June), Riddell said his appointment was both “thrilling and absolutely delightful”.

He said that during his two-year tenure in the position he will keep a “laureate log”, which is a sketchbook filled with drawings of people he meets along the way. Other possible initiatives in the pipeline include live drawing events - something he said was inspired by a conversation with Waterstones, and an illustration resource for libraries and schools.

He also said he would not give up any of his creative work and is currently working on the fourth book in the Ottoline series, which will be titled Ottoline and the Purple Fox (Macmillan Children’s Books).

Riddell is the ninth children’s laureate and follows in the footsteps of (in order) Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Rosen, Anthony Browne, Julia Donaldson and Malorie Blackman.

He has won the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration twice (in 2002 for Pirate Diary and in 2004 for Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver, both published by Walker Books) and he was given the Costa Children’s Book Award in 2013 for Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse (Macmillan Children’s Books).

Collaborations include The Sleeper and the Spindle (Bloomsbury Children’s) with Neil Gaiman and Muddle Earth and Muddle Earth Too with Paul Stewart (Macmillan Children’s Books).

The children’s laureate award is run by charity Booktrust and sponsored by Waterstones, with other funding coming from children’s publishers and Arts Council England (ACE).