Chris Riddell

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For the futurist and digital technology expert, see Chris Riddell (futurist).
Chris Riddell, February 2010

Chris Riddell (born 13 April 1962) is a British illustrator and occasional writer of children's books and a political cartoonist for The Observer. He has won two Kate Greenaway Medals, the British librarians' annual award for the best-illustrated children's book,[1][2] and two of his works were commended runners-up, a distinction dropped after 2002.[3][a] Books that he wrote or illustrated have won three Nestlé Smarties Book Prizes and have been silver or bronze runners-up four times.[4] On 9 June 2015 he was appointed the UK Children's Laureate.[5]


Chris Riddell was born in 1962 in Cape Town, South Africa where his father was a "liberal Anglican vicar"[6] and was opposed to the system of apartheid. The family returned to England when Chris was one year old, where he spent the rest of his childhood with his sister and three brothers who are now living in South Africa, Brighton, England, and Egypt. Chris displayed artistic talent from an early age, and was encouraged in this by his mother. (She gave him paper and pen to keep quiet during father's sermons.)[6] As a child, he admired the work of John Tenniel, the first illustrator of Alice in Wonderland, and W. Heath Robinson. At Brighton Polytechnic he studied illustration; one teacher was Raymond Briggs, an earlier winner of two Greenaway Medals.[7] In 2002 he named as influences Tenniel and E. H. Shepard, the first illustrator of The Wind in the Willows and Winnie the Pooh.[6]

Riddell worked as an illustrator at The Economist news magazine beginning in the 1980s and at The Observer newspaper from 1995.[6]

As of 2002, Riddell and his wife Joanne Burroughes, an illustrator and print-maker, lived in Brighton with three children.[6]

His brother Rick Riddell, a secondary teacher in the Alice Smith School, died in February 2012.[8]


The Edge Chronicles[edit]

Some of Riddell's most notable work is The Edge Chronicles (from 1998), a children's book series co-written with Paul Stewart and illustrated by Riddell alone. Set in the fictional world known as "The Edge", the books have been praised for Chris's beautifully detailed line drawings and the unique nature of their collaborative writing process.[clarification needed]

Other works[edit]

For his illustrations, Riddell was a commended runner-up for the 1994 Greenaway Medal (Something Else by Kathryn Cave) and highly commended for 1999 (Castle Diary by Richard Platt).[3][a] He won the 2001 Medal for illustrating Pirate Diary: The Journal of Jake Carpenter by Platt.[1] The press release called Pirate Diary the first "information book" to win the Medal since 1975 and "a fictionalised account". "[W]hen he spoke with author Richard Platt the harsh necessities of historical accuracy came into play. 'Everything I got excited about got shot down. No parrots, eye-patches or wooden legs. Thank god there were weapons and amputations!'" (quoting Riddell).[6] (After Castle Diary and Pirate Diary, Platt continued the Diary series with illustrator David Parkins.)

Three years later Riddell won the Greenaway again (no one has won three) for his work on Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver" (Walker, 2004), retold by Martin Jenkins from the 1726 classic Gulliver's Travels.[2] The panel chair commented, "Gulliver is a tour de force. Chris Riddell has given us 144 pages of fantastic, faultless illustrations, which constantly extend the power of the text. Our winning title also proves that today's picture books are not just for the youngest age-groups, but are an important source of pleasure and learning for readers of all ages."[7] (The 2001 and 2004 panels recommended Pirate Diary and Gulliver for readers age 8+ and 10+, while their recommendations for thirteen other shortlisted books ranged from 2+ to 7+.)

Other books illustrated by Chris Riddell include Fergus Crane, Corby Flood, and Hugo Pepper, all set in the same world. These books were also co-written with Paul Stewart. Stewart and Riddell also collaborated with him on Muddle Earth and the Barnaby Grimes series. Most recently Riddell has both written and illustrated the "Ottoline" series, written while he was on holiday visiting his brother in Malaysia.[clarification needed (see talk)] The first book, Ottoline and the Yellow Cat (2007), won the final Smarties Prize in age category 6–8 years (the Smarties were discontinued in 2008). It has been followed by Ottoline Goes to School and Ottoline at Sea.

