Category Archives: Authors

4 Reasons Verse Novels are Awesome, by Lucy Cuthew

Blood Moon is an extraordinary YA novel in verse about the online shaming of a teenage girl. During astronomy-lover Frankie’s first sexual experience with the quiet and lovely Benjamin, she gets her period. It’s only blood, they agree. But soon a graphic meme goes viral, turning an innocent, intimate afternoon into something disgusting, mortifying and damaging. As the online shaming takes on a horrifying life of its own, Frankie begins to wonder: is her real life over? Blood Moon is a punchy, vivid and funny story of first-time love, hormone-fuelled sexuality and intense female friendships – whilst addressing, head-on, the ongoing exploitation of young girls online and the horror of going viral. Both shocking and uplifting, it cuts to the heart of what it is to be a teenager today and shows the power of friendship to find joy in even the darkest skies.

Walker Books

Blood Moon is a truly outstanding (and pretty unique) UKYA by Lucy Cuthew, her debut, and I recommend getting a few copies for every KS4/5 library! It is one of what feels like a recent flurry of amazing novels in verse, and Lucy has shared with us some of her favourites!

4 Reasons Verse Novels are Awesome

and 4 Awesome Verse Novels to Read

by Lucy Cuthew

Have you ever read a novel in verse? If so, did you like it? I love them, and wanted to share some of my favourites. If you’ve never read one, here are some reasons I love them:

* Big feels – I love a story that makes me laugh/cry/feel big feelings. Poetry can do that, just like music can.

* A fast read – I absolutely love sitting down and reading a book in one/two sittings. I love verse novels that are intense and immersive.

* Visually interesting – verse novels, because of the way they are set out, are visually very lovely things. There is much more white space than in a prose novel (prose just means normal writing, not broken up in any rhythmic way), and the way the text is set out on the page is playful and interesting. Each page looks different.

* Rhythm – when I read, I read out loud in my head (I know you know what I mean), and I love how reading a verse novel can be like hearing song or rap lyrics.

TOP YA VERSE NOVELS

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

This is a great one to start with. It takes you right up close to the main character and into her world. It’s a really moving and interesting story, and the writing is amazing. Acevedo is a spoken word poet and you can hear it when you read this book.

Gloves Off by Louisa Reid

I absolutely devoured this book. The main character becomes a boxer alongside her mother facing her agoraphobia. You get fast-moving punch verse from both characters and reading from both of their perspectives is so interesting. Reid’s other verse novel, Wrecked, is also absolutely amazing – the whole thing takes place in a court room as a young couple go on trial and the story of who was driving when someone was hit unravels.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

This story is extremely short and follows a young boy as he takes a lift down his apartment block, joined by a ghost on each of the 6 floors, to decide whether he’s going to kill the guy that killed his brother. It’s an absolutely gripping moral dilemma full of moments outside the lift which expand our understanding of his world and how complicated the decision he has to make is.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

This is the story of a boy finding himself in a world of strict gender rules. The edition I read (borrowed and really need to give back, sorry Wibke) is illustrated, set out in the most deliciously creative way and is just a perfect book. The writing is superb, it flows, it is really moving and it deals with some difficult subjects with tenderness, nuance and bravery.

Lucy Cuthew is the author of Blood Moon, a YA novel-in-verse about periods, sex and online shaming, published by Walker YA. Available at Waterstones, Barnes and Noble (US), and Amazon. 

When Secrets Set Sail

Usha is devastated when her grandmother Kali Ma passes away. Then straight-talking Imtiaz arrives – her new adoptive sister – and the two girls clash instantly. They both feel lost. That is until Kali Ma’s ghost appears…with a task for them.

Immy’s and Usha’s home is full of history and secrets. Many years ago it was The House of the Ayahs – for those nannies who couldn’t return to their Indian homeland – and Kali Ma made a promise she couldn’t keep. She can’t pass on to the other side until the girls fulfil it.

Today, Usha and Immy’s over-worked parents run the house as a home for refugees, but eviction threatens. The precious documents that could save them are lost. As the house slowly fills up with ghosts, that only Usha and Imtiaz can see, the girls realise they have more to save than just one grandmother’s ghost.

With help from their new friend Cosmo, Usha and Immy must set off on a quest through London, accompanied by two bickering ghosts, working together to find a series of objects that shine a magical light on their family’s past and hold the clues to securing their future.

If they can set the secrets of generations free, will they be in time to save their home?

