Follow the Yellow

Archive of ‘children’s books’ category

The Sinclair’s Mysteries are coming to Germany

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Say hello to Kaufhaus der Träume (Department Store of Dreams)! Das Rätsel um den verschwundenen Spatz (aka The Clockwork Sparrow) will be published in Germany by Ravensburger on 27 August.

It’s been translated into German by Katharina Orgaß, and the illustrator is Alessandra Fusi. I love how different the cover is from the UK and US edition of The Clockwork Sparrow, whilst being just as gorgeous with its luscious Edwardian fashions and delicate Art Nouveau-inspired detail. How lucky am I to have another incredibly lovely cover?!

Pre-order Kaufhaus der Träume, Band 1: Das Rätsel um den verschwundenen Spatz or find out more on the Ravensburger website.

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My Reading Place

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This week is Independent Bookshop Week! Celebrations will be taking place in bookshops all around the country, so make sure you visit your local indie – I popped into one of my favourites, award-winning Storytellers Inc in the seaside town of St Annes, earlier this week.

As part of this year’s activities, the Independent Bookshop Week organisers are asking people to share their favourite reading spots online, using the hashtag #myreadingplace. Normally my favourite reading place would be at home (probably tucked up in bed, if I’m honest!) but at the moment, I’m staying at my mum’s house and (in between the rain storms) her lovely sunny garden, above, has been the perfect reading spot for me this week.

So what exactly have I been reading in this very nice spot? First up, The Guggenheim Mystery by my author pal Robin Stevens – this is the sequel to Siobhan Dowd’s wonderful The London Eye Mystery. As anyone who has read The Painted Dragon will already know, I love an art-themed mystery – and this story centres around the mysterious theft of a priceless Kandinsky painting from New York’s famous Guggenheim. It’s a captivating mystery, and Robin has done an incredible job of continuing Siobhan’s story, in particular capturing the distinctive voice of narrator Ted Sparks. It’s not published until August so there’s a little while to wait yet (this book is an early ‘proof’ copy that I was lucky enough to be sent by Puffin) but fans of Robin’s work are in for a real treat.

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The cover by David Dean also needs a special mention  – what a beauty. And I was VERY thrilled to see a familiar name pop up on p 235!

I’ve talked a lot about how much I love the Lockwood & Co books by the brilliant Jonathan Stroud. The last book in the series is out in October and I can’t wait! In the meantime I’m catching up with his previous Bartimaeus books, starting with The Amulet of Samarkand. I’m astonished I haven’t read these before –  they are witty, intriguing and completely enchanting. It’s no wonder Diana Wynne Jones herself gave them the thumbs up!

On the subject of firm favourites, I’ve been re-reading some of my much-loved Eva Ibbotson books. Eva Ibbotson is one of my all-time favourite children’s writers and her books are always full of warmth and heart. If you want to find out a bit more about her you can read this recent piece from the Telegraph. I’ve just read her gorgeous The Dragonfly Pool  all over again.

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Next up, a magical treat – Dragon Rider and its sequel The Griffin’s Feather by Cornelia Funke. Although I’ve read lots of Cornelia’s books before, I’d never read Dragon Rider, though I knew that it was beloved by readers all over the world. When I saw that Chicken House were republishing the book and its sequel, with gorgeous new covers by Laura Ellen Anderson, I was excited to dive in! These books are such a delight, with their magical creatures, exciting adventures and a great hero in dragon rider Ben and his silver dragon Firedrake. You’ll find the new editions in bookshops next month (and I’m also very excited to be chairing a special event with Cornelia Funke at Waterstones Piccadilly on 17th July – find out more here).

I haven’t started it yet, but next on my reading list is The Explorer by Katherine Rundell. I love Katherine’s beautiful books, and this new one sounds glorious – an adventure set in the jungle, which itself is partly inspired by one of my favourite Eva Ibbotson books, Journey to the River Sea. It’s published in August, so be sure to look out for it in bookshops then!

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Pop over to the Independent Bookshop Week website to check out a Q&A with me, featuring picture books, where I write, and the importance of good writing snacks!

Hope you’re enjoying Independent Bookshop Week – drop me a comment to let me know what you’ve been reading!

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Two prize shortlists!

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I’m delighted that my books have popped up on two fabulous prize shortlists! First up is the Independent Bookshop Week 2017 Children’s Book Award. I’m so excited that The Painted Dragon has been shortlisted for this award, alongside a host of wonderful children’s books (see above) – thank you so much booksellers and judges! There are two other award categories – one for an adult book, and one for a children’s picture book – and you can check out all the shortlists on the Independent Bookshop Week website here. The winners of all three categories will be announced on 23 June, just before this year’s Independent Bookshop Week kicks off.

Secondly, I’m thrilled that The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth has been shortlisted for CrimeFest’s Gala Awards 2017. This is the first year that CrimeFest have had a children’s category to their awards, and the prize will recognise the contribution novels for children make to the crime genre – hurrah! A new YA crime category has been introduced too, and there are lots of my favourites on both lists. The winners will be announced at a dinner in May: find out more about CrimeFest and their awards here. Thank you so much to the judges for selecting Jewelled Moth for the shortlist!

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Behind the Scenes: Exploring London with the Sinclair’s Mysteries Map!

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London map, 1900

When I started writing The Clockwork Sparrow, I knew that London was going to be a hugely important part of the Sinclair’s Mysteries. I started writing the first book not long after moving to London, and I wanted to take inspiration from my own experiences of living in the city, as well as the real history of London in the 1900s, and weave this into the world of the books.

