This was originally published here: An Awfully Big Blog Adventure
Twin books, non-identical stories, June 9th birth! by Anne Booth
‘The Sleepy Hummingbirds’ is for 7-9 year olds and will be published by OUP on the 9th June.
This is the first of a series about The Magical Kingdom of Birds, initially of six books, and I am loving writing them.
The series is for 7-9 year olds and is about a girl, Maya, who travels to the Magical Kingdom of Birds and rides on a magic magpie, helping a fairy Princess foil the plans of her wicked uncle, Lord Astor . It occurred to me that Maya could be a disabled heroine without the storyline being affected, and it has been fun and satisfying for me that Maya’s disability has nothing to do with the plot and that disabled and able-bodied readers alike will be able to identify with her. Maya and Princess Willow defeat Lord Astor as he targets one bird species after another in his attempts to gain control of The Kingdom of Birds, and all that can easily be done on the back of a magpie or with the help of other birds. Birds spend most of their time in the air – why can’t Maya? It has been very satisfying to put a disabled heroine in a mainstream commercial fiction series, and great to work with my friend, a sportswoman and special needs teacher and also someone who herself has a disability, to check that I am getting it right. I really wanted to describe Fairy Princess Willow as having black, curly hair and brown eyes, as a little neighbour of mine, whose dad is Nigerian and mother Scottish, said that princesses don’t look like her. The lovely illustrator Rosie Butcher has drawn her beautifully, so I am very happy that we are involved in subverting the golden haired blue eyed Princess idea. I think that the recent Royal wedding may have more effectively changed assumptions (!), but I have to say that ‘The Sleepy Hummingbirds’ had Princess Willow even before Prince Harry and Meghan announced their engagement! This series is so much fun to write – I love writing about fairies and talking birds and magical colouring books, I can let myself have fun making Lord Astor shake his fist when Maya and the fairies foil his wicked plots, and I am learning so much about real-life birds!
The second book which will be ‘born’ on the 9th June is ‘Across The Divide’, for 9-12 year olds. It is about a girl who wants to join army cadets, which causes tensions between her, her Pacifist mother and her grandfather in the military, and problems within her friendship groups at school. She is sent to stay on the island of Lindisfarne with a father she doesn’t really know, and there is a time-slip plot and a link with World War One. I have loved writing and researching this one too, and I enjoyed visiting Lindisfarne and staying on the beautiful island and learning about the birds there too. It is contemporary and political and links with history in the way ‘Girl with a White Dog’ does, and I also hope children enjoy it the way I loved books like ‘A Traveller in Time’ by Alison Uttley or ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’ by Philippa Pearce or ‘Charlotte Sometimes’ by Penelope Farmer.
Both books have been copyedited too, and now they are ready.
I am really proud of them both, and now, in the nervous time before the due date, I must proudly await the delivery of my different but equally loved, bookish, non-identical twins…
The cover of proof of ‘Across The Divide’