Review: Flights Of Fancy – stories, pictures and inspiration from ten Children’s Laureates. (Many authors and illustrators).
We are all creators. Every one of us has the skill of observation. Of thought. Every one of us is capable of putting something down on paper.
When we come to do that, it can seem more difficult.
Flights Of Fancy is packed with stories and poems, plays and pictures from the ten children’s laureates who have inspired children across the UK. As well as being a compendium of creativity full of original work from some of the most beloved creators at work today, the book gets behind the role of Children’s Laureate and looks at the amazing work of laureates past and present.
The laureateship is awarded every two years to an author or illustrator who has done outstanding work in their field. This person then has the opportunity to promote specific issues or skills related to children’s literature. The position is currently held by Lauren Child, author and illustrator of Charlie And Lola, Clarice Bean and numerous other titles.
Flights Of Fancy has a profile for every past laureate which details their work and their response to the post. I was particularly interested to read about Anne Fine’s initiative to create beautiful and freely-available bookplates for children to stick in second-hand books. Not every child has access to new books and encouraging children to take ownership of the books which are available to them is a wonderful idea. The bookplates are still available to print at My Home Library.
There is also new work from all of the authors and illustrators, including Quentin Blake’s fantastic drawings of flying machines and Jacquline Wilson’s story which is told in the form of a diary.
The book is also full of tips, games and inspiration to challenge readers to engage with their creativity. From Anthony Browne’s shape game, Julia Donaldson’s word wheel and Malorie Blackman’s ideas about taking a word for a walk, there are plenty of starting points to new creative projects. What I loved most about this book was its emphasis on the similarities between creativity and play. We hear big words like imagination and gifted and creative and think that art is limited to the chosen ones who have been blessed with special powers when actually these people have played and enjoyed their hobbies and engaged with them for great lengths of time. While there is no doubt that professional-level skills take many hours to master, we can all play. We can all communicate. We can all make marks on a page. Some of those works will even be worth sharing with the people around us.
Flights Of Fancy is an exceptional book which celebrates our creators and encourages everyone to keep in touch with their imaginative side. I would recommend this to children and ‘big children’. This would make a beautiful gift, especially if it was given alongside a sketchbook and a notebook and some pencils.
Many thanks to Walker Books UK for my gifted copy of Flights Of Fancy. Opinions my own.