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Back to School with Mystery and History

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It’s that time of year again! September is here and the new term is almost upon us. I know not everyone feels the same way but I love this time of year: picking blackberries, the first crunchy autumn leaves, getting to wrap up in cosy jumpers… and of course buying new stationery for those ‘back to school’ vibes.

Of those of you who are actually going ‘back to school’ in the next week or two – teachers,  you can now find a brand new masterclass for my books on Authorfy – Mystery & History with Katherine Woodfine.

The Peril in Paris masterclass is ideal for KS2 pupils who would enjoy reading about spies, mysteries, daring-do in 1900s Paris, an intrepid sausage dog, and lots of cake! There’s also a KS1 masterclass inspired by Rose’s Dress of Dreams, which we filmed in the gorgeous surroundings of the Victoria and Albert Museum as you can see above. Each masterclass includes videos, extracts and a detailed scheme of work. Find out more here.

There are also lots more free resources on my website that you can access here – including a 3 week lesson plan for The Clockwork Sparrow, posters and activity sheets to download for my books, and much more.

And if you’re interested in booking in a school visit for the new school year, you’re welcome to get in touch: my calendar is currently booked up until May 2019, but please do feel free to contact me here regarding events for the summer term onwards.

Happy back to school season everyone!

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Ten Children’s Books Set in Paris

To celebrate the publication of Taylor & Rose Secret Agents: Peril in Paris, I wanted to share a few more children’s books with a Parisian setting. If you’re planning a trip to the City of Lights – or simply want to imagine yourself there,  here are some recommended reads:

rooftoppersRooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

As a baby, Sophie was discoveed floating in a cello case after a shipwreck on the English Channel. She finds a home in London with her eccentric guardian Charles – but when a child welfare agency threaten to send her to an orphanage instead, the two of them set off to Paris on a quest to find her lost mother. From an attic window, Sophie soon begins exploring the rooftops of Paris with a boy called Matteo and his friends, who have adventures above the busy city streets. Can they help Sophie find her mother before she is caught and sent back to London? This enchanting children’s story is absolutely charming – a deserving winner of the Blue Peter Book Award.

parisupParis Up Up and Away by Helene Druvert

The Eiffel Tower decides to cut loose and fly over the night-time rooftops of Paris in this gorgeous and whimsical illustrated book. Through a series of delicate paper-cuts, Helene Druvert captures all the sights  of the city, from the Seine to the Opera to Notre Dame. There’s something about this book which perfectly evokes the feeling of Paris, making it a really lovely introduction to the city for younger children.

annaAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

One of my favourite young adult romances, this is the tale of American girl Anna, who is not at all happy about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris by her parents. But when she meets the charismatic Étienne St Clair, and everything changes. This is a truly delightful love story that will make you fall in love with both Paris and Étienne along with Anna, and will leave you yearning to stroll around the city streets.

bladeboneBlade and Bone by Catherine Johnson

I’m a huge fan of Catherine Johnson’s historical fiction for children and young adults, and her two books featuring young surgeon Ezra McAdam (the first is Sawbones) are some of my absolute favourites. In this story, Ezra must hasten to Paris to rescue his friend Loveday and her charge Mahmoud, who have been caught up in the Revolution. On his journey, Ezra travels through the battlefields of Northern France, putting his surgical skills to work – but when he finally arrives in Paris, he realises that finding Loveday and Mahmoud will not be easy…

rednecklacwThe Red Necklace by Sally Gardner

Another gripping novel for young adults which is set during the French Revolution, this is an enthralling fantasy with an intriguing cast of characters. Yann is a boy with amazing magical abilities: a brief meeting with Sido, a lonely, shy young heiress will change his life forever. After crossing the sinister Count Kalliovski, Grand Master of a secret society, he finds himself in danger, and must escape to London. But before long he returns to Paris to find out Kalliovski’s darkest deeds – and save Sido from the guillotine…

pariswithyuIn Paris With You by Clementine Beauvais

Inspired by Pushkin’s novel and Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin, this verse novel is definitely one for older young adult readers. A chance meeting aboard the Paris Metro reunites Tatiana and Eugene 10 years after their summer when they were 14 and 17, stirring up all kinds of emotions. What really happened that summer? Could they ever be together after everything that has passed? Beautifully translated from French by Sam Taylor, this is a wonderful, nostalgic and wistful Parisian love story.

madeleineMadeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

‘In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines…’  No list of children’s books set in Paris would be complete without the classic Madeline series of picture books, which are now over 80 years old. Full of charm, the glorious illustrations perfectly evoke a delightfully old-fashioned Paris.

