The king is dead. Long live the queen! Quentin Blake’s triumphant reign as our first Children’s Laureate has come to an end and his successor is Anne Fine, the acclaimed author of more than 40 children’s books and a maverick and always stimulating commentator on the world of children’s publishing.
It’s a good choice. Blake’s emphasis on the visual, on illustration and thereby (although not entirely) on books for younger readers, is now replaced by an author best known for her astute, comic novels for older readers and teenagers such as Madame Doubtfire, The Tulip Touch, Step by Wicked Step and Flour Babies. She won the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread for the latter title.
Fine’s novels are invariably based on the struggle to individuate and become a separate person that is an intrinsic part of growing up. She does it with a sharp eye for comedy that is yet compassionate and empathic – she is particularly good on delineating characters like Tulip (The Tulip Touch) who really don’t have a hope in hell. Fine is a passionate writer who is committed to real as well as to her fictional children – and to books. This passion is to extend during her reign to challenging ignorance about children’s literature, to maintaining high critical standards and to supporting school and public libraries. Children’s access to books is very much on her agenda.
At BfK we look forward to hearing more about Fine’s plans. We offer her our warmest congratulations and support in her new role.