Writer, Illustrator, cartoonist, witty and wise chronicler of the modern world and Waterstones’ Children’s Laureate 2015-2017, the list of Chris Riddell’s professions is a catalogue of seemingly limitless talent. As well known for his own fiction for children, including the Ottoline and Goth Girl series, as he is for his many successful collaborative works, Chris Riddell is a tireless champion of reading and illustration in the modern age.
Goth Girl Series in Order
Ottoline Series in Order
With Neil Gaiman
Barnaby Grimes - With Paul Stewart
The Edge Chronicles - With Paul Stewart
Other Paul Stewart Books
Witch World with Emma Fischel
There aren’t many authors who can be identified (to those in the know) with the moniker of a pint-sized illustration of a solemn-looking fish riding a bicycle but then Chris Riddell – lyrical wordsmith, illustrator, cartoonist and Waterstones’ Children’s Laureate – is not your average author. In fact, he is fast taking on the mantle of figures such as Quentin Blake, Roald Dahl and Michael Rosen as one of the most popular figures in Children’s literature.
Cutting Edge Fiction
After a somewhat bucolic-sounding upbringing that he refers to as ‘a Cider with Rosie childhood, running about in orchards’, Riddell’s career began as an illustrator of children’s books, having been introduced to a publisher by his art tutor, who just so happened to be Raymond Briggs.
Riddell developed his career as an illustrator alongside working as a resident political cartoonist for The Economist and The Observer providing proof, if any were needed, of the old adage that a picture paints a thousand words.
His earlier published work included Pirate Diary and a re-telling of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver – both of which won the Greenaway Medal. He also established his long-running collaboration with Chris Stewart (the two live on the same street in Brighton) initially on The Edge Chronicles series and then later on Fergus Crane, Blobheads and the Muddle Earth adventures.
Goth Girls and Explorer-Librarians
Amongst his award-winning solo projects are two series featuring rather unusual, talented and eccentric heroines: the Ottoline books about an adventurous girl who is a sometime librarian, archivist and expert detective and his tremendously popular Goth Girl novels.
As Laureate he has continued to develop exciting partnerships with some of contemporary literature’s most exciting and experimental authors, including illustrating Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, The Sleeper and the Spindle and Odd and the Frost Giants. His seemingly limitless imagination has breathed fresh life into classics such as Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark and Richmal Crompton’s Just William books.
As laureate he traverses the country, often by train, chronicling every day in a series of diary illustrations, so if you look up to notice an unassuming figure sketching discreetly on your commute, then you may just be one of the lucky people documented in the infamous Laureate’s Log.
Riddell is a stalwart ambassador for bookshops and libraries as key crucibles of children’s imaginative development and when not travelling he can often be found illustrating his local Brighton Waterstones (they say they don’t mind as long as he sticks to the walls).
He is passionate about the idea that everyone (children especially) should be encouraged to write and draw regularly and is characteristically enthusiastic and buoyant in his assessment of the literary era he finds himself in, saying ‘we live in the age of the beautiful book… we’re all becoming, in a way, book collectors, in the best possible sense.’
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