Malorie Blackman is the new Children’s Laureate 2013-2015. A triumphant choice. Here’s what I would like to see her do.
- Introduce a primetime weekly TV show where people discuss children’s books with wit and humour while armed with large bags of Tangfastics. I will happily go on that show. Tangfastics fuel a tremendous urge for dialogue within me, plus a desire to climb trees and surf down Firgrove Hill on an ironing board. Haribo might like to sponsor this show.
- Talking of ironing boards, let’s encourage people to act out famous scenes from children’s books like Alex Rider’s ironing board stunt in Point Blanc and post them up on social media with links to bookshops. (I am happy to volunteer. Price, one box of Tangfastics.)
- Have a different celebrity a month commit to carrying a children’s book with them wherever they go, so children can see a book as an awesome accessory considerably less painful than a belly ring.
- Ensure that national newspapers dedicate a quarter of their book review space to children’s books, as an accurate reflection of the 1 in 4 books sold today being children’s titles. (Thank you, outgoing Laureate Julia Donaldson for raising this.)
- Start a guerrilla library movement. Set up libraries in unlikely places. Overnight. WITH NO WARNING. Make them mysterious, not municipal.
- Encourage adults to hold children’s book clubs. Not children’s book-clubs, but CHILDREN’S-BOOK CLUBS. Instead of talking endlessly about Fifty Shades of Boring, grown-ups can read and discuss, for example, funny cancer, the perils of floating, parallel worlds and the role of dragons in society. They can then make informed choices for their children, passing on those books which have caused genuine tears / laughter / bladder-control issues instead of blind-buying titles they have vaguely heard of or maybe read themselves in Upper Fourth in 1953.
- Enshrine library lessons in schools.
- Make sure every primary school child has a library card.
What? The library card one’s already in hand? Hot damn, I knew she was a good choice.
Home and digesting two days of book-talk at the London Book Fair. I feel like a boa constrictor who’s eaten a fridge. A book fair, so full of creativity and the hot fierce smell of printing chemicals, is just the place to induce hallucinations and peculiar memories. I made plenty of sensible observations, met several sensible friends and colleagues and learned many sensible things, but now that I come to write it all up… Well.
- I woke up on day two having had a dream about pulling spinach leaves out from beneath Maureen Lipman’s eyelids and wrapping them around a large goldfish I had acquired for the boys’ fish tank.
- There was a strong smell of radishes around the join between Earls Court 1 and 2.
- A book entitled Glutes, showing a muscular bottom, made me snigger for most of the way around Earls Court 2.
- I didn’t win a Kindle, despite sitting politely through a ten-minute talk from Islam International Publications. The speaker looked fed up to see a row of Kindle-anticipating fools, none of whom asked any questions about the book he was trying to promote. The prize went to a Chinese delegate, who had absolutely no idea what we were all gesturing about when her name was pulled out of the hat, and required four translators to clarify her good fortune. Rats.
- Emmeline Pankhurst is buried in West Brompton Cemetery. She’s credited simply as the wife of Mr Pankhurst, which struck me as ironic.
- Caitlin Moran sounds exactly like her book How To Be A Woman with just the faintest dusting of Wolverhampton. I’m pleased to report that I wasn’t dragged away from the PEN Literary Cafe shouting “I DIDN’T MEAN IT ABOUT YOUR SHOES!” Her interviewer Sophie Heawood incidentally was sporting some excellent footwear: leopard-skin numbers with Cuban heels.
- Julia Donaldson is as warm and enjoyable as a hot cross bun. I loved her book choices for the Waterstones Children’s Laureate Promotion: epic titles like Dogger and Six Dinner Sid and Frog and Toad, plus more recent books like Dogs Don’t Do Ballet and the brand-new Snorgh and the Sailor. The boys got Dogger for their bedtime story last night, despite son number one’s insistence that IT’S TOO SAD and he didn’t want it because Dogger got sold and then hovering in the doorframe like an uncertain hummingbird as I read.
- When they come to dismantle the place tonight, workers will stare in mystification at the tiny hole-punches in the carpet left by the spike heels on my boots. I must have gone through that carpet at least five times whenever I veered along the bit between the planks. Each hole burst into being with a satisfying ‘pop’, like bubble-wrap but better.
- A tired looking rabbit with muddy feet was crossing the road outside Earls Court station. I should have directed it to the radishes in the Exhibition Centre rafters.
And now I must put all of this to good use and write my next bestseller. I may be pooped but I am also primed and pumped. So adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu.