Virtual Author Visits

I am an award-winning author with over twenty published books for children and teens. I enjoy giving talks and creative writing workshops in schools, and am now able to offer these as online sessions, via Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

  • Engaging, interactive workshops for young people
  • Good knowledge of Zoom and Microsoft Teams
  • 100 Mbps wired ethernet connection – no lag or pixellation

Years 1-2: African picture books

I read my picture book DON’T SPILL THE MILK, accompanied by hi-res illustrations onscreen (Christopher Corr), and then help the class to produce ideas for a sequel, DON’T DROP THE MANGO!

Years 3-4: Creating interesting characters for your stories

Using photographs of children from around the world as a springboard, I lead the class through the process of coming up with intriguing and believable story characters.

Years 5-6: ‘Limited third person’ point of view

Using examples from my book SURVIVOR TITANIC, I introduce the advanced technique of ‘limited third person’ storytelling and give students opportunities to experiment with it themselves.

I also offer thriller-writing or travel-writing workshops for secondary level students.

Read testimonials about my in-person school visits.

For more information, or to make a booking, email Yvonne at Authors Abroad yvonne@caboodlebooks.co.uk

I look forward to joining your class from afar, wherever in the world you may be!

Hilda and the Hidden People is coming this September

I do find it hard keeping secrets, so it’s a great relief to finally be able to make this announcement. I have a new book out this September!

HILDA AND THE HIDDEN PEOPLE is a fully illustrated story starring Hilda, a blue-haired girl with a thirst for adventure and an uncanny talent for making friends with magical creatures. My book is based on the forthcoming Netflix series HILDA, which in turn is based on Luke Pearson’s popular comic book series. Over the last six months I have enjoyed getting to know this brave, kind-hearted girl and her friends. They’re wonderful characters to write, and I hope you’ll come to love them too. HILDA AND THE HIDDEN PEOPLE comes out in September and is published by Flying Eye.

cover artwork by Seaerra Miller

SAHARA DISCOVERY and SAHARA SURVIVAL now available for pre-order

Reading Planet is an exciting new reading programme from educational publisher Rising Stars. Aimed at Reception and KS1, it is based on the latest literacy research. My new books SAHARA DISCOVERY and SAHARA SURVIVAL are in the Galaxy strand of the programme.

SAHARA DISCOVERY is non-fiction. It introduces some of the people who live in the vast Sahara, in particular the Tuaregs. Discover what it is like to live, play and work among the Tuareg people and their camels.

SAHARA SURVIVAL is fiction. Ali and Amira are excited to help their dad deliver a plane, but they have no idea that their journey across the Sahara desert is about to turn into a fight for survival. (Because it’s written for six and seven year olds, both the plane crash and the ‘fight for survival’ are pretty gentle).

Both books are illustrated by the talented Egyptian-born illustrator Hatem Aly and they fall in the Purple level of the reading series (see below). They can be pre-ordered individually on Amazon or direct from the publisher as part of a reading pack.

Don’t Spill the Milk artwork

Back in September I enjoyed visiting Bishop MacKenzie in Lilongwe, Malawi. It is now Book Week there and Year 4 have been doing some wonderful paintings inspired by DON’T SPILL THE MILK. Well done, all of you!

If art is your thing, you may also enjoy these ALL ABOARD colouring sheets, drawn by Christopher Corr. Click on an image to download a printable pdf.

colouring1

colouring2

ALL ABOARD FOR THE BOBO ROAD publication day

“All aboard for the Bobo Road, the most beautiful road in the world!”

In my new picture book, Fatima and Galo load the luggage while their dad Big Ali drives the bus. Help count on bikes, rice, melons, goats and chickens as the bus travels through the stunning scenery of south-western Burkina Faso. Illustrations by Christopher Corr.

My wife and I used to live in the northern ‘Sahel’ region of Burkina Faso, the shore of the Sahara desert. We often thought wistfully of Banfoura and Bobo Dioulasso down in the south-west of the country, which are always lush and green by comparison.

Banfoura is famous for its picturesque waterfalls and ancient rock domes, whilst Bobo Dioulasso is the cultural capital of Burkina Faso, known for masks, dancing and drumming. This region is also remarkable for the number of different ethnic groups who live there – literally dozens of ethnic groups living in an area the size of Wales, all with different languages and traditions. Chris Corr has captured the cultural vibrancy of the region in his wonderful illustrations. Check out these stunning Gurunsi houses, for example:

gurunsi_houses

The journey from Banfoura to Bobo is very close to my heart. I have done it on three occasions, with different travelling companions, and all three have great memories attached.

I really enjoyed writing this book and seeing it take shape. Unlike my other picture books, this one went through many completely different drafts. At one point it was even called THE BANANA THAT BROKE THE BUS. I am grateful to my editor Libby Hamilton for coaxing the book into its present form.

Free BOBO ROAD colouring sheets

To celebrate publication day, Chris has produced two fabulous colouring sheets. Feel free to print them out for children to colour in. If the results look good, please do take a picture and email it to me for display here on the blog.

All Aboard for the Bobo Road colouring sheet 1

All Aboard for the Bobo Road colouring sheet 2

You can read early reviews here and buy a hardback copy of the book here, or (even better) order from a local bookshop. Paperback will be out sometime next year, I imagine.

BEEP BEEP! Happy reading!

Fabedougou in Burkina Faso

The Domes of Fabedougou must be one of my favourite places in Burkina Faso. They are located in the south-west of the country, in a desolate spot between Bobo Dioulasso and Banfoura. These striking egg-shaped formations are very similar to the Bungle Bungles in Australia. They date back 1.8 billion years and were probably covered by water for much of their history, hence the peculiar layering of the rock.

Domes_of_Fabedougou1

I came here with Charlie the day after we got engaged back in 2006, and again two years later as part of a larger group. The convenient hand and footholds all the way up the domes make them very easy to climb, and the view from the top is breathtaking.

For our forthcoming picture book ALL ABOARD FOR THE BOBO ROAD, illustrator Christopher Corr has painted the Domes of Fabedougou beautifully, both on the cover of the book and on one of the inside spreads. Pink, purple, brown, ochre and yellow stripes cut across the orange domes of rock. Once again, Chris has given us a real feast for the eyes.

ALL ABOARD FOR THE BOBO ROAD comes out in the UK on 7 April 2016, published by Andersen Press.

ALL ABOARD FOR THE BOBO ROAD cover reveal

It’s finally here! And what a cover it is. As always, a massive shoutout to Christopher Corr, who has brought the story to life with his incredibly colourful paintings.

ALL ABOARD FOR THE BOBO ROAD is the story of two children who accompany their bus-driver father Big Ali on a long journey from Banfoura to Bobo. As Big Ali says, it’s the most beautiful road in the world…

DON’T SPILL THE MILK chosen for CBeebies bedtime story slot

Ore_Oduba_CBeebies_DONT_SPILL_THE_MILK

My girls (5 and 2) love the CBeebies bedtime story at 6.50 every evening. All right, I confess, I love it too. Great readers, great books and great mock surprise shown by presenters when the camera arrives and interrupts them talking to penguins / drinking milk / reading a newspaper.

I was delighted when I found out that DON’T SPILL THE MILK had been chosen as a CBeebies story. It was beautifully read last night by Ore Oduba of Newsround / BBC Sports fame. Here is a link to the video on iplayer, which will be available for the next month or so: DON’T SPILL THE MILK read by Ore Oduba.

Ore_Oduba_DONT_SPILL_THE_MILK_2

The story takes place in Niger (not Nigeria, CBeebies!) and shows a plucky little girl called Penda going on an epic journey carrying a bowl of milk for her dad. Will she get there without spilling any?

Michael McIntyre does a wonderful routine about his experience filming a CBeebies bedtime story. If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

And in case, you’re curious, here’s Michael’s peformance on CBeebies! Career suicide, he calls it, but history suggests otherwise.