Children's laureates gather for anniversary

Nicolette Jones
People - Children Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Nine of the 10 laureates celebrate 20th anniversary at Waterstones Piccadilly

Nine of the 10 Waterstones Children's Laureates were at Waterstones Piccadilly to celebrate 20 years of the laureateship. Diana Gerald of BookTrust introduced the event and the laureates, and Kate Edwards, chief executive of Seven Stories and a member of the laureateship steering committee, recapped their wide-ranging achievements in the role. Florentyna Martin spoke briefly on behalf of Waterstones to thank the laureates for all they had done for children and for literature.

Michael Morpurgo wore for the occasion the red cardigan he had been wearing when he and Ted Hughes had first discussed the laureateship. Hughes had died before the first laureate was appointed - but his spirit was in the room, Morpurgo said. Hughes' widow Carol was among the guests.

Quentin Blake, the first Laureate, sent a letter that was read out by the 10th, Lauren Child: Blake remarked that "any job that allows you to draw on the walls of the National Gallery is worth having". Child also spoke of the need to take children seriously, and to recognise the fears that books could help them to deal with. And she paid tribute to the late John Burningham, whose memorial event had taken place in Hampstead that afternoon.

The Waterstones gathering also celebrated publication of the anthology Flights of Fancy: Stories, Pictures and Inspiration from Ten Children's Laureates (Walker Books).

Photo (back row from left): Michael Morpurgo, Chris Riddell, Lauren Child, Michael Rosen, Anthony Browne; (front) Malorie Blackman, Jacqueline Wilson, Julia Donaldson, Anne Fine

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