Endorsed by Amnesty International

Hachette

Sita Brahmachari seems to be one of the hardest working children’s authors in the UK, and one of my favourites. I had the great pleasure of asking her some questions about her latest book WHEN SECRETS SET SAIL, and her answers are fabulous.

Your books always have “issues” at the heart of them and provoke the reader to discover a piece of history they might not know about, or consider impacts or viewpoints they might not have recognised before. How difficult is it to ensure that they are always exciting stories and not just didactic tomes?

First and foremost I’m fascinated by people’s lives and how the events in their lives, their actions or the things that happen to them impact on the world. I don’t think when people become refugees or are affected by climate change, face mental health challenges, are newly adopted, experience a death in the family or face homelessness or racism or child hunger that they experience these moments in life as ‘issues.’ I don’t shy away from some of the great challenges young people face today but as a writer I’m interested in nuance and getting beyond ‘issues’ to a multi-layered story. I feel that stories are superpower empathy portholes…and in these reactionary times that feels like a vital porthole to be able to open.

When I set out to write a story I might think I know what’s at the core of it, but my synopsis often bears little relation to the final book! The process of storytelling is an adventure for me. I always get taken by the characters into unexpected realms and it’s a real joy when these discoveries and unravellings are experienced and enjoyed by the reader.

It’s always finding characters, symbols and landscapes that really take me into the dreaming space of stories. The artichoke charm from my first story ‘ Artichoke Hearts’ is a guiding symbol for me; I’m constantly unpeeling the layers of characters and wanting to explore their sensibilities; their hopes, fears and dreams. This is what sparks my imagination and takes me into the heart of the story.  Often, as I write, it’s the characters I had thought were on the periphery that take centre stage because, as in life, it is fascinating to get to know people even when, or perhaps especially when, they may seem to be polar opposites to ourselves.

This is how I discovered characters like Themba and Luca in ‘Where the River Runs Gold’ and Imtiaz and Cosmo in ‘When Secrets Set Sail’. Originally ‘When Secrets Set Sail’ was written only from Usha’s point of view then Imtiaz made me see the error of my ways! And I’ve found that Imtiaz not done with me yet, she and Cosmo wanted their own adventure so they appear again in my World Book Day story next year ‘The River Whale.’

The subjects you include in your stories can be very upsetting, do you sometimes find it difficult to do the research?

I hope that my stories contain the gamut of human experience and although I’m not afraid to tackle the most complex of emotions, I always want my stories to scatter hope-seeds. They are inter-generational stories and one thing I’ve realised that no matter what dire situations the characters face there is always someone there to hold them.

I tend to do hands on research. My preference is to work with people. My work with refugee people since I began work in community theatre has informed my characters in many stories and plays. In art as in life once you take people to heart you don’t want to turn your back on them. So If I write about a difficult subject like someone I know or have worked with has faced then my main concern is to find the truth in that experience and to convey the empathy I feel for the characters that grow out of my research and engagements in community. I think engagement is everything and when you engage with people you are naturally moved by their stories, laughing as well as crying with them.

I often place a space in time between research and writing to allow the thoughts and feelings to distil and settle and to find the freedom to move from fact into fiction.

If I was to set out to write a novel at the stage that the research is on top of me I think there would be a real danger that the work would become didactic, something I would hate for my stories to be. An example of this is the experience of helping an elderly homeless woman bathe her feet in a refuge led me to create the character of Elder in ‘Red Leaves’ who is part bark-skinned homeless woman , part tree and ancient spirit of the ancient caring wood!

When children like Pari in ‘Tender Earth’ or Shifa and Themba in ‘Where The River Runs Gold’ are going hungry and needing to use food banks, as so many children are today, children and young people are feeling the discomfort of that sometimes in their own hunger pains, but when I write I think about creative narrative that both recognise the realities of that and offers hope seeds for transformation.

I think a lot about where children place these feelings that the real world ignites in them.  For me stories are magical empathy portholes… they allow us to dream of coming together to change the things that disempower us and to overcome what might seem insurmountable.

In writing fiction I need to know my story is grounded in truths I have discovered from research but then I need to immerse myself in the storytelling adventure and step into dream time.

Perhaps because of late the world, in Wordsworth words has been ‘too much with us’ in my recent novels I have wanted to explore the potential of magical transformations in relation to the realities the children in my stories face.

