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!
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 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.
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!
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 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.
World Book Day is just around the corner – and if you’re looking for a book-themed fancy dress outfit, why not dress as Sophie, Lil or one of the characters from the Sinclair’s Mysteries?
I’ve seen some amazing Sinclair’s costumes over the last few years – if you fancy having a go at creating one yourself, try out one of these quick and easy ideas, using things you’ll probably already have in your wardrobe (or maybe your dressing-up box!)
As she approached, her heart began to thump, and she put up a hand to check that her hat, with its blue ribbon bow, was at exactly the right angle, and that her hair was not coming down.
To dress as Sophie, wear a long, dark-coloured skirt; a blouse with a lace collar; and a straw hat with a ribbon round it. Sophie usually wears her hair pinned up. You could maybe add a green bead necklace like the one Sophie often wears – or perhaps a magnifying glass for spotting clues!
She was wearing a hat wreathed in poppies and she had a crimson scarf at her neck.
Lil might wear glamorous clothes when she’s performing in the theatre, but for normal life, she’d wear an outfit very similar to Sophie’s. Lil usually wears her long hair down. She also loves bright colours, so you might want to add a colourful scarf, or put some brightly-coloured flowers around her hat.
He was wearing the Sinclair’s porters’ uniform – trim, dark blue trousers, a matching jacket with a double row of brass buttons and a peaked hat – but the jacket looked a bit too big for him, the trousers a bit short, and the hat was askew…
Create your own version of Billy’s Sinclair’s department store uniform with a dark-coloured jacket and trousers, plus maybe a cap. As a shop porter, Billy will need some brown-paper parcels or boxes to carry – and of course, a notebook and pencil for making a note of any mysterious goings-on!
Working in the Sinclair’s stables, Joe tends to be more casually dressed than Billy. Wear a shirt, some trousers, a flat cap and perhaps some braces – but most importantly of all, make sure you’ve got a toy dog by your side to be Daisy the faithful Sinclair’s guard-dog.
A champagne glass was in his hand, and he wore an exquisite dress coat over a snowy white waistcoat, against which a gold watch chain gleamed.
Why not dress up as the mysterious Mr Sinclair himself? Mr Sinclair is always very elegant: he wears a smart suit with a white shirt. You could add a bow-tie, a top-hat, a pocket-watch, or a flower for his button-hole. Don’t forget a soft toy dog to be Lucky, Mr Sinclair’s pet pug!
‘Red Hands’ Randall
One of my favourite costumes I spotted last year was villainous Red Hands Randall from The Painted Dragon! For this costume, you’ll need a dark jacket and trousers, a flat cap or bowler hat and of course a pair of red gloves… plus a very sinister expression!
‘…she was dressed very beautifully in a much-ruffled, lace-trimmed ivory gown. She must be one of this season’s debutantes, and a particularly wealthy one at that.’
Fashionable young ladies like Veronica and her friend Phyllis would wear long dresses, trimmed with lace or frills. These would usually be in light colours like white, ivory, pale pink or pale blue – bright or dark colours would have been considered in very bad taste! A bridesmaid dress or a long party dress would be a great place to start. Remember to add some ladylike accessories such as white gloves, a pearl necklace, or even a parasol. Of course, you’ll also need a hat decorated with flowers, bows or feathers. Maybe you could even add a sparkly brooch to your outfit to be the mysterious jewelled moth itself…
In The Midnight Peacock we meet Tilly – a housemaid who soon finds herself investigating something strange at grand Winter Hall. To dress as Tilly, you’ll need a long dark-coloured dress and a white apron. To complete your outfit, you could add a frilly white maid’s cap.
If you’re looking for more costume inspiration, take a look at my Edwardiana Pinterest board, which is full of Edwardian fashions.
If you do dress up as a character from the Sinclair’s Mysteries, make sure you send me a picture! And if you’re looking for more Sinclair’s Mysteries related things to do for World Book Day, there’s some ideas here.