Martin Waddell

Honoured with the 2004 Hans Christian Andersen Medal for his important and lasting contribution to children’s literature, Martin Waddell has now written more than 100 books for children and young adults. “My books are written for that special island of time at the end of the day. They are for parents and children to share.”


Over the years Martin Waddell has worked closely with many outstanding illustrators, including Helen Oxenbury, Patrick Benson, John Lawrence, and, of course, Barbara Firth.

About Martin Waddell: From publishing to taxis to author

Martin WaddellMartin Waddell always wanted to be a professional soccer player. After having played for junior teams in Ireland in his teens, he left school at fifteen and held a variety of jobs, including working at a publishing company and as a night switchboard operator for a taxi company.

Waddell is now one of the most prolific and successful contemporary children’s writers, with more than one hundred books to his credit, some of them under his pseudonym Catherine Sefton. His books have found him fans worldwide.

Inspired by the candle-carrying bear in the Candlewick Press logo, Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? he has received international acclaim by winning the Smarties Grand Prize and the Kate Greenaway Medal (U.K.), as well as Le Priz des Critiques de Livres pour Enfants (Belgium) and a 1992 Parents’ Choice Honor.

Books Should Reach Out to Basic Childhood Emotions

Martin Waddell believes that a picture-book story is “a script for performance to a very personally involved audience that wants to stop, ask questions, look, and point things out.” He feels that books should reach out to basic childhood emotions-fear of the dark (Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?), separation anxiety (Owl Babies), the desire to do things independently (Sam Vole and His Brothers and Little Mo) – feelings that directly relate to events and experiences in a young child’s life.

Waddell was inspired to write The Big Big Sea while planning a visit for a friend and her young daughter. He thought a nighttime walk on the beach near his home would be a perfect experience for both mother and child and would promote that special parent-child bond. After all, he notes, “the moments we share are the moments that stay with us.”

Martin is married, has three children, and lives in County Down, Northern Ireland.

Over to you now! What’s your favourite Martin Waddell children’s book?

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This website was created by Jill Holtz and Michelle Davitt, both of whom are mothers of young children. Jill and Michelle decided to create this resource themselves, and launched in 2007.