I’ve spent lots of time walking around London, exploring everywhere from the glitzy shops, restaurants and theatres of the West End (including of course, the department stores that helped inspire Sinclair‘s) to the former docklands of the East, which plays such an important part in The Jewelled Moth. I’ve wandered the streets of Bloomsbury, where art school the Spencer Institute appears in The Painted Dragon, and the twisty streets of the City, where mysterious gentlemen’s club Wyvern House can be found. I’ve enjoyed spotting all kinds of traces of the old Edwardian city which still exist in the fabric of modern-day London – from the intriguing ‘ghost signs’ that you can still see on some old buildings, to 1900s lamp-posts, and even pubs like the Lady Ottoline, named for Edwardian society hostess Lady Ottoline Morrell.

I’ve looked at  maps,  photographs, and even travel-guides to London from the 1900s. I wanted to be able to imagine as vividly as I could what it might have felt like for my characters, as they walked around London’s streets over 100 years ago. And although most of the places in the books are fictional, they are very much inspired by the real places and spaces of the city that I’ve explored and found out about.

With this in mind, I’ve created a new interactive map, with lots more about the real life places that inspired some of the most important locations in the Sinclair’s Mysteries. You can read more about it over on the Egmont blog – or click on a pin to start exploring the map.

Check out my other ‘Behind the Scenes’ posts exploring the historical background of the Sinclair’s Mysteries

The Painted Dragon on tour

One of the funny thing about being a writer is that after a lot of time sitting by yourself working on a book, once it finally makes its way out into the world, it’s time to do the exact opposite. That means putting on clothes that aren’t pyjamas or very old tracksuit bottoms, and doing challenging things like leaving the house and speaking to other people. Specifically it means heading out on the road for lots of events, meeting readers at schools, in bookshops and at festivals – and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing over the last month or so, since The Painted Dragon hit bookshelves in February…

It all began with a special mystery-themed half-term event at Waterstones Piccadilly. Officer Stephen welcomed us all and announced that Lord Waterstones’s valuable painting had been mysteriously stolen from the store – and there were a number of sinister suspects who could be responsible for the theft. Luckily some young detectives were on the case, and got to work finding clues around the shop, cracking codes and assessing the evidence to discover ‘whodunnit’! I was there to help with the mystery-solving – as well as reading from The Painted Dragon and signing some books, of course.

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Officer Stephen and detectives

Next up was an author event at the LSE Literary Festival. I was so pleased to meet such a crowd of readers (the room was packed) who had the chance to put their own detective skills to the test, as well as to dress up in my array of Edwardian hats.

On World Book Day, we headed to Waterstones Kensington for our first ever Down the Rabbit Hole Live event! We were joined by three amazing children’s authors – Abi Elphinstone, Cathryn Constable and Piers Torday – to discuss writing and the power of the imagination. We even had a go at crowd-sourcing a story with the help of the children in the audience. You can listen to some of the audio from the event on the DTRH website here (and check out some news on another forthcoming DTRH Live coming up at the Hay Festival in May).

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At Waterstones Kensington

Next it was time to visit some schools! I kicked things off with a visit to South Hampstead Junior School, to help them celebrate World Book Day – and then it was time to hit the road for the official Painted Dragon schools tour.

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At King Edward VI Handsworth School – photo by Annie Everall

Lovely Annie Everall from Authors Aloud had organised the tour, which began in Birmingham with a visit to King Edward VI Handsworth school. From then we went on to Wolverhampton Grammar School and Sibford School, followed by a book-signing at Blackwell’s Oxford – plus a wonderful tour of the rare books collection. I especially enjoyed peeping in at the ‘Gaffer’s Room’ .

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More tour photos by Annie Everall

Next were Eltham School, Prendergast Ladywell School, Bute House and Beaconsfield High School. It was a crazy, jam-packed week but it’s always fun to visit schools and meet lots of pupils, teachers and school librarians – Annie and I had a great time.

Back in London, I teamed up with Mystery Girl extraordinaire Robin Stevens for a special event at the Daunt Books Festival – complete with cupcakes! I loved chatting to Robin about her fabulous Murder Most Unladylike series and meeting many mystery fans after the event.

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Robin and I in wonderful Daunt Books

Robin and I were back together very soon afterwards for the Mountains to Sea Festival in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin. This time we were joined by a gang of brilliant children’s authors – Jo Cotterill, Dave Rudden and Jonathan Stroud – for two really fun panel events chaired by Little Island Press’s Grainne Clear. I love doing panel events: it’s always so fascinating to hear other writers talk about their books, what inspires them, and how they write. Highlights of these events included debating what superpowers we’d each choose, and seeing how many pens we could put in Dave’s beard (spoiler: it was loads). Off-stage, we had fun hanging out with festival programmer Sarah Webb and the other visiting authors who were in town at the same time, including Eoin Colfer and Chris Riddell. I especially loved exploring Dun Laoghaire and its fabulous library.

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A few highlights from Mountains to Sea

Before heading home, I whizzed over to Salford for a visit to The Lowry for the Salford Children’s Book Awards! I was so delighted to be shortlisted for the 2017 prize, and to have the chance to meet and chat to lots of Sinclair’s Mysteries fans from Salford schools at the event.

Now that Painted Dragon is well and truly launched, it’s back to my writing desk (and tracksuit bottoms) for a little while – well, until the next round of events, anyway!

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