Category Archives: Reflecting Realities

Just Another Little Lie

Violet’s mum hasn’t been herself for a while. A few too many glasses of wine in the evening. Mornings when she can’t get out of bed. Now Violet’s the one looking after her little brother and looking out for empty bottles in Mum’s bag.

She wants to believe her mum when she promises that things are going to change, but is it just another little lie?

Barrington Stoke

Eve Ainsworth has a real skill for weaving a gripping story surrounding hard hitting issues, in this case a parent disguising their alcohol addiction from the world while their teenage daughter looks after her little brother (who is adorable and left me sobbing at one point). As it is for Barrington Stoke, it packs a lot into a few words, but it doesn’t oversimplify the problems and could be a fantastic conversation starter. I asked Eve a few questions:

When you first approach a new story, does a character come to you first or the situation they find themselves in?That’s a really good question! To be honest it’s been a real mix. In some stories the character came to me long before the plot does and they just wouldn’t leave me alone and then I knew I had to base a story around them. Other times the plot has come to me first. It’s never been a consistent pattern for me. In Just Another Little Lie the plot came first as I knew I wanted to focus on alcoholism and the effects that can have on a family.


Do you have an idea and think ‘that would be perfect for Barrington Stoke’? How do you decide which stories will be longer novels and which would suit the novella format?I always discuss my ideas with Barrington Stoke to see whether they think it will suit their readership, we have a great working relationship like that. I don’t deliberately choose a story for the novella format, but I will change the way I write it to try and make it more fast paced. In some ways it can be more challenging as you want to ensure you get all the essential content in a tighter word count, but personally I love that challenge!

I know you’re passionate about including working class families in your stories, why do you think that is so important?I think it’s so important that young people see their own worlds reflected in books and in a realistic and honest way. I come from a working class background and I know how impactful it can be to see your life reflected in books. I know that when I was young, I would look for books that represented the life I was living in a truthful way. 


How much of an influence does your background in child protection roles have on your writing?I think it’s certainly helped me a great deal. I had the opportunity to work with some very challenging and vulnerable families and saw first hand the struggles that many families experience on a day to day basis. It took away a lot of the prejudgments that I might have once had and made me view things in a more empathetic way. We can never understand what someone is going through unless we are in their shoes and it’s important that we try and understand that everyone can experience challenging and difficult circumstances.


If the story resonates with a young reader, what advice would you give them?To speak to someone, don’t struggle alone. There is no shame in seeking help and true strength comes in speaking out.


Have you done any virtual events during these Interesting Times? If so, how have you found it?I’m just starting to! I’ve been a bit locked away recently because I’ve had so many deadlines to meet, but new events are starting to be organised now. I’m a bit daunted by it and hate looking at myself on screen but hopefully I soon adapt! (I might have to cover up my face though – I always look so gormless!)

What are you reading at the moment and who would you recommend it to?I’ve just finished Kerry Dewery’s The Last Paper Crane and I recommend to everyone. It’s simply beautiful.


Can you tell us something about what you’re working on at the moment?I am currently writing another novella for Barrington Stoke, this time focusing on foster care and the challenges of attachment and I am also writing a second book for my MG series historical series based on the Dick Kerr Girls – one of the first ever (and very successful) female football teams.

Eve Ainsworth (photo credit Linda Woodard)

Thanks to Barrington Stoke for sending me a review copy and to Eve for answering some questions! JUST ANOTHER LITTLE LIE is out now!

The Diverse Book Awards

This morning the longlists for The Diverse Book Awards were announced, created by The Author School to showcase the talent of marginalised voices, and the books started arriving at my house to read!

I’m really please that two of my fellow judges are actual teenagers, reading the children’s and YA lists, and the awards also teamed up with blogger and photographer Tenelle Ottley-Matthew, to help spread the love, so do keep your eye on her blog, insta and twitter!

