Follow the Yellow

Announcing… Villains in Venice!


It’s time to reveal the title and cover for the third book in the Taylor & Rose Secret Agents series! I’m thrilled to present Villains in Venice!

The gorgeous cover for this new Italian adventure for Sophie and Lil has once again been illustrated by the marvellous Karl James Mountford – doesn’t it look stunning?

In the follow up to Spies in St Petersburg, Sophie and Lil’s adventures will be taking them to the winding streets and canals of wintertime Venice. Here’s a little more about the book:

After the dramatic events of their mission to St Petersburg, Sophie and Lil know the truth – there’s a double-agent at work at the Secret Service Bureau.

Whilst Lil pursues a dangerous line of enquiry in London, Sophie must set out on a new mission to Venice, following a twisted trail to discover long-buried secrets. But there are villains lurking amongst the city’s piazzas, canals and crumbling palaces, and in the shadows an old enemy lies in wait…

Villains in Venice will be published by Egmont in August 2020 – but you can pre-order your copy now from Waterstones.

A Dancer’s Dream


I’m thrilled that my very exciting new project has just been announced! A Dancer’s Dream is going to be a gorgeous full-colour gift book, illustrated by the incredible Lizzy Stewart.

The story is inspired by the real story of the first performance of the classic ballet The Nutcracker – and if you’ve read the anthology Winter Magic, you’ll recognise it! The short story I originally wrote for this collection has now been transformed into a beautiful book in it’s own right. Here’s a little more about it:

In a snowy St Petersburg, a little girl called Stana longs to play the role of Clara in Tchaikovsky’s new ballet, The Nutcracker. But when Stana’s dream comes true, and with all eyes on her, she must overcome her nerves and dance like she’s never danced before…

I loved ballet growing up and have such fond memories of going to see The Nutcracker at Christmas. It hs been wonderful to tell the story of the first dancer ever to play the part of Clara – and even more special to see it transformed into an illustrated book with glorious new artwork from Lizzy Stewart. I’ve long been an admirer of Lizzy’s work and her gorgeous illustrations for this story are absolutely enchanting – the above is just a tiny sneak peek at what you can expect from this beautiful-looking book.

A Dancer’s Dream is part of a new boutique line of colour gift books which Simon & Schuster have launched, beginning with Abi Elphinstone and Fiona Woodcock’s The Snow Dragon.

It won’t be out until October 2020 (just in time for Christmas!) but you can preorder it now from Waterstones.

The real inspiration for Sophie Takes to the Sky

Sophie Blanchard shown in an 1859 engraving by Jules Porreau

My second book for Barrington Stoke’s super-readable Little Gems series, Sophie Takes to the Sky, is inspired by a real-life heroine from history – Sophie Blanchard, who is often described as the world’s first female aeronaut. She was the first woman to work as a professional balloonist, and she became famous all over Europe for her amazing exploits.

Born near La Rochelle in France in 1778, Sophie was reportedly a very nervous child, who was frightened of loud noises and too afraid even to ride in a horse-drawn carriage. When I first read about her, I was fascinated by how this easily-scared and timid young girl could have gone on to become an intrepid pioneer of aviation – which gave me the central idea for my book.

Not much is known about Sophie Blanchard’s real-life childhood, although historians think that she probably had her first ride in a hot-air balloon aged around sixteen (for the purposes of my story, I imagined a secret ballooning adventure which could have happened when she was even younger!) However, when she married Jean-Pierre Blanchard, the world’s first professional balloonist, she joined him in his ballooning career, and from this time onwards, there is lots more detail about her adventures.

Sophie began joining Jean-Pierre on balloon flights in 1804, and described the feeling of flying as ‘an incomparable sensation’. Although not the first woman to fly in a hot air balloon, she was certainly groundbreaking, becoming the first woman to pilot a balloon herself, and the first to make ballooning her career.

The couple continued to fly together until 1809, when her husband died after suffering a heart attack and falling from his balloon. After his death, Sophie continued to work as a balloonist, giving displays all around Europe, which frequently drew huge crowds. She entertained the Emperor Napoleon, and later King Louis XVIII, who appointed her his ‘Official Aeronaut’.  She became known for her daring night-time flights, for letting fireworks off from her balloon, and for intrepid adventures like flying her balloon through storms, or even over the Alps, where it was so cold that icicles formed on her hands and face!

