Mr Almond, who contributed a book for this year’s World Book Day event, told the Daily Telegraph: “There’s nothing wrong with celebrities writing books, but an organisation like World Book Day should be giving a good idea of what children’s literature is today, and this doesn’t at all. It gives a false impression of what it is to write a book.”
He added that it was “important to give due respect to children’s culture and creativity, and to take it seriously”.
Australian Andy Griffiths, and lesser-known British authors Pamela Butchart and Kes Gray are also part of the promotion, alongside a Marvel Avengers title.
Commenting on Mr Almond’s Facebook post Mr McGowan, author of books including The Knife that Killed me, Hellbent and Mortal Coil, wrote that the list had “incensed” him.
“I could have nominated fifty better writers who could have done with a little boost. What were they thinking?” he added.
Chocolat author Joanne Harris also weighed in. Writing on her blog she said: “The current spate of celebrity (and often ghostwritten) children’s books is having a detrimental effect, not just on children’s publishing, but on the reputation of children’s writing, and even on literacy in general.”
Comparing celebrity-written fiction to junk food, she added: “Celebrity authors reduce children’s fiction to a small group of well-known faces, leaving less room for newcomers, originality, variety.
“Celebrity authors are the equivalent of the McDonald’s Happy Meal: okay once in awhile, perhaps, but not the everyday, varied diet a healthy child needs to flourish and grow.”