The idea of unheard stories and oral histories not being forgotten is huge and important, and  the author’s note at the end of WHEN SECRETS SET SAIL tells us the fascinating inspirations for the Ayahs’ story, but where did Imtiaz and Usha, and the idea of them becoming sisters, come from?

 In unravelling the story of the Ayahs – one of abandonment and care- I was looking for contemporary characters who in one way or another would deeply understand why the Ayah ghost ‘Lucky’ would need to set her spirit free by having her story told.

What moved me about the story of the Ayah nursemaids was the dual abandonment. Ayahs found themselves far from home and abandoned but the children they had cared for must have suffered so deeply too from being torn away from each other. That idea is what led me to grow the characters of Imtiaz and Usha.

I don’t think I realised when I set out how the story is as much about Imtiaz and Usha’s contemporary herstory as it is about the Ayahs… the waves of the colonial story from the Ayah’s time is literally in the bricks and mortar of the home they set aside their differences to save. As I wrote I realised that for contemporary readers the journey of these two very different girls to becoming loving sisters had to be central to their discovery of the history of their home.

I often write about family, friendship, belonging and community and have presented many different kinds of families in my stories. With Imtiaz my idea was to see how a looked after child with the most difficult of starts in the world, given the opportunity to feel secure and loved, might grow.

Usha doesn’t have to make an effort to belong but Imtiaz does. It seemed to me that in microcosm that is a theme that also links to the untold stories of the ayahs … if you know that your story is told you have assurance and ease of your place in it… if like the Ayahs and Imtiaz’s your story is hidden or ‘blocked’ (in the ear of the conch)… then there is effort involved to strive to be heard.

This tension between the girls gave me a lot. Here are two girls with shared migrant identities, but very different starts in life who can’t see each other’s ghosts or empathise with each other- but need to believe in each other if they are to stay sisters and save their home. They were, in many ways, the key to me releasing the Ayah’s story into the world.  I have often said stories are an act of communal making and I have to thank my insightful editor Tig Wallace for keeping the historical quest in this story grounded in the ups and downs of Imtiaz and Usha’s relationship!

I also found in their different early lives an interesting contrast. Between them they share wide diaspora birth families, crossing class, cultures, religions and oceans but who they identify with most strongly are those who care for them and love them. Their deep understanding of this gives them keen instincts to uncover the Ayah story.

I love that you found out about the campaign for a Blue Plaque for the Ayahs’ Home as you were finishing writing the book, the videos on the Hachette schools page are great, and I like the idea of encouraging children to make nominations for a blue plaque, have you thought of any yourself, and has it inspired more story ideas?

It was incredible to press send on my story and then discover this event. Some of the adult characters like Valini in ‘When Secrets Set Sail’ talk about ‘fate’ and ‘things being meant!’ but this really did feel like serendipity at its superpower best!

At this brilliant event at Hackney Libraries I met Rozina Visram whose research was central to discovering the Ayah story and I also met Farhanah Mamoojee a wonderful young historian and activist who has been campaigning for a Blue Plaque to recognise the Ayahs Home. Watch this space!

Sita Brahmachari with Farhanah Mamoojee, outside the Ayahs Home

It’s been a real joy to work together with Farhanah @ayahshome to sit on the steps of the real life houses where the Ayahs lived together and to share in the launch of this story into the world… in many ways I feel as if I have met a grown up Imtiaz!

If I could nominate a Blue Plaque to anyone it would be to

Elyse Dodgson (1945- 2018)

Adopted Londoner!

Visionary educator, international new writing director and enabler of young people’s talent the world over.  Some of her fierce equality seeking spirit and a little of her name has found its way into the character of Delyse in my story. Her first play created with students in her Vauxhall School ‘Motherland’ has been a lifelong inspiration to me.

Elyse gave my first job as a young person leaving university at The Royal Court Young People’s Theatre… as community theatre worker. She told me that my work first and foremost was to listen to the communities and ‘welcome them to storytelling’ so that they find their voice. I’ve never forgotten that.

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2018/nov/02/elyse-dodgson-obituary

(I’m breaking the Blue Plaque rules that someone needs to be deceased for twenty years and I encourage young readers who want to take part in the project to do the same! If they want to nominate a quiet hero or heroine whose alive for this imaginary project – why not!)

Have you done any virtual events this year?

I’ve done quite a few virtual events in different formats this year. In the build up to publication it was wonderful to be invited to be part of the South Asian Literature Festival and to have such positive responses to that from people joining from around the world – a sort of virtual globe window – that’s a real positive.

