Monthly Archives: August 2020

Superheroes Don’t Get Scared…Or Do They? – by Kate Thompson, illustrated by Clare Elsom

Today I am delighted to share with you the picture book debut from Kate Thompson, ‘Superheroes Don’t Get Scared…Or Do They?’ illustrated by Clare Elsom. This insightful and thoughtful picture book deals with the subject of fear, which given the strange and somewhat scary times we are currently living in, feels even more necessary. Maisie wishes she was just like the superheroes she looks up to. She’s convinced they’re fearless and brave but her mum and dad let her into a secret. Even superheroes get scared sometimes! Maisie doesn’t believe it, what could they be possibly afraid of? Maisie soon discovers that with the power of self belief and a willingness to face our fears, we can all be superheroes too!


Engaging and entertaining, this book explores feelings that children may be reluctant to talk about in a fun and accessible way. Kate’s lively and bouncy rhymes make this story perfect for reading aloud and it’s many comic moments are bound to make children laugh. She has assembled a line up of superbly funny superheroes from BogeyBoy to Burpnado, who are bound to delight and amuse younger readers. Clare’s bold and vibrant, comic style illustrations capture brilliantly the superheroes facing their greatest fears allowing children to feel reassured through intricate and humorous spreads. This is the perfect addition to any primary school library.

Thank you to Kate and Trigger Publishing for sending me a gifted copy of this book, ‘Superheroes Don’t Get Scared,’ is released on the 3rd September and is available to pre-order now online or from any good bookshop. If you can please support your local bookshop you can find the nearest one here.


Cover Reveal – The House at the Edge of Magic – Amy Sparkes

I’m really excited to be able to reveal for you today, the cover of the lovely and talented Amy Sparkes debut Middle Grade novel ‘The House at the Edge of Magic’, which will be published on the 7th January 2021 by Walker Books.

So without further ado here it is…

I absolutely love this cover designed by Chloé Tartinville, and the illustration and hand-lettering is by Ben Mantle. It hints at all the fun and magic that lies within this mysterious house brimming with hidden secrets and the unexpected. Chloé and Ben have created something truly stunning that is bound to entice the reader to pick it up and find out more. I was lucky enough to have an early read, this charming and magical story bowled me over with it’s wild imagination and quirky characters. It totally enchanted me and stole a little piece of my heart, leaving me with a warm glow inside.

Let’s find out more about, ‘The House at the Edge of Magic!’

The House at the Edge of Magic – Amy Sparkes

“Sometimes you are a whisper away from magic without even realizing it.”
Nine is an orphan pickpocket determined to escape her life in the Nest of a Thousand Treasures. When she steals a house-shaped ornament from a mysterious woman’s purse, she knocks on its tiny door and watches it grow into a huge, higgledy-piggeldy house.

Inside she finds a host of magical and brilliantly funny characters, including Flabberghast – a young wizard who’s particularly competitive at hopscotch – and a hideous troll housekeeper who’s emotionally attached to his feather duster. They have been placed under an extraordinary spell, which they are desperate for Nine to break. If she can, maybe they can offer her a new life in

If this has you intrigued to find out more you can pre-order, ‘The House at the Edge of Magic,’ now online or from your favourite local bookshop. Thank you to Amy and Gráinne at Walker Books for inviting me to host the cover reveal.

King of the Swamp – Catherine Emmett, illustrated by Ben Mantle

Today I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Catherine Emmett’s wonderful debut picture book, ‘King of the Swamp’ beautifully illustrated by Ben Mantle. McDarkly lives all alone in the damp, stinky swamp quite content tending his flowers and loving them all no matter how plain or fancy they might be. One day his peace and quiet is shattered when the King happens upon his swamp and declares he will build his new skate park over this hideous and dank place. Horrified McDarkly pleads for mercy, desperately trying to explain the true beauty that lies beyond the first impression the King has had. When the King relents, McDarkly has ten days to transform his swamp into a place that everyone will appreciate. Can he save his home in time?

