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13 November 2015
It is a beautiful blue, sharp, cold day as I write this – spring is here, and the hills are bright with sunshine.
Thank you for coming to look at my newsletter. I have very special news for you; the long-awaited sequel to Street Child has been published! Far From Home tells the story of what happens to Emily and Lizzie, and is a response to the thousands of children who have asked me that question. I won’t tell you too much about it, as I hope you’ll read it, but I can say that although the girls desperately try to stay with Rosie, they are sent away to work as mill apprentices, far away from home. If you’d like to read more about my reasons for writing it, see my Far From Home page.
In February, Far From Home was the Books For Keeps Book of the Week, awarded 5 stars, “Set to become a classic,” and is a featured blog on the Reading Zone. It is also described in Bookbag as “Beautifully and evocatively written… kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time while reading.”
See the Far From Home page for more details.
From Bookbag, August 2014 “…I love the way Berlie Doherty writes. She’s easy to read but beautiful too. There’s never a stray word or sentence. She creates credible and interesting characters and here, in The Company of Ghosts, she combines a ghost story with an exploration of a time of change in a young girl’s life. Each of the strands melt seamlessly into the other and it makes for a read that is both lovely and unsettling but always absorbing. Highly recommended.”
For more reviews see the Company of Ghosts page. The Booktrust have named it a ‘future classic’ and it has been appearing round the country on many regional shortlists, including the Stockport award, the Sheffield award and the Warwickshire Schools Library award. It was runner-up in the Tower Hamlets award and won the YA section of the Oldham Brilliant Books awards. Currently it is on the Wirral Paperback of the Year shortlist. It was also longlisted for the Carnegie medal.
And more reviews for Snowy. Here’s one from Carousel: “This really is a beautiful, timeless classic that should be on every child’s bookshelf.” For more reviews, go to the Snowy page in my picture book selection.
Requiem, my novel for adults, is being received really well and I have been giving readings from it throughout England, with more to come. See my events list on this page for details. This is how it was reviewed by Lovereading: “Beautifully written, with an emotional intensity and perception that astonishes, this is a book that you will be passing on to friends.” See the Requiem page for more reviews.
Left: With Carys Bray at the Sheffield Off The Shelf festival. Right: the Daley-Atoyebe family at a WH Smith signing event.
One of the most pleasurable experiences I had recently was to act as judge in the Off The Shelf children’s writing competition, and to award prizes in the Lord Mayor’s Chamber, no less! I was very impressed with the high standard of writing, and was delighted to present the well-deserving winners with iPads.
And here are some of the letters I’ve been receiving since my last newsletter. It looks as if Far From Home is published just in time, as nearly every letter was about Street Child! The ones I’ve picked out as being especially interesting were from St Joseph’s Primary School in Co. Antrim, Rebecca White from OLBE Primary in London, Duckmanton Primary School in Chesterfield, Dudley House School in Grantham and The Emmanuel Christian school in Oxford. Children from Newcraighall Primary in Edinburgh illustrated their letters really well. I’m particularly fond of this one from Robbie Irving.
Nurusha from West Green Primary School sent me the most beautifully written letter about Tilly Mint Tales, and Hannah Isley wrote to ask if I would write a sequel to The Company of Ghosts. It’s a lovely request, Hannah, but I think a ghost story has to be a stand-alone, perhaps to haunt your dreams!
Amanpreet (no surname given) from West Park primary school, Wolverhampton, said Wild Cat is “one of my favourite books”.
Eve at Ashlands Primary School in Ilkley wrote of Street Child: “It’s that kind of story that, when you read it, nothing else seems visible. I was literally superglued to my chair!” That made me smile, Eve! I hope you manged to become unstuck!
Children from English Martyrs Catholic Primary School sent some very well written and imaginative Chapter Fives. Nana Keita of Belmont School in Neasdon says she thinks I should write another book about Jim, (beautiful writing Nana) and Scott from Mayhill Junior school in Hampshire sent me his alternative ending for Street Child. He ends up in prison! Oh no! Poor Jim! I also enjoyed reading a very persuasive letter indeed from Tim Scialpi, Greenhill Primary in Bury.
From Japan comes a message from Mieko Endo, who has set herself the task of translating Granny Was a Buffer Girl into Japanese so she can share it with members of the Hachioji City Library reading club. I feel very honoured.
More letters came from Leah Hehir at Ashlands Primary in Ilkley; Hannah, Sivani, Tasha, Jude, Abenaya, Cameron and Kim at Winnersh Primary in Berkshire, and Shah Hussein and his class of Arnhem Wharf school in London. Sadly, all of these letters arrived FIVE months after they had been written, as they were misplaced at my agents. I have replied to them all, with apologies from my agents for the delay.
Finally, I want to send a huge congratulations to the whole of 5D at Leicester Grammar Junior School. They have written some really beautiful poems based on Street Child. They were all really striking, and it is very hard to choose one to pick out for you, but I have selected Nick, by Oscar Mccarthy, as it is not only an excellent poem but has a very powerful picture of Grimy Nick.
Nick is a dark tornado!
He is a biting winter frost.
Nick is a wolf with snapping jaws.
His heart is the black abyss of space.
Nick is a shock of lightning
He is dark blue midnight sky
He is as hot as lava.
Thank you very much Oscar. I’m sending you a copy of Far From Home.
That’s it for this time. If you’d like to be kept up to date and receive the next newsletter, enter your email address into my web wizard’s box at the top of this page.