Chris Riddell – illustrator and author extraordinaire, perhaps best known for the Ottoline series and The Edge Chronicles – has been announced as the new Waterstones Children’s Laureate. He takes over from YA author Malorie Blackman and joins a distinguished list which also includes Michael Morpurgo, Quentin Blake and Jacqueline Wilson.
During his laureateship, which will run until 2017, Riddell’s chief focus will be extolling the importance of illustration and visual literacy. He will chronicle his experiences in an illustrated ‘laureate log’ – to be shared over social media – and encourage children to keep their own sketchbooks. Following on from previous laureates, he will also continue to champion libraries.
Malorie Blackman – who faced Twitter abuse in response to her call for more diversity in children’s literature – said the best advice she could offer the next children’s laureate was to speak their mind and ‘have fun’. It certainly sounds like Riddell has plans to do both.