Today saw the announcement of the new Laureate na nÓg, or Irish Children’s Laureate. I was delighted to hear that PJ Lynch was chosen as our fourth Laureate (following in the footsteps of Siobhán Parkinson, Niamh Sharkey and Eoin Colfer). PJ Lynch is a fantastic illustrator who has recently moved into writing as well, he is the author and illustrator of his most recent title The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower.
PJ Lynch’s first book, A Bag of Moonshine (a collection of English folk tales by Alan G, was published in 1986 and won him the Mother Goose Award (now discontinued) for most promising newcomer to illustration. He has won a number of awards since including the prestigious Kate Greenaway medal (twice!), the Christopher Medal (thrice!) as well as awards from Children’s Books Ireland and IBBY (International Books on Board for Young People). He is probably best known for The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, written by Susan Wojiechowski. This touching story saw the development of the painterly realistic style for which Lynch has been acclaimed. A 20th anniversary edition was published last year, and a film and a play have been made. Other popular titles illustrated by Lynch include When Jessie Came Across the Sea, Oscar Wilde Stories for Children, East o’ the Sun West o’ the Moon, The Gift of the Magi and The Names Upon the Harp to name but a few. His next book will be Patrick and the President, written by Ryan Tubridy, about John F Kennedy’s visit to Ireland.
Lynch predominantly works in watercolour, however last year saw his first book illustrated in charcoal. The book, Once upon a Place, is a collection of stories and poems by some of Ireland’s best writers for children, all illustrated by Lynch. It was produced as part of Eoin Colfer’s storytelling project during his Laureateship. Lynch has been doing live charcoal drawings at events since, seeing his pictures appear before your eyes is absolutely magical. Lynch is a very versatile artist, not only in terms of medium (watercolour, pen and ink, oils, charcoal) but also format. As well as illustrating books he has created posters for Opera Ireland and the Abbey Theatre, stamps for An Post, book covers for the likes of Marita Conlon McKenna’s renowned Famine Trilogy (Under the Hawthorn Tree, Wildflower Girl and Fields of Home) and most recently he designed a stunning mosaic for Knock.
Speaking about his plans for his term as Laureate PJ 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.
(Quoted in Guardian Children’s Books article)
I was hoping that PJ Lynch would be selected as our next Laureate na nÓg, and I cannot wait to see what this incredibly talented illustrator does during his term.
Congratulations PJ, so well deserved!