‘King of the Swamp,’ is a timely and thoughtful story which contrasts very different viewpoints of what beauty is to people. Where all the King can see is the negative features of his swamp, McDarkly can see past the stinkyness and dankness and recognise that joy can be found in the most unexpected of places. But even McDarkly can’t always see the beauty that is right before him until someone, namely the King’s daughter points it out to him. In a world where nature is being destroyed in favour of progress, McDarkly and the princess teach the King a valuable lesson about the importance of preserving our environment in all of it’s natural glory. This theme is subtly woven into the story in a thoughtful and entertaining way. Catherine’s lively and energetic rhymes covey brilliantly the struggle McDarkly faces as he struggles to save his home, making for a fun and engaging read. Ben’s illustrations are sublime capturing the tiny sprinkles of loveliness that can be found within the swamp. I love the contrast in the palette between the swamp at the beginning of the story versus the end when McDarkly’s unexpected transformation is complete. A truly wonderful story that is an absolute joy to read aloud, I can’t wait to share it with the children at school.

Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more swampish fun…

Thank you to Catherine and Simon and Schuster for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a gifted copy of the book. ‘King of the Swamp,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop. If you can please support your local independent bookshop.

Moon Dog – Jane Elson

A new book from Jane Elson is always an absolute treat, her writing is so beautiful and thoughtful that I know I’m bound to love it and, ‘Moon Dog,’ is no exception. Marcus and Delilah are so different they couldn’t possibly he have anything in common apart from being outsiders. He towers over his classmates and is locked in a battle with his emotions trying to deal with his mum leaving him and his dad’s ongoing depression. While Delilah stands out for being tiny, the object of her classmates’ jokes but she refuses to let them bow her down and is fierce and brave. They form an unlikely friendship over their shared love of dogs and their desperate need to have one of their own. When Marcus finds a dog next door who has appeared from nowhere it seems like a dream come true but they soon find themselves caught up in a dangerous world that will test their friendship to the limits.

Once again Jane has created a truly extraordinary book, she isn’t afraid to tackle the most difficult and sensitive topics but she does so with a deft touch ensuring an empathetic and honest read. Throughout the story she explores the wealth of emotions Marcus and Delilah are feeling as they both come to terms with the losses in their lives in a compassionate and considered way. She has a talent for creating characters who you can’t help but get caught up in their lives and you really care about. Although this story has moments of real sadness that some may find difficult, there is plenty of things to make you smile. I loved the bond between Marcus and Delilah, they each bring something to their friendship and allow each other the chance to explore their dreams and reflect on their experiences. Heart-breaking and heartfelt this is a really special book which I absolutely loved.

To celebrate the release of, ‘Moon Dog,’ I have a special guest post from Jane…

Animals in my books – Jane Elson

I knew that Moon Dog was a Newfoundland but I know that I have never seen one in the urban streets of Kentish Town where I live. This was a problem as I love to meet the animals in person for my research to observe how that particular animal moves, how they react with people, especially children.

 I saw that there was a Discover Dogs exhibition at the Excel Centre in London, so I set myself a mission to meet a Newfoundland. I struck lucky and met Bob. I fell in love. What a magnificent dog and so friendly! I was honoured to be snuggled and dribbled on and be photographed with this magnificent beast. Dawn Richardson, Bob’s owner, was so amazingly helpful and continues to be so. I was half-way through the writing process and she was there on hand to help me and my editor with our endless questions on Newfoundlands and provided the cover designer with lovely photographs of Bob to inspire the illustrator, Izzy Burton, to draw Moon Dog for the cover. I struck lucky that day, and the whole of Team Moon Dog are in love with Bob.

I have befriended many other animals on my journey as a children’s book author. Another gentle giant is Winston the horse who is the inspiration for the horse on the cover of Swimming to the Moon. I adore Winston, he is such a character. Alia, Winston’s owner, lets me go and see him when I can. I’m always sure to bring Winston a big bag of apples! She always kindly leaves me alone with him so that I can groom him while she rides her other horses. I love being an author but it can be stressful meeting deadlines. Being with Winston is so calming and he loves being brushed so it acts as a good bonding session.

I am a friend of the charity All Dogs Matter. One day I was looking at their website and I saw a Staffie called Buster who was the spitting image of Buster the Staffie in How to Fly with Broken Wings and Will You Catch Me? Buster is being fostered by one of All Dogs Matter’s wonderful fosterers Sangeeta and I messaged her to tell her of this coincidence and as a result we met for brunch.

So as well as these wonderful animals who have touched my heart I have also met three wonderful people: Dawn, Alia and Sangeeta. It’s one of the things I love most about writing as you never know quite where your stories will lead you. If you would like to read more about the animals in my books visit the Moon Dog Room on my website

Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more guest posts and reviews.