Beside writing and illustrating books, Riddell is an acclaimed political cartoonist for The Observer newspaper in London, where his caricatures of politicians from John Major to Gordon Brown, Bill Clinton to George W. Bush, have earned him a reputation as a fine draughtsman and acute commentator on the political scene. Before working at The Observer, Chris spent time working at The Economist as an illustrator and occasional cover artist.

Chris Riddell is the cover artist for the Literary Review magazine formerly edited by Auberon Waugh, a role which he took over from the late Willie Rushton. Chris's serial gag cartoon for this magazine called "Illustration to Unwritten Books" was published in book form as The Da Vinci Cod And Other Illustrations To Unwritten Books.

Selected Works[edit]

As author and illustrator[edit]

  • Ben and the Bear (1986)
  • Humphrey the Hippo (1986)
  • Humphrey of the Rovers (1986)
  • Humphrey Goes to the Ball (1986)
  • Humphrey's New Trousers (1986)
  • Mr Underbed (1986)
  • Bird's New Shoes (1987)
  • The Fibbs (1987)
  • The Trouble With Elephants (1988)
  • The Wish Factory (1988)
  • When the Walrus Comes (1989)
  • The Bear Dance (1990)
  • The Wonderful World of Zoom (1995)
  • Puzzle Boy (1996)
  • My Busy Book (1998)
  • Tribal Politics (1999)
  • Platypus (book)|Platypus (2001)
  • Platypus and the Lucky Day (2002)
  • Platypus and the Birthday Party (2003)
  • The Da Vinci Cod (2005)
  • The Emperor of Absurdia (2006)
  • Wendel's Workshop (2007)
  • Ottoline:
  • Alienography:
    • Alienography or How to spot an alien and what to do about it
    • Alienography – Tips for Tiny Tyrants
  • Goth Girl
    • Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse
    • Goth Girl and a Fete Worse than Death
    • Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright
    • Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen

As illustrator[edit]

Riddell has collaborated with Paul Stewart on dozens of books including the Edge series. He has also illustrated several books written by each of four other authors.

written by other authors
  • The Mystery of Silver Mountain (1984)
  • Beware, Princess! (1986)
  • Love Forty (1986)
  • Dreamboat Brontosaurus (1987)
  • Gruesome Giants (1987)
  • The Magician's Cat (1987)
  • Beyond the Rolling River (1988)
  • Dracula's Daughter (1988)
  • Moon Whales (1988)
  • Peter Pan (1988), an edition of the 1911 J. M. Barrie classic
  • Treasure Island (1988), an edition of the 1883 R. L. Stevenson classic
  • The Pirates of Pudding Beach (1989)
  • Manifold Manor (1989)
  • You're Thinking About Doughnuts (1989)
  • Ffangs the Vampire Bat and the Kiss of Truth (1990)
  • The Prism Tree (1990)
  • Lizzie Dripping and the Witch (1991)
  • Patrick in Person (1991)
  • Best Enemies (1992)
  • The Thing in the Sink (1992)
  • An Armful of Bears (1993)
  • A Trunkful of Elephants (1994)
  • Rent-a-Friend (1994)
  • Say Hello to the Buffalo (1994)
  • The Iron Wolf (1995)
  • Angus Rides the Goods Train (1996)
  • Brilliant Minds (1996)
  • Buddhism for Sheep (1996)
  • Feng Shui for Cats (1997)
  • Feng Shui for Dogs (1997)
  • The Castle of Inside Out (1997)
  • The Swan's Stories (1997)
  • The Tall Story (1997)
  • Until I Met Dudley (1997)
  • Buddhism for Bears (1998)
  • Buster's Diaries (1998)
  • Management for Martians (1998)
  • Stories for Me! (1998)
  • Castle Diary (1999), by Richard Platt
  • The Tao for Babies (2000)
  • Pirate Diary (2001), by Richard Platt
  • The Rabbits' Rebellion (2001)
  • Three Scary Stories' (2001)
  • Hairy Bill (2002)
  • Un Italiano in America (2003)
  • Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver" (2004), Gullivers Travels (1726) adapted by Martin Jenkins
  • Politics Cutting Through the Crap (2006)
  • The Graveyard Book (2008), by Neil Gaiman
  • The Sleeper and the Spindle (2013), by Neil Gaiman
  • Just So Stories (2013), an edition of the 1902 Rudyard Kipling classic
  • The Box of Demons (2015), by Daniel Whelan

