Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Artist Draws Support to Project

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Artist Draws Support to Project

Article excerpt

Byline: By Guy Anderson

Once upon a time there was a vision giving children's literature the recognition it deserves as Guy Anderson found out.

After six years - and a mammoth fund-raising drive - the dream of opening Britain's first Centre for the Children's Book in the North-East is moving close to reality. Quentin Blake - famed as the illustrator of Roald Dahl books - is among the giants of junior literature backing the project.

Newcastle will be the focus for the nation's favourite children's books, which will be brought under one roof in a converted Victorian mill in the Ouseburn Valley.

Mr Blake said: "A centre for the children's book is a magnificent idea.

"Think of all it could be - a showplace for the incomparable legacy of British writing and illustration for children. Newcastle has taken the lead with the centre but the whole nation ought to be behind it."

Organisers aim to open in spring 2005, and building work to convert the seven-storey mill to house original manuscripts and artwork by many modern authors and illustrators began this month. It is expected to take a year.

Elizabeth Hammill, artistic director of the centre, said: "I had been working with authors and illustrators for years, and there was always a huge desire to have a home for their work.

"Other countries were asking British authors to donate work but they didn't want to because they preferred to keep their work in their own country.

"We were hugely inspired by Kay Webb, who started the Puffin Club and was the first person to really respect children as readers and writers.

"There are currently about 60,000 items in the collection but it will continue to grow. More than 100 authors and illustrators have also promised us some of their work.

"We have been given a collection of first edition Ladybird books, correspondence between people such as Harold Wilson and manuscripts from authors such as Jan Pienkowski, who wrote the Meg and Mog books.

"We are also hoping at some point to have a big exhibition on the theme of pop-up books."

Exhibitions and events will give visitors insights into how books by writers and illustrators such as Green Eggs and Ham creator Dr Seuss were inspired and produced. …

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