Friday, 10 January 2014

Choosing the next laureate na nÓg


So, we all (children included) have a chance to vote for the next children's laureate 2014 - 2016. We know that the author/illustrator needs to have a recognised body of work, but what else should we be looking out for?

As the role is ambassadorial and fairly politicised, should the new candidate have a campaigning aspect to their persona? Siobhán Parkinson (Ireland's first Laureate na nÓg)  campaigned for school libraries and foreign language books for immigrant children amongst other things. Niamh Sharkey (the present laureate) has highlighted the importance of the picture book and the role of the illustrator during her tenure. 


Niamh Sharkey
    Siobhan Parkinson

What are we looking for in our new representative?

Should the new person be a good public speaker?

Should the new laureate be able to reach all age groups?

How much time should be spent visiting and interacting with children?

How many foreign visits should this ambassador be expected to make? 

How much of the role is governed by what the laureate wants to see implemented? 

What have laureates from other countries (UK, U.S, Australia, etc... brought about which could be implemented here?

How will this new person interact with the media?

How will they help generate interest in the all encompassing work of 'Children's Books Ireland?'

Does having a huge body of work and a great public profile instantly mean, that if voted in, that person automatically has to take up the position? Can someone refuse the role, for instance? 

In previous years,  the nominees had to be Irish but this year nominees need only be resident here.

We've had two female laureates, is it time for a man? or does it matter?

Siobhán Parkinson's a writer, publisher and lecturer. Niamh Sharkey's an author/illustrator whose work has been produced by Disney. Is it time for another writer to take up the helm? They're a tough act to follow.

Would someone living abroad, come back to Ireland to take up the role?

The laureate represents Ireland as a whole, are there any Northern Irish possibilities?

Several CBI board members have huge bodies of work; could one of them be the next laureate?

What about those whose output has made it on to the school's English curriculum?

We've a choice to vote for two writers and two illustrators, who immediately springs to mind? Is your instinct to go with your initial reaction or to think it through thoroughly?

Could this be a shared role? - Alison Lester and Boori Monty Pryor were the inaugural laureates for Australia - could that happen here?

What about an Irish speaking representative?

Is there someone highlighting global issues who'd make a good international representative?

I've said more than I wanted to but whatever happens, do make sure you take time to cast your vote. Children are encouraged to vote too. This is an incredible gesture and very empowering for children, please help them to make their own choice by downloading forms  for them. It's one of the few times that children can have their say. 


Whoever turns out to be the next Laureate, we will, no doubt, welcome him/her and watch  the next two years with curiosity. 


Children's Laureate

Niamh Sharkey, Laureate na nÓg

Introducing Laureate na nÓg

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Call for nominations for new laureate

Here's a chance for children to be part of a prestigious selection process. Help them have their say:

Ireland To Nominate its Third Laureate na nÓg
Honouring Irish Children’s Literature

The nomination process for Ireland’s next children’s laureate is now open.Laureate na nÓg, an iniatiative of The Arts Council, is an honorary title conferred on an established and dynamic children’s author or illustrator for a period of two years. The next Laureate will be following in the footsteps of the inaugural Laureate na nÓg, Siobhán Parkinson, and the incumbent, Niamh Sharkey.

Sarah Bannan, the Arts Council’s Head of Literature, says, ‘Laureate na nÓg is Ireland’s highest honour for a writer or illustrator of children’s books and was established by the Arts Council in order to celebrate the extraordinary talents of our writers and illustrators. Through this appointment and the Arts Council’s wider strategy for children’s literature, we are working to broaden and enrich young people’s imaginative worlds and to highlight the importance of Irish children’s literature, writers and illustrators in our society.’

It is fitting that Ireland, as a country world-renowned for its literature, was one of the first to establish such an honour in the field of children’s literature. Irish children’s literature and illustration is recognised worldwide, and there is a huge appetite for children’s and young adult books at home. Indigenous Irish literature serves a crucial function, telling Irish stories, past and present, in English and in Irish, to young readers.

The past and current Laureates have acted as ambassadors in countries including the US, Sweden, Austria and Italy. For example Pictiúr, an exhibition of Irish children’s illustration, has been seen by 25,000 people in 4 countries. And at home Ireland’s Laureates have campaigned for libraries and to secure access to books for all babies born in Ireland, amongst many other activities. 

