Books for children have long been an important part of our culture, secret worlds which stay with us into adulthood. I lingered at the Pollyanna and A Little Princess end of the spectrum; loved buying five Secret Seven paperbacks for a new pound when we went decimal in 1971; moved on to Alan Garner a little later, more interested in the burgeoning teenage relationships than the myths bursting into the present, though the mix was thrilling.
Now children’s books—and books for Young Adults—are big business internationally; they are more codified and professionalized, franchised and targeted and branded. But that means they are taken seriously by publishers and booksellers (there are far more independent specialist children’s booksellers than any other category in the UK) and the choice of reading for children and the adults who buy for them is richer and more diverse than ever before.
And those categories are there to be challenged and pushed and opened up by innovative writers who can flex their visionary muscles; like clever, inspiring teachers they can take storytelling—and imaginations-- into new realms, and know that their stories will stay in many minds forever.
Catherine Clarke was Publishing Director of the Trade Books Department at OUP for several years before she joined Felicity Bryan as an agent in 2001.