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Monday, 10 May, 1999, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Blake named children's laureate
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Blake's work attracts adults as well as children, according to the judges
Artist and writer Quentin Blake - who illustrated many of Roald Dahl's books - has become the UK's first Children's Laureate, winning a 10,000 prize.

Blake was presented with the prize, which aims to highlight the importance of children's literature, by the Princess Royal at a ceremony in London.

The title will be awarded once every two years to an eminent writer or illustrator. The shortlist for this year's title included authors Peter Dickinson and Anne Fine.

Blake, who has illustrated more than 100 books, said: "I feel very privileged to be in the company of the two wonderful writers who are also here. People like us take writing children's books seriously because we take writing seriously.

"Children's books can be a celebration of what it's like to be a human being."

ted hughes
Ted Hughes was the patron of the Children's Laureate award
Blake's partnership with Dahl began in 1975 when they were introduced by their publisher. He was awarded the OBE in 1988.

Dickinson is the writer of The Changes Trilogy, Tulku, and Merlin Dreams, while Anne Fine's book Madame Doubtfire inspired the Hollywood film Mrs Doubtfire, starring Robin Williams.

The judging panel, which included children, a librarian, a publisher, a critic and a book seller, was chaired by BBC Radio 4 broadcaster James Naughtie.

He said: "Quentin Blake's work doesn't simply introduce children to the world of adults, but draws adults into the world of children.

"The three authors who are being recognised today are indeed literary giants."

The Princess Royal also emphasised the importance of children's literature appealing to adults.

"My children have fallen asleep, but I have kept reading because I can't put them down," she said. "We all have our fond memories of when we started to read."

The laureateship was the idea of the children's novelist Michael Morpurgo. Poet Laureate Ted Hughes was patron of the award until his death last year. His widow Carol was at the ceremony to see the title awarded along with Culture Secretary Chris Smith.

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