This post was first published at http://www.booktrust.org.uk
I was delighted to be invited to go along to the launch of a fantastic new book from Chicken House, The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable.
The Wolf Princess is an enchanting and magical story, in the style of classic children’s book authors such as Eva Ibbotson.Lonely schoolgirl Sophie has always had a strange yearning to visit Russia, but never expects her dreams to come true, until an encounter with a mysterious visitor to her humdrum boarding school leads to a chance for she and two of her friends to travel their on a school trip.
But on arrival in St Petersburg, the three friends find themselves alone on the wrong train, and are soon lost in an unknown wilderness. They are rescued by the beautiful Princess Anna Volkonskaya, who takes them away to her crumbling yet beautiful winter palace, and intrigues them with tales of lost diamonds and her family’s tragic past. But what is really going on at the winter palace? As wolves howl in the forests outside, Sophie finds herself drawn into a remarkable adventure.
What could be more appropriate then, than to celebrate the new book with a traditional Russian afternoon tea? The beautiful Mari Vanna restaurant in Knightsbridge made the perfect venue for the launch party, organised by Riot Communications.
The restaurant is richly decorated with a wealth of fascinating and idiosyncratic Russian artefacts, from framed photographs to china ornaments to elaborate samovars to beautifully patterned tiles. Chandeliers gleamed everywhere, and tables were spread with an enticing array of Russian delicacies, from tiny squares of black bread served with herring to perfect little honey cakes and fresh raspberry juice.
Barry Cunningham, Publisher of Chicken House, introduced the book and its author, describing The Wolf Princess as ‘a book you want to hug’. Cathryn Constable spoke briefly about what motivated her to write the book, citing her long-standing love of Russian folk-tales and literature as her inspiration, before reading a tantalising extract from the book itself, in which the girls first arrive at the winter palace and meet the mysterious Princess Anna Volkonskaya.
Afterwards we were all given the chance to try a Russian speciality – black tea served with jam to stir into it, just as Sophie and her friends drink it in the book!
Thanks Riot Communications and Chicken House for a wonderful celebration.