The virtual launch with The Children’s Book Shop in Muswell Hill was perhaps my favourite because it was in a wonderful real life bookshop! I felt connected with the community.

Jane Ray and I have been continuing our work with refugee people running our art and writing class by gathering around what we’ve now named out ‘Virtual Hearth’ – no matter how hard it is – the connection is so worthwhile.

At this time teachers and librarians have been amazing in their resilience. In the face of so many day to day challenges they have kept the reading for pleasure banner flying high. Like so many authors I’ve been busy adapting and learning new zooming skills and doing virtual events… Dominic Kingston and Felicity Highett at Hachette has been a real support in helping me with this and also Pop Up Festival has offered excellent training… BUT… We’ve all discovered things about ourselves during this time and one of the things I realise is how much I love being in a reality-room/ hall with readers! Over the years I have visited many schools and it is here, in the direct and indirect engagements with readers that I have understood so much about writing. Very often, as I’m talking I will notice there is a child at the periphery of the room who is perhaps doodling and not obviously engaging. I’ll catch their eye and know that something I have written and am talking about has impacted them… I have a treasure hoard of letters and art from these children that often inspire me to write the next book.  

Your recent post for the YLG blog about Library Hearths was brilliant, such tremendous support for libraries and librarians. You talk about imagining pinpointing for your characters “who planted the seeds that make them grow into who they will become”, can you share any of your own influences?

Here are just three of my writer-potential-seed-planters….there are many!

I’ll start at home… with my dad who I believe taught me what a storytelling voice was all about. My little memory in ‘The Book of Hopes,’ envisioned by the wonderful Katherine Rundell during Lockdown, is dedicated to him. Jane Ray gifted this beautiful illustration to accompany my little vignette but readers of my work will have spied dad’s brave, adventurous, caring and good humoured spirit before in Granddad Bimal and in the man in the hat in my co-theatre adaptation of Shaun Tan’s sublime graphic novel ‘The Arrival’. 

Dad by Jane Ray

I had an English and Drama teacher who also acted as librarian who always told me I should be a writer and when I wrote ‘Artichoke Hearts’ and returned to my school Mrs Smith, then quite elderly, queued up for a signed copy. ‘You made me wait but told you so!’ she said! In truth this teacher was also an inspiration to Pat Print – the writing tutor in that story and she knew it!

Elyse Dodgson (whom I nominated a Blue Plaque for above) who took a punt on me… and even though I had little experience employed me as community theatre worker for The Royal Court Young People’s Theatre as my first job as a student straight out of university.

What are you reading at the moment and who would you recommend it to?

I’m reading a lot of new writing manuscripts for ‘The First Chapter Awards’ for the Scottish Book Trust at the moment so as contrast I’m dipping in and out of David Almond’s short stories ‘Counting Stars’ (2016 Hodder Children’s Books). For me voice is such an important aspect of being a writer and I love Almond’s storytelling voice. In these stories about David’s childhood in Tyneside I find so much connection, joy and awe at the natural world. I’m loving them because I have been exploring the universal in the global in my own work and I feel a deep connection to this idea especially now when so many people may feel isolated – These stories are a wonderful reminder that in the drift of a cloud or a river’s flow we are so deeply interconnected and I hear in them a heartening song to the power of children’s imaginations. I would recommend it to anyone who is or who has ever been a child!

What are you working on next?

I’ve been putting the finishing touches to my World Book Day story for next year ‘The River Whale’ illustrated by the wonderful Poonam Mistry in which readers will meet Immy again free-diving in prose and verse! I’ve loved writing it and discovering what a year of having access to fulfilling her dreams has brought her and the world!

On another track I’m working on an illustrated YA story (title not quite set yet!) that I began writing in 2008. It will be published in late 2020 by Stripes. In it my older teen characters are walking a high stakes tight rope between myth, dream and reality.

Thank you so much for your wonderful answers Sita! WHEN SECRETS SET SAIL is out now!

Thank You Joseph Coelho

Tatenda says thank you every day, wherever he can. Thank you to Mom and Dad for making breakfast, thank you to the post lady for delivering his favorite comic, thank you to his teacher for marking his work and thank you to the shop worker stacking shelves. But lately, it seems no one can hear his thank yous: their heads are too foggy with worry. So Tatenda decides to say his biggest “Thank you” ever. He stands on tiptoe, brings his arms down like a huge rainbow . . . and this time, his thank you helps the whole community feel better!

