Trade praises Riddell's appointment as children's laureate

Trade praises Riddell's appointment as children's laureate

The trade has endorsed Chris Riddell's appointment as children's laureate, praising his plans to highlight the work of illustrators and librarians in particular.

Former children’s laureates Anthony Browne (2009-2011) and Julia Donaldson (2011-2013) both said they were thrilled with Riddell’s appointment, with Browne saying “it’s time for another illustrator and he’s such a nice man – he talks, writes and draws so well”.

Donaldson said she had an inkling that Riddell was going to get the role. “If there was a betting booth here I would have rushed straight in and put some money on Chris being the new laureate so my only complaint is that I didn’t win stacks of money. He’s such a great choice.”

Riddell was named as the new children's laureate earlier today (9th June). He takes over from Malorie Blackman, who was in the role for two years. 

Sarah McIntyre, illustrator and orchestrator of the #PicturesMeansBusiness campaign, and author Philip Ardagh both said they were delighted that Riddell has promised to make illustration a highlight of his laureateship.

“He says he’s going to keep this amazing log with one picture per day but at the moment he does about 23 pictures per day anyway so I don’t think it will make much difference,” said Ardagh. “But he’s a larger than life person with a larger than life personality so I’m very excited about the fact that he is concentrating on illustration…. I think it is very exciting there is someone who will bring attention to words and pictures.”

In his first speech as laureate Riddell also said he wanted to support the work done by librarians, something which Joy Court, chair of the CILIP CKG Working Party, approves of. “We all cheered when he voiced his support for libraries and he’s been so generous with his time and his speaking commitments with libraries over the past couple of years. This is so well deserved.”

Court also said his work as a political cartoonist for the Observer will mean more people pay attention to the laureateship. “I love the fact he has a huge adult profile. Hopefully the adult man in the street will say ‘oh really? It’s somebody important, does he do children’s books as well?’”.

Foyles’ head of books Jasper Sutcliffe pointed out that Riddell is a “bookseller’s favourite” who has worked tirelessly to support the children’s market, putting in many hours signing stock and doing events.

Melissa Cox, head of books at Waterstones, meanwhile, said he was at the “height of his powers”. 

“Chris will be a champion for creativity so we’re excited about the scope of opportunity for the next two years,” she said. “We look forward to welcoming him into Waterstones shops up and down the country. He promised in his speech to doodle wherever he goes so he’s certainly going to be making his mark.”

Riddell’s publisher Pan Macmillan is also very pleased with his appointment and Belinda Rasmussen, publisher at Macmillan Children’s Books, said the whole company is “absolutely over-excited”, adding: “He’s absolutely right for this time and it’s wonderful to have someone who will emphasise writing and illustration.”

Pan Macmillan m.d. Anthony Forbes Watson added: “I think he’s a thrilling endorsement of the relationship between illustration and writing – every picture tells a story.”

Diana Gerald, c.e.o of Booktrust, said that while Malorie Blackman was a hard act to follow, "he can do it, it’s a sheer delight that Chris will be following her." She added: "It’s great to bring another aspect of kids books to people’s attention.”

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 champion libraries in schools, saying it was “bizarre” there is no 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”.

A full interview with Riddell with be published in The Bookseller on Friday (12th June).