Elaina O’Neill, Director of Children’s Books Ireland, says, ‘Ireland’s first two Laureates have been real champions for children’s literature and illustration, for reading and drawing, and for the importance of books in every child’s life. Laureate na nÓg is a most prestigious position which acknowledges the phenomenal talent of our native authors and illustrators and which we are so proud to administer on behalf of the Arts Council.’

And now it’s time for Ireland to choose its third Laureate na nÓg. For the first time, people of all ages have the opportunity to help decide which Irish author or illustrator they would like to see so honoured. Nomination forms are available on the link below. Nominations should be submitted by February 15th2014.

Current Laureate na nÓg Niamh Sharkey hopes as many people as possible will nominate their choice of Laureate. ‘This is the first year that we’re asking children to get involved as nominators so I hope that parents, teachers and librarians all around the country will encourage young people to get nominating,’ she said.
Laureate na nÓg is an initiative of The Arts Council, with the support of The Department of  Children and Youth Affairs, Children’s Books Ireland, Poetry Ireland and The Arts Council of Northern Ireland. 
You can nominate your choice for Laureate na nÓg by filling out a nomination form, which can be downloaded here: New nomination form 2014-16
Get voting!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

What If...? Anthony Browne






Anthony Browne
What if…?
Double Day 2013 (HBK) 32pp. £11.99 ISBN 998-0857-53113-1


Former Children’s Laureate (UK) Anthony Browne, once again displays award-winning potential with his new book ’What if…?’
Joes going to a party, but like so many children is riddled with anxiety. What if…? Punctuates most of the conversation he has with his mother, as they amble along the darkening road to his friend’s house. What if he doesn’t like the food, the games or the people? As they search for the party house, they pass many sitting room windows displaying weird and wonderful scenarios, which in turn, mirror Joe’s anxieties. Browne’s visual communication is always multi-faceted with a surreal quality and dollops of black humour. He often references other artists and this time, Flemish painter, Pieter Bruegel the ‘Elder’ can be noted on the snakes and ladders double page spread. Despite Joe’s nerves, the story has a happy ending because he gets to enjoy the party and the last illustration shows a delighted and illuminated Joe with a ‘superman J’ on his t-shirt; clearly having overcome his difficulties. This is an excellent book, which will help any child with anxieties, as it is both entertaining and reassuring. A must for the school library. All ages (Anthony Browne makes picture books for everyone to enjoy.)

SADIE CRAMER


Anthony Browne talks about What If...?

Monday, 6 January 2014

What did you get told off for the most when you were a child?

What a wonderful Christmas and New Year, shame we couldn't celebrate 'little christmas' (Oiche Nollaig na mBhan) this year, it just doesn't seem right to go back to school and work today. The drive for a more secularised school calendar does make sense but at the expense of losing out on this particular day? Is nothing sacred?

On a different note, just before the holiday someone asked what I was told off for the most as a child. It's a curious question and one I keep revisiting because I like it and if you just take a moment to ask yourself the same question you might find it very revealing. 

So what were you told off for most as a child?

It might be the thing that you've suppressed but has come out nonetheless or maybe it's something you just couldn't curtail. I've asked several people what they were guilty of and heard some very interesting answers. One person said she was told off for 'showing off' all the time, she was an actress for thirty years, she used it to her advantage. Another said for being outspoken, another for saying what was on her mind, for being untidy and stealing were other responses. I was told that maybe it's the essential you and it could be your U.S.P. How then can you translate it into something you can sell to other people now as an adult?

Personally, I was told off for asking too many questions. I stopped for a very long time but what I find as I get older, is that I'm asking more questions than ever and they're getting bigger and more difficult to answer. I've worked with a number of different groups on a variety of projects and in order to find common ground or a theme which resonates with everyone, we will begin with a number of questions and attempt to answer them throughout the project.

Below's an example of some questions which were printed in the Baboró brochure 2011, concerning a multi-media exhibition which was created by 160 children forming an art trail throughout Galway city. The questions are there but we don't necessarily know the answers, does that stop us asking the questions? 


What happens when you elevate the child? 
What happens when their ideas are encouraged? 
What happens when those ideas are realised? 
What happens when those ideas are given a forum? What happens when thousands of other children interact with those ideas?

WHAT HAPPENS...?