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Bath Children’s Literature Festival

All posts tagged AnimalStories

Three new books!

Three new books are coming out soon! The Shelter Puppy is about a gorgeous whippet cross puppy called Winston, and it’s published in June. Chloe Centre Stage is the first book in my drama school series, Shine, and The Secrets Tree is the fourth Hounds of Penhallow Hall book – they’re both published on July 12th. Thanks to the amazing artists for the covers and illustrations – Sophy Williams, Monique Dong and Jason Cockcroft.


I’ve just been on my third author visit to Russia! This time it was to St Petersburg and Kaliningrad. It was really great to visit such a different Russian city.

I did one event in St Petersburg, talking about all my different books, and the inspiration behind them, and then answering questions. I’ve been thinking about the cats at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg ever since Tatiana from Eksmo, my Russian publisher, told me about them. And at this event I was asked if I’d ever write about them. It’s definitely a sign that I should!

Kaliningrad is a plane journey away from St Petersburg, and it looks very different. It has a beautiful modern cathedral with huge windows.

It’s lovely at night too!


Kaliningrad is really famous for producing amber, and I got to visit the amber museum, which is housed in part of the old city fortress walls.


Amber is ancient fossilised tree sap, and the museum has a collection of the rarest sort of amber, which has leaves and insects from hundreds of thousands of years ago trapped inside. Sadly, this just proves that I’m still scared of spiders even if they’re hundreds of thousands of years old! But I loved the fir cone encased in amber.

This is one of the beautiful paintings I was given at my event in a wonderful children and families library in Kaliningrad – it has amber pieces decorating it! I love the swirly Van Gogh style of this tree too.


I was given so much beautiful artwork, including this cat, which I really love!


Maisie Hitchins is really popular in Russia at the moment, which is so exciting – it’s great that Russian children are reading about a girl detective racing around Edwardian London! This is just one of the drawings of Maisie.


The main reason for the trip to Kaliningrad was to be part of the opening celebrations for a new bookshop – always the loveliest event for an author! The shop is part of the Bookvoet group, and they had invited lots of authors to take part – it was brilliant to meet them all. Bookvoet also commissioned cartoons of each author with a famous monument in Kaliningrad – this is mine!


Lots more photos of amazing artwork will be up soon on the pics page!

Pangbourne Library Event

Pangbourne is a village really close to where I live, and around us a lot of libraries have been threatened with closure. My local library is about to have its hours slashed yet again, despite being busy and fabulous and full of great books and things to do. The staff and volunteers at Pangbourne asked me to talk about my Animal Stories series at the library during the Easter holidays – and they even let us cover the library in glitter.

I love meeting readers at events like this one – it was lovely that so many people brought books to be signed, and we even had a Maisie Hitchins in costume, with Eddie the dog! I also got to meet Addison, who brought me her own animal story to read, about a pug called Luna. Luna loves cupcakes – a dog after my own heart…


You can read all of Addison’s story on the Your Stories page.

St Petersburg

I’ve just come back from a wonderful few days in St Petersburg, Russia. I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in the Cultural Forum there, and also to do several events with Bookvoet bookshops. It was so lovely to meet lots of Russian fans and talk to them about how I became a writer, and the animals behind my books! A huge thank you to Bookvoet and Eksmo for arranging all the events, and to Tatiana from Eksmo’s Rights department for translating like an absolute superstar.

I was staying right in the middle of St Petersburg, next to the beautiful St Isaac’s Cathedral, so this is the view from my bedroom window.

Tatiana persuaded me that it would be a good idea to climb to the top of the cathedral! Amazing views, but soooo cold!

This is the gorgeous inside of the cathedral.

It was so exciting doing bookshop events – lots of children wanting their books signed!

And Bookvoet had created gorgeous kitten and puppy standees – I have told my cats that if they’re naughty, I’m swapping them for the cardboard version…

I was so busy that I didn’t get to see that much of St Petersburg, but I did do a super-early-morning stop at the Cathedral of the Resurrection, which has the most beautiful roof. This was on the way to the station for our five-hour journey to Petrozavodsk in Karelia, near to the border with Finland.

The Petrozavodsk event was a first for me – I’ve never needed to have a security team at one of my events before!

I also got to visit part of the university in St Petersburg for the Cultural Forum event – it was held in a palace that belonged to the family of the two brothers who killed Rasputin. It was amazing to be surrounded by such a sense of history. The mirror behind us on these stairs has bullet holes in it from the Second World War.

I also got to try some gorgeous Russian tea – I don’t usually drink tea, I’m a big coffee fan, but this tea is made with orange, ginger and sea buckthorn berries, and it’s an amazing colour!

The best bit about the trip was meeting so many excited children, and lots of them had made amazing posters and artwork about the books. (I’ll add a post with pictures of these very soon!) I met lots of Maisie Hitchins fans – the Maisie books were published in Russia last year and they’re very popular. I love it that Russian children really like books about Victorian London!

Mikel had made this gorgeous cat which is now on my bookshelf.

Bookvoet held a competition inviting children to send in photos of their pets – and then turned them into this fantastic backdrop.

Lastly, a big thank you to Alice, who gave me a toy for my cats. Poppy got so excited about it that she practically got stuck in a chair, and Milly and Star are pretending they don’t care – but they both played with it later!

My trip to Moscow!

I’ve taken far too long to put this post up – mostly because I’ve been desperately trying to finish the fourth Hounds of Penhallow Hall book, The Secrets Tree before my deadline. (Just made it!)

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone at Eksmo in Moscow for my wonderful visit. I had such a lovely time meeting Russian readers of my books, it was really exciting, and everyone was so friendly and welcoming. Over fifty of my books are now published in Russian, and they have My Naughty Little Puppy, Triplets and Magic Molly coming out next year!

I spoke to so many children who’ve been reading the Maisie Hitchins books – I love it children around the world are reading about Maisie racing all over London with her faithful dog sidekick Eddie.

This is Tatiana, who organised everything, and showed me round Moscow! We’re at a viewpoint by the university where you can get an amazing sight of the city.

It’s such a beautiful city, very busy and exciting. I had to take this photo in the GUM department store as Robin, my middle son loves watermelon. He would now like to go to Moscow too…

This is Iulieta, my lovely Russian editor, and we’re standing in front of a statue of the famous Russian author Pushkin, and his wife Natalya in Arbut Street, where Iulieta and Natalya took me shopping for souvenirs.

I bought a gorgeous brooch in the shape of a tiny lizard, but I was tempted by this chameleon too – it’s a handbag!

This is Marina, who translated for me at all the events. She was very patient, and very good when I forgot to stop talking and give her a chance to catch up…

At the Moscow International Book Fair on my last day Eksmo gave me the most wonderful present – a bag full of biscuits with the Russian covers of my books on! My children were very impressed with this bit…

The really exciting thing is – I’m going back! Not actually to Moscow, but to St Petersburg and Petrozavodsk in November. I’m really hoping it might be snowing, particularly as I’ll be writing next year’s Christmas book by then!

In other news...

I’ve taken far too long to put this post up – mostly because I’ve been desperately trying to finish the…