Former Irish Book Awards winner Niamh Sharkey was unveiled as Ireland’s second Laureate na nÓg by President Michael D Higgins on May 8th. Hugglemonsters, based on her book about a family of monsters, is currently being made into a 52-episode pre-school animation series which will be broadcast in 150 countries next year. She has written 10 books which have been translated into 20 languages and The Happy Hugglemonsters will boost her profile even further.
Niamh, whose children are aged between six and 10, described pre-school children as the “best audience”.
“I try to come up with really, really strong characters using loads of humour. They are strong graphics with strong characters. Humour is key so the parents are happy reading it over and over again and so too are the children.”
Mr Higgins said that children come to literature without pre-conceptions and books can be “really formative”. “Children have no great baggage in their heads,” the President said. “It is important that the ethical responsibility be taken clearly because one is dealing with children who are full of curiosity.”
He said he was glad that an author who is also an illustrator had got the award because children are as moved by images as they are by the words themselves.
Laureate na nÓg is an initiative of the Arts Council with the support of its counterpart in Northern Ireland, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, and Children’s Books Ireland. Ms Sharkey replaces the author Siobhán Parkinson as Laureate.
Everyone at the Irish Book Awards would like to congratulate Niamh on her richly-deserved appointment.