Ok, so the title is slightly misleading, maybe. There is not a Laureate who is a child. It is a new Laureate for children. Malorie Blackman has filled the role for the last two years and now Chris Riddell is taking over.
First thing first, what is a laureate?
Great question. In English we have had a poet laureate for a couple of hundred years and basically it is a poet who writes for the country. The role was more pronounced in the 18th and 19th century. Now it is an important role to promote poetry. I know, not a favourite subject, but poetry is important. It is the primary form of literature stemming from the oral tradition and it provides different, but important forms of expression.
The Children’s Laureate is a newer role, occasionally mistakenly called the Children’s Poet Laureate. There is not much poetry from that laureate, more likely a children’s writer and/or illustrator, which is where Chris Riddell arrives.
Malorie Blackman was a young adult writer (she wrote the dystopian Noughts and Crosses novels), Chris Riddell is an illustrator and writer, although more illustrations than writing and he has worked with Neil Gaiman and Russell Brand.
What is he going to do? Get children interested in reading and drawing. He has started by telling us all how important doodling is…it’s a start. Best of luck to you Chris.