Frances Lincoln Books
Thank You, with words by Joseph Coelho and pictures by Sam Usher

THANK YOU is a beautiful book. Joseph was inspired by the Clap for Carers during lockdown and royalties from the book are being donated to Groundwork UK, a federation of charities nationwide “mobilising practical community action on poverty and the environment”. Sam Usher’s illustrations are full of movement and so joyful, really bringing the words to life.

I’ve long loved Joseph Coelho, as a performer and writer, and when Frances Lincoln offered the chance to interview him about THANK YOU I jumped at the chance, while cheekily asking him about other recent titles with other publishers as well – he really is unstoppable at the moment!

The last few years have seen you publish poetry collections, novels, and picture books (as well as plays) for all ages of children and young people! When you have an idea, do you immediately know what you want to do with it or does the form come as you start writing?
What a super question. I don’t know immediately it’s a bit of trial and error, I have found however that if a story is deep enough it can often work for several mediums. Such as my poem If All The World Were Paper which was first published in Werewolf Club Rules but became a starting point for my picture book with Allison Colpoys If All The World Were...

THANK YOU is full of movement. Did you have an idea of how it should be illustrated or did you hand the text to Sam Usher to run with?
All picture books are really a collaboration between writer, illustrator, designer and editor so it’s hugely important that there is space for everyone to express themselves through the book. I am now in the habit of not thinking too much about the visuals, I focus on making sure the text works by itself, that the story is clear with or without illustrations so that the illustrator has scope to really put their mark on the book.

THE GIRL WHO BECAME A TREE, Otter Barry Books, is strikingly illustrated by Kate Milner

What is it about Daphne’s story that inspired you to write THE GIRL WHO BECAME A TREE?
I’ve always been interested in physical transformations as metaphor for internal change. It’s poetry made manifest. So when I came across the greek myth of Daphne it felt like the ideal subject for a story I’d been working on about a girl dealing with the death of her father. As with all the myths there are so many layers and ways to interpret that it felt like  a gift to explore through poetry.

ZOMBIERELLA is deliciously different, first of a 3 part series, but are there other fairy tales you would like to retell?
There are!  Book 2 is based on Rumplestiltskin and is called Frankenstiltskin. I have many ideas in development for many of the other tales some of which get a mention by the Librarian at the start of Zombierella who has discovered a section of the library full of fairytales that have gone bad, so I have a library to fill!

ZOMBIERELLA, Walker Books, is brilliantly illustrated by Freya Hartas

What is your favourite kind of event to do with/for children? How have you found digital events?
I love doing festival events with large audiences, you get a real sense of togetherness and occasion. I thrive off of getting large audiences to interact with each other.  I love the joy that can be generated as students hear their peers from different schools coming up with poetic lines or add to a group poem with people they’ve only just met.
Making everything digital has been interesting, it’s definitely far more time consuming than expected with even a five minute video taking the best part of a day but it is wonderful that we have this technology available to get us through these difficult periods.

Librarians across the country are so grateful for your enormous support, what drives that passion?
Libraries have always featured heavily in my life, from living on estates where I had a library next door, to my first Saturday job, to working at the British library whilst studying at UCL, to touring theatre shows designed to be performed in libraries. I’m immensely grateful to libraries and the services they provide for turning me into a reader and by association a writer. I also sincerely believe that library provision it key to helping communities thrive so it really is an honour to be in a position where I can celebrate these wonderful spaces.

One of my favourite pages from THANK YOU

What are you reading at the moment and who would you recommend it to?
I’m a serial dipper and always have several books on the go at present I’m reading Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo, a book that everyone should read. I’m also reading an anthology of short stories on the theme of the sea published by the British Library called From The Depths and Other Strange Tales Of The Sea Edited by Mike Ashley – Recommended for anyone who likes a shot of creepy adventure. I’m also a big book listener and am currently listening to Children Of Time By Adrian Tchaikovsky for all sci-fi fans who aren’t scared of spiders!

What can we expect from you next?
I have a busy year ahead with book 2 of Fairytales Gone Bad and some more picture books coming out. I’m also working on a brand new middle grade adventure series which is yet to be read by anyone! Eeeek! But I love this period because at the moment it’s just me telling a story to myself or rather hearing characters tell me their story.

