About Project Sketchbook

June 2015 - New Children's Laureate!

When Malorie Blackman became children’s laureate I was thrilled. This wasn’t just my comfort zone, this was a gift. Malorie’s books had been so important to so many of the kids I taught over the years – and of course to myself. Malorie writes YA, stands up for YA. I write YA. I was in my groove with Malorie. And boy, she did a crackin’ job.

After reading interviews with Chris Riddell and his hopes for his tenure as Children’s Laureate, I felt inspired – despite being further out of my comfort zone. He wants people to draw, to create. It’s simple really “Do you have hands? Excellent. That’s a good start. Can you hold a pencil? Great. If you have a sketchbook, open it and start by making a line, a mark, wherever. Doodle.”

Chris plans to keep a Laureate Log, producing a drawing everyday throughout the two years. He wants us to discover, or rediscover, the joy of sketch books and for adults to draw with kids. Immerse ourselves in the creative process!

I used to love art, used to LOVE to draw. I was rubbish at it, but that’s not what I think Chris is driving at. This isn’t supposed to be a selection process, but drawing for the purpose of creating something,

‘Take a line for a walk,’ as Paul Klee said. 

My kids draw all the time. Occasionally, if my youngest is excessively desperate she’ll ask me to help draw a mermaid, but one look at the results and she murmurs, ‘It’s okay, I’ll finish it.’

So what changed?

I love watching my kids draw, and I secretly scribble faces and outlines of scene shots in my head when I’m writing. But would I show anyone? Gah! No!

Well, I feel inspired. What I’ve taken away from Chris Riddell’s plans and interviews for his role are:

  • Art is important – even if, like me, you’re not very good/possibly awful. 
  • Draw something everyday 
  • Adults to engage with kids and draw too 
  • Libraries. Libraries, libraries. 

So, I’ve decided to embrace Chris Riddell’s ideas and put my money where my mouth is!
As a family we’re going to draw every day “parents and children can draw together as a wonderful shared activity.” I will post one of our drawings up every day.

Reactions from family:

 Hubster – What? Really? *horrified* You want me to draw too? (Yup) 

Me – Awaiting shame from exposing lack of own talent.

Oliver (age 11) - Awesome. Can I draw what I want? (Yup)

William (age 10) – I draw everyday anyway, but yeah, cool.

Freya (age 7) – Can I draw with you? We'll draw together, at the same time? (Yay! Exactly what this is about.) 

Warning - this isn’t some kind of hyperbolic build up to reveal some amazing skills I’ve been hiding over the years – I am bad, I just want to share in this experience and see what happens. 

How lovely to watch ourselves and our drawings over a set period of time, as a family, kind of like a drawing diary – our equivalent to Chris Riddell's Laureate Log. And libraries! Expect to see photos of our draw-ins at libraries – an eternal source of inspiration and resource. Chris, you plan to do this for two years – wow! Our first goal is to do this for one month, lurch to three, and then see if we can make it to six months. And from then on…can we make it to two years?

Wish us luck!


  1. I wish you all the very best of luck, Lou et al! What a wonderful idea....I'm sure you'll discover things you never knew were lurking in your creative realm of drawing :-)

    1. Thanks Nancy. It's quite a challenge doing all the uploading etc everyday - but worth it for the experience. Having fun!