Cogheart shortlisted for Independent Bookshop Week Awards

I am delighted to announce that Cogheart has been nominated for the Independent Bookshop Week Awards, Children’s Category. Thank you to all the lovely Indie booksellers who have championed the book over the past eight months. I am massively thrilled to be on this list with so many other fabulous authors!

Moonlocket early release copies were out in the world this week

Moonlocket is out on Monday the 1st of May –– that’s in THREE DAYS!

But already there are early release copies in bookshops. Over the last week I have been OVER THE MOON to see people going out and getting excited to get their hands on them and sharing images. Many of the lovely booksellers have also shared more pics of the books in their stores already. There was even a display case and a recommendation of the book in Foyles Waterloo – thanks to lovely Bookseller Henrike. And another recommendation in Teddington Waterstones – thanks to the fab booksellers there.

Here are some of the pictures I’ve collected over the week. I am really excited for the book to launch properly everywhere on Monday, and for more people to be able to get their hands on it!

Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Ceremony

The ceremony for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize took place on the 30th of March, last week. I had a fantastic time, and managed to meet a few of the other nominated authors, though not all of them, because I was a bit too tense and nervous to chat. Thanks to Florentyna and all the lovely Waterstones staff and booksellers who helped organize the event and who have supported Cogheart over the last eight months.

Big Congratulations to the winners @kiran_mh and The Girl of Ink and Stars which won the children’s category and the over all prize, and to @lawrencepatrice and Orangeboy which one the YA prize and Lizzy Stewart and There’s a Tiger in the Garden, which won the picture book prize. Brilliant books. Brilliant speeches. Well deserved. And congrats to all the other nominees too.

I was disappointed #Cogheart didn’t clinch it, but @usborne_books bought me a lovely pair of cufflinks and they brought me a gorgeous looking finished copy of Moonlocket in final book form. Designed, as before, by the uber-talented Kath Millichoppe, with beautiful cover illustrations by Becca Stadtlander! Plus this week there was also a preview of the book in The Bookseller by Fiona Nobel.

When I got home I learned that Cogheart had won the Sefton Super Reads Award in Liverpool – which was a lovely surprise, I wish I had been able to attend their event on that same day, but it was a little too far to get back in time!

Waterstones Book Prize 2017 Trailer

Check out this beautiful little trailer Waterstones has made for the Waterstones Book Prize 2017 nominees in the children’s category. If you go to their instagram account you can see a trailer for each category of the prize — they are all brilliant. I am really looking forward to attending the awards ceremony this Thursday evening at Waterstones Piccadilly and meeting the other nominated authors and some of the fantastic Waterstones staff. Keep your fingers crossed for Cogheart, and I will let you know how it goes!

Cogheart wins the Dudley Teen Book Award 2017!


Malkin with the Dudley Teen Book Award

I am delighted to announce that this time last Tuesday, Cogheart won the Dudley Teen Book Award 2017.

I had a wonderful day at Dormston School, in Sedgley, where I got to meet three of the other shortlisted writers Ally Sherrick (Black Powder), Jane Elson (Swimming to the moon), and Stewart Foster (Bubble Boy). Each of us had the chance to talk to the invited audience of nearly 400 children from the 12 local schools who had read the shortlisted books and voted for the award, and then answer some questions about our books. There was a video message from US nominees Ann Martin (How to look for a lost dog) and Laura Martin (Edge of Extinction), and then the winner was announced…

Me with some of the nominated authors: Stewart Foster (Bubble Boy) Ally Sherrick (Black Powder) and Jane Elson (Swimming to the moon)

I was elated that Cogheart won, especially against such amazing competition, and I got up to accept the award – a star shaped medal! – and even managed to muster up a short acceptance speech.

Afterwards there was time to meet some of the students and sign books, some of them showed me their fantastic colouring in of Becca and Kath’s beautiful cover. And a few others even requested group selfies.

Signing queue selfies with the students

Thanks so much to the staff and students – especially the amazing Bailey – of Dormston High School for looking after us during the event. and to Donna and Belle and everyone from Dudley Library Service for organising such a fantastic day. And congratulations to all the other nominated authors, it was so much fun to meet you and hear all about your books.

You can read Ally Sherrick’s take on it all, over on her author website here…

World Book Day… I mean week… I mean month!