Thanks to Becci and Hachette for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a gifted copy of this wonderful book. ‘Moondog,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop. If you can please support your local independent bookshop.

Gracie Fairshaw and the Mysterious Guest – Susan Brownrigg, illustrated by Jenny Czerwonka

Growing up not surprisingly I was an avid reader. A weekly trip to my local library was a must have and I devoured books about girls in boarding schools and mysteries set by the sea, in places that seemed to me to be very far away. There were no books about children like me, children who lived in the North, where a trip to the seaside was a really special day out instead of a glorious entire school holiday having adventures by the sea. So when I picked up and began to read, ‘Gracie Fairshaw and the Mysterious Guest,’ by Susan Brownrigg I felt a little sparkle of happiness. For here was a story not only set in a place where I was very familiar with – Blackpool – home to sticks of rock, donkey rides and the illuminations but also featured working class characters, whose idea of a treat was a bag of chips and if you’re really lucky some gravy to go with them. I knew that this was a story that I would really enjoy!

Gracie Fairshaw is not best pleased when her mum moves them away from all of her friends to start a new life in a boarding house. She can’t imagine having to share her home with an ever changing band of strangers, people who might stare at her and make assumptions about what she could do just because of how she looks. Things become even more strained when her Ma almost faints when she recognises one of the guests, a few hours later she disappears into thin air leaving no clues of her whereabouts. Together with her brother Tom, her new friends Violet and Tom they have to discover the true identity of this mysterious guest and solve an impossible puzzle.

Capturing all the glamour and excitement of Blackpool in the 1930s, when the illuminations were a exotic novelty and the town was renowned for it’s stunning ballrooms and elaborate gardens, this is a place where something thrilling is bound to happen. Susan brilliantly transports the reader with her wonderfully descriptive writing conjuring up all the sights and sounds of the seaside. You can hear the screams on the rollercoaster, smell the sea air and  taste the hot chips dancing on your tongue as the rain hits your face. The book is the perfect blend of mystery and peril with our young detectives having to use all of their skills and courage to outwit the sinister guest who is determined to commit the perfect crime whatever the cost. It’s rare to see physical disability represented in a middle grade story without it being part of the plot, for Gracie this is purely incidental to her life and she carries on regardless, refusing to accept the limited view that strangers may have of her abilities. It’s an absolute cracker of a mystery story and I absolutely raced through it. If you’re looking for something to fun and thrilling to read then look no further.

Thank you to Uclan Publishing for approving my Netgalley request to read this wonderful mystery. ‘Gracie Fairshaw and the Mysterious Guest,’ is available to buy now online and from any good bookshop. If you can please support your local independent bookshop.

Dream Team – Tom Percival


Today I am delighted to share with you the first two books in the, ‘Dream Team,’ series written and illustrated by Tom Percival.  In, ‘Attack of the Heebie Jeebies,’ we see Erika struggling to come to terms with the fact her baby brother is monopolising her parent’s attention leaving her feeling left out. She is unable to explain her frustrations and finds herself having uncontrollable rages, making her parents feel hurt and angry with her behaviour. In her dreams she encounters the Angermare who feeds off her negative energy threatening to destroy everything she loves. But Erika soon discovers she has a special talent, an ability to see the Dream Team, a unit formed to protect children in their dreams and together they find a way to help her deal with her anger and use it for good. In, ‘A Case of the Jitters,’ Erika is summoned by the Dream Team to help with the difficult case of Chanda who is desperately lonely and feels worthless after suffering at the hands of the school bully. A Jitter is threatening to replace Chanda in her real life and Erika has to find a way to help this nervous girl whose confidence has been worn away to stand up for herself and face those who would belittle her.

This thoughtful and entertaining series tackles the anxieties and difficulties lots of children experience growing up and presents them as exciting and thrilling missions that can be overcome with self belief and a sprinkling of help from others. Tom transports the child and their problems to a magical dream world where they battle with the demons that they face in every day life allowing the children to be in control of their feelings. By doing this it makes it much more accessible for younger readers allowing them to understanding that sometimes they and other children might have feelings that they are unable to stop escaping or that they find it difficult to talk about. Tom has assembled a brilliant cast of characters who all have a slight flaw despite their magical powers making them instantly identifiable to children. Wonderfully produced in a two tone palette with lively and energetic illustrations they will definitely encourage readers to pick them up and read.

Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour to find out more about the Dream Team.

Thanks to Amber and Macmillan for sending me gifted copies of these books an for inviting me to join in with the blog tour. ‘Attack of the Heebies Jeebies,’ and ‘A Case of the Jitters,’ are available to buy now online or from you local bookshop. If you can please support your local indie bookshop where possible.

Turtle Boy – M. Evan Wolkenstein

Today I am delighted to share with you a really special book on the blog, ‘Turtle Boy,’ by M. Evan Wolkenstein, a wonderful and thoughtful story inspired by the author’s real life experiences. Twelve year old Will thinks his life can’t get any worse. Mocked at school for how he looks and grieving for a father he can barely remember, he retreats into his shell hiding away from the world. But when he’s forced to do community service as part of his Bar Mitzvah preparations, Wilf meets RJ, a boy who spends his life confined to a hospital room. At first they struggle to connect but they soon find out they have something in common, they have hopes and wishes they haven’t shared with anyone else. Slowly they begin to help each other out and together they find a way to face the cards that life has dealt them.

I have so many feelings about this book that it’s hard to convey in a review. Will is a complex character who has been shaped by his life’s experiences and they are weighing heavy on his shoulders. The introduction of RJ into his life forces him to examine his own behaviour and helps him to realise how much of life he is missing out on by trying to protect himself. I think it’s important for children to realise that the impact unkind behaviour can have and how it can eat away at someone’s soul, so that it makes it impossible for them to be present in their world. What this story shows us that a life lived in fear and locked away is no life at all and sometimes the things we fear the most or not as bad as the demons we create in our heads. I found the relationship between Will and RJ completely compelling and beautiful, the small ways they find to connect and how they both manage to enhance their friend’s lives in the most unexpected of ways. We learn that we need to accept who we are and embrace our differences, rather than try to fit in with the crowd and be something we’re not. It definitely needs to be in every school library and I would actively encourage children to read it, books are a really important way to teach empathy and for me this is an important story that needs to be shared. Incredibly poignant and heart-breaking, this is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time.

Thank you to Katarina and Usborne for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a gifted copy of this wonderful book. ‘Turtle Boy,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop. If you can please support your local indie bookshop.

As part of the blog tour I’d love to share my list of hopes and dreams. For those who have been following the blog you will know that I’d love to have my book published, oh and finally catch up with my review pile while sat staring out at the sea.

If you would like to share your list of hopes and dreams, leave a comment on the blog or head over to Twitter. Don’t forget the hashtag #TurtleBoyBook

Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found – Aisha Bushby, illustrated by Rachael Dean

Today I am delighted to kick off the blog tour for the first book in a brand new series by Aisha Bushby, ‘Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found,’ illustrated by Rachael Dean.  Twelve year old Amira has only experienced a life at sea with her two sea-witch mothers and her best friend Namur – a jinn in cat form, until a terrible storm wrecks their dhow forcing them to seek refuge on land. Despite facing land sickness Amira is keen to explore this new world and enjoy a tiny taste of freedom. But a chance encounter with a boy, Leo, who like her has a jinn, Amira realises that they are connected in some way and together they are stirring up a mysterious and deadly storm. When Namur goes missing, Amira is forced to embark on a dangerous journey, to a place where lost things can be found, not realising that she will discover something about her past that will change the course of her destiny.

Inspired by The Arabian Nights, Aisha whisks us away to a rich and exotic world filled with magic, secrets and mystery. She transports the reader through the most beautiful and descriptive language stimulating all of our senses. We hear the danger in the storm rattling ominously in the sky above, the waves crashing against the dhow spraying us with salt and smell the aromas that Amira experiences so deeply. We feel the tumult of Amira’s emotions as she battles to control her anger in a place where thoughts and feelings are supressed by tonics and potions.  I particularly loved how the traditional stories were woven through the narrative enriching the tale and making us feel like we’ve been on a epic voyage alongside the characters. Rachael’s stunning illustrations and cover capture perfectly the magic and wonder of this beautiful story. Vivid and glorious storytelling meets superb characterisation in this wonderful and thoughtful tale.

Thank you to Siobhan and Egmont for inviting me to join in with the blog tour. ‘Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found,’ is released on the 6th August and is available to pre-order now online and from all good bookshops. If you can please support your local indie bookshop.

Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more reviews and guest posts.