This week children’s author Morris Gleitzman was announced as the new Australian Children’s Laureate for 2018-1019 by the Australian Children’s Literature Alliance. Join Lyndon Riggall as he shares his delight with their choice of appointment.
Gleitzman’s greatest gift as a writer seems to be that he can capture the naivety of an authentic child’s voice without resorting to inaction. His characters make delicious assumptions about the world around them, concoct theories and test hypotheses. In the words of Miss Frizzle, they “Take chance, make mistakes and get messy.” Whether it’s landmines in Boy Overboard, Nazis in Once, or cane toads in Toad Rage, he deftly handles harsh truths with an innocence and humour that is the true heart of a child. As a young boy reading Gleitzman, it struck me that you could stuff up and still be a hero.
Gleitzman talks on his own website about his new appointment, and his quest to understand what it means to “go into bat” for Australian children’s literature. “Do you mean” he asked ACLA chair Ron Gorman, “roam the land engaging young readers in a celebration of stories and all the precious things they get from them while at the same time encouraging adults to think more deeply and perceptively about the transformative qualities of good stories for young people and if possible read a few of them aloud?”
“Yes,” said Ron.
Gletizman could hardly refuse. After all, by my estimation he’s been doing exactly that for thirty years already.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Gleitzman’s new appointment. Which of his books is your favourite?
Editor's note: Two Weeks with the Queen certainly has a treasured place in my heart. I have always envied Morris' creativity when it comes to titles - they are so clever, pertinent and memorable!