I recently read a review of Frank Lampard’s latest children’s book ‘Frankie’s Magic Football: Frankie and the World Cup Carnival’ and it got me thinking about other celebrities who have penned bestsellers for kids. When I was small, I had a shelf full of Budgie The Little Helicopter – the series authored by Sarah, Duchess of York. At the time, I had no idea who she was, but my mum came across a Budgie book stand at her local shopping centre and drawn in by a large photo of the duchess, proceeded to buy me the whole collection.
People have widely varying views about Sarah, but you couldn’t argue with the fact that her books sold – and in doing so, they promoted reading for children to people like my mum, who wasn’t the type of parent who would frequently take their child to their local library or bookshop.
A whole string of celebrity books followed Sarah’s – including those by Sting, Kylie and Geri Halliwell to name just a few. Some argue that these works steal shelf-space from worthwhile manuscripts which other unknown authors have spent years working on. It has to be accepted that the lure of celebrity is much more appealing to agents and publishers than taking on a new name in writing.
But when it comes to long term love for a book or an author, the child is the ultimate judge. No matter how famous the author, if their work doesn’t strike the magical note with the small reader, there will be a limit to their success. Personally, I believe that the best children’s writing by non-celebrities will never be pushed out. Yes, new writers may struggle just that bit harder to get onto the scene but agents will never be reliant on celebrity clients alone.
What parents need to watch out for is the quality of the writing. There are some amazing celebrity children’s authors – David Walliams is amongst my favourite – but there are others whose books are likely to be ghost-written and those with dubious English.
So yes, celebrity writers are important in a world in which reading for pleasure amongst children is becoming dangerously unpopular, but parents should be aware of the wider literary world available for their children to discover.
What are your thoughts on celebrity children’s authors?
Some top children’s books written by celebrities:
• Mr. Stink by David Walliams
• Budgie The Little Helicopter by Sarah, Duchess of York
• How Roland Rolls by Jim Carrey
• Mandy by Julie Andrews
• High in the Clouds by Paul McCartney