Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell & BookTrust Represents reveal #PassThePen pairings to showcase new creatives of colour

London, Thursday 12 November 2020: BookTrust Represents and Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, are delighted to reveal the pairings for #PassThePen, a new social media campaign designed to help promote visibility, champion new voices and generate book sales for emerging authors and illustrators of colour.

More than twenty of the most dynamic, up and coming creatives in the children’s book world will take over the Instagram channel of an established literary star for a day from 16 – 20 November, and introduce themselves to their followers, give an insight into their inspirations, and showcase their extraordinary work.

Onjali Q Raúf, author of The Night Bus Hero, and one of the Instagram hosts for #PassThePen, said:

“By enabling those who have made it to forefront of the literary world to #passthepen to new hopefuls, this campaign can perhaps help do what the universe of literature always seeks to do, just that little bit faster: open our eyes, minds and hearts, to a galaxy of beautiful new stories, that otherwise and too often, may go unheard.”

The #PassThePen pairings announcement follows new research released yesterday from BookTrust Represents Interim Research and CLPE’s Reflecting Realities Survey of Ethnic Representation within UK Children’s Literature showing that whilst there has been some positive progress, there remains significant under-representation in children’s books, and the challenge that remains for the wider industry. The report revealed the number of authors and illustrators of colour published in the UK in the last three years growing to over 8%, but advised there remains a long way to go. BookTrust’s figures also illustrate that the number of British debut creators of colour has increased from 12 (2017) to 24 (2019), but nearly half are self-published or by a hybrid publisher.

The authors and illustrators of colour selected for #PassThePen, and their Instagram hosts, are:


Monday 16 November

Jasbinder Bilan author of Tamarind & The Star of Ishta (Chicken House) paired with Cressida Cowell

Aisha Bushby, author of Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found (Egmont), paired with Holly Smale

A.M. Dassu, author of Boy Everywhere (Old Barn Books) paired with Juno Dawson

Allen Fatimaharan, illustrator of Llama Out Loud! (Egmont) and My Hair (Faber), paired with Rob Biddulph

Margaret Sturton, author and illustrator of A Fox Called Herbert (Andersen Press) paired with Benji Davies


Tuesday 17 November

Hiba Noor Khan, author of The Little War Cat (Macmillan Children’s Books) paired with Dermot O’Leary

Jen Khatun, illustrator of Sona Sharma, Very Best Big Sister (Walker Books) paired with Nadiya Hussain

Hannah Lee, author of My Hair (Faber) paired with Laura Dockrill

Annabelle Sami, author of Agent Zaiba Investigates: The Missing Diamonds (Stripes) and Llama Out Loud! (Egmont), paired with Frank Cottrell-Boyce


Wednesday 18 November

Kereen Getten, author of When Life Gives You Mangoes (Pushkin Children’s Books) paired with Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Onyinye Iwu, illustrator of Too Small Tola (Walker Books) paired with Dapo Adeola

Poonam Mistry, illustrator of You’re Strong With Me (Lantana) paired with Chris Riddell

Serena Patel, author of Anisha, Accidental Detective (Usborne) paired with Robin Stevens


Thursday 19 November

Lucy Farfort, illustrator of Afraid of the Dark (Caterpillar Books) paired with Jim Field

Sharna Jackson, author of MICDROP: A High Rise Mystery (Knights Of) paired with Greg James & Chris Smith

EL Norry, author of Voices: Son of the Circus: A Victorian Story (Scholastic) paired with Katherine Rundell

Viola Wang, author/illustrator of Rabbit Bright (Hodder Children’s Books) paired with Emily Gravett


Friday 20 November

Momoko Abe, author/illustrator of Avocado Asks (Orchard Books) paired with Jen Campbell

Sandra A. Agard author of Trailblazers: Harriet Tubman (Stripes) paired with Onjali Q. Raúf

Rashmi Sirdeshpande, author of Dosh (Wren & Rook) and author/illustrator of Never Show a T-Rex a Book (Puffin) paired with Holly Bourne

Point five on Cressida Cowell’s Waterstones Children’s Laureate Charter is that ‘every child has the right to see themselves reflected in a book’. Integral to this is the visibility of authors and illustrators of colour to readers, and so moving forward Cressida will continue to #PassThePen by running a monthly social media guest takeover on her Instagram account.


Marking the launch of the #PassThePen on Monday 16 November, Cressida and BookTrust Represents will release a Christmas reading list on www.childrenslaureate.org.uk selected from the titles submitted for the campaign.


For further details on the list, please visit www.booktrust.org.uk and to search and support the campaign on social media, please follow #PassThePen.