The Children’s Longlist:

The YA Longlist:

The Adult Longlist:

To be eligible, the author has to be UK based and the book had to be published in the UK in 2019. I’ve already read all the YA and most of the children’s lists, all brilliant titles that I’m looking forward to rereading with the criteria in mind, to help choose the shortlist and eventual winner! I’ve read one of the grownup books so far…

When Stars are Scattered

Omar and his brother Hassan, two Somali boys, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Separated from their mother, they are looked after by a friendly stranger. Life in the camp isn’t always easy and the hunger is constant . . . but Omar devotes everything to taking care of his young brother and pursuing his education.

Faber

This is set to be one of my favourite graphic novels of all time. You will laugh, cry, rage, and cheer many times over the course of the book, a study in empathy, as Omar and Hassan experience the ups and downs of life in a refugee camp with the dream of resettling in America hanging over their heads. It is based on Omar Mohamed’s account of real experiences of growing up, so obviously the relationships are real, but they are brought off the page so beautifully and in so few words, through the skillful work of Victoria Jamieson (brilliantly coloured by Iman Geddy).

Narrated by Omar, we see his perspective of the environment and people, and how it changes when he was feeling hopeful or down. Bad things do happen to them, as well as good things, and Omar talks them through and shares his feelings with the reader. One panel that really struck me was after Omar had been talking to a friend who’s family had been chosen to be resettled, he tries so hard to be positive all the time but can’t help but think “It’s not fair”. He tells us:

…Of course, thinking like this doesn’t do you any good. Somalis even have a word for it. BUFIS. It means the intense longing to be resettled. It’s almost like your mind is already living somewhere else, while your body is stuck in a refugee camp…

We first meet Omar and his brother Hassan once they have already been living in the camp for a long time (have a read of the first chapter in the extract) and the way their journey to the camp is told to us, as it recounted in Omar’s UN interview for potential resettlement, is really powerful. We follow them for years, until Omar is 18, and I was particularly moved by the relationship with Fatuma, how they came to be together, and how Omar realised more and more with age how lucky they all were to have one another.

Enjoy this exclusive extract of WHEN THE STARS ARE SCATTERED

It does have a happy and hopeful ending for Omar and Hassan, but doesn’t let you forget the thousands more people still stuck in the limbo of refugee camps. I think this is essential reading for, well, everyone aged 8+ frankly.

Huge thanks to Faber for sending me a copy for review and inviting me to join the blog tour. WHEN STARS ARE SCATTERD is out in the UK now!

A Parent’s Guide to Black Lives Matter

Yoopies UK the childcare platform, has put together a family-friendly resource guide for parents about the Black Lives Matter movement from a British perspective; with contributions from both white and BAME writers.

This guide shares resources (films, podcasts, books etc), advice, and tips to ensure that children are aware of racial inequality, racial hierarchies, and white privilege present in modern-day society, as well as share some knowledge to help combat racism today.

The guide can be downloaded here:

https://yoopies.co.uk/c/press-releases/blacklivesmatter

The Police and Public Libraries

I have seen police officers in libraries for as long as I have been a library worker, they come in as patrons, they have been called in if people started endangering the lives of patrons and staff, occasionally an officer will come in and do a walk-through the library, more recently I have witnessed official library events featuring police officers including Youth Services organized “Story-time with a Police Officer” which is a local PO will come in uniform and read some stories at a library story-time event and a Civic Engagement series called “Coffee with a Cop” which is basically just that – a Police Officer sitting drinking coffee and chatting to local library patrons.

I am aware that seeing the police as being helpful and there to help is very much a White viewpoint; other population groups, Black, Asian and others have differing viewpoints and opinions about them.

I have been concerned about story-times being lead by police officers for ages now but the coronavirus closures put those thoughts on the back burner, they are now forefront in my mind now in the wake of the violence against protesters that has been occurring on a daily basis since people began standing up in reaction to the murder of George Floyd. This ongoing violence has been an eye-opener to many people that live in denial of the violence police often perpetrate against minority groups.

Can libraries afford to keep hosting police-centered events and at the same time claim to be welcoming to everyone?

It is often vulnerable groups and individuals that have the most need of the services that libraries provide and they are the most at risk of being traumatized by coming face to face with uniformed police officers at library sanctioned events. These encounters will in all likelihood re-traumatize them again and they are already at the receiving end of police violence; this will, in all likelihood keep them from returning for fear of encountering the police again.