One of the most AMAZING things about World Book Day is seeing pictures of children ( and some teachers) dressed as the characters from your book. It is so strange that these imaginary people, who for a long time only existed in your head, have suddenly become the favourites of all these young readers. Here are a few of the pictures that were sent to me of various World Book Day costumes. As you can see Malkin comes out on top in terms of who kids like to dress as.

Cogheart World Book Day Outfits

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I have also had a very busy bout of school visits around World Book Week itself, and dotted across the few weeks afterwards. At the same time I have been putting the finishing touches to the copy-edits of Moonlocket and then checking the proofs of that book – which has been hectic to say the least. The book has in fact gone to print today – just in time for the release date. But the Cogheart events that have been wedged in around it have been a lot of fun!

Over the month I have visited ten schools, and I must have done about fifteen talks altogether, because at some schools I did smaller sessions for single classes. I feel quite comfortable now presenting the smaller thirty to sixty sessions. They can be very enjoyable as they are more casual and chatty than larger groups and because there’s a chance in those workshop sized events to do some flip book animation with the kids. But to do three of those smaller talks in a row is tiring. I honestly don’t know how teachers manage a whole day of it! Some teachers and classes who I didn’t get the chance to visit sent me fantastic photographs of the Cogheart inspired activities they’d been up to with their classes too…

 Cogheart Class Activities

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Amongst the ten school I did get to visit, I found myself on occasion doing much bigger events than I’d done before, ranging from 150-200 students. At first this was nerve-wracking, but by the third go I had tweaked the content for that size of audience and felt much happier with the flow of the event. I think it helped that I had a microphone for that final large talk. It really made a difference to how confident I felt about performing. The kids at all the larger talks have all been lovely of course, and a big part of it is getting used to the sea of faces you encounter!

In the end all the different types of talk are worth it, because afterwards you get to meet your readers, discuss their favourite different types of stories, and hear about their enthusiasm for your book. And if they do love the book they will tell you in no uncertain terms how marvellous it is, which is the best thing ever to hear. Here are some pictures from the events of the past few weeks, thanks kindly to the teachers who took them, and to everyone who sent the photographs used in this post.

World Book Week School events

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Moonlocket Animated Cover

Just over a week ago today, Waterstones did an exclusive cover reveal for Moonlocket – the sequel to my debut Cogheart. Just like with Cogheart, the beautiful cover was designed by Kath Millichope and illustrated by Becca Stadtlander – they are geniuses both, and I think they have once again done a fantastic job in bringing my story to life in a single image. I love the theatrical flavour of the rich velvety background with its embroidered stars. The harvest moon, with the book’s characters dotted around, brilliantly recalls the clock face on the Cogheart cover. Plus, I adore the London skyline, with its hints of the dark places Lily, Robert and Malkin visit on their journey.

The cover got a fantastic response on twitter, and has been getting some oohs and ahhs from the audiences on World Book Week when I showed it off to them. I can’t wait now to see the final book in the shops. But in the mean time, it was great fun to have a chance to once again animate the characters and create a moving cover to show of the illustrations…

And if you enjoyed the trailer, here’s a little about the book–

An escaped convict.

A missing locket.

A woman from the past…

When infamous escapologist Jack Door breaks out from Pentonville Prison, he sets out for the town of Brackenbridge, determined to find his missing treasure – the Moonlocket.

But when Lily and Robert unwittingly find themselves caught up in Jack Door’s search, they discover that Robert’s history holds the secret to the Moonlocket’s whereabouts…

Another delicious slice of Victoriana, return to the mysteries locked at the heart of London’s dark and murky streets and a world of adventure and extraordinary invention.


Cogheart nominated for the Waterstones Book Prize 2017

I’m delighted to announce that Cogheart has been nominated for the Waterstones Book Prize 2017 in the Children’s book prize category. It’s such an honour to be on the shortlist, along with these five other fabulous books. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk, Beetle Boy by MG Leonard, Time Travelling With a Hamster by Ross Welford, The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Captain Pug by Laura James. I’m especially pleased to be on the list with my author-buddies M G Leonard and Kiran Millwood Hargrave. The awards ceremony takes place on the 30th of March, really looking forward to it and the chance to meet the rest of the nominees.

Cogheart makes various 2016 Library Awards Shortlists and Best of Lists!

I’m delighted to say that over the holidays Cogheart was nominated for quiet a few School Library Service book awards shortlists…

Dudley Teen Book Awards

The award recognises the top 6 books for teens published during 2016 as nominated by teen readers.

