Follow the Yellow

Archive of ‘children’s books’ category

Down the Rabbit Hole Episode 3: YA special


Following YALC, what else could July’s Down the Rabbit Hole be but a YA special?

We were joined in the studio by YA authors Sarra Manning and James Dawson (the newly appointed UK ‘Queen of Teen’) and Sarra’s dog, the divine Miss Betsy, to discuss three new books for teenagers – Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan, She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick and City of Halves by Lucy Inglis.

The episode also featured an interview with the amazing Rainbow Rowell and of course, a report from YALC, featuring author Matt Haig.

Listen below, check out the Down the Rabbit Hole Tumblr for a list of all the books we discussed, or take a look at the Down the Rabbit Hole Twitter feed for some gratuitous pictures of the dog.

Down The Rabbit Hole – 29th July 2014 by Resonance Fm on Mixcloud

And here’s the full version of Melissa’s interview with Rainbow Rowell, which features such delights as cheese, Tunnocks teacakes, and why she envies our ‘melancholy British lifestyles’:

Down the Rabbit Hole is taking a break in August but we’ll be back in September for our next show!

YALC in Pictures

I didn’t get round to posting about YALC straight after the weekend itself… mainly because I was too busy lying down, wondering whether my legs would ever work normally again!

But in spite of the total exhaustion that followed, YALC was a completely incredible experience. Lots of people have written brilliant blog posts about it, but I’m sort of struggling to sum it up in words, other than to say it was one of the most amazing weekends EVER. Here’s a few of my favourite photographs from the event (most of these were taken by our awesome YALC photographer Rowan Spray though a few are from social media):



Malorie meeting young fans!


 Author and cosplay queen Lucy Saxon signing books



YALC cakes for our author party, provided by the Bluebell Kitchen


 Check out the size of that audience!


Newly-appointed Queen of Teen James Dawson had his crown on for the occasion



 Our YALC wall of books – possibly the most photographed part of the Book Zone


 Spidey catches up on his social media


Love this one: selfie time with Holly Smale


I’m not sure what Anthony McGowan has just said here, but it’s certainly made Meg Rosoff, Matt Haig and David Maybury laugh



 Let’s look at that audience again


Authors assemble!


A few favourite ‘behind the scenes’ pictures


Me and Malorie at the YALC party


 The beautiful Tatty Devine ‘Fangirl’ necklace that the YALC Committee gave me

And here’s the video that our filmmaker Hector Dockrill made to capture the YALC experience:

You can also watch a selection of the YALC panel discussions in full on the Booktrust Youtube channel here

There are tons of brilliant blog posts and articles about YALC online, but I have to mention this one in which I chatted to Fiz Osbourne on her blog POP about the whole experience, and of course, Malorie’s vlog about the event:

I have absolutely loved reading all the blogs and tweets about the event. The response to YALC has been so amazing – from the outpouring of enthusiasm on social media, to the coverage everywhere from the Guardian to the Telegraph to the Bookseller to the Today programme, to the support of so many authors, bloggers and industry folk.

It was has been brilliant hearing everyone’s feedback after the event – there’s obviously a lot we can learn and a lot we can improve if we are able to continue it in future, but overall, we were so delighted that the first ever YALC was such a roaring success.  Next job… find a way to make YALC 2015 happen!

Down the Rabbit Hole Episode 2: Picture Book Special


Melissa, Ed and Nadia modelling some picture books for Episode 2

Episode 2 of Down the Rabbit Hole was dedicated to all things picture book, to celebrate the 2014 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.

We were joined by special guests Ed Vere and Nadia Shireen to discuss the books on the 2014 Greenaway shortlist, and also had two particularly exciting feature interviews – one with Greenaway winner Jon Klassen, and the other with picture book royalty Shirley Hughes!

Have a listen to the episode on SoundCloud below or check out a list of all the books we discussed on the Down the Rabbit Hole Tumblr.

Down The Rabbit Hole – 24th June 2014 by Resonance Fm on Mixcloud

And you can also listen to the full version of Louise’s interview with Shirley Hughes below:

Introducing… The Clockwork Sparrow!

Scone and ginger beer

I’m thrilled to be able to share the exciting news that I’m going to be publishing my first children’s book next year, with Egmont Books!

The Clockwork Sparrow is the first in an adventure series set in the Edwardian era, which is inspired by some of the classic children’s writing that I love best, such as E. Nesbit and Frances Hodgson Burnett. (If you’ve been following me on Pinterest you might have already spotted that all things Edwardian have been preoccupying me of late.)

Here’s a bit of information from Egmont’s announcement, which came on the first day of this year’s London Book Fair:

Set in a luxurious department store which evokes Selfridges in its heyday, the first book, The Clockwork Sparrow, follows the adventures of recently orphaned Sophie, a shop girl at the newly opened Sinclair’s Department Store in London. Just as she’s settling into her new life, a priceless object is stolen, a young man is attacked and Sophie is implicated in the crime.

The Clockwork Sparrow is the perfect upper middle-grade read for fans of Enid Blyton, Chris Riddell and Eva Ibbotson and combines mystery, adventure and friendship with a sumptuous Edwardian setting.

