Picture book author Lauren Child is new children’s laureate

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The author and illustrator of the award-winning Charlie and Lola and Clarice Bean books has been named as the 10th Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate.

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The Children's Laureate for 2017-19 Lauren Child, with Chris Riddell, the previous holder of the role

Lauren Child was  presented with a specially-commissioned silver medal and a cheque for a £15,000 bursary from the outgoing Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell at a ceremony at City Hall in Hull.

The author and artist’s first two books were published in 1999 – I Want a Pet and Clarice Bean, That’s Me, and she won the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2000 for I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato, the first of her Charlie and Lola picture books. The first Clarice Bean novel followed in 2002 – Utterly Me, Clarice Bean. The Clarice Bean series has sold more than 6 million copies worldwide.

The Waterstones Children’s Laureate is awarded every two years to an eminent author or illustrator of children’s books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field and recognise the important contribution children’s literature makes to cultural life. The first children's laureate was Quentin Blake in 1999 and this is the tenth year that Waterstones have sponsored the role.

Accepting the role, Ms Child said, ’I want to inspire children to believe in their own creative potential, to make their own stories and drawings and ignite in them the delight of reading for pleasure.

‘In an increasingly fast-paced world, children need the freedom to dream and imagine; to enjoy reading, drawing and telling their own stories without value judgement or restraint.’

She said she was honoured to be following ‘in the illustrious footsteps of such giants of literature as Sir Quentin Blake, continuing the League of Laureates’ great work in elevating the status of children’s books in the UK’s cultural landscape’.

Ms Child has worked in other media, as an artist’s assistant to Damian Hirst, and as associate producer on the television version of her Charlie and Lola books, which has won four BAFTAs and screened in 34 countries. She is also a trustee of the House of Illustration.

‘My books have taken inspiration from many different art forms – from the illustrations of E.H. Shepard through Scandinavian Design, dolls houses and miniatures as well as the films of Woody Allen and Alfred Hitchcock,' she added. ‘Now I would like to focus on building stronger links between the world of children’s literature and other art forms such as fine art, film, music, television and design.’

She said she intends to encourage individuality and creativity in children and to ‘celebrate random acts of imagination’.

Chair of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate Steering Group, Abigail Campbell said, 'Lauren Child is utterly brilliant. Loved by adults as well as children, her work is witty, innovative and absolutely unique. We're thrilled to announce her as the 10th Waterstones Children's Laureate.'

The ceremony was hosted by CBBC Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya, one of the selection committee of the 2017 – 2019 Laureate, with Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and children’s buyer at Waterstones Florentyna Martin.

Commenting on the announcement, BookTrust chief executive Diana Gerald, said, 'BookTrust is very proud to be managing the Waterstones Children’s Laureate and we are delighted that the hugely talented Lauren Child will be succeeding Chris Riddell in this extremely important role.

'Each of the Children’s Laureates has been wonderfully different from each other, whilst still promoting a core belief of the transformative power of reading. The Children’s Laureate programme is a vital element in championing, and embedding, the importance of children reading for pleasure which fully mirrors BookTrust’s mission- to inspire a love of reading for pleasure in all children through our programmes. We look forward to seeing Lauren shining a cultural spotlight on children’s books and championing creativity for children across the country.'

The new children's laureate will be returning to Hull later in the month for the opening day of The Big Malarkey, the city’s first children’s literature festival, as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017. Ms Child will be in the Big Malarkey Tent on Monday 26 June between 4pm and 5pm to answer questions and sign books.

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