Joe Coelho Portraits Hay Festival 2018

Joseph Coelho is an award winning poet and performer from London, although he now lives by the sea. In 2019 he won the Independent Bookshop Week Picture Book Award for If All the World Were. He has been long-listed for The Carnegie Children’s Award with his poetry collection ‘Overheard In A Tower Block’, which was also shortlisted for the CLPE CLiPPA Poetry Award and Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards. He won the 2015 CLPE CLiPPA Poetry Award with his debut poetry collection Werewolf Club Rules. His debut Picture Book, Luna Loves Library Day was voted one of the nations favourite picture books by a survey led by World Book Day. His other poetry books include How To Write Poems and A Year Of Nature Poems

Dear Simon Cowell finding books to read and enjoy with your children is easier than you think!

Dear Simon

Finding books to read and enjoy with your children is easier than you think!

I can still remember four years ago when you complained that children’s books were too boring for you and your then two-year old son and that you were going to give writing a children’s book as you thought you could do better.

At the time I am pretty sure I rolled my eyes as I hear many people declaring that they were going to write a book for children (usually followed by a “how hard could it be”). I then moved on with my life and did not give it another thought, until the news broke about your seven book deal with Hachette (congratulations by the way –  know how hard it can be for many new writers to get a foot in the door)

Your son is now six and I hope that in the past four years you both have discovered books that were not boring and instead sparked a love for reading in you both.

I know how difficult it can be to find something to enjoy – particularly if you have had a bad (or boring) experience with a book or books it can dent the enthusiasm that a reader may have for trying a new book. Now I know that you are thinking that I am going to throw a load of titles I think you should try, and I could but honestly how likely is it that you will be able to take time out of your busy schedule to try and find them, or even send a go-fer or lackey to do this task.

Rather I will recommend that you go to your local public library, I know you split your time between the Kensington in the UK and Beverley Hills in the US. Both locations have brilliant public libraries. Take your son with you, he is now six (or almost there if I have done my basic maths correctly), the best way for a library worker to match a reader with books they may enjoy is to take the time to speak to them. Heck I am happy to chat to you both about what you enjoy doing and then making some suggestions on what may appeal – I have over 20 years of experience as a Librarian for Children and Young People (and their families) under my belt – and many colleagues have even more.

Details and how to find the Beverley Hills Public library can be found here and the Central Library of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea can be found here.

Joining the library is free and you usually only need your ID with proof of address (the requirements of your local library may differ a bit so it is bet to check before going). Be sure to take your son too I am sure he would love a trip to the library with his dad – I know my daughter does!

Who knows they may even offer to host your book launch or even book you for a book talk or storytime.

I look forward to hearing back from you – but even if you do not respond I hope you do give your local library a try – I am sure they would love to help you both!

All the best

Matt Imrie

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

Mother Tongue by Patricia Forde

MOTHER TONGUE is the standalone follow-up to the award-winning and critically acclaimed THE WORDSMITH (published in North America as THE LIST) by Galway native Patricia Forde.
After global warming came the Melting. Then came Ark.
The new dictator of Ark wants to silence speech for ever. But Letta is the wordsmith, tasked with keeping words alive. Out in the woods, she and the rebels secretly teach children language, music and art.
Now there are rumours that babies are going missing. When Letta makes a horrifying discovery, she has to find a way to save the children of Ark – even if it is at the cost of her own life.

Little Island
Mother Tongue by Patricia Forde, cover illustration by Elissa Webb

Little Island have been publishing some great books, unfortunately all ineligible for CKG because they don’t have offices outside of Eire, but definitely worth reading! Mother Tongue, and predecessor The Wordsmith, are both brilliantly devised stories based in a society founded at the end of the world, after flood waters have risen. Noah, the founder of Ark, has decreed that words were to blame for the situation people find themselves in – empty promises and lies of people in power, words instead of action – so all except the most functional 500 words are banned from use. The Wordsmith may store unused words until people can be trusted with them again (but will they ever?). Obviously the idea of storing words appealed to me greatly, so I jumped at the chance of being on the blog tour. The author Patricia Forde wrote a piece about Words for us:

The Need to Keep Words Alive.