 

Llibertysfireiberty’s Fire by Lydia Syson

Amongst the tummult of Paris in 1871, 16-year-old Zephyrine is lured by the ideals of the city’s new government, and the prospect of freedom, hope and equality. Young musician Anatole is soon swept up with her – but his friends are not too sure. Opera-singer Marie and photographer Jules are uncertain about what life under the Paris Commune will mean for them. Soon all four must the reality – and dangers – of life during a revolution. In this historical novel for young adults, Lydia Syson paints a vivid picture of the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian war and the Paris Commune.

9781783700783William and the Missing Masterpiece by Helen Hancocks

William the detective cat sets out to Paris — ‘the city of art and cheese’ — to solve the mystery of a stolen painting in this delightful picture book. The quirky and colourful artwork is perfect for this hilarious riff on the classic detective tale, featuring mysterious clues, a sinister villain, lots of silly cheese-based puns, and a dramatic final reveal. But as well as being a fun story for children and adults to enjoy together, it’s also a lovely portrait of Paris — complete with art galleries, noisy traffic, stylish fashions and long lunches.

piglettesPiglettes by Clementine Beauvais

This is my second pick from the brilliant French author Clementine Beauvais, and it’s not even really set in Paris, but I couldn’t resist including it as I adored this book. After being voted the three ugliest girls in school by their classmates, the three ‘Piglettes’ – Mireille, Astrid and Hakima – climb aboard their bikes and set off on a summer roadtrip to Paris, with fame and adventure in store. Witty, irreverent and joyful, it’s an absolute treat.

rose-for-newsletterAlthough my list of ten is complete, I want to finish by mentioning some books of my own! Rose’s Dress of Dreams, illustrated by Kate Pankhurst, is my story inspired by Rose Bertin, Marie Antoinette’s dress-maker who is often considered to be the world’s first fashion designer. Young Rose dreams of sewing stunning dresses for the women of Paris, but when a chance encounter with royalty changes her life, Rose must draw on all her skills to create the most breathtaking dress of them all…

 

APinPnd finally, there’s Taylor & Rose Secret Agents: Peril in Paris
which sees young detectives Sophie and Lil setting out on a mission amongst the boulevards and grand hotels of Paris in 1911. But danger lurks beneatht the bright lights of the city – and intrigue and murder lie in store. As aeroplanes soar in the skies overhead, our heroines will need to put all their spy skills to the test to face the peril that awaits them…

 

Do you have a favourite children’s book set in Paris? Let me know in the comments below…!

Edit: if you enjoyed this list then do also check out my other Taylor & Rose inspired booklists:

Two weeks to go until PERIL IN PARIS!

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We’re on the final countdown now until the first book in the TAYLOR & ROSE SECRET AGENTS series, PERIL IN PARIS is officially out in the world!

The cover of the book has had a little tweak and now looks even lovelier than ever – and check out this amazing animated version that Egmont have made!

A post shared by Egmont Publishing UK (@egmontpublishinguk) on


A few early copies have already been sent out to reviewers, bloggers and authors (looking very gorgeous indeed in wrapping paper using Karl James Mountford’s beautiful illustrations) and it’s been very exciting to hear that people are reading and enjoying this brand new adventure for Sophie and Lil.

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If you’d like to preorder a copy, you can do so now from Waterstones, The Hive or Amazon (though I’d always encourage you to buy from Waterstones, The Hive or another high street bookshop if you can – in doing so you’ll help support our wonderful bookshops!)

For anyone attending YALC this weekend, you’ll also find early copies available in the Waterstones bookshop. I’ll be there to sign copies on Friday morning from 11am. I’m also chairing a panel with brilliant YA authors Sara Barnard, Sally Green and Non Pratt at 3pm. If you’re there, make sure you come and say hello (or should that be ‘bonjour’?)

Look out on Twitter and Instagram for all the details of how to win a copy of the book (plus lots of other goodies) from Egmont – and make sure you’re signed up for my author newsletter. The next edition will be hitting your inbox very shortly, and will also you the chance to win the book – as well as a special one-off prize.

Au revoir for now!

Happy book birthday to Rose’s Dress of Dreams!

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My brand new book Rose’s Dress of Dreams is now out in the world – and I couldn’t be more delighted! I’ve had such a wonderful time working with incredible illustrator Kate Pankhurst and the team at publisher Barrington Stoke on this book for the super-readable Little Gems series.

