Celebrating Female Authors on International Womens Day 2020

Today being International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate successful female authors in the world of children’s books, and being my blog I thought I would showcase my favourites – the women whose books I have read and reviewed, recommended to students time and time again, and excitedly awaited their next publication. Here features just a few of the overall number of women successfully navigating a career in Children’s Literature, with details of books they have published (and any we know are on the way).

Abi Elphinstone

Abi is an absolute favourite because of her natural talent to create magical worlds that you feel so at home in as the reader. I first read one of Abi’s titles when I came across Sky Song, a book I couldn’t put down and I knew then that I envied children growing up with her as one of their go to authors as I would have loved these books during my own childhood. Abi first published the Dreamsnatcher trilogy (2015-2017) and followed up her Sky Song success of 2018 with a World Book Day 2019 title Ever Dark, which is a prequel to her much anticipated release that same year Rumblestar – a title in The Unmapped Chronicles. These latest books immerse the intended reader in an unforgettable adventure story with unbelievably brave characters of similar age to themselves, all located in places that your left in awe of, all the time wondering if these places could exist beyond the next door you walk through or beyond that cloud that just floated past you. Abi makes the world we live in feel as though it walks hand in hand with one of magic and make believe. Winter Magic is a short story collection that Abi curated in 2017, with her introducing the book and featuring her own story within – The Snow Dragon which went on to become a picture book in 2019. Illustrated by Fiona Woodcock the picture book gives younger audiences the opportunity to be immersed in a beautifully magical world created by Abi, and the stunning illustrative work by Fiona brings the words to life for younger readers to really enjoy.

2020 will see Abi continue her The Unmapped Chronicles series with the hotly anticipated Jungledrop due for publication on 14th May. This will be another consecutive year that Abi is rewarding readers with a book to enjoy, something that she has done for over half a decade now and placing her firmly on the throne amongst Children’s Literature royalty as these are undoubtedly the next generation of classics that authors such as C.S.Lewis, Arthur Ransome, Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett, and Lucy Montgomery would be complimenting and purchasing for the young readers in their lives too.

If you are new to the world of Abi then do pick up a copy of Rumblestar at your local library, school or bookshop as it is a stunning series to find yourself immersed in, and you have until May to read it ahead of the next instalment. I highly recommend stocking all of the mentioned titles in a primary school library, and advocate The Unmapped Chronicles as the perfect high school transition series as the third instalment is currently due for publication in May 2021, so this years Year Six students should look for a copy in their High School Library ( all high schools should definitely stock this series too!) as my 2018 Year Six fans of Abi were advised to search out the rest of the series in theirs. Sky Song has just been re-released with a gorgeous new design on the front cover so I fully intend to capitalise on that and introduce the book to my confident Year 4 readers and above very soon – those that miss the original cover design versions in our library through them being so popular!

Amy Wilson

A girl called Owl published in 2017 and instantly confirmed that Amy was one to watch as a writer that combines the world we live in and can relate to with the world of fae, and more importantly making that feel relatable too. It released late that same year as The Lost Frost Girl in America, and tells an incredible story about Jack Frost’s daughter. This would have captivated my imagination instantly as a child and I am delighted to introduce the world’s Amy has created to children accessing books in my library, confident that in doing so they will gain a reading for pleasure mantra, seeking out more and more quality texts to escape into. The following year Amy released A Far Away Magic ( known as Angel and Bavar when it was released in America later that year) and continued to secure her place in Children’s Literature royalty as a go to author for entire landscapes and worlds of magic, the sort that give you a chill down your spine too.

2018 also saw Amy release Snowglobe, which is the first time I came across her work as I reviewed the title for an online Children’s magazine. The book took my breath away and left me with an intense desire to escape back into the creative writing that Amy has put her name to, so much so that before long I had read her previous publications too, having been gifted them by Amy herself after contacting her to tell her how amazing her book is and how much I will enjoy sharing it with children in the library I work in. I have since hoped that Amy would return to this title and create a series but so far her books have all been released as stand alone publications. Maybe one day.

Continuing to reward readers of middle grade with quality content to immerse themselves in Amy published Shadows of Winterspell last year (2019), and Sally Morris for the Daily Mail summed the book up perfectly when she wrote “Amy Wilson is cornering the market in dark, mystical adventures that stretch the imagination”. Amy gifts readers with books they never knew they needed until they read them, and then they know they not only need them but that they want them too.

Anyone that hasn’t yet accessed the books Amy has published is fortunate enough to have pick of any of the mentioned titles, as they are all standalone titles and equally amazing in content and quality. I will always cherish A Girl Called Owl as I love that the book expands on a character familiar to most children, Jack Frost. There is a place within every primary school library for Amy’s titles as they encourage using your imagination, nurture a child’s love of magical worlds and creatures, and encourage children to want to read for pleasure.

Damaris Young

Debut author of 2019 with The Switching Hour, Damaris offers readers escapism into a world filled with tension and suspense, darkness and danger. It is always a pleasure to read a book that you get so lost in, and in this case from the offset, that when I came to realise I was only 37 pages in I was genuinely pleasantly surprised because there had already been so much detail, depth, exploration and explanation that I anticipated being much further into this book and was delighted my the prospect that there was still more to read, and given that the first few chapters encapsulate content that encourages reading for pleasure it was such a treat to read the rest of the book. 2020 does hold publication of Damaris’ next title The Creature Keeper in August, and having heard details about the book at an event in London hosted by Scholastic recently I am excited to get my hands on a copy and see what is next from an author that is definitely “One to Watch” that’s for sure.

