2 Guest editorial: Chris Riddell reflects on his time as Children’s Laureate


3 Hopeful activism: a piece of passion from Sita Brahmachari


4 Hip Hip Hooray for Harry: Imogen Russell Williams considers Harry Potter at twenty


6 Windows into Illustration: Guy Parker-Rees on drawing Dylan

_________________________________________ _________________________________________

10 Ten of the Best children’s audiobooks: summer listening chosen by Nicolette Jones

12 Piet Grobler on the art of submitting for BIB, the Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava 2107

8 Authorgraph: Chris Priestley interviewed by Philip Womack


guest editorial

Chris Riddell Children’s Laureate 2015 – 2017, saddles up his donkey Hubris and vows to continue to champion libraries in a new role


14 David Mackintosh interviewed by Robyn Sheahan- Bright

16 Making Room for _________________________________________

Children, Swedish-style: Ferelith Hordon explores a new Southbank library

18 Philip Pullman interviewed by Nicholas Tucker


20 David Fickling remembers the great children’s editor Ron Heapy


22 Two Children Tell: a tribute to Dick Bruna


23 I Wish I’d Written… Liz Flanagan chooses


23 Good Reads chosen by pupils at Worth School, West Sussex

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24 Reviewers and reviews Under 5s (Pre-School/ Nursery/Infant) 5-8 (Infant/Junior) 8-10 (Junior/Middle) + New Talent + Editor’s Choice 10-14 (Middle/Secondary) + 14+ (Secondary/Adult)


32 Classics in Short No. 124 Climate Change by courtesy of John Ruskin and The King of the Golden River

_________________________________________ COVER STORY

This issue’s cover illustration is from Poppy and the Blooms by Fiona Woodcock. Thanks to Simon and

Schuster for their help with this July cover.

It was a big, dark hotel in Russell Square. The conference room, one of a half a dozen, was cavernous and sparsely peopled. There was a problem. Derailment, points failure, shortage of train crew, leaves on the line, I forget exactly what, but attendees were delayed on trains heading into London. This was the School Library Association Conference and awards ceremony for outstanding school libraries, and I had been invited to say a few words and hand out certificates. Congestion on the rail network eased and the room began to fill only for another problem to arise. The certificates were delayed, somewhere north of Potter’s Bar. ‘Why don’t I draw some?’ I suggested, far more confident in my illustrative skills than my oratorical ones. Kevin Crossley-Holland, the president of the SLA looked relieved as I set to work on lettering and illuminating sheets of A4 photocopy paper. The rest is history – at least it is for me. That day, I sat and listened to school librarians talk about the things they do. I heard about and saw pictures of astonishing school libraries. I learnt about how transformative school libraries could be in the hands of trained, well-resourced school librarians. And that was the rub. Librarian after librarian spoke uncomplainingly about the challenges they faced. Their stoicism was both magnificent and heart- breaking. As I listened I remembered the librarians I had known through my school days; the librarian who introduced me to The Hobbit, the librarian who gave me a prize for my science fiction story, the fearsome librarian who stood guard over my senior school library ensuring that it was a sought after haven from the hurly burly outside. I also felt guilty. I realised, listening to Kevin Crossley- Holland’s characteristically eloquent speech that I, like so many others, had taken school librarians and the invaluable work they do for granted. It dawned on me as the awards were announced and librarians accepted them with stories of budget cuts and redundancies, that what was happening to school libraries and school library services was a scandal. I met lots of school librarians that day and spoke at length with Kevin afterwards and a vague plan began to form in my brain. I wanted to do something to help, but I wasn’t sure what. Then I thought about the post of Children’s Laureate.

Books for Keeps

July 2017 No.225 ISSN 0143-909X © Books for Keeps CIC 2016 Editor: Ferelith Hordon Assistant Editor: Ruth Williams Editorial assistant Grace Hebditch Managing Editor: Andrea Reece Design: Louise Millar Editorial correspondence should be sent to Books for Keeps,

c/o The Big Green Bookshop, Unit 1, Brampton Park Road, Wood Green, London N22 6BG

2 Books for Keeps No.225 July 2017

I had been asked a couple of times if I’d like to be considered and each time, though flattered, I’d felt that I wouldn’t have been able to commit to the rôle in the way it deserved. That day in Russell Square changed that. If they ever ask me again, I decided on the train home, I’ll say yes. A year later the Laureate steering committee asked me, for what I suspected would be the final time, whether I’d like to be considered. I immediately agreed and several months later I found myself standing on stage at BAFTA while Malorie Blackman handed me the Children’s Laureate Medal before skipping off

stage rather too gleefully

But I was on a mission, as Children’s Laureate I wanted to talk, draw and write about school libraries, I wanted to tell as many people as I could about the importance of the work school librarians do and why we need more, not fewer trained librarians in our schools. With the Laureate medal around my neck, usually metaphorically, I gained access to many places that a scruffy, middle-aged political

cartoonist wouldn’t usually be invited

into. I sat on stage at the National Theatre, spoke and drew on radio 3, 4 and Six, warmed breakfast TV sofas and hobb-nobbed at the House of Lords and Buckingham Palace. Wherever I went, I talked about school librarians and their libraries. It is impossible to know if this made any difference but, on a personal level, it felt good to champion a profession so often taken for granted.

This year Kevin Crossley-Holland stepped down as president of the School Library Association but will continue as an esteemed patron. Being a writer and poet of great foresight, he has trained an apprentice to assume his former duties. I’m honoured and humbled to say that I am that apprentice. My metaphorical mule, Hubris, who served me faithfully during my Laureateship, is going to be saddled up and pressed back into service. In the next few years I want to visit as many school libraries as I can as well as knocking on the doors of government, when we finally get one worthy of the name, and asking them this: if our prisons are required by law to have libraries why aren’t our schools?

Books for Keeps is available online at A regular BfK Newsletter can also be sent by email. To sign up for the Newsletter, go to and follow the Newsletter link. If any difficulty is experienced, email addresses can also be sent to*


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for my comfort.

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