Award-winning author and illustrator Paul Howard, whose recent work includes Joe Wicks' debut picture book The Burpee Bears (HarperCollins Children's Books), has been appointed the new Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland.
The fellowship was created as part of Queen’s University and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's joint 10-year Seamus Heaney Legacy project. Howard will be based at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s for two years, working with students and engaged in outreach activities.
Howard, who has vowed to make literature more accessible to youngsters, follows in the footsteps of previous fellows Myra Zepf and Kelly McCaughrain.
He said: “As an illustrator, primarily, I aim to bring a new dimension to the role through promoting visual literacy as an alternative, accessible gateway for students and children of all literacy levels to engage in, building enough confidence in them to read and create their own stories. The fellowship will also enable me to take my story-building workshops to schools, who, for whatever reason, have never experienced an author or illustrator visit before, endeavour to seek creative inspiration outside of the classroom and shine a light on the incredibly rich heritage of children’s literature we have in this corner of the country.”
Howard is perhaps best known for illustrating Jill Tomlinson’s classic The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark (Egmont). He has worked with authors including Allan Ahlberg, Michael Rosen, Geraldine McCaughrean, Anne Fine, Trish Cooke, Martin Waddell and John Boyne, and won numerous awards including a Blue Peter Award for The Bravest Ever Bear (Walker).
Speaking on behalf of the estate of Seamus Heaney, Catherine Heaney said: “We are delighted to hear of the appointment of Paul Howard as Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland. With his decades of experience as an author and illustrator of children’s books, Paul knows exactly how to connect with young people in the classroom and beyond, firing their imaginations and encouraging them in their own reading and writing. We look forward to seeing him build on the incredible work done by his predecessors Myra Zepf and Kelly McCaughrain and wish him every success in the role.”
Professor Glenn Patterson, director of the Seamus Heaney Centre, added: “We look forward to welcoming Paul to the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s and working with him over the next two years as the next Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland.
“Paul is a respected and award-winning children’s author and illustrator, it is not just children of school age who will benefit from this appointment: our own students will learn much from, and be inspired by, his vast creative knowledge and wealth of experience.”
Howard will take up his post in January.
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