Transition project – summer 2020

I’m extremely excited to share the news that 8,500 Yr6 students in the Bradford area will be reading Boy 87 as part of a massive transition project. They will begin a module of work based on Boy 87 in Yr6, to be completed when they move up to Yr7 in the new school year. It’s an incredible feat of organisation, planned by teachers across Bradford, and a wonderful way to create continuity for students during a period of change. I’m so delighted that they will be sharing Shif’s journey.

Woman’s Hour

On publication day, I got up super-early and travelled to Broadcasting House in central London for a live interview with Jenni Murray on Woman’s Hour. We talked about the themes of friendship and family in LOST, and about my inspiration for writing the book. It was quite a dream come true. There is a link to the interview on the Press page.


LOST is now… published!


World Book Day

In my house a little Zog and a slightly bigger Matilda went to school feeling very excited about books, reading, and dressing up. My World Book Day week was also packed with visits to schools in Somerset, Hertfordshire and Surrey. There were some brilliant questions, and the workshops produced awesome storylines, from killer vegetables to Mesozoic monsters. I enjoyed chatting to the school Book Club groups too, but the biggest surprise of all, was meeting the winner of a school gebeta tournament – Buckler’s Mead Academy had made their own board and held a gebeta competition to win a copy of Boy 87 – genius!

St Francis   StFrancis2

gebeta board
the amazing home-made gebeta board!

Boy 87 wins the Sheffield Children’s Book Award!

The Sheffield Children’s Book Award is an amazing event, attended by more than 700 children, and voted for by over 3,000 children from across the region. There was a fantastic atmosphere, despite the rain which had flooded homes around Sheffield and left some stranded in a shopping centre overnight. Many of the shortlisted authors and illustrators had travelled long distances to be there – including from the Netherlands. We had no idea who had won, and I was totally amazed and delighted when Boy 87 was announced as winner of the longer novel category!

Excitement is building…
Category winners

Film rights optioned for Boy 87

I am SO thrilled to share the news that film rights for Boy 87 have been optioned by Mint Pictures! I will share updates when I have more news.

Swindon Youth Literature Festival

I spent a brilliant day at St Joseph’s Catholic College as part of Swindon Youth Literature Festival. After talks for YR7 then YR8, there was a small-group book club, followed by a creative writing workshop during the final period. The students joined in and asked wonderful questions at each of the four sessions. I witnessed, once more, what a central role the library plays in school life. Thanks to the brilliant Julie Kennedy and her team.

Chichester Children’s BookFest

It felt very special to be a part of the inaugural Chichester Children’s BookFest. Everything ran like clockwork – which must have meant huge amounts of hard work for the organisers in the preceding weeks. I visited two schools for three events. Excitement levels were off the scale at Westbourne House, then at Chichester Free School I was lucky enough to give the first-ever event in their brand-new library.

Westbourne House

Boy 87 wins Portsmouth Book Award!

Thank you to all the secondary schools which took part, and to the ever-amazing Schools Library Services for a wonderful afternoon! The Portsmouth Book Award (longer novel category) was held in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. I met students involved in the judging process and saw their artwork and photos inspired by the shortlisted titles, then there was a presentation and Q&A session, with some truly thoughtful and impressive questions. I’m now planning a return trip (with kids) to explore the Mary Rose and HMS Victory warship.


Boy 87 Highly Commended at North East Book Award

I packed extra sandwiches for my trip to Newcastle for the North East Book Award. It was going to be a long train journey, which also meant a chance to catch up on lots of reading (The Nearest Far Away Place by Hayley Long and The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris). When I arrived, the Life Centre was buzzing with excitement and the room was packed. Penny Joelson won, with Girl in the Window, and Boy 87 was Highly Commended by the pupil judges from 25 schools. It wasn’t only the authors who got up on stage – each book was introduced by children from a different school, and they were all SO impressive, talking in front of 450 of their peers.

North East Book Award

Boy 87 publishes in Poland and South Korea

I was very excited to receive the cover designs for the Polish and South Korean editions of Boy 87. I love to see what type of aesthetic works in different regions.

southkorea     uciekinier-front-300

USA Book Birthday

Refugee 87 (published in the UK as Boy 87), had its US Book Birthday today (June 4th)! It is a thing of beauty… thank you Little, Brown!