But ballooning was very dangerous. Sophie was in several accidents, and eventually died in 1819 when her balloon caught fire at the Tivoli Gardens in Paris. After she died, a memorial was erected above her grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery. The story of her death was recounted throughout Europe, and can be found referenced in the writings of Jules Vernes, Fyodor Dostoevksy and Charles Dickens among others. Today, she is remembered as a pioneer of aviation and a bold adventurer.

Here’s a little more about my story, in which I’ve imagined what Sophie’s childhood might have been like.

sophieSophie Takes to the Sky by Katherine Woodfine, illustrated by Briony May Smith

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.

Illustrated by Briony May Smith, this is a reimagining of the childhood of Sophie Blanchard, one of the world’s first female aeronauts.

‘A super-readable story, imbued with wonder’- Imogen Russell Williams, The Guardian

‘A wonderful adventure for a little girl who overcomes all her fears… a charming story that will encourage all readers to be brave’ – Julia Eccleshare, LoveReading4Kids

‘A touching story of courage and self-belief’ – Fiona Noble, The Bookseller

‘The true story of balloonist Sophie Blanchard is beautifully retold… this special book reminds us that huge bravery and great feats often begin with little steps’ – Children’s Books Ireland, Mind Yourself reading guide.

Buy it now from Waterstones, or Amazon

Find out more about the real-life heroines that have inspired my other Little Gems titles: Rose’s Dress of Dreams and Elisabeth and the Box of Colours

Awesomely Austen: Pride & Prejudice


My latest book, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is published today – hooray!

Here’s a little bit about it:

Part of the Awesomely Austen series, this is a fresh, funny and accessible retelling of Jane Austen’s best-known story, with witty black and white illustrations throughout.

Elizabeth Bennet is the second eldest in a family of five daughters. Although their mother is very keen to see them all married to wealthy men, Elizabeth is determined that she will only ever marry for love.

At a ball, Elizabeth meets Mr Darcy, who at first she believes is proud and haughty. But perhaps there is more to him than first meets the eye…

I’ve been a huge fan of Jane Austen ever since I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice aged 12. That year my best Christmas presents were a hardback copy of the book, plus a video cassette of the BBC TV adaptation starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth as Elizabeth and Darcy. I watched it so many times I could recite it by heart! My friend Felicity and I were so obsessed we even used to write each other long letters in the characters of Jane (me) and Elizabeth (her).

Given this I was very excited when Hachette Children’s Books asked me if I’d be interested in writing a retelling of Pride and Prejudice for a young audience. The new Awesomely Austen series is illustrated by the brilliant Églantine Ceulemans, with each book retold by a different author. Here’s a little peek at some of Églantine’s fabulous art:

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In two weeks the #AWESOMELYAUSTEN will be out! Jane Austen’s fantastic stories retold by the awesome @followtheyellow (Katherine Woodfine), @katybirchallauthor and @narinderdhami , published by @hachettekids 🥰 and illustrated by me :) Also thank you to my lovely agents who made this project possible @plum_agency @hannahlwhitty 💚 . . . #janeausten #art #design #illustration #retold #janeaustenfan #janeaustenbooks #kidlit #books #childrensbooksmatter #illustrationdaily #feminism #women #strongwomen #watercolor

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Hello there! Here is a little sneak peek from the #awesomelyausten retold by @katybirchallauthor @followtheyellow and @narinderdhami by @hachettekids They will be out the 17th of October! . . . #janeausten #kidlit #art #drawing #illustration #books #bookmatter #fictionbooks #watercolor #blackandwhite #dessin #family #feminism #emmajaneausten #prideandprejudice #persuasion

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The first three books – Emma, told by Katy Birchall, Persuasion told by Narinder Dhami, and Pride and Prejudice by me – are out now, and you can look out for three more Awesomely Austen titles next year. It’s the perfect way to discover Austen for the first time!

Buy Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice now from Waterstones | The Hive | Amazon

Sophie Takes to the Sky


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