Henry Haynes and the Great Escape gets off to a flying start!

It’s just eight weeks since I released Henry Haynes and the Great Escape – my fast-paced chapter book for ages 6-8 about a boy who falls inside his library book after complaining that it’s boring.  And I’m thrilled to report that I’m already well into my second box! This means that over 100 children have now either read or are currently reading or due to read Henry’s story.

As with all of my books, what really heartens me about this is knowing that the imaginary world I created is being enjoyed and shared by so many children, just as I had hoped and dreamed that it would be. For a writer, there’s nothing to beat that feeling!

Henry’s early journey to meet his first readers follows three school visits and two book signing events since publication. One book signing was held in Waterstones, Putney on 14 June and another at the delightful Wimbledon Books this Saturday, 21 June. This last event co-coincided with Wimbledon Village Fair. There was a great buzz all around the village and on the common – especially with Wimbledon tennis starting this week too. One little boy who bought Henry Haynes had already had his photo taken in another shop with one of the tennis stars!

Image of Wimbledon Books, bookshop

The delightful Wimbledon Books in Wimbledon Village – just off Wimbledon Common

Image of children's author Karen Inglis sitting at signing table at Wimbledon Bookshop

At Wimbledon Books – it was one of the hottest days of the year so I was glad to be by the open door!

Henry escapes up to Leamington Spa!

Prior to the signings I took Henry Haynes into three schools. One of these visits took me up to Milverton Primary in Leamington Spa – a delightful primary school attended by a friend’s daughter, Martha, who very kindly acted as my first beta (‘test’) reader back in December.

The visit to Milverton Primary couldn’t have gone more smoothly and the children were an absolute delight. Here’s a picture of Sasha, one of Henry’s fans from Year 4 at Milverton.

Image of boy reading Henry Haynes and the Great Escape

Sasha – from Yr 4 at Milverton enjoying Henry Haynes and the Great Escape

Thank you to Sasha and his parents for allowing me to use this photo!

Early feedback and pre-publication nerves….

Asking for early feedback on your book while it’s still in manuscript form is always nerve-wracking, as any writer will tell you. And what makes it worse is the waiting, which is often when doubts start to bubble up. But people are busy and rarely able to read your work right away, so the waiting is something you just have to learn to live with.

So when I emailed the manuscript of Henry Haynes and the Great Escape to Martha’s mother, I honestly didn’t expect to hear back for a few weeks, especially as it was in the lead-up to Christmas. In fact I didn’t even suggest an ideal turnaround time. Imagine, then, my delight, to receive an email back that very same evening to say Martha had refused to turn out the light until she had finished the story – and had loved it! She then insisted on reading it to her grandmother the following weekend!

Pre-publication nerves are very common – and I’ve experienced them with each of my books. (I was so nervous about The Secret Lake before its first library reading that I almost cancelled the event! Almost 6,000 sales later, and with rafts of great reviews both here and in the USA, I now know that I needn’t have worried!)

I should add that Martha was able to provide some really useful feedback to do with some of the characters’ names – and to point out where I’d made a mistake with who said and thought what 🙂  Thank you Martha!

And it seems Martha hasn’t been the only one to want to race through Henry’s story! Here’s a screenshot of a tweet message I received from a parent on the evening of my Putney Waterstones signing on 14 June:

Feedback received about Henry Haynes via Twitter

Image of a tweet

Tweet received following my Putney Waterstones signing

I’m looking forward to sharing Henry Haynes with more school children in coming weeks and months. Please do get in touch if you’d like me to visit your school – you can read more about my school visits here: I have four books which cover from Reception up to Year 4.

And if you’re looking for a summer read for your 6-8 year-old you can order your copy of Henry Haynes and the Great Escape online or from your local bookshop who should be able to get it in for you within a few days  🙂  In southwest London it’s stocked by Waterstones in Putney, Wimbledon Books, The Barnes Bookshop and Sheen Books. RRP is £4.99.

Happy reading!

Karen

Posted in Ages 6-8, chapter books, Children's Books | Leave a comment

The Secret Lake revisits Notting Hill

I’ve done quite a few school visits in recent weeks – but one in particular had special significance for me. This was a day spent at Norland Place School in Notting Hill – the area in London that first inspired the story of my time travel adventure, The Secret Lake.

Norland Place School - Notting Hill

Norland Place School – Notting Hill

If you’re not familiar with Notting Hill, much of this part of west London is made up of tall and elegant terraced Victorian houses that back onto vast communal gardens for the owners’ shared use. (If you’ve seen the film ‘Notting Hill’ with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant you’ll know what I’m talking about – I think the pair hop over a communal garden fence at one stage to steal time in one of the gardens!)

View back to houses from communal gardens - Notting Hill

Notting Hill houses – most are now apartments

Most of the Notting Hill communal garden houses have now been converted into apartments. Those on the ground floor have direct access to the gardens from their own patio gardens – other residents have a key for access via a separate gate.

Patio garden within a communal garden

Ground floor apartments have patio gardens

Inspiration for The Secret Lake

The Secret Lake came about after some friends moved to one of these Notting Hill apartments many years ago when our children were around age five and seven. The moment we walked out into the gardens I was struck by their magical atmosphere. The sound of twigs cracking underfoot echoed all around as children raced across the woodland lawns playing chase, or hide and seek, while others (often younger) huddled inside bushes, making secret dens.

Exploring the gardens and seeing these children lost in their imaginary worlds brought back memories of my own childhood and the freedom I had growing up in the Continue reading

Posted in Children's Books | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Children vote for ‘Eeek!’ in World Cup run-up!