Southampton visit

At the start of May I visited my first Southampton School. Bitterne Park was buzzing with energy and creativity. After an assembly for the YR7 cohort, the workshop groups produced some mind-blowingly brilliant book ideas. A fantastic day! There were also cakes.

The superlative Miss Dolan, English Coordinator

Boy 87 wins Southwark Book Award!

The students involved in voting for this award, select one shortlisted book as overall winner and also choose a winner for best plot, character, setting and theme, which is a great idea for exploring the different elements of a novel. When I arrived they were deep in discussion about these different elements. It was fantastic to enter a room filled with people discussing books! I also met lovely fellow shortlistees – Sita Brahmachari and Matt Killeen. Sita captured the moment Boy 87 was announced as overall winner (I’ll try to keep my mouth closed next time)! Thank you to all the schools who took part, reading, reviewing and voting for the titles.

announcement moment

Boy 87 wins Sefton Super Reads!

I travelled up to Liverpool for the Sefton Super Reads Award ceremony (26th March) and met many of the students who’d spent weeks reading and voting for the shortlisted titles. I also had a chance to read their brilliant book reviews (and eat lots of biscuits). Thanks to all the teachers, librarians and students who took part in the event. It was tremendous fun, and… Boy 87 won!

designed by the students

February 7th announcement

I woke up this morning to the news that Boy 87 has been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2019. It feels both surreal – and amazing – that a story so close to my heart has been recognized in this way.

The Bookseller announcement

Waterstones Trafalgar Square

Boy 87 selected for the 2019 Read for Empathy Book Collection

Boy 87 is in stellar company in this collection put together by Empathy Lab’s panel: Jon Biddle, Aimée Felone, Paul Harris, Nicolette Jones, Sarah Mears, Nicky Parker and Farrah Serroukh.

‘In a dispiriting global context, using children’s books to drive an empathy movement is one of the few things that makes me feel hopeful. This collection features lots of characters changing the world for the better’

Nicolette Jones, Sunday Times’ Children’s Book Reviewer

I love the power of story to deliver you directly to the most amazing, scary, curious, heart-breaking of places – inside someone else’s head.

Link to Empathy Lab guides

Some VERY exciting stuff

I know I’m fortunate to have an office at home, especially when there is VERY exciting stuff happening, because no one can witness me dancing around like an idiot. Not that I would. Getting to the point: Boy 87 has been shortlisted for the Portsmouth Book Award, the Sefton Super Reads award, and the North Herts Book Award. Smallest daughter drew a picture of my happiness:

a very good likeness

Red-letter ‘week’

I love this time of year (Christmas tree is up, I can eat mince pies for breakfast), and now Boy 87 has been shortlisted for the Southwark Book Award 2019 and the Warwickshire Secondary Book Award 2019, and longlisted for the Redbridge Children’s Book Award. What an amazing honour! If I can also work out how to make the outfit for Smallest’s Christmas nativity play without the use of staples or an elaborate wiring system (I don’t have any wire or staples), then everything will be perfect.

the homemade look

Boy 87 nominated for the 2019 CILIP Carnegie Medal and Northern Ireland Book Award 2019!

Boy 87 has been nominated for the 2019 CILIP Carnegie Medal and the Northern Ireland Book Award on the same day. Both awards feel super-special: the Carnegie is voted for by librarians, with an extra new prize voted for by children, and the Northern Ireland Book Award nominations are chosen by school librarians and teachers. Looking at the book lists… what an honour to be in such amazing company. I’m going to have another biscuit.

Carnegie announcement

Boy 87 longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards!

I’m so proud and happy that Boy 87 has been longlisted for the 2019 UKLA Book Awards, the only award judged entirely by teachers (so is my mum… retired teacher).

UKLA announcement

US Edition – advance reading copies have arrived

Very excited to open a large brown envelope this morning. Inside were advance reading copies of Refugee 87 (the US edition of Boy 87), which Little, Brown will be publishing in June 2019.


BookTrust School Library Packs announced

Whooop! Boy 87 has been chosen as a Future Classic for BookTrust’s brilliant School Library Packs scheme:

For students in Years 7-9, the free School Library Pack includes 40 free books across three categories: Future Classics, Reluctant Readers and Non-Fiction’