Like my Sinclair’s Mysteries books, Rose’s Dress of Dreams takes inspiration from real-life history. The story is inspired by Rose Bertin, Marie Antoinette’s dressmaker – who is often described as ‘the world’s first fashion designer’, and the creator of haute couture as we know it today.  Here’s a bit more about the book:

Young Rose dreams of sewing stunning dresses for the women of Paris. But when a chance encounter with royalty changes her life, Rose must draw on all her skills to create the most breathtaking dress of them all.

Inspired by the life of Rose Bertin, the woman credited with inventing haute-couture, this is a story to inspire bold girls and boys everywhere.

You can buy a copy now from: Waterstones | The Hive | Amazon

To celebrate the new book’s publication, Barrington Stoke organised a fabulous mini blog tour with special content (including an advance look at some of Kate’s gorgeous illustrations) hosted by an array of lovely bloggers. You can catch up on the tour here:

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1) BookLover Jo: Q&A with Kate Pankhurst

2) Minerva Reads: Video reading from the book

3) Space on the Bookshelf: Some of the images that inspired the book

4) Library Mice: A sneak peek at Chapter 5

5) Almost Amazing Grace: Q&A with me (with extra questions from Year 6 at Shakespeare Junior School in Eastleigh)

If you want to read more about the book, then you could check out this piece I wrote about it for the website Female First and also this piece for Foyles in which I explore the historical background to the book – and the story of the real Rose Bertin – in lots more detail (if you love my ‘Behind the Scenes’ blog posts, then this one is for you!)

You can also of course check out my Rose’s Dress of Dreams Pinterest board, which is crammed with gorgeous images that helped inspire the story.

I’m especially thrilled that Rose’s Dress of Dreams has been selected by Children’s Books Ireland  to be part of their fabulous Bold Girls project, celebrating the centenary of women’s suffrage in Ireland. Bold Girls is highlighting and reviewing books that feature strong, intelligent, self-possessed female protagonists in children’s books – and their Reading Guide features both Rose’s Dress of Dreams, and the anthology Make More Noise! The reading guide is crammed full of loads of brilliant book recommendations, and also celebrates twenty female Irish authors and illustrators, both emerging and established, who have made an exceptional contribution to the canon of Irish children’s literature. You can download it here – as well as lots of other material such as classroom resources and a beautiful poster.

To celebrate the publication of Rose’s Dress of Dreams, I also wrote this piece for them about why I think Rose is a brilliant example of a ‘bold girl’!

Finally for publication week, Barrington Stoke organised a lovely celebration of Rose at the London Book Fair – complete with a special chocolate cake. Sadly I couldn’t go as I was at home with tonsilitis (feeling very sorry for myself!) but I’m so pleased that everyone was there to wish Rose well – and I’m looking forward to more celebrations very soon!

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Announcing Taylor & Rose Secret Agents!

Book cover showing Eiffel Tower, aeroplane and running figures

I’m very excited to share some big news – I’m writing a new quartet of books for Egmont UK!

Taylor & Rose Secret Agents will follow the detective heroines of the Sinclair’s Mysteries, Sophie Taylor and Lil Rose, as they turn their talents to becoming secret agents.

It was while I was researching the Sinclair’s Mysteries that I became aware of the huge popularity of spy novels in the years before World War I, which was also when MI5 and MI6 first began. I’ve always loved a good spy story, so I was excited to take inspiration from classic thrillers and real-life tales of brave and bold female spies, to whisk Sophie and Lil into the exciting and dangerous world of Edwardian espionage!

I’m delighted to be working with Egmont on this new series, which I’m thrilled will be illustrated by Sinclair’s Mysteries illustrator and all-round superstar Karl James Mountford.

We revealed Karl’s glorious cover for the first book, Taylor & Rose Secret Agents: Peril in Paris today (subscribers to my newsletter got to have the very first peek) – isn’t it a stunner?

Here’s a bit more about the book:

ALL ABOARD THE TRAIN TO PARIS!

It’s 1911, and the young detectives of TAYLOR & ROSE are turning their talents to ESPIONAGE.

On their latest case for the mysterious SECRET SERVICE BUREAU, the daring MISS SOPHIE TAYLOR and MISS LILIAN ROSE must leave London for the boulevards and grand hotels of Paris.

But DANGER lurks beneath the bright lights of the city – and INTRIGUE and MURDER lie in store. As aeroplanes soar in the skies overhead, our heroines will need to put all their spy skills to the test to face the PERIL that awaits them…

You can pre-order the book now from Waterstones or Amazon

Thanks to lovely Kirsty at The Overflowing Library, you can also add it on Goodreads.

I’m so excited about the new series, which has been enormous fun to write so far! Stay tuned for more details to come – and if you want to be the first with all the latest books news, don’t forget to sign up to my author newsletter here.