Two weeks ago I went to do a workshops with A Tale Unfolds as part of a new Readingzone project that will be coming soon to help children create book trailers for their favourite books in classrooms. We had a fantastic time at Copenhagen School in Islington working with the kids to create a trailer for Cogheart
Afterwards Dom from A Tale Unfolds asked if I would like to do an interview for their ongoing youtube series: The Secret Staff Meeting, which is aimed at introducing authors to teachers. Here are the results. We chatted about how I got my start in writing, my background in film, the books and how I write them, things I think should be taught in schools, and my new book Skycircus. You can check out the interview below…
I am delighted to announce that on the third of May (over a month ago now, but I am a woeful blogger) Cogheart won the Awesome Book Award 2018!!
THE GOLDFISH BOY
THE SECRET OF NIGHTINGALE WOO
The book was up against some stiff competition in the form of: Erica’s Elephant by Sylvia Bishop, Radio Boy by Christian O’Connell, The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange, Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson, and so I was walking on air when Cogheart was finally announced the winner!
I am absolutely delighted to announce that The Cogheart Adventures Trilogy is to be published in the U.S by Jolly Fish Press, which is a division of North Star Publishing Ltd. I am so excited to work with everyone at North Star and Jolly Fish Press, and the plan is to bring the first book in the series, Cogheart, to the U.S. for Spring 2019. Here is the official announcement…
Here’s a video I made for George Kirk – the librarian at the BGRS Learning Resource Centre – all about my six favourite steampunk stories! You can read the transcript for the chat and more about each book below!
Hello! It’s March, almost springtime! And there are a lot of springs in steampunk. So to spring into March I would like to recommend six of my favourite steampunk stories. What is steampunk I hear you ask, well, I’ll tell you… steampunk is science-fiction fantasy with a Victorian flavour. Technology wise, there’s airships, steam-vehicles, clockwork machines, and sometimes there’s also a little bit of magic! And now that we’ve cleared that up. Let’s talk about the books–
1: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman.
Northern Lights is the first part of the His Dark Materials trilogy. It’s about a girl called Lyra, who has a daemon called Pantalaimon.Pan is a fragment of Lyra’s soul in animal form, who can change shape to any creature under the sun. When Lyra’s friend Roger is kidnapped from Oxford, they set out on an adventure to find him that takes them to the frozen island of Bolvangar. They meet: gyptians, fairies, explorers, witches, evil scientists and enormous armoured polar bears!
It’s a cracking adventure, beautifully written and a classic of the genre.
Look out for the new BBC series that is based on His Dark Materials coming soon! And for the prequel series – The Book of Dust – that starts with The Belle Sauvage.
2: Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve.
A story of traction cities: armoured cities on wheels that move through the wastelands of the world eating each other up. While investigating a mystery, our heroes Tom and Hester, get pushed of the edge of London and end up in the desert. To make their way home, they must deal with traction pirates, asassin robots, and a plot to blow up the rest of the world!
It’s a story filled to the brim with action, unique ideas and quirky characters, and also the first part in a long running series.
Look out for the new movie of Mortal Engines coming in the autumn, produced by Peter Jackson!
3: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Leviathan is set in a steampunk 1914 on the brink of the 1st world war. It’s the Clankers, with their enormous steam-powered machines vs the Darwinists with their genetically engineered flying creatures! Alex, a clanker prince heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He is running away from the men who killed his father, when he bumps into Derren a girl who’s disguised herself as a boy to join the Darwinist airforce of Great Britain. So begin their adventures together. Can they stop the looming World War?
It’s a war story unlike any other – filled with spy missions, enormous battles between flying whales and walking tanks. And is also the first part of an excellent series. Plus it has amazing illustrations!
4: The Eye of the North by Sinead O’Hart
When Emmeline’s scientist parents disappear, she finds herself on the way to a safehouse in France with an orphan boy called Thing. But she’s kidnapped before she can arrive by the evil Dr Bauer, who hopes to summon a dangerous creature from beneath the frozen North pole…
An action packed story that’s filled with so much adventure it will make your head spin! Thing is my favourite character in this one: resourceful, mouthy and brave, he rescues Emmeline as many times as she saves him!
5: Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy
Twins Arthur and Maudie receive word their father has died in an attempt to reach the South Polaris. A mysterious clue leads them to question this fact and they set out to discover the truth of what happened to his expedition…
What I like so far is: the fun world building of Lontown, and that Arthur has a bionic arm that makes him different from everyone else. Hopefully that theme develops throughout the story…
UPDATE: I finished the book. It’s a great fun younger mg steampunk adventure. Fast paced and filled with broad, bubbly characters and bright, colourful world building, with lots of different sights to see. The friendly and enjoyable writing style evoked the feel and tone of Aardman’s pirates, or a classic kids anime-manga adventure series.
6: COGHEART by me!!
Lily’s life is torn apart, when her papa, a famous inventor, disappears in an airship crash. With her friends, Robert, the clockmaker’s son, and Malkin her pet mechanical fox she set out on a journey to discover the truth of what happened to him. But first she must escape the plans of her evil governess and the machinations of a pair of silver-eyed men who are after her papa’s most famous invention: the Cogheart.
I promise you it’s an exciting and scary read, full of twist and turns that you hopefully won’t see coming!
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my video and that you read some of my steampunk book selection. If you do let me know what you thought of them! Goodbye and good luck, may the steam be with you! And keep reading!
Steam irons and stove pipes! Check out this cogtastic Cogheart artwork sent to me by Starbeck School. There’s diagrams of all the seasons new mechanimals – they all appear to have the latest in poop shoot technology!!! 💩 – plus guides on how to look after your mechanical owl. What to know about your mechanical cat. Instructions for a mechanical guineapig who runs on oil and hot steam! And a story about a malfunctioning robot! Fantastic stuff!
Checkout these mechanimals I was sent today by Mr Mathews at Crescent Primary School – designed by the Year five and six classes, aren’t they super? Who wouldn’t want a mechanical Toucan, or a Chinese Dragon, or a flamingo with wooden legs?
I discovered these the other day- some fabulous pieces of artwork that Usborne created for Cogheart when they were pitching for the book – my favourite is Lily’s school report – from Lady Octavia Scrimshaw’s Young Ladies Academy, where she is holed up at the start of the story. As you can see from her teacher’s notes, she is really no the best of students…