Today, Tuesday 17th May, 2016, author and illustrator PJ Lynch was announced as the fourth Laureate na nÓg, Ireland’s laureate for children’s literature, at a special event at the Arts Council’s offices in Merrion Square. The announcement was made by President Michael D. Higgins.
Laureate na nÓg is an initiative of the Arts Council with the support of Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Children’s Books Ireland and Poetry Ireland. The honour was established to engage young people with high quality children’s literature and to underline the importance of children’s literature in our cultural and imaginative lives.
PJ Lynch was born in Belfast and became interested in art at an early age. He has worked as a children’s picturebook illustrator since leaving Brighton College of Art in England in 1984 and has illustrated over twenty books, including modern editions of classics such as Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.
PJ has been awarded the Christopher Medal three times and he also won the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal on two occasions, first for The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski and again for When Jessie Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest. Lynch’s first illustrated book was A Bag of Moonshine by Alan Garner, a collection of folklore tales from England and Wales, which was published in 1986 and which won the Mother Goose Award, given to the most exciting newcomer to British children’s book illustration. Since then, folklore – traditional stories, legends, and fairy tales – have been a recurring subject of his work. Recent titles he has illustrated include Mysterious Traveller, Once upon a Place, which was complied by previous Laureate na nÓg Eoin Colfer and The Boy who Fell off the Mayflower, which is the first book he has also written. It was shortlisted for numerous awards. In 2017, Patrick and the President, his collaboration with Ryan Tubridy about John F. Kennedy’s visit to Ireland, will be published.
Speaking about his appointment as Laureate na nÓg, PJ Lynch said: ‘Being named the new Laureate is one of the proudest moments of my career. I want to explore the magic that happens when words and pictures come together. My theme as Laureate na nÓg will be “The Big Picture” – I plan to do a regular podcast involving live drawing or demonstrating techniques and I’ll invite guests to talk about their drawing passions. I would also love to create a landmark image in a prominent place or places in Ireland as a permanent reminder of the power of pictures to incite the imagination.’
PJ’s first public event as Laureate takes place on Saturday 28th May at Smock Alley Theatre as part of ILFDublin. PJ will talk about his career as well as the theme for his term as Laureate. Tickets, priced €5 are available here.
*Photo credit Anthony Collins