The fig leaf argument that libraries are neutral spaces gets more threadbare every day. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor

Neutrality does not mean having no opinion, it means being open to other opinions. I am of the opinion that it is past time for libraries to look at who we partner with and discuss how we can move forward with offering a truly inclusive and welcoming service.

Before we allow the police in for photo-opportunity events, we must demand real and substantive change in the way they behave towards all groups in the communities they ostensibly serve.

In demanding that of them we must, at the same time interrogate our own biases and how we behave towards others as well as challenging ourselves and those around us to actively fight racist thought and activities that pervade our daily lives.

BAME Authors: Middle Grade

Ade Adepitan

https://www.johnnoel.com

@AdeAdepitan

John Agard

https://literature.britishcouncil.org/writer/john-agard

Patience Agbabi

https://canongate.co.uk/books/3193-the-infinite/

@PatienceAgbabi

Shweta Aggarwal

http://devandollie.com

@devandollie

Hamza Arshad

https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/134114/humza-arshad.html

@HamzaProduction

Atinuke

http://atinuke-author.weebly.com

http://www.walker.co.uk/contributors/Atinuke-12281.aspx

Jasbinder Bilan

@jasinbath

Malorie Blackman

https://www.malorieblackman.co.uk

@malorieblackman

Sita Brahmachari

http://www.sitabrahmachari.com

@SitaBrahmachari

Aisha Bushby

https://www.egmont.co.uk/blog/egmont-pockets-debit-from-rising-star-aisha-bushby/

@aishabushby

Sarwat Chadda

@sarwatchadda

Maisie Chan

https://www.maisiechan.com/

@MaisieWrites

Ellie Daines

http://www.elliedaines.com

@chirpywriter

Narinder Dhami

https://www.narinderdhami.com/

@narinderd

Nizrana Farook

facebook.com/nizrite

@nizrite

Jamila Gavin

http://www.jamilagavin.co.uk

Rohan Gavin

http://rohangavin.com

Kereen Getten

https://www.instagram.com/kezywrites/

@KereenGetten

Lorraine Gregory

https://www.lorrainegregoryauthor.co.uk/

@authorontheedge

Polly Ho-Yen

https://pollyhoyen.com

@bookhorse

Sharna Jackson

https://www.sharnajackson.com/

@sharnajackson

Catherine Johnson

http://www.catherinejohnson.co.uk

@catwrote

Peter Kalu

http://www.peterkalu.com

@peterkalu

Sangu Mandanna

https://sangumandanna.com

@sangumandanna

E.L. Norry

https://www.scholastic.co.uk/blog/Q-and-A-with-ELNorry-38735

@ilovetolurk

Leila Rasheed

https://leilarasheeddotcom.wordpress.com

@LeilaR

Onjali Q. Rauf

@onjalirauf

Jasmine Richards

https://www.jasminerichards.com

SF Said

http://www.sfsaid.com

@whatSFSaid

Annabelle Sami

https://www.andlyn.co.uk/annabelle-sami

@annabellesami

Malaika Rose Stanley

http://www.malaikarosestanley.com

BAME Authors: Young Adult/Teen

Sufiya Ahmed

https://mbalit.co.uk/client/sufiya-ahmed/

@sufiyaahmed

Dean Atta

https://sites.google.com/site/deanatta/

@DeanAtta

Yaba Badoe

https://www.facebook.com/Yaba-Badoe-118504861506100

@yaba-badoe

Rebecca Barrow

http://www.rebecca-barrow.com

@RebeccaKBarrow

Mary Florence Bello

https://bellapoetry.wordpress.com

@MissBelloTweets

Malorie Blackman

https://www.malorieblackman.co.uk

@malorieblackman

Akemi Dawn Bowman

http://www.akemidawnbowman.com/

@akemidawn

Sita Brahmachari

http://www.sitabrahmachari.com

@SitaBrahmachari

Tanya Byrne

http://tanyabyrne.com

@tanyabyrne

Maisie Chan

@MaisieWrites

https://www.maisiechan.com/

Narinder Dhami

https://www.narinderdhami.com/

@narinderd

Jamila Gavin

http://www.jamilagavin.co.uk

Candy Gourlay

https://www.candygourlay.com

@candygourlay

Sam Hepburn (see Sam Osman)

