I wanted to share some very exciting news. I found out a couple of weeks ago that Asha And The Spirit Bird has been selected for the Carnegie Nominations for 2020. This is such a huge honour and I am very very happy to be there. The wonderful thing about the Carnegie Medal is the commitment to public service. And to be committed to libraries and reading is in my view one of the best things. Libraries and access to books means so much to me. Not everyone is able to buy books from shops and so to be able to borrow from libraries means we can all enjoy the pleasure and excitement of reading.
At the moment my Patron Of Reading School Mellers Primary in Nottingham are doing a project all about Carnegie – who he was and his charitable work. So I will look forward to seeing their work.
On the 3rd September I was officially able to do my very own show and tell! It was the day that I could share the amazing cover of the US version of Asha And The Spirit Bird.
Here it is – and isn’t it amazing?
It’s been created by an American Indonesian artist called Dion MBD and I love that it’s totally unique and really different to the UK cover which was created by a Romanian artist called Aitch.
When I visited my old primary school, Mellers in Nottingham, the children in year 6 who are reading my book gave me their views on it which I’m going to share with you all here. This is what they thought:
“I like both of them but I like the US one because I feel like it makes more sense and it has the bird watching over and protecting Asha.”
“I like the US one because Asha is holding the pendant which relates to the bird and relates to her Grandma and this means something.”
“I like both but I prefer the US one because it has more meaning. The bird shows you more about the book.”
“I like how you see Asha – she didn’t look like I expected. I thought she would be wearing traditional Indian clothes but she was wearing a hoodie. This made me question things about the book. I know why her hair is short now because she cuts it in the book.”
And here are a few extra comments their teacher shared with me about Asha And The Spirit Bird in general.
“They were interested in the setting too and talked about similarities between the UK and India - there were more than they expected. They didn't think Asha would have electricity or the Internet! We talked a lot about what Asha was wearing and the colours used in the illustration. It was a great and lively discussion. I think on the whole they preferred the US one. After the discussion, I was also in agreement with them which surprised me!”
It’s fantastic that the cover has provoked such discussion!
Thank you once again to the amazing children and their teacher Mrs Buttress.
A few weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to go all the way to Nottingham to do a very special book tour. It was special because Nottingham is my home-town and ever since I was a little girl I dreamt about maybe going back there to share a real book I had written.
So…I actually went back to my old school, Mellers Primary, and took along Asha And The Spirit Bird to share with them all. If you are one of the lovely children I went to see on the 23rd September here’s a special wave to you all!!!!
It felt so strange to be sitting outside my old headteacher’s office – as if I was on the naughty step and was waiting to see him! But to be honest he was never strict. Mr Stanton was the most lovely headteacher. He used to play guitar and get us singing lots of amazing songs!
I was so impressed with the children and all the teachers I met on the day. I was honoured to be shown around by Milan and J’Maer – thank you both! They were so smart in their uniforms and actually were the most perfect shower rounders. They took me everywhere and showed me all the things that had changed since I was there. Like they have a whole new part of the school for the older pupils!!! And they have a wonderful new hall where everyone gathers for assembly.
This is where I talked to the whole of the school about my book Asha And The Spirit Bird. They all behaved so well. They were amazing. Even the littlest children who I know, from being a teacher myself, can sometimes find it hard to sit still! But they listened and asked some awesome questions.
I even got to sit in on a Maths class with year 6 – I couldn’t believe how good they were at thinking about maths and explaining their answers – super impressed!
Well I hope that you are enjoying reading Asha And The Spirit Bird – how far in are you? What’s your favourite part? Do you believe the spirits of our ancestors are watching over us?
Write and tell me!
On July 13th I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in the very lovely Bradford On Avon Mini Book Festival or BOAMF as it likes to be called. It’s run by some hardworking local authors and it marks the start of the Summer Reading Challenge. It all took place at Bradford Library and was great.
One of the really good things about the festival is that it’s free. That’s right it doesn’t cost anything, so if you didn’t get there this year make sure you do next year. You can just spend the whole day in the library getting creative and your parents or carers don’t need to worry about cost.
I took along my special book objects that I always love to display and chatted to the kids about spirit birds. Then they made some amazing ones of their own. One of the organisers took a photo of the rug afterwards and it was full of feathers, bits of tissue paper and strands of shiny strips – we got all these things from Scrapstore – a total heaven of things to recycle!
Hope you enjoy looking at the photos of the day!
This is very hot off the press! Today I went to the very brilliant Ralph Allen School in Bath to do a visit. If you are in Ralph Allen Year 7 – I’m talking about YOU!!!
