Jaqueline Wilson's Children's Laureate Diary 2005-7
Jaqueline Wison kept a diary of her time as Children's Laureate.
Diary 1 - Summer 2005
I'm so proud and pleased to be the new Children's Laureate. I want to keep a diary of everything I do. There's just one problem. I'm so busy busy busy there's hardly any time to write it!
The Laureate ceremony on 26 May was fantastic. Everyone said lovely things, and Michael Morpurgo gave me a big hug and kiss and wished me luck.
I've asked Michael if I can borrow his wife Clare to look after me and help me get organised, but he's hanging on to her! I was interviewed all over the place.
My friends started teasing me, saying they couldn't turn on the television, switch on the radio or open the newspaper with seeing me.
I went to talk at the Hay Festival with my dear friend and illustrator Nick Sharratt at the beginning of June. I wore my beautiful silver Laureate medal so all the children could have a look at it. It matches my big silver rings and bangles perfectly.
I've attended all sorts of meetings to outline my ideas on what I want to achieve during the next two years. I've started a reading aloud campaign – and I think there's going to be a very special book too.
I also want to start a travelling exhibition to do with authors and illustrators and their books, as so many children have to do author projects at school.
I went to a Book Fair and Book Exhibition in Canada at the end of June. I felt very grand being introduced to everyone as Britain's Children's Laureate.
When I got back I thought it was time I started earning my keep. I wanted to do something special, so I had a big day out in Hampshire.
I launched the Reading Voyage at the splendid Gosport Discovery Centre, I gave a talk to a Junior School about my favourite books, I gave out the prizes at a lovely ceremony for Looked After children, I did lots of press and television interviews, and then I spoke to an audience of 400 in Winchester in the evening and signed everybody's books. I didn't get home till bedtime, tired but very happy.
I'm doing a special Summer holiday Laureate day in Torquay on 23rd August when I shall be talking to lots of children – and probably eating lots of Whippy ice creams too! I'm opening the Seven Stories Children's Book Museum and giving two talks at the Edinburgh Festival. I've also got a book to finish by the end of the month. Help!
Diary 2 - Autumn 2005
I’ve been so busy recently, but I’ve certainly been having a wonderful time. I had a fantastic day in Torquay in the summer meeting lots of children at the seaside. Then I went to the very exciting new Seven Stories Museum in Newcastle and opened it with Nick Sharratt. They’ve got so many interesting exhibits, including artwork for two of my favourite children’s books, Ballet Shoes and The Family from One End Street, but I was so busy meeting everyone and signing so many books I didn’t get the chance to look at them. I shall have to make another trip there soon.
I also spoke at the Edinburgh Festival. I always love a trip up to Scotland. I shall be going there again in January and touring around, going to as many schools and libraries as possible. January isn’t that wonderful a month weather-wise though – I shall have to make sure I’m wearing my thermal vest!
Andrew Motion and I launched the start of Children’s Book Week by having a special conversation in a London Theatre. Andrew is the Poet Laureate. I’m very pleased that his daughter still likes reading my books.
I’ve been on radio and television talking about what I want to achieve now I’m the Children’s Laureate. I’ve also been one of the judges for the Blue Peter writing competition. They had over thirty thousand entries! Everyone ended up with very red eyes and headaches trying to get them all read, but many of the stories were riveting.
I also enjoyed being on Desert Island Discs. Sue Lawley is lovely. I wonder what you would choose for your eight favourite pieces of music, your luxury and your all-time favourite book?
I spent most of October touring all over Britain promoting my latest book Love Lessons – but it also gave me a chance to talk about the Laureateship and what it entails. The tour went fabulously and I got to meet so many special children. I worked out that I must have met and chatted with over twenty thousand people. It was pretty exhausting at times, as the signings went on for four, five even six hours.
Still, this weekend I’m going to stay in a cottage in Dorset with Nick Sharratt and two special friends and there will be time to relax and read and have fun. We’ll eat and drink lots, play silly games, go for long walks in the countryside … and maybe plan one or two more books.
November is going to be equally busy, as I’m doing lots of charity events, I’m giving various talks at festivals and conferences, and I’m also being filmed for the South Bank Show. I shall wear my medal with pride when I talk to Melvin Bragg!
