The Times' new literary editor Robbie Millen has promised that the newspaper will not cut its level of children's book coverage, despite dropping writer Amanda Craig as its children's book reviewer.
However protest over Craig's sacking has continued to swell, with over 220 authors, including children's laureate Malorie Blackman and leading names such as Anthony Horowitz, Cressida Cowell, Philip Pullman, Lauren Child and Frank Cottrell Boyce, signing a letter of protest to the newspaper.
Literary agent Carole Blake, Orion's Children's Books m.d. Fiona Kennedy, Walker Books senior editor Annalie Granger and James Runcie, head of literature at the Southbank Centre, have also signed the letter.
Author Lucy Coats has been co-ordinating the signatories. “What are [The Times] trying to say? That children’s books aren’t important in our culture?,” she commented to The Bookseller.
John Dougherty, chair of the Children's Writers and Illustrators Group (CWIG), has also written a letter to The Times on behalf of the CWIG committee. The letter says: “The importance to children of reading for pleasure, in creating a generation of adult readers and enhancing academic and broader life chances, is incontrovertible. At a time when libraries are closing and story-times have been squeezed from many schools,expert voices like Ms Craig’s are all the more essential. The Times’s children’s book reviews have until now been one of the few places parents and teachers can find truly authoritative guidance.
"With the loss of Ms Craig’s services we can only assume a decline in the prominence of children's literature in your pages. It is yet another sign that - however much many of those in positions of influence claim to be concerned about literacy, education and the next generation - short-term thinking and the bottom line are all that matter.”
Craig broke the news yesterday that she had lost her job because the newspaper is moving its children’s book reviewing in-house in a bid to save money. She said that she had been "touched" by an outpouring of support, which included messages of sympathy on Twitter from across the children’s book industry.
Robbie Millen, literary editor at The Times, told The Bookseller that the newspaper has no plans to decrease the amount of coverage it gives children’s books. "We will carry on doing children's book reviews every week and the people who do the reviews are passionate about children's books,” he said. “We will give the same amount of space to children's book reviews. At the moment there is a 350 word children's book review every Saturday and we will keep on doing that."
Of Craig, he said: "We're sad to see Amanda go but we're all under financial pressure."