Lauren Child, the bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator, has been appointed the 10th Waterstones Children’s Laureate. Child was presented with her medal by Chris Riddell, the outgoing Children’s Laureate, at a ceremony at City Hall in Hull, which is the U.K. City of Culture for 2017.
Child, who began work as an assistant to artist Damien Hirst, first made her mark as an illustrator, but has come to be equally well-known as an author. She is a pioneer of picture book design reflected in her first book, Clarice Bean, That’s Me (Orchard, 1999), a witty story with a sophisticated text and illustrations that nonetheless had child appeal, winning a Nestlé Smarties Book Prize. Child picked up the coveted Kate Greenaway Medal the following year for illustration for I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato, the first title to feature siblings Charlie and Lola.
Following the success of the title, Child has produced many further Charlie and Lola titles and has also been the associate producer of the globally successful television series about the pair. Several subsequent picture books also won the Kate Greenaway Medal, including Beware of the Storybook Wolves and Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book? In addition to her picture books, Child is an accomplished writer of middle grade fiction, including her series about girl detective Ruby Redfort.
Child, who is already an active champion of the need for children to have time for pleasure reading and an ambassador for Unesco’s Education of Children in Need program, plans to use her position to develop this work. “In my role as Children’s Laureate, I want to inspire children to realize their own creative potential to make their own stories and drawings, and to ignite in them the delight of reading for pleasure,” Child told PW. “Not in a rigid, prescriptive way but with the freedom to discover,” she added.
The role of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate is awarded every two years to an eminent author or illustrator of children’s books, in celebration of outstanding achievement in their field and in recognition of the important contribution children’s literature makes to cultural life.