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Happy book birthday, Quest!

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Hooray hooray – the Aarhus 39 anthologies are published today! Quest edited by Daniel Hahn and published by Alma Books features a selection of children’s stories from the Aarhus 39 – including my new story ‘Between the Trees’ which has been gorgeously illustrated by Joel Stewart.

‘Between the Trees’ is a historical story but has a rather different setting to my other books. It takes us back to the English Civil War – not a period we see often in contemporary children’s books, though I remember being completely fascinated by the classic story The Children of the New Forest as a child. Forests and woods have an important part to play in this story, which is about an unexpected meeting between two very different characters, Isabella and Meg, who are both on different journeys of their own.

Quest also features lots more stories from amazing writers like Katherine Rundell, Laura Dockrill and Maria Turtschaninoff, illustrated by some of Europe’s leading children’s illustrators.  Odyssey is a companion book for teenage and young adult readers, featuring more stories from Aarhus 39 writers.

Teachers can find some classroom resources for both books on the Hay Festival website here – and there’s also a chance to enter an amazing illustration competition, for the chance to win tickets to join us and attend the international children’s literature festival taking place in Aarhus, Denmark, in October of this year!

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Announcing Aarhus 39

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I’m so excited to be able to share the news that I’ve been selected as one of the Aarhus 39!

At the London Book Fair last week, the Hay Festival announced that 39 children’s and YA writers from around Europe aged 40 and under have been chosen to take part in this amazing new project for European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017 – and I’m delighted to be one of them.

The other UK authors on the list include the brilliant Katherine Rundell, Laura Dockrill and BR Collins, as well as multi-award-winning superstar Sarah Crossan, representing the UK and Ireland. There are lots more amazing writers included too from all around Europe – some whose work I’m already familiar with, like Maria Turschaninoff who wrote the amazing Maresi, but lots who I am excited to discover. I’m tremendously grateful to the judges for selecting me to be part of such an inspiring list!

As part of the project, we’ve each been commissioned to write an original story on the theme of ‘Journey’. Two anthologies of the stories, edited by Daniel Hahn, will be published later this year, both in English (by Alma Books) and in Danish by Gyldendal. The two English language anthologies – Quest (aimed at children age 8+) and Odyssey (for young adults) – will be launched in May at the Hay Festival.

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The anthologies will also feature drawings from some of the world’s leading illustrators, including Barroux, Britta Teckentrup, Dave McKean, Satoshi Kitamura, Axel Scheffler, Benji Davies, Chris Riddell and many more. I’m thrilled that my own story has been illustrated by the amazing Joel Stewart – his illustrations are absolutely magical.In October we’ll all be off to Denmark for the inaugral International Children’s Literature Festival in Aarhus – and I can’t wait! I’m especially pleased to be part of this project at a time when it feels more important than ever to be building positive relationships across Europe, and I’m really looking forward to the chance to learn more about children’s books across the continent. Many thanks to Hay Festival and Aarhus!

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