Tuesday 7 June 2011

The Naming of Names : Penny Dolan

Do you know or don’t you? If you’re reading this before twelve noon, you may be in a state of subtle anticipation and nervous curiosity.

If you are reading this after midday, you’ll be relaxed. The name will have been revealed. We will know the name, the one that matters: the new Children’s Laureate.

There’s been announcements about the other name. Waterstones, as sponsors, are now honoured officialy within the name itself, which has caused understandable murmurs of concern among hard-working independent booksellers.

Moreover, will the name be a he or a she? Four men and two women have accepted the honour so far. How many of each were on the long list – and on the short list? Of course, some wonderful people are not free to accept such a nomination, knowing that the role of Laureate would cost them too much personal and/or creative time on top of the required public appearances.

What will the new name be known for? Will they be a poet? A story writer? Or both? Or will they be an illustrator, or work in some other area so far not recognised by the award?

And, once we know the chosen name, what will they choose to highlight over the next two years? So far they have all interpreted the post in their own distinctive way.

The role of Children’s Laureate award is a great idea, but sometimes it feels an odd mix. The main purpose is to honour the artist for their own individual body of work and to honour the importance of creating books for children. Agreed.

However, just now, when books, schools, libraries and reading are daily pronounced upon by people who have probably read no more on the subject than their briefing notes, I have hopes that the role will also bring a voice that will be happy to speak out loudly on behalf of children as readers, and to talk about the value of the reading experience and the importance of books for children in school and in the home. Or, the very least, inspire lots of other people to speak up.

So what, as this short item in the Guardian asks, do you think the new Children’s Laureate should do?

Penny Dolan


Penny Dolan said...

And a bit more on the subject too!


Have a happy and nicely busy retirement, Anthony Browne!

John Dougherty said...

What do I think the new Laureate should do? Make a lot of noise!

I hope the new incumbent will be someone outspoken, who will be unafraid to be political and who will stand up for the place of the book in our culture, and for the rights of children to learn to read for pleasure!

Sue Purkiss said...

Yes - different times call for different qualities. At the moment, I agree; we need someone who's good at speaking out - someone who has a suit of shining armour stashed away in the wardrobe and isn't afraid to use it!

Cathy Butler said...

Julia Donaldson - excellent choice, I think.

Penny Dolan said...

Yes, have just spotted the news. Julia feels like a very good choice. A musical Laureate will be able to make a lot of noise!

adele said...

A really terrific choice for Laureate. I'm thrilled. A poet, a storyteller, a musician and seemingly a very sensible person with who loves and values libraries. Also one of the few people around whom we KNOW has written a true CLASSIC. The Gruffalo Rules, though I have a very soft spot for TIDDLER!

Cathy Butler said...

Adele, when I read "The Gruffalo Rules", I thought it might be a Tom Cruise thriller!

Lucy Coats said...

Yes, a high-profile choice who (one hopes) will be listened to. And Julia says she'll be waving the flag for libraries, which is what I personally wanted to hear from whoever was picked.