FAKE shortlisted for two awards!

I am very happy to share my wonderful news – FAKE has been shortlisted for two awards! The Cheshire Schools’ Book Award and the Oxfordshire Book Awards are both extra-special because they are entirely student-led, with students nominating then voting for their favourite books.

MELT publishes in Germany

The German edition of MELT has just published – here’s their stunning cover (by DTV).

BookTrust School Library Packs 2022/2023

Whooop! FAKE has been selected for BookTrust’s brilliant School Library Packs scheme as one of five ‘Future Classics’.

‘For students in Years 7-9, the free pack includes fifteen titles, split across three categories – Future Classics, Reluctant Readers and Non-Fiction.’

Gibraltar Literature Week

I’ve spent a magical few days in Gibraltar during its Literature Week, sharing ideas and stories with students, teachers and public audiences. Gibraltar Cultural Services is an organisational / multi-tasking tour de force, with an excellent biscuit selection … and Gibraltar is simply an incredible place, where continents meet and the Rif mountains rise up through the misty Strait. It also has the only runway in the world, bisected by a road!

Transition Project – summer 2022

Since spring 2020, more than 24,000 copies of Boy 87 have been distributed to schools within the Bradford district as part of a massive transition project. The brainchild of local headteachers Miss Craddock and Mrs Wright, it has been an incredible feat of organisation and teamwork, made possible by teachers across the area. Students 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, based around resource booklets sent to participating schools.

This year, Miss Craddock and Mrs Wright also organised the Boy 87 Big Day Out – 3,000 students and teachers shared a day of celebration at Bradford City Football Stadium. A day I will never forget. It was an absolute honour and privilege to see the incredible work the Y6 students had created, to have an opportunity to speak to them, and to hi-five at least a hundred of them in one day!

Meet the Author – spring 2022

The fabulous Hampshire School Library Service is hosting virtual Meet the Author sessions for schools across the region. I’m delighted to announce that along with Tom McLaughlin and Tracey Corderoy, I will be one of the spring 2022 authors which schools will be able to ‘meet’. Schools can contact for more information.

MELT shortlisted for the NST Book Award!

I’m so happy that MELT has been shortlisted for the very special North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award. The award is ‘aimed directly at teachers to support them in the role they play in developing reading for pleasure, creating life-long readers and selecting excellent books to use in their classrooms and libraries’. As it isn’t possible to host an awards ceremony, shortlisted authors have each received their very own party packs!

LOST wins the Portsmouth Book Award!

I am thrilled to announce that LOST has won the Portsmouth Book Award 2021 – longer novel. It’s extra-special, because this award is voted for by the students. Thank you to Portsmouth School Library Service and all the schools taking part.

Transition project – summer 2021

The 2020 transition project featuring Boy 87 was a huge success, and so 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 in summer 2021! 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. Once again, 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.

Panel event with Piers Torday and Hannah Gold

I loved discussing ‘Children’s Fiction and the Climate Crisis’ with Piers Torday and Hannah Gold, in a panel chaired by Sarah Odedina. We talked about characters, settings, and the importance of generating ‘hope’ when writing about climate change for younger readers. Click the link to watch: Children’s Fiction and the Climate Crisis – Ele Fountain, Hannah Gold and Piers Torday – YouTube

Radio Essex

To celebrate the publication of MELT, I went back to my roots to talk about it live on BBC Radio Essex with Tony Fisher. We discussed the Arctic, teenage life, and learning to fly a light aircraft when you’re fourteen.

MELT is now… published!

MELT in France and Germany

I am thrilled to share the news that MELT will be publishing in both France and Germany. Afer a four-way auction, German rights have been acquired by DTV. In France MELT will be published by Bayard Presse. Established in 1870, it’s one of France’s oldest publishing houses.

Finished copies of MELT

I came home to discover A BOX on the doormat. After assessing it from all angles, I knew that THE BOX must contain something exciting. Finished copies of MELT! The cover was designed and illustrated by the hugely talented Thy Bui.

LOST shortlisted for two awards!

I am so delighted to share the news that LOST has been shortlisted for both the SPELLBINDING Book Award and the Portsmouth Book Award. These awards are extra-special because they are voted for by the readers.

LOST – an Observer Book of the Year

This was the most amazing news to wake up to on Sunday morning. LOST has been chosen as an Observer Best Children’s Book of the Year 2020.

‘Full of grit and compassion, LOST threw tween Lola and her little brother, Amit, into a nameless city to live by their wits. Even in disarray, they were never totally abandoned by love and kismet’

Link to the article:  here


My new book will publish on 29th April 2021! after working for months on something only a handful of people know about, it feels very exciting to see the cover revealed for the first time.

An urgent story of adventure and survival in a warming climate.

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
gebeta board
the amazing home-made gebeta board!

Boy 87 wins Sheffield Book 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.


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 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.