Thank you for making me so welcome today. I was very impressed with you all and I really hoped you enjoyed hearing about Asha and Jeevan’s journey through the Himalaya in search of Asha’s papa. You asked some very thoughtful questions which really made me think. It was very very difficult to decide who got to go home with the lantern balloon in the shape of a tiger but I hope that the boy who won has this little fella sitting on his desk inspiring him to write his story!
One of the very exciting things about today – well two things actually if I’m allowed to change my mind! Was that 1. I got to have my very own reserved parking spot! See photo. And 2. Chickenhouse were filming the event which I can’t wait to see. Once I have the film I will post it here so you can take a look.
Lots of you bought books – so thank you so much for that! And please do let me know what you think of the book, the visit or anything.
Later on to celebrate National Writing Day you invented your own spirit animals – can’t wait to hear about them.
It’s been a little while since I popped in to the blog to write to all of you lovely readers and web-viewers. So it’s been a bit of a busy time recently. One of the very exciting things that happened just a few days ago was that I was featured in The Guardian Newspaper’s Book page and named as one of the best books so far in 2019!!!!! I was absolutely thrilled and had a very busy day replying to all the lovely messages that lots of people sent. So a huge thank you to The Guardian for choosing me from all the other amazing books that are out there at the moment.
Another really exciting thing that happened last week during half term was that I was invited to join The Authors For Oceans Panel at the amazing Hay Festival! It’s always been a dream to go there and so this was incredible. I was so well looked after in the green room, which is where you get to hang out when you appear at festivals. I ate lots of cake and drank lots of tea. Sharing the stage with one of my heroes, Lauren St John, was such an honour. Along with Nicola Davies and Yuval Zommer, we discussed how important it is for all of us to get involved in helping to rid the oceans of plastic. It would be awesome if you could help and get involved!
I was also appearing at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road over half term with Catherine Johnson and Muhammed Khan Kick The Moon. We were talking about why there are not very many characters of colour in children’s books. In fact it’s only 1%. And also there are very few children’s writers of colour. What do you all think of that? Things are hopefully getting better but we still need more writers writing characters that reflect the diverse Britain of 2019.
I just had the cutest surprise ping in to my twitter on WBD – I had to look not once, twice but actually three times – it’s true before I could believe that it was a photo of an actual baby dressed up as a SPIRIT BIRD!!!! I was totally in awe of this Mum who had gone to the huge trouble of getting the cover of Asha And The Spirit Bird onto a romper – and then as if that wasn’t cute enough – the baby has little feathers on her/his bottom – apparently s/he wasn’t keen on the beak! Can’t imagine why not! Thank you to the baby for putting up with being dressed up – I am your number one fan!
One of the loveliest things about being an author is that I get to go round to schools and meet some of you wonderful readers of Asha And The Spirit Bird. I started my school visits just ahead of publication so it was totally awesome to see so many copies when I arrived. All of the schools I’ve visited so far have been fantastic. They had some really interesting questions – and thankfully didn’t ask anything I didn’t know the answer to – phew! Thanks guys!
I loved signing all your books, even though I had to concentrate really hard to avoid making any mistakes!
So many exciting things have happened since I last wrote here. For one my book has found its way across the seas and is now being read by my niece in Singapore with her class. Also it has travelled all the way to the USA and my friend Carlyn got her dedicated copy the other day. Carlyn was so very sweet and she sent me such a lovely publication day present. Chocolates, fizz, biscuits and a VERY touching blue cup. In the story of Asha And The Spirit Bird, some horrible men smash her favourite blue cup when they storm into her house and knock it off the shelf. Well Carlyn sent me Asha’s cup – and guess what? It’s all fixed!!!
I also had my book launch which was really exciting. My lovely friend Mel made me a lamagaia!!!! I was stunned. It’s soooo beautiful. I love it. I have more to share about that evening so watch this space!!!
Today is a very special day. It’s officially 7th Feb 2019. This date always had a rather magical ring to it and this is because it is my BOOK BIRTHDAY!!!!
That means that Asha And The Spirit Bird is officially published today. You can now buy it in any bookshop or online. A very exciting moment in my journey to publication – and one which I have loved. I’ll be sharing more news about today’s events a little bit later but for the moment, I’m going to share the photo of Asha And The Spirit Bird with its own special spot on the shelf in my local Waterstones.
And look! It’s got one of those special notes with a quick summary of the story (and it says it’s brilliant!) Hope you all agree with that comment. It totally made my day so huge thanks to the lovely bookseller who wrote that!