The six shortlisted titles for 2016 are Peter Bunzl – Cogheart, Jane Elson – Swimming to the Moon, Stuart Foster – Bubble Boy, Ann Martin – How to look for a lost dog, Laura Martin – Edge of Extinction and Ally Sherrick – Black Powder.

School libraries and library staff are promoting the award which promotes reading and fosters a love of books. Library customers, reading groups and school book groups are being encouraged to read as many of the titles as possible but young people can still vote for their favourite if they don’t read all the nominations.

St Helens and Sefton Super Reads

Cogheart has been shortlisted for Sefton Super Read 2017. Super Reads is an award voted on by high school children from across Sefton’s 20 High Schools. It has be running for over 10 years, previous winners include Ali Sparkes, Sally Gardner, Curtis Jobling and Eleanor Updale. The award winner is announced on the 30th of March.

Haringey Children’s Book Award 2017

Lovereading4kids. HARINGEY CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARD SHORTLIST 2017. The Haringey Children’s Book Award is now in its 3rd year, set up by the librarian community in Haringey to promote literacy across the borough through interaction between schools.


Hillingdon Primary Book of the Year 2017

Hillingdon Primary Book of the Year 2017

This award is aimed at young people in Year 6. The winning title will be announced at the Finale Event which will be held at The Middlesex Suite, Civic Centre, Uxbridge on 15 June 2017.




Leeds Book Awards

Leeds Book Awards started in 2009 and has evolved into a successful city wide initiative, run jointly between Leeds School Library Service and Leeds Public Libraries.

The Award is now a fantastic opportunity for pupils aged  9- 11, 11-14 and 14-16 to take part and vote for the best children’s and young people’s (CYP) books published in the last year.



Cogheart also made the best of 2016 lists of various lovely bloggers and writers…


Books of the Year 2016Love reading for Kids – Books of the Year 2016







November Roundup

November has been a little quieter in terms of Cogheart events, as I have got a massive pile of editing on Book 2 – Moonlocket – to get through. In fact I should be doing those edits right NOW, but instead I am writing this blogpost. So anyway, I shall make it a quick one! Although there weren’t many Cogheart specific events, there were quite a few other thing going on in November…

On Saturday the Fifth of November, I joined some awesome authors, librarians and teachers organised by Lucy Ivision, who were taking part in the March to Save Libraries and Culture. The austerity cuts in this country have seen the closure of hundreds of libraries and the axing of funding for many public arts bodies, which is a travesty. Art is a necessity not a luxury, libraries especially are a gateway to imagination, learning and creativity. To have a public space that’s free to visit, where you can browse books, do you homework, use the internet, join groups, get reading recommendations. It’s an essential public service for the future of education and creativity, and worth fighting for.

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In fact, John Bird, who spoke at the rally, expertly sums up the value of libraries to our society in his letter to the Guardian the same week…

The following Saturday I was at a very different event: Steampunks in Space, at the National Space Museum in Leicster. In the morning I did a children’s zoetrope animation workshop and after that there was a Q and A and reading from Cogheart and in the afternoon we did a signing and sold a few books. It was the first steampunk festival I have been to, and a fantastic day out. A great opportunity to meet Steampunk aficionados, all in amazing home-made outfits, and each with a story about the outfit and character that they’d created. They were such an amazing creative bunch, so I am hoping to do a couple more Steampunk events next year. Here are a few of my favourite pictures from the day…

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Then, near the end of the month, there was the SCBWI conference weekend. SCBWI, is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and every year they put on a conference weekend filled with amazing workshops and keynote speakers. This year I got to hear talks by David Almond, Leigh Hodgkinson – an old friend – and Sarah Davies from the Greenhouse agency. I also went to a workshop on Writing Series Fiction, How to put together content around your book for schools.

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The stand out event of the weekend for me a fantabulously fun hands-on picture book workshop with Viv Schwarz, where we created characters and picture books using a method similar to a big group version of consequences. I wish I had a bit more time to write about the conference, the keynotes and Viv’s talk in particular, but that’s a whole other post!

On the Saturday evening there’s the mass book launch where everyone dresses up as a book character, and if you have a book published you get to go onstage with the rest of the published SCBWI authors, This year – my third in attendance – I went as Harry Potter, and got to do this with Cogheart. It even appeared with all the other SCBWI authors on the mass book launch cake, which looked amazing and tasted rather sugary. Anyway here are some Potter pictures from the party…

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