What happens when two Laureates meet for the first time

Published on: 08 May 2016 Author: Sophie Offord

Authors Chris Riddell and Eoin Colfer met up recently to chat about storytelling - and it seems they have a lot in common (besides both being a Children's Laureate).

Malachi McGibbon, Chris Riddell & Eoin Colfer

Chris Riddell, the UK's Children's Laureate, was over in Belfast when he met up with Ireland's Children's Laureate, Eoin Colfer.

The packed-out event, organised by BookTrust, was filled with more than 100 people, including teachers, librarians and students.

Spreading the word

Chris Riddell, the multi-award-winning author, whose books include Goth Girl and Ottoline, is known especially for his distinctive line drawings, with their clever caricature and enchanting fantasy elements.

Not one to disappoint, he entertained the crowd with some live sketches, while talking about the joy of writing for young people. 

Chris Riddell

He said:

'I'm delighted... to help spread the message of the importance of words and pictures, in particular to children, because if they develop a love of reading and books from an early age, it will lead the way to all kinds of advantages and opportunities in later life.'

Stories for everyone

The two writers briefly spoke about what an honour it is to visit places and talk to people they wouldn't normally meet, as a result of their Laureateship.

They both agreed the role wasn't about them, but children's books - and the culture of children's literature in the UK and Ireland.

Eoin Colfer and Chris Riddell

Eoin Colfer, Laureate na nÓg, is one of Ireland's best-known writers for children. His series Artemis Fowl is world-famous and soon to be made into a film.

He said:

'Nothing beats sitting down with your mum and dad and listening to your favourite story for the hundredth time.
'And I was delighted to spend my time as Laureate na nÓg spreading stories to every nook and cranny in the country. Nobody was safe. It didn't matter where they hid - I and the team found them and told them a story.'

Books to change your life

So, what kind of stories might change your life?

It's different for everyone, but Chris Riddell was happy to share his own personal choice:

'My absolute favourite children's book is Alice in Wonderland,' he said, 'as this is the book where I first identified the role of an illustrator.

'I realised it didn't come ready made with pictures - the illustrator added his vision to the story.'

Seems like everyone has a book that they love - and part of the fun of reading is discovering which one will be yours... 

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