Diary 3 - Winter 2005
This is about the only sort of diary I can manage to keep nowadays!
When I was a child I loved keeping fat little journals, confiding all sorts of secrets. I've still got some of them and they make hilarious reading because I took myself so seriously. I wrote about my family and friends, I moaned about school, I listed all the books I'd read, and I often jotted down story ideas and daydreamed about becoming a writer.
I wonder what I would have said if I could have looked way into the future and seen that one day I’d have had more than eighty books published.
I'd love to keep a proper diary now, especially as I’m having such an interesting time being the Children's Laureate, but I do a lot of novel writing during the day and catch up with my post in the evening. I can't seem to squeeze in proper diary writing too. Maybe I should make a special resolution to keep a diary in 2006?
I've been rushing around giving lots of talks over the last couple of months.
I enjoyed going to Hackney to take part in a big Story Quest day for hundreds of happy lively children.
I went up to talk at the Dudley Children’s Literature Festival, I gave a talk about the joy of reading E. Nesbit in Bromley, I spoke at a Reading for Pleasure conference in Croydon and I opened a splendid state of the art library in Tower Hamlets.
I also got awarded two honorary doctorates, one in Winchester and one in Bath. Most importantly of all, I attended the RNIB 70th birthday celebrations.
I think this is such a wonderful charity, working so hard to make books available in all sorts of accessible forms for the blind and partially sighted Find out more here.
I'm about to take part in a very special poetry reading at the National Theatre with the former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo. We shall be reading Ted Hughes' wonderful poems for children. It was all Ted Hughes idea to have a Children's Laureate.
I feel so proud to be the fourth Laureate.
Diary 4 - Spring 2006
I'm still wearing my beautiful silver Laureate medal with pride! Children often ask me, 'What exactly does a Children's Laureate do?' That's what's so interesting about the position, because you can do anything, so long as it involves children and literature. Over the last two or three months I've been out and about almost every day doing something!
In January I opened a lovely new education centre in Croydon Hospital – complete with library full of colourful children's paperbacks. It was a fantastic day meeting so many smiley staff and sweet children – I'm still writing to some of them now. The next day I opened a special new library at Hoddeston, and then judged a children's poetry competition for a fair trade chocolate company. This was a particularly enjoyable meeting because we ate lots of their delicious chocolate!
The day after that I went to Ottakar's bookshop in Putney and took great pleasure in presenting the Ottakar's Children's Book Prize to Julia Golding for her fantastic lively novel The Diamond of Drury Lane.
I spent the first very cold week of February having a wonderful time with Scottish Book Trust and meeting the loveliest children. They really warmed my heart – but I could still have done with a thermal vest to protect me from that icy Scottish wind. I'm a hopelessly weedy heat-loving Sassenach.
I was delighted to discover in February that I'm the most borrowed author in British libraries – even though it makes me sound very well-thumbed! It's so great to know that many children all over the county are regularly going into libraries. I try to give the library service as much support as I possibly can. I not only open many libraries, I also do my best to join campaigns to stop treasured libraries being closed down. I'm patron of Chatterbooks, the library reading group for children, and I do as many events for them as I can. I also try hard to support school librarians. I'm going to their annual conference in York in April, and also presenting the School Librarian of the Year awards in Birmingham.
Whenever I travel anywhere at the moment I have my head in a book on the journey, because I'm currently a judge for two literary awards, the Orange prize and the Mauritius prize. I've always been a huge admirer of Kate Mosse and her special literary prize for women novelists – and I couldn't say no to the Mauritius prize, because you get to go to Mauritius and be wined and dined in splendour.
I spend a lot of February doing special events. I went to talk at the Oxford Playhouse with my dear friend Nick Sharratt to publicise the proposed exciting new Story Museum. I went to Birmingham to talk to the Federation of Children's Book Groups, I went to the RNIB to talk to the blind and partially sighted children (all great Tracy Beaker fans!), and I set off a big bunch of balloons outside the Unicorn Theatre on World Book Day.
I've spent three weeks in March concentrating on Jacky-the-writer, rushing round many bookshops promoting my new book Candyfloss – but shortly my Laureate medal will be shining round my next as I do some very important publicity for a fantastic book coming out in May, Great Books to Read Aloud. Watch this space and you'll find out all about it!