Emma Carroll

If I was to think of a children’s fiction author that writes with historical content it would always be Emma, having read Secrets of a Sun King which published in 2018 and features Howard Carter and the discovery of Tutankamen’s tomb which is a parallel to Egypt at the time of Tutankamen’s death, all in a fictitious sense and yet gripping, intense and immersive. Emma has an incredible talent for creating realistic characters and locations that link to an event in history and flow. They make for great reading. The most recent title Emma has released is another fantastic read, The Somerset Tsunami in 2019. This book touches on the Witch trials that were becoming popular in the country at the time, and takes part in Somerset where it is recorded that they experienced a Tsunami like incident. I loved this book and the characters that Emma created so much that I gifted copies to some of the classes at my school and have since found out that the teachers have shared the book with their classes, approving wholeheartedly with the quality and depth of the text.

Emma also writes titles for Barrington Stoke, providing titles for Dyslexic readers to enjoy. The Ghost Garden publishes is July and promises to deliver the quality that is guaranteed with a novel written by Emma. Since 2014 with The Girl who Walked on Air we have been fortunate enough to have new titles released by Emma, those sorts of books that make you envious of this generation of readers that get to enjoy them as intended and leaving you with no doubt that these are timeless classics. 2020 will also see Emma releasing a book in May and there is another on the cards due for publication on World Book Day 2021 so keep a look out for those.

Francesca Armour-Chelu

Local author Francesca published Waterstones BOTM winner The Butterfly Circus in June 2019, with the book having all the magic and atmospherics displayed in the film The Greatest Showman. It is a heart warming story of family and uncertainty, danger and bravery telling of two sisters who are separated and the journey the younger of the pair goes on in order to find and rescue her older sister from being kidnapped by an apparent rival circus. The loss felt when they are separated felt so vivid that as the reader you feel compelled to read on until you know the overall conclusion to the story – you become hooked! I shared the experience of this books launch event with my daughter who had also fallen in love with the book as soon as she heard it which makes this an even more personally special read, with Francesca showing us such kindness and generosity – sending my 12yo daughter some book memorabilia in the post, making her feel so incredibly special in the process too. I really look forward to news of Francesca’s next book – which she is working on at present.

M.G.Leonard

For many the idea of liking bugs and things that crawl like spiders and beetles is a firm no way – that was until Maya wrote her Beetle Boy series, which made Beetles and Bugs cool and gave them feelings as well as a story of their own that developed alongside the main characters. This history of theirs made you empathise with them when things got tough, and devastated when things went horribly wrong. That is powerful writing as it changes your feelings towards something you feel strongly about, giving you a better understanding of a subject that you evidently knew little about, and all through fiction too! This lady is amazing!

I shared the Beetle Boy series with my youngest son who was 9/10 at the time, started reading them fearful of bugs, and concluded reading them with a mutual respect for beetles and other insects that crawl and fly. We loved the adventures awaiting us within each book and the humour that they contained too. I highly recommend the series to those looking for a longer read with a passion for nature, adventures, mystery solving and saving the day.

Maya has also recently released a Picture book – with another on the way this year – A Tale of a Toothbrush is as the name suggests, and a good indicator of how important the environment is to the books author as it explains how a plastic toothbrush will never decompose and is a wasted resource if thrown out before being reused for other purposes when no longer required for cleaning teeth. The newest Picture Book, which is publishing in June 2020 is Rex the Rhinoceros Beetle and allows younger audiences the opportunity to fall in love with beetles too.

In January 2020 Maya collaborated with Sam Sedgman to write a mystery story set on board a train that quite literally immerses you into the story and on board one of the trains carriages, offering the escapism the intended reader will appreciate and enjoy as they try to work out a classic mystery before the train journey concludes, which gives elements of suspense and tension to the story too. This title is part of a new series the pair are working on, with book two Adventures on Trains :Kidnap on the California Comet due for publication in September 2020. This is a fantastic series to start if you are a fan of trains, adventures, journeys, mysteries and problem solving.

Sophie Green

Local author Sophie Green has just launched the final title in her Potkin and Stubbs trilogy (WBD 2019) with local events being hosted for each of the instalments in the trilogy at six month intervals. With stunning illustrations from Karl Mountford that include eye catching cover designs, stunning would best describe them, these books have become incredibly popular with confident chapter readers. With detective children and crimes to solve it is easy to see why these titles are so popular with children and the Gotham City feel location makes the entirety of the series appealing and gives it a recognisable feel to many.

There is no denying that Sophie is firmly seated at the table when choosing successful children’s authors and there is a definite excitement to what will follow in the future after this hat trick of popular releases so far. At the launch event for Potkin and Stubbs : The Haunting of Peligan City it was asked of Sophie whether there would be lots more to come from the duo of detectives and Sophie confirm there would be three books in total before she looked to write something entirely different which is both interesting to hear as a reader and librarian and understandable for the same reasons too.

There are so many more women that could feature on this list as there are many more that are deserving and yet I hope that to celebrate IWD 2020 by showcasing some of the successful women in children’s literature on here today I have helped shine a little light on the talent that the children of today have access to, and I hope that this small list inspires you to choose books by these authors because all of them have shown me such kindness, generosity, inspiration, hope, and the ability to share amazing stories with the next generation.

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