This record of Chris Riddell’s time as Children’s Laureate demonstrates the versatility and vitality of his work. He draws every day and everywhere he goes so there are entertaining comments in pictures and words on the innumerable events he participated in for children and for adults.
We get insights into the imagination involved in his work in progress. This includes creating a final book in the Edge Chronicles with his neighbour Paul Stewart, collaborating with Neil Gaiman and illustrating a new edition of Frances Hardinge’s award winning The Lie Tree. In some of the drawings Chris appears alongside his characters such as Mr. Munroe, the small and hairy companion of Ottoline, one of his best loved creations.
There is often a serious edge to the humour as Chris is a well-known political cartoonist as well as a children’s illustrator. His interactions with children and the adults who share books with them are placed in the wider political context of the two year period. He increasingly became a champion of school libraries during his Laureateship and has now become President of the School Library Association. His trenchant views about the erosion of library services are often expressed in wise and witty ways.
A number of the cartoons that he drew for The Observer during this time are reproduced here including the significant one that expresses his anger about the small refugee boy washed up drowned on a shore far from home. Donald Trump is frequently the focus of his humour and it was fascinating to observe how his characterisation of the American president was instantly recognised by children attending the CLiPPA (CLPE Poetry Award) at the National Theatre recently.
This was the second year that Chris has live drawn the CLiPPA ceremony and CLPE is happy and honoured to have been on the receiving end of his generosity in giving time to what we do. His first time live drawing the ceremony in 2016 makes an appearance in this book as does his talk at our Power of Pictures conference and the occasion when he drew on the wall of our Riddell Café and illustrated quotes from the Reading for Pleasure publication in our What We Know Works series.
A great book for all concerned with children and reading to look at over the summer holidays. Enjoy the whole journey from cover to cover or dip in at random.