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Some of these Awards and related honours may have recognised the writers of books Riddell illustrated. The two Greenaway Medals, two commendations, and three shortlists recognised Riddell as illustrator.

Runners-up, etc.
  • 1994 Something Else by Cave was commended for the Greenaway Medal[3][a]
  • 1999 Castle Diary by Platt was highly commended for the Greenaway Medal[3][a]
  • 2002 Pirate Diary by Platt was Smarties silver runner-up (ages 6–8)[4]
  • 2005 Corby Flood by Stewart was Smarties bronze runner-up (ages 6–8)[4]
  • 2006 Hugo Pepper by Stewart was Smarties silver runner-up (ages 6–8)[4]
  • 2006 The Emperor of Absurdia, written and illustrated by Riddell, was Smarties silver runner-up (ages 0–5)[4]
  • 2007 The Emperor of Absurdia made the Greenaway shortlist[14]
  • 2008 Ottoline and the Yellow Cat, written and illustrated by Riddell, made the Greenaway shortlist[14]
  • 2008 Wendel's Workshop, written and illustrated by Riddell, made the Booktrust Early Years Award shortlist[15]
  • 2010 The Graveyard Book, written by Neil Gaiman, made the Greenaway shortlist in its Children's Edition illustrated by Riddell[14][b] (Gaiman won the companion Carnegie Medal)[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Today there are usually eight books on the Greenaway shortlist. According to CCSU, some runners-up through 2002 were Commended (from 1959) or Highly Commended (from 1974). There were 29 highly commended runners-up in 24 years to 2002, including Riddell and Lauren Child in 1999. During that time there were about three annual commendations of both kinds; two in 1994.
    • No one has won three Greenaways. Among the fourteen illustrators with two Medals, Riddell is one of seven with at least one highly commended runner-up (1974–2002), led by Helen Oxenbury with two Medals and four HC.
  2. ^ Dave McKean illustrated the UK Adult Edition and the US edition of The Graveyard Book.


  1. ^ a b c (Greenaway Winner 2001). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  2. ^ a b c (Greenaway Winner 2004). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d "Kate Greenaway Medal" Archived 16 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine.. 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Nestlé Children's Book Prize". Booktrust. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  5. ^ "Illustrator Chris Riddell named as UK children's laureate". Guardian. 9 June 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Renowned political cartoonist scoops Greenaway for first information book to win in 27 years". Press release 12(?) July 2002. CILIP. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
  7. ^ a b c "Political cartoonist & illustrator Chris Riddell scoops his second CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal". Press release 8 July 2005. CILIP. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
  8. ^[dead link]
  9. ^ 1997 "Winners UNESCO Prize for Children's and Young People's Literature in the Service of Tolerance" UNESCO.
  10. ^ "Mortal Engines announced as Blue Peter Book of the Year 2003". BBC Press Office. 16 December 2003. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "Past Winners". Red House Children's Book Award. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  12. ^ "Former winners recapture Costa prize". BBC News. 6 January 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  13. ^ Mark Brown (26 November 2013). "Costa book awards 2013: late author on all-female fiction shortlist". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c Press Desk (directory). CILIP. Retrieved 14 July 2012. Quote: "media releases relating to the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards in date order." (2002 to 2006 releases concern 2001 to 2005 awards.)
  15. ^ Booktrust Early Years Awards[dead link]
  16. ^ (Carnegie Winner 2010). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-09-01.

External links[edit]