Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Who is Canada's Children's Laureate?

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Answer: Nobody. We don't have one. But I'll get to that in a moment.

A couple weeks ago, I was in London, England and saw the rather stunning stage production of Michael Morpurgo's The War Horse (formerly at the National and now at the New London Theatre). There was a wonderful moment when the titular horse made it's first appearance. A couple rows back, a kid nudged his brother and whispered: "Look, it's a real horse!"

It wasn't (couldn't slip it past the PETA people, evidently). What the boy saw was perhaps the star of the play -- the full-scale, impressionistic model designed and manipulated to astonishing effect by South African puppeteers from a troupe called Handspring.

Once the play has completed its run it's certain to tour and if it ever arrives in Toronto, I urge you to see it. Wonderful stuff.

But what does this have to do with Canada's nonexistent children's laureate? Well, after the play, I read a little about Michael Morpurgo, who is credited as England's "former Children's Laureate."

I wondered if we had one of those over here, and if not, what title would be the Canadian equivalent. Sadly, as far as I can tell, we've got bupkis -- which is not the case in the U.S., by the way. Down there, they call it the Ambassador to Young People's Literature. Heck, as of this year, even Australia has one.

But alas, in spite of having so many worthy candidates (Kit Pearson, Robert Munsch, Ken Oppel, Sheree Fitch, Roch Carrier, Dennis Lee, Tim Wynn-Jones, Kathy Kacer), Canada has no officially-recognized advocate for youth literature.

Don't you think we ought to?

PS: I'm not alone...I am not alone.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Robert Paul Weston

Robert Paul Weston's fiction has appeared in magazines on both sides of the Atlantic and been nominated for The Journey Prize in Canada and The Fountain Award for Speculative Literature in the United States. He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and lives in Toronto.

His website is www.robertpaulweston.com

Go to Robert Paul Weston’s Author Page