Danielle Jawando

@DanielleJawando

Catherine Johnson

http://www.catherinejohnson.co.uk

@catwrote

Savita Kalhan

http://www.savitakalhan.com

@savitakalhan

Mariam Khan

http://www.lounge-books.com/contributors/2017/6/20/mariam-k

@helloIammariam

Peter Kalu

http://www.peterkalu.com

@peterkalu

Muhammad Khan

http://www.holroydecartey.com/muhammed-khan.html

@mkhanauthor

Patrice Lawrence

https://patricelawrence.wordpress.com

@LawrencePatrice

Ayisha Malik

 https://www.ayishamalik.com/

@Ayisha_Malik

Sangu Mandanna

https://sangumandanna.com

@sangumandanna

Manjeet Mann

https://www.manjeetmann.com/

@ManjeetMann

Irfan Master

http://irfanmaster.com

@Irfan_Master

Taran Matharu

http://authortaranmatharu.com

@TaranMatharu1

Kiran Millwood Hargrave

@Kiran_MH

Stefan Mohamed

http://stefmo.co.uk/wp/

@stefmowords

Wilf Morgan

https://sites.google.com/site/88talesv3/

@wilf007

Natasha Ngan

http://girlinthelens.com

@girlinthelens

E.L. Norry

https://www.scholastic.co.uk/blog/Q-and-A-with-ELNorry-38735

@ilovetolurk

Sam Osman

http://www.samosmanbooks.com

Anna Perera

http://www.annaperera.com

@annaperera1

Yasmin Rahman

@yasminwithane

Bali Rai

http://www.balirai.co.uk/home

@balirai

Leila Rasheed

https://leilarasheeddotcom.wordpress.com

@LeilaR

Jasmine Richards

https://www.jasminerichards.com

Na’ima B Robert

@NaimaBRobert

SF Said

http://www.sfsaid.com

@whatSFSaid

London Shah

http://www.londonshah.com

@London_Shah

Alexandra Sheppard

https://www.alexandrasheppard.com/

@alexsheppard

Nikesh Shukla

http://www.nikesh-shukla.com

@nikeshshukla

Emma Smith-Barton

@EmmaSmithBarton

Tasha Suri
https://tashasuri.com/

@tashadrinkstea

Tabitha Suzuma

http://www.tabithasuzuma.com

@TabithaSuzuma

Meera Syal

https://literature.britishcouncil.org/writer/meera-syal

@MeeraSyal

Alex Wheatle

https://www.alexwheatle.com/

@brixtonbard

Benjamin Zephaniah

https://benjaminzephaniah.com

@BZephaniah

BAME Authors: Poetry

John Agard

https://literature.britishcouncil.org/writer/john-agard

Joseph Coelho

http://www.thepoetryofjosephcoelho.com

@PoetryJoe

Peter Kalu

http://www.peterkalu.com

@peterkalu

Stefan Mohamed

http://stefmo.co.uk/wp/

@stefmowords

Grace Nichols

https://www.poetryarchive.org/poet/grace-nichols

Benjamin Zephaniah

https://benjaminzephaniah.com

@BZephaniah

BAME Authors: Children’s Books

Floella Benjamin

http://www.floellabenjamin.com/

@FloellaBenjamin

Malorie Blackman

https://www.malorieblackman.co.uk

@malorieblackman

Kandace Chimbiri

http://www.goldendestiny.co.uk/index.php

@knchimbiri

Narinder Dhami

https://www.narinderdhami.com/

@narinderd

Casey Elisha

caseyelishabooks.com

@celishabooks

Jamila Gavin

http://www.jamilagavin.co.uk

Lorraine Gregory

https://www.lorrainegregoryauthor.co.uk/

@authorontheedge

Swapna Haddow

http://swapnahaddow.co.uk

@SwapnaHaddow

Polly Ho-Yen

https://pollyhoyen.com

@bookhorse

Konnie Huq

https://www.thebookseller.com/news/konnie-huq-pen-series-piccadilly-press-747021

@Konnie_Huq

Zanim Mian

http://www.sweetapplebooks.com

@Zendibble

Rita Phillips Mitchell

http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/member/rita-phillips-mitchell