Egmont won World English rights for two books in a four-publisher auction. The Clockwork Sparrow will publish in the second half of 2015 and a second book will follow less than a year later.

Fiction editorial director Ali Dougal said, ‘The Clockwork Sparrow is an absolute joy of a book, transporting the reader to a world of heady glamour offset by a murky criminal underground. It’s an irresistible mix of Mr Selfridge and Nancy Drew. Children will adore the cast of exceptionally likeable characters and spirited heroines.’

I’m over the moon that the book has found (with the help of my brilliant agent Louise Lamont) such a wonderful home at Egmont, who also publish Lemony Snicket, Michael Morpurgo, David Levithan, Elizabeth Wein, Andy Stanton and lots of other excellent children’s authors. You can read more about the announcement on book trade news websites Book2Book and The Bookseller.

I was especially delighted to have the book compared to the work of some of my absolutely favourite children’s writers, Chris Riddell and Eva Ibbotson, and the nods to Nancy Drew and Enid Blyton were the cherry on the cake.

Although the book won’t be on the shelves until the second half of next year, I’ll be sharing a few highlights of the journey to publication here. There’s lots of hard work ahead, but for now I’m raising a glass (of what else but ginger beer?) to toast The Clockwork Sparrow.

On the radio



In the studio! Me (with mic for head), Tanya, Alex and Laura

As you know, last week my children’s book radio show, Down the Rabbit Hole, took to the airwaves on Resonance 104.4FM! You can listen to it here:

Down The Rabbit Hole – 18th February 2014 by Resonance Fm on Mixcloud

The idea for Down the Rabbit Hole originally came about following the recent discussions about the lack of proper coverage of children’s books in the media. Even though children’s books account for almost a fourth of all book sales in the UK, they receive only a tiny proportion of media coverage compared to books for adults. That has always seemed extraordinary to me – not just because so many families are interested in children’s books, but also because they are such rich artworks in their own right – and just as worthy of ‘proper’ discussion as adult literature.

The opportunity to do the show came about when arts radio station Resonance FM offered up one of their Clear Spot sessions, which are set aside for experimenting with new programme ideas. I’m a big fan of Resonance, who have a hugely diverse and interesting programme, and they seemed the ideal home for a deeper discussion of children’s literature.

I had envisioned the show as being a bit like BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, but exclusively for children’s books, so my first job was to find a panel to discuss a selection of books with me. Happily, I was lucky enough to find four brilliant and enthusiastic speakers to be involved –Tanya Byrne, Melissa Cox, Laura Dockrill and Alex T Smith.

Next up, we needed an interesting selection of new children’s and teenage books to discuss. These are the titles we talked about in detail in the programme:

  • Meet the Parents by Peter Bently and Sara Ogilvie (Simon & Schuster)
  • Squishy McFluff: The Invisible Cat by Pip Jones and Ella Okstad (Faber Children’s Books) – check out the trailer we played on the show here
  • Jane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault (Walker Books)
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • The Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy (Puffin Books)

Feature items were provided by Nikesh Shukla, who gamely became our ‘roving reporter’ and interviewed graphic novelists the Etherington Brothers in Bristol; the Hot Key Books team, who gave us a peep behind the scenes into children’s publishing; and agent extraordinaire Louise Lamont, who offered up her tips on how aspiring children’s writers and illustrators could attract an agent’s attention (with added Antonio Banderas).

I was also lucky enough to have contributions from the likes of Philip Ardagh, Liz Pichon, Tom Moorhouse and James Dawson, who generously shared their thoughts on ‘the book they would give to their 10-year-old self’ as part of the campaign to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.

Recording the show was a bit nerve-racking – I’d done one ‘down the line’ radio interview before, but never set foot in a proper recording studio, and I was feeling a bit anxious as we sat in a Southwark cafe chatting before the pre-recording session. Thankfully I had an exceptional bunch of speakers at my side and Resonance were welcoming and made the technical side super easy for us. The recording session ended up being really good fun and we could happily have gone on for another hour, chatting about our favourite spreads from Jane, the Fox and Me, listening to Laura read from her new book Darcy Burdock: Hi So Much, talking about why The Worst Witch is so brilliant, and discussing what books we’d have given to our 10-year-old selves.

Louise having her 'Evita' moment: the panel getting ready in the studio

Louise having her ‘Evita’ moment: the panel getting ready in the studio

It was far more nerve-wracking listening to the broadcast when it went out on Tuesday night – but hearing all the generous and supportive feedback from listeners on Twitter was absolutely brilliant. The hugely positive response to the show on Tuesday (and again on Wednesday morning when the show was repeated) proved to me without any doubt that there’s an appetite for more discussion of children’s books of this kind – not just from authors, illustrators and the industry, but also amongst teachers, librarians, parents and the general public. It was lovely to see tweets like these ones:


There have been some great blog posts about the show, including these lovely ones from author Susie Day, and blog Good for Your Soul. I also love this one from Louise about taking part, in which she describes me as ‘the Mickey Rooney of children’s books in the media’ (I think that’s a compliment?)

Huge thanks to everyone who took part in the show, to Resonance, and to everyone who tuned in. We hope to find a way to continue the show, so if you enjoyed it do share your feedback by leaving a comment or tweeting with the hashtag #DownTheRabbitHole.