Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group

Children’s Group Committee


Celia Rees (Chair) was born and brought up in Solihull, West Midlands and taught in English in city comprehensive schools for seventeen years. She became a full-time writer in 1997 and now divides her time between writing, talking to readers in schools and libraries, acting as a tutor on creative writing courses and reviewing.

She writes for older children and teenagers. She began writing in 1989 and her first book was published in 1993. Since then she has written many more novels for this age group and a number of short stories. Her novel Witch Child was short listed for the Guardian Children’s Fiction award in 2001 and won the Prix Sorcières in France, 2003; the sequel Sorceress was short listed for The Whitbread Children’s Book Award in 2002; Pirates! was short listed for the W.H. Smith Award, 2004. Her latest book, The Stone Testament was published in October, 2007.

Celia Rees lives in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, with her husband. She has a grown-up daughter who now lives in London.


Ros Asquith studied graphic design at Camberwell School of Art before working as a photo-journalist. She was theatre critic for Time Out, City Limits and the Observer for several years before writing and illustrating her first book, I Was a Teenage Worrier in 1992. This grew into the best-selling Teenage Worrier series published by Transworld and translated into twelve languages. She has since written and illustrated over 40 books for young people including the Trixie series for Harper Collins and the Girl Writer series for Piccadilly Press as well as illustrating numerous books by other authors including Dick King-Smith, Anne Fine and  Francesca Simon.

Ros has painted murals in seven countries, taught photography to teenagers and art to adults with severe learning difficulties, and has been a cartoonist for The Guardian for the last 20 years. She lives in London with a jazz critic. They have two sons, one at university and the other at sixth form.


Steve Barlow hails from Crewe, Cheshire. He studied English Literature at Warwick University and Education at Nottingham University before working as an actor, stage manager and puppeteer with various touring companies. He taught Drama, English, and Technical Theatre in the UK and abroad and formed a writing partnership with Steve Skidmore in 1987.

Since then, ‘The Two Steves’ have written almost 100 books for trade and education including popular series such as The Lost Diaries and Tales of the Dark Forest (Collins), The Mad Myths (Puffin/Barn Owl) and The Outernet (Scholastic), which won a European award for innovation in linking printed books with technology. They have also written for BBC Education including the BAFTA award winning The Maths Channel and have been series editors for Oxford University Press (Oxford Playscripts), Ginn (360 Plays) and Heinemann (Impact and High Impact series for reluctant readers, and Heinemann Plays).

The Steves are known for their work in encouraging reluctant readers and writers (and their teachers!), and make an average of 100 visits a year to schools, libraries and festivals at home and abroad (including recent visits to the Netherlands, France, Brazil and China) in pursuit of this aim.


Anne Cassidy has lived in London all her life. She was a teacher for twenty years. In 1989 she started writing books for teenagers. Her first book was published in 1991 and since then she has published over forty books, twenty five of which have been teen novels. She writes crime fiction and is best known for her book Looking for JJ which was short listed for the Whitbread Award 2004 and the Carnegie Medal 2005. Her new novel Story of My Life is on the shortlist for the Sheffield Book Award.

She is keen to develop a higher profile for teenage fiction, yet occasionally she writes stories for younger readers about talking dragons and creatures from other planets. She visits schools and teaches Creative Writing classes.

Anne Cassidy lives with her husband and her one son is currently at university.


Gillian Cross has been writing fiction for most of her life.  Her first books were published in 1979.  Before that, she studied English at Oxford and Sussex universities and worked briefly in a London school, in a village bakery, as a childminder, and for an MP.  Her books are read by people of many different ages and she has worked with a variety of publishers.

Her work has been widely translated and has won various prizes, including the Carnegie Medal (for Wolf) and the Smarties prize and the Whitbread Children’s Novel Award (for The Great Elephant Chase).  Four of her Demon Headmaster books were very successfully adapted for BBC television with scripts by Helen Cresswell. 

Gillian served on the Libraries and Information Services Council for England and on its successor, the Advisory Council on Libraries.  She believes that well-stocked and easily accessible libraries are vitally important, especially to young people, and has been fortunate enough to open many public and school libraries.

On her frequent visits to schools, she gives talks and runs workshops.  She has travelled to many countries to speak about her work, including Belgium, Sweden, Brazil, Australia, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong. 

Gillian and her husband, Martin, have four grownup children.


Catherine Johnson trained as a film maker at St Martin’s School of Art. Before becoming a full time writer she worked making pop videos, as a horse wrangler, in literature development, and for Book Trust. She has written twelve novels for teenagers including Hero, Landlocked and Face Value as well as short stories and non fiction. Her next book, A Nest of Vipers, will be out in April 2008.

Catherine’s screenwriting includes the feature film Bullet Boy. She has also written drama for Channel Four and the BBC.

She has worked as writer in residence in Holloway Prison and as a mentor for writers in Malawi, Uganda and Cameroon for the British Council.

She lives in London with her husband and two almost grown up children.


Tony Mitton did an English degree at Cambridge University and then worked as a primary class teacher and special needs teacher. He started to write poetry for children around the age of 40 and became a full-time writer around the age of 48. He was widely published in anthologies until his first solo collection Plum came out in 1998. This was followed by The Red & White Spotted Handkerchief which won a Smarties Silver Award in 2000 and a younger readers’ collection Pip in 2001.

Tony’s following book The Tale of Tales was a combination of prose fiction and narrative verse and was shortlsted for the CLPE children’s poetry award in 2004. He has published other, shorter, themed poetry collections and a collection My Hat & All That based on his performances. He performs his work in schools, libraries and at festivals to age groups ranging from nursery to top primary.

He has also written two series of humorous verse narratives: The Rap Rhymes series (10 books) & The Crazy Camelot Capers (8 books) consisting respectively of comic rap narrative & mock-heroic ballad narrative. Two of the Rap series won awards in Nottingham. He has also written a series of verse information books for young children, The Amazing Machines series (10 books) and a series of verse picture books with Guy Parker-Rees (5 books so far, more in progress) one of which (Spookyrumpus) won awards in Sheffield, Dundee and Portsmouth. He has also published individual verse picture book titles with a range of illustrators, and many tiny titles for school reader series.

Tony lives in Cambridge. He has a grown-up daughter and a son still at 6th form college.


An Vrombaut was born in Belgium in 1967. She studied animation at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent and at the Royal College of Art in London. Her graduation film Little Wolf (1992) won numerous international awards including Best First Film at Annecy 1993. A second short When I grow up I want to be a tiger (1996) was funded by the Mercedes-Benz Art Foundation and selected for the Berlin Film Festival.

From 1998 onwards An created and directed 64 Zoo Lane (a Millimages/ Zoo Lane Productions co-production), an animated TV series for children. 64 Zoo Lane was nominated for a BAFTA in 2000 and won the Best Pre-school Category at the British Animation Awards in 2002.

An has written and illustrated 13 picture books, all published by Hodder Children’s Books and Oxford University press. These include: six 64 Zoo Lane stories, Smile, Crocodile, Smile (winner at the 2004 Nottingham Children’s book awards) and her latest title Dear Dragon.

An regularly visits schools and festivals accompanied by a bubble-blowing dragon, a crocodile-sized toothbrush and a box full of mini-zoetropes, to talk about her work and conduct workshops with young children.


Eleanor Updale is author of a series of historical novels for older children: Montmorency, Montmorency on the Rocks, Montmorency and the Assassins, and Montmorency’s Revenge. She has also contributed to several compilations of short stories, including Michael Morpurgo’s War, John McLay’s Thirteen, and the Warchild charity anthology, Midnight FeastMontmorency won the Blue Peter award for The Book I Couldn’t Put Down, the Silver Nestle Smarties Book Prize in the 9-11 category, The Medway Prize, the Southern Schools Book Award, and was on several shortlists. 

In consecutive years, Montmorency and Montmorency on the Rocks were named the American Library Association’s Best Book for Young Adults, School Library Journal’s Best Book of the Year and Book Sense 76 pick.  Eleanor studied history at Oxford University and was recently awarded a PhD by London University. From 1975 to 1990, when she left to raise her three children, she worked as a Current Affairs producer on BBC TV and Radio.

Eleanor is a trustee of the charity Listening Books, and of the Art Fund Prize for Museums and Galleries. She is also a patron of the Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts, and is on the Clinical Ethics Committee at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The Society would be happy to forward any e-mails that you would like to send any of the above.