Archive of ‘Little Gems’ category
UPDATED 12/5/20 with some new resources!
I wanted to quickly share a few resources and activities related to my books that might be useful for families and/or schools at the present time. Here’s a list:
The Clockwork Sparrow lesson plans– 3 weeks of activities relating to the first book in the Sinclair’s Mysteries series, ideal for Key Stage 2 (age 8-11)
Mystery & History masterclass – on the Authorfy website you’ll find a masterclass for Peril in Paris, ideal for Key Stage 2 (age 7-11) and a masterclass for Rose’s Dress of Dreams for Key Stage 1 (age 5-7). Each masterclass includes videos, extracts and a detailed scheme of work.
Watch a video – settle down for storytime and watch me read from Peril in Paris or Spies in St Petersburg or check out this live-streamed video interview I did for the Lockdown Children’s Litfest.
Colouring sheets – colour in a Clockwork Sparrow, a Jewelled Moth or a cut-out mask perfect for wearing to a high society fancy-dress ball!
Activities – inspired by Rose’s Dress of Dreams, create your own fabulous fashion design or design a hot air-balloon inspired by Sophie Takes to the Sky. Make your own Peril in Paris luggage tag for going on intrepid adventures.
Puzzles – download and print a Peril in Paris activity sheet with lots of puzzles to solve. Or put your detective skills to the test with this Sinclair’s Mysteries secret code puzzle
Explore Edwardian London – check out an interactive map of the real London locations that inspired the Sinclair’s Mysteries series
Get stuck into some history – Read about the real-life history behind the Sinclair’s Mysteries and Taylor & Rose Secret Agents series
Listen to a podcast about children’s books – listen to my podcast Down the Rabbit Hole which is all about children’s books. There are 70 episodes in our archive featuring authors, illustrators and children’s experts, with new episodes each month – you can also find us on Apple Podcasts.
… And don’t forget – if you fancy something cheerful to read, you can download my new Taylor & Rose mini adventure Secrets on the Shore as an e-book. It’s only £1.99 – links to buy here.
You can also of course download the wonderful Book of Hopes for free which includes stories, poems and illustrations by a whole host of children’s authors and illustrators – including me!
I’ll keep this page updated with any new resources: you can also check out the page on my website here.
Do be sure to check out all your favourite authors and illustrators for lots more book related content – there’s so much fantastic stuff out there at the moment. Look for the hashtag #BooksUnited on Twitter as a starting point. I’m also posting useful and cheerful things I find on my Instagram – you can find me here (see the highlighted story Cheering Stuff)
My latest book for Barrington Stoke’s super-readable Little Gems series, Sophie Takes to the Sky is out today!
Like my previous book, Rose’s Dress of Dreams, it’s inspired by a historical heroine – in this case, one of the first female aeronauts, Sophie Blanchard. In this reimagining of Sophie’s childhood, we discover where Sophie’s passion for flight might have originally begun. Here’s a bit more about the book:
Scaredy-Cat Sophie is afraid of everything! So when a balloonist comes to the town fair, Sophie is left behind while everyone else goes to watch him fly in his marvellous balloon. She’s far too frightened of the crowds, the commotion and even riding in a horse-drawn carriage.
But Sophie longs to watch the hot-air balloon sail across the blue sky. If she could just be brave enough to face her fears, who knows where her journey might take her … A touching tale for young readers of learning to overcome anxiety and follow your dreams.
I’m thrilled that this book has been gorgeously illustrated by Briony May Smith. I’m a huge fan of Briony’s artwork, and her illustrations for Sophie Takes to the Sky are so full of atmosphere – they perfectly conjour up the setting of this story. What a delight!
If you’d like a little taster of the book, you can check out the first chapter here
You can also download a gorgeous poster with one of Briony’s stunning illustrations (see below) or a colouring sheet to design your own hot air-balloon
Take a look at my Pinterest board showing some of the visual inspirations for Sophie’s story
And of course you can buy the book now via Waterstones | The Hive | Amazon
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!
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:
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!
I’m so excited to be able to share the news that I’ve written a book for Barrington Stoke, which will be illustrated by Kate Pankhurst!
Rose’s Dress of Dreams is based on the real-life story of Rose Bertin – a remarkable pioneer of fashion at the court of Marie Antoinette. Here’s how the Barrington Stoke team described 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.
As soon as I discovered Rose’s story, I was captivated by the idea of this determined young girl, forging a new path for herself – and going on to change the course of fashion history. I had a lot of fun writing about her and researching the fabulous fashions of 18th century France.
Rose’s Dress of Dreams will be part of Barrington Stoke’s Little Gems list, which they describe as ‘chapter books designed for little readers who still have their ‘L-plates’ on. Each captivating story from a well-known author is fully illustrated to help picture book fans make the jump into reading fiction. There’s fun and games hidden in the jacket flaps, and it is all wrapped up in a package that’s perfect for little hands.’
I’ve long been an admirer of Barrington Stoke – an award-winning publisher of super readable books accessible to young people with dyslexia or reading reluctance – so I’m really excited about this project. I’m also thrilled to be working with Kate Pankhurst, creator of the Mariella Mystery Investigates series and the truly fantastic Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World. I can’t wait to see how she’s going to bring the story – and Rose’s stunning Paris fashions – to life with her artwork.
Rose’s Dress of Dreams will be published in April 2018 – preorder links to follow shortly. More information about the book can be found here.