Anthony Browne named Britain's children's laureate

Tue Jun 9, 2009 7:04am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Illustrator and writer Anthony Browne was named Britain's laureate for children on Tuesday at a ceremony at the top of Centrepoint, a landmark tower block in London's west end.

The author, whose books include Willy the Chimp, Gorilla and Zoo, replaces Michael Rosen as laureate and becomes the sixth author to undertake a two-year stint to champion books and reading for children.

Browne, who has won the numerous awards for his books including the Hans Christian Andersen award, said he will use his time as laureate to get children drawing and promote illustrated books, which he said are undervalued in Britain.

"I've heard parents say, 'oh you don't want to get a book like that, come and get a proper book'. I think it's a terrible shame that picture books and pictures in general (are viewed in this way)," he told Reuters.

"The best ones leave a tantalizing gap between the pictures and the words, a gap that is filled by the reader's imagination, adding so much to the excitement of reading a book," he said.

Andrew Motion, who last month stepped down as Britain's poet laureate and chaired the selection committee for the award said:

"His pictures and stories give deep and immediate pleasures, while also insisting that we - children and adults - return to them - and when we return, we have a gradually expanding sense of discovery."

The award is sponsored by book shop chain Waterstones and funded by the Museums Libraries and Archives Council which provides a 15,000 pounds ($23,810) bursary to the laureate.

(Reporting by Simon Falush, editing by Paul Casciato)