Malorie Blackman has this week become the latest author to join the storied ranks of the UK’s Children’s Laureates, taking over the biennially awarded position from prior incumbent Julia Donaldson. The role is given to writers or illustrators of work for children as a means of recognising outstanding achievement in their field, with recipients also given a bursary of £15,000 and an inscribed silver medal. The Laureate is chosen by a selection panel who consider nominations from librarians, critics, writers, literature development workers, booksellers and children who vote through the Laureate website.
Blackman – the acclaimed author of novels such as Noughts and Crosses, Pig-Heart Boy and Boys Don’t Cry – said of her appointment: ‘I am honoured to have been chosen as the eighth Children’s Laureate. A love of books has opened so many doors for me. Stories have inspired me and taught me to aspire. I’ve been a professional author for over 20 years, so I feel now is the time to give something back. I hope to instil in every child I meet my love and enthusiasm for reading and stories. And as I would never have become an author if it hadn’t been for my local library as a child, I intend to continue Julia Donaldson’s amazing, indefatigable work advocating for our nation’s public library service.’ She also expressed a desire to further encourage children and teenagers to read a higher quantity of books more regularly, calling on teachers and parents to spend at least ten minutes a day engaging in some form of literary activity with their charges.
Blackman is the eighth author to hold the position since its inception in 1999 after its having been suggested jointly by Ted Hughes and Michael Morpurgo. Her and Donaldson’s predecessors are a litany of revered names: Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Morpurgo himself, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Rosen and Anthony Browne. This year’s selection panel included broadcaster and news anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Waterstones’ Childrens’ New Titles Buyer Melissa Cox and, representing the Booksellers’ Association, children’s bookseller Kate Agnew.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.