New Children’s Poet Laureate: Cressida Cowell’s best work to read now9th Jul 19 | Lifestyle
The How To Train Your Dragon author is the latest appointment to the prestigious role.
Being Children’s Laureate is a big deal. The position was initially conjured up as an idea by Ted Hughes and Michael Morpurgo, and champions the UK’s most impressive children’s book authors, celebrating “outstanding achievement in their field.”
The role is an opportunity for authors to do school tours, defend public libraries and spread that most brilliant and inspiring of afflictions: a love of reading.
Following in the literary footsteps of Quentin Blake, Malorie Blackman and Jacqueline Wilson, and announced at a ceremony in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London, Cressida Cowell has been chosen to take over the two year post from Lauren Child.
The author told PA: “I love film and telly, they are all stories, but books have a special magic, they create in us something we cannot lose.
“We need books both in the future, it’s backed up by research that books create particularly good empathy, creativity and intelligence because they are about words and words are the pathway of thought.”
She has created ‘Cressida Cowell’s Waterstones Children’s Laureate Charter’ – which states that every child has a right to access new books in schools, libraries and bookshops.
So, if you and your family are new to Cowell’s work, here’s where to start…
Little Bo Peep’s Library Book
Cowell studied English at university before going to art college, where she got degrees in both graphic design and illustration. Little Bo Peep’s Library Book was her final project at college, and it went on to became her debut picture book in 1999. It follows Little Bo Peep who has, as you’d imagine, lost her sheep, and wonders whether there might be a library book that’ll help her find them.
That Rabbit Belongs To Emily Brown
Once begun, Cowell’s picture book career really took off, with That Rabbit Belongs To Emily Brown (illustrated by Neal Layton), winning gold in the 0-5 years category at the 2006 Nestlé Children’s Book Prize. There are four books in the series, which see Emily and her sidekick Stanley the rabbit cheering up teddies and dealing with elephant emergencies.
How To Train Your Dragon
Cowell started writing stories aged eight or nine. Her family spent their summers on a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland, where they built a stone cottage and her father told tales of Vikings invading the island, and of dragons living in caves. Those memories and early forays into writing resurfaced in her ridiculously successful How To Train A Dragon series (there are 12 books, so you can really get stuck in). You’ve probably seen our hero, the scrawny Hiccup, and his trusty dragon, Toothless, and their adventures on the big screen too.
The Wizards Of Once
Cowell’s latest bestselling series explores a world in which magic has gone, and wizards and warriors do not fraternise, until Xar, a boy wizard and Wish, a girl warrior, collide. The Wizards Of Once won the best story category at the feted 2018 Blue Peter Book Award, and the third instalment, The Wizards Of Once: Knock Three Times, is out in September.
© Press Association 2019