Nick Mohammed

https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/130313/nick-mohammed.html

@nickmohammed

Millie Murray

https://www.rlf.org.uk/fellowships/millie-murray/

Hiba Noor Khan

watsonlittle.com/client/hiba-noor-khan/

@HibaNoorKhan1

Richard Rai O’Neill

https://richardthestoryteller.weebly.com/

@therroneill

Serena Patel

@SerenaKPatel

Smriti Prasadam-Halls

http://www.smriti.co.uk

@SmritiPH

Bali Rai

http://www.balirai.co.uk/home

@balirai

Leila Rasheed

https://leilarasheeddotcom.wordpress.com

@LeilaR

Annabelle Sami

https://www.andlyn.co.uk/annabelle-sami

@annabellesami

Alom Shaha

http://alomshaha.com

@alomshaha

Emma Shevah

https://emmashevah.com

@emmashevah

Rashmi Sirdeshpande

https://rashmisirdeshpande.com/

@RashmiWriting

Chitra Soundar

www.chitrasoundar.com/

@csoundar

Malaika Rose Stanley

http://www.malaikarosestanley.com

Nadine Wild-Palmer


https://www.pushkinpress.com/product/the-tunnels-below/

https://twitter.com/NadineWildPalm

Ken Wilson-Max

http://www.kenwilsonmax.com

@kenwilsonmax

Benjamin Zephaniah

https://benjaminzephaniah.com

@BZephaniah

BAME: Picture Book Illustrators & Authors

Dapo Adeola

facebook.com/dapsdraws

@DapsDraws

Patrice Aggs

http://www.patriceaggs.com

@patriceaggs

Sufiya Ahmed

https://mbalit.co.uk/client/sufiya-ahmed/

@sufiyaahmed

Mehrdokht Amini

http://childrensillustrators.com/illustrator/mehrdokht1976/portfolio

Nathan Bryon

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/606265/rocket-says-look-up-by-nathan-bryon-illustrated-by-dapo-adeola/9781984894427/

@NathanBryon

Joseph Coelho

http://www.thepoetryofjosephcoelho.com

@PoetryJoe

Casey Elisha

caseyelishabooks.com

@celishabooks

Candy Gourlay

https://www.candygourlay.com

@candygourlay

Davina Hamilton 

https://www.davinahamilton.com/

@davina_writes

Ashley Hinds

https://www.ashleyhindswhdb.com/

@ashleyhindswhdb

Yasmeen Ismail

https://www.yasmeenismail.co.uk

@YasmeenMay

Nadine Kaadan

http://nadinekaadan.com/

@Nadinekaadan

Poonam Mistry

https://www.poonam-mistry.com/

@pmistryartist

Rikin Parekh

https://www.rikinparekh.com/

@r1k1n

Rita Phillips Mitchell

http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/member/rita-phillips-mitchell

Tola Okogwu

tolaokogwu.com

@TolaOkogwu

Smriti Prasadam-Halls

http://www.smriti.co.uk

@SmritiPH

Nadia Shireen

https://www.nadiashireen.org

@NadiaShireen

Ranjit Singh

https://lantanapublishing.com/products/nimesh-the-adventurer

@RanjittheAuthor

Chitra Soundar

www.chitrasoundar.com/

@csoundar

Malaika Rose Stanley

http://www.malaikarosestanley.com

Camille Whitcher

camillewhitcher.co.uk

@CamilleWhitcher

Verna Wilkins

https://www.booktrust.org.uk/authors/w/wilkins-verna/

Ken Wilson-Max

http://www.kenwilsonmax.com

@kenwilsonmax