I love dictionaries.
As a child, I was often to be found reading those impressive tomes looking for new words, big words, words to impress. Nowadays, as a writer, I still use dictionaries but now to look for smaller words, simpler words, words that are precise.
But what if we start to lose words?
If we don’t have a word for something can we conceive of it? Can we imagine it? And maybe, more importantly, do we still value that which it represents?
There was a thundering brouhaha some years ago when the Oxford Junior Dictionary removed words like kingfisher, acorn and cowslip from its list and replaced them with words like broadband, blog and voice mail. The dictionary is aimed at seven year olds. People felt that the dictionary was adding to the problem of children being alienated from nature. It seemed that the dictionary didn’t value the thrush, the weasel or the wren as much as it valued the grey world of bureaucracy. Committee, common sense and bullet points all had a place while much of the natural world was sent packing.

But, the dictionary argued, the words they chose to include were the words children were using. They had tracked contemporary usage and reflected their findings in their list of words.

How sad that is. As adults, we have to tolerate a diet of grey sludge when it comes to language. We have to talk about Brexit and hard drives and listen to people going on about journeys they’ve made that aren’t journeys at all, and hear them going forward with this that and the other thing and telling us all about it in bullet points. But children?

Their language should reflect the sacred time that we call childhood. I believe that it should be full of beavers and liquorice and droves of dwarves, elves and goblins. We need to keep those words alive because we need to keep that sense of wonder and awe alive.

Many of the words removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary had to do with nature. In this time of environmental crisis surely we need to make children more aware of nature and their natural habitat. It should concern us that if children no longer speak about bluebells or brambles it may be because children are becoming increasingly solitary and urban.

Every word in every language represents an entire archaeology and a history of what has gone before. I shudder to imagine a world like the one I created for The Wordsmith and Mother Tongue. A world where people have access to only five hundred words. Letta, my protagonist, says at one stage:

How can we dream if we don’t have words?

I would also ask how can we think? Words give us precision. In this chaotic world we’ve never needed clear thinking more than we do now. We need our leaders to use language like a laser rather than a slurry spreader. We need to cut through the noise, refuse to accept philosophy that can be written as a tweet because it has no complexity, and build a longer list of words – a list that includes all ideas, all languages, all dictionaries.
Let’s make a thundering brouhaha about that!

Patricia Forde

Words Taken Out of The Oxford Junior Dictionary:

Coronation, duchess, duke, emperor, empire, monarch, decade, carol, cracker, holly, ivy, mistletoe, dwarf, elf, goblin, abbey, aisle, altar, bishop, chapel, christen, disciple, minister, monastery, monk, nun, nunnery, parish, pew, psalm, pulpit, saint, sin, devil, vicar.

Adder, ass, beaver, boar, budgerigar, bullock, cheetah, colt, corgi, cygnet, doe, drake, ferret, gerbil, goldfish, guinea pig, hamster, heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster, panther, pelican, piglet, plaice, poodle, porcupine, porpoise, raven, spaniel, starling, stoat, stork, terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren.

Acorn, allotment, almond, apricot, ash, bacon, beech, beetroot, blackberry,
blacksmith, bloom, bluebell, bramble, bran, bray, bridle, brook, buttercup, canary, canter, carnation, catkin, cauliflower, chestnut, clover, conker, county, cowslip, crocus, dandelion, diesel, fern, fungus, gooseberry, gorse, hazel, hazelnut, heather, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, lavender, leek, liquorice, manger, marzipan, melon, minnow, mint, nectar, nectarine, oats, pansy, parsnip, pasture, poppy, porridge, poultry, primrose, prune, radish, rhubarb, sheaf, spinach, sycamore, tulip, turnip, vine, violet, walnut, willow

Words put in:

Blog, broadband, MP3 player, voicemail, attachment, database, export, chatroom, bullet point, cut and paste, analogue.

Celebrity, tolerant, vandalism, negotiate, interdependent, creep, citizenship, childhood, conflict, common sense, debate, EU, drought, brainy, boisterous, cautionary tale, bilingual, bungee jumping, committee, compulsory, cope, democratic, allergic, biodegradable, emotion, dyslexic, donate, endangered, Euro.

Apparatus, food chain, incisor, square number, trapezium, alliteration, colloquial, idiom, curriculum, classify, chronological, block graph.

Mother Tongue, the sequel to The Wordsmith, has just been published by Little Island and they are both available from their website (thankyou for sending me copies of both!). Founded by Ireland’s first Children’s Laureate, Siobhán Parkinson, Little Island Books has been publishing books for children and teenagers since 2010. They specialise in publishing new Irish writers and illustrators, and also have a commitment to publishing books in translation.

For a sneak peek of Mother Tongue, download this free sample: