18/11/2014 09:43 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Quentin Blake Calls For More Disabled Children In Picture Books


Sir Quentin Blake has appealed for more illustrations of children with disabilities in picture books.

The 81-year-old illustrator voiced his concern that disabled children are underrepresented in children's literature following the launch of his latest work The Five of Us.

Quentin, who is best known for illustrating Roald Dahl's children's stories including The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, said that he first became aware of the level of underrepresentation of children with disabilities three years ago, when he was asked to submit illustrations of children using mobility aids for an exhibition.

"Children with disabilities they're not there as part of picture books," he told the BBC.

Recalling the inspiration for his new book, Quentin said that there has been lots of talk about how disabled children 'are coming in on the edges', but he wanted to create a story which put them firmly at the centre of the narrative.

"I just thought, well, we'll just do it about them," he said.

"The first thing is that it should work as a picture book which is a story which you want to read and you identify with those kids because you do anyway and not because they have the disabilities."

The Five of Us features five children who Quentin describes as having 'special abilities', who rescue their bus driver when he falls ill during a day trip.

"That's partly why it's called the Five of Us because we're all part of us, if you see what I mean, fundamentally they're not different," he explains.

Quentin added that he hopes it will get to the point when children's authors and illustrators include children with disabilities in their stories 'naturally' rather than thinking 'I'll tick that off'.

"We can't have a quota and we can't have a token," he said.

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