The ninth Waterstones children’s laureate, the prolific Chris Riddell, is well-known for his striking illustrations and quirky books. He has illustrated over 150 titles, won two Kate Greenaway Medals (Pirate Diary & Gulliver), won the Costa Book Award (Goth Girl & the Ghost of a Mouse) and has most recently been nominated for the prestigious international Hans Christian Andersen Award. He has collaborated with many big names; Neil Gaiman, Quentin Blake and Michael Rosen to name just a few, and wants to work with many more!
Chris has always been a lover of books from a young age and used to copy the illustrations of John Tenniel from Alice in Wonderland. He was born in South Africa, son to an Anglican vicar, and has three brothers and a sister. He studied at Brighton, where he currently resides with his wife, and was taught by Raymond Briggs (‘The Snowman’ creator) who had a major influence upon Riddell. He was first published by Walker Books in 1985 where he illustrated the title ‘The Book of Giants’. His first job was as a political cartoonist which he still practices in ‘The Guardian’ today with fantastic satirical illustrations.
A huge advocate of literacy, Riddell has stated he believes it “bizarre” that libraries are not compulsory for every school and is fighting for more funding. He feels that librarians play a huge role in shaping readers and that they bring ‘a magical alchemy’ to books that inspire children to read. Throughout his tenure Chris will constantly be encouraging visual literacy and the importance of drawing through his twitter account where he posts his Laureates log, an online illustrative diary of his role. He has also brought out a book to encourage children to follow his lead to doodle everyday which involves activities such as ‘draw a family member being attacked by a household appliance’. How’s that for inspiration?!
Overall, Chris Riddell is admired by many of all ages and is an inspiring choice for Children’s Laureate. His wit, combined with his remarkable illustrations and tireless enthusiasm, is a perfect recipe for advocating the fun and importance of literacy.
Written by Sarah Capon, Book Collections Developer