Update 9 June 2018

With the World Cup coming around again it feels timely to re-share this post about Eeek! The Runaway Alien – my popular chapter book for ages 7-10 about an alien who runs away to Earth for the World Cup. It continues to be one of my best sellers at school events – with over 150 new readers ordering copies during World Book Day week in 2018.  If you’re looking for a laugh-out-loud funny page turner with an unexpected twist (sshh — don’t tell the kids!) you’re in the right place!

Below is the post that I wrote a few years ago. Click or tap here to read reviews or order on Amazon UK.

I’m thrilled to report that Eeek! has been voted favourite Book Club read by Year 3 boys and girls at a local primary school not once, not twice, but three times!

Eeek book - photo

Fun and fast-paced – for 7-10 yrs

St Elizabeth’s Catholic Primary School in Richmond, Surrey, ordered 22 copies of Eeek! for their book club soon after it came out. It has evidently been working its magic on the children ever since – including with the most reluctant readers.

Interior pictures from Eeek! The Runaway Alien

Eeek – the alien who ran away to Earth for the World Cup

I was invited to spend the day at St Elizabeth’s as part of their World Book Day celebrations in March. The school had themed its World Book Day celebrations around aliens – making my visit all the more apt!

Interview with Hannah Parker – librarian at St Elizabeth’s Primary

It was a hectic day at St Elizabeth’s, but I was grateful to Hannah Parker, St Elizabeth’s librarian, for finding a few minutes in the staffroom at lunchtime to conduct a mini-interview about the school book club – and Eeek!

St Elizabeth’s school book club sounds like a great idea. Can you tell me a bit about its aims, who attends and how often it takes place?

At the moment I run five book clubs across the Juniors, with between 10 and 15 children in each group. Membership is entirely voluntary, and we meet during one lunchtime each month to discuss that month’s book. The club’s aim is to support literacy and encourage a love of reading by allowing children to choose a book and read it as a group – partly in school and partly at home – and then discuss it in a relaxed and informal setting. The children share their thoughts and ideas and then choose the book they wish to read for the subsequent month.

Eeek! by Freddie - a Book Club fan :-)

Eeek! by Freddie – a Book Club fan 🙂

I’m thrilled to hear that Eeek! has proven so popular with the children – clearly all that hard work has paid off! Can you tell me more about their feedback?

This is the third year of using Eeek! in our Year 3 book club (we ordered 22 copies soon after it was published in 2012) and of course this year is especially fun as we have the World Cup coming up in June! Each year, without exception, Eeek! has been voted Year 3’s favourite book club book. Significantly, it’s just as popular with the girls as it is with the boys.

What is it that the children particularly enjoy about it?

Quite a lot really! They love the humour – and the relationship between Charlie and Eeek! They also love how Charlie and his best friend, Jake manage to pass Eeek! off as Charlie’s Continue reading

Posted in Children's Books | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

New children’s book: Henry Haynes and The Great Escape

I’m delighted to announce that my latest children’s book Henry Haynes and The Great Escape – a graphic novel for ages 6-8 is finally out. This fun, fast-paced page-turner with short chapters is aimed at early readers from age 6 as well as slighter older ones looking for a quick and entertaining read. It also includes the first two chapters of Eeek! The Runaway Alien – my popular graphic novel for age 7-10 years in which an alien runs away to Earth for the World Cup!

Henry Haynes and The Great Escape book cover

Click to buy on Amazon

Here’s the all-important back cover blurb 🙂

Henry Haynes and The Great Escape back cover image and blurb

Fun and fast-paced for ages 6-8

 

Read an in-depth review of Henry Haynes on Debbie Young’s blog

I popped a review copy of Henry Haynes in the post to journalist and book reviewer, Debbie Young, on Friday. I was bowled over to find a blog post from her on Sunday morning. Debbie is an avid reader and, amongst her many roles, has worked with a leading children’s reading charity Readathon. You can read Debbie’s review here.

Where to buy Henry Haynes and The Great Escape

You can order Henry Haynes from most online bookstores – and from most UK/US and Australian bricks and mortar bookshops. The links below offer just a few examples of where to find it online. I’ve not included Waterstones in the UK as they are showing the wrong price for it at £5.99 when it should be £4.99!  I shall, however, be signing copies at Waterstones in Putney on Saturday 14th June 🙂

Goodreads Giveway

If you’re in the UK, USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, or Singapore I’m offering three copies of Henry Haynes and The Great Escape in a Goodreads Giveway.  Follow the link to find out more – and good luck! (For info, the giveaway started today, May 5th and not May 2nd as shown…)

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ferdinand Fox goes to Spain!

When I published my rhyming story picture book, Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep, last year I had no idea that within 12 months he would have found his way into a Spanish school!  But that’s exactly what’s happened.  Here I interview Amy Sandiford-Watts – the student behind this foxy tale!

Ferdinand Fox at a Spanish school

Amy Sandiford-Watts ready to introduce Ferdinand Fox to Spanish pupils

Hi Amy

Thanks for contacting me to tell me you used Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep for one of your English teaching classes in Spain! I’m thrilled that he is now an international star 🙂 Many thanks for agreeing to a mini interview.

Firstly, where in Spain is the school – and how long are you there for?

It’s in a small town called La Ràpita – just over an hour from Barcelona. I arrived in September and I’m here for one academic year as part of the British Council language assistant scheme. I study French and Spanish at Durham university and a year abroad is part of my course. I work three days a week and help the English teacher with cultural activities and conversation practice.

You mentioned that you’d used the book in several classes – what age are the children you introduced Ferdinand Fox to and how did it come about?

I read the story to mixed age groups of about 22 pupils from age three up to 11 years old. The activity was part of the school’s carnival celebrations when pupils spent a morning off-timetable celebrating ‘English Day’. The reading was one of 10 different 15-minute long sessions which gave them a chance to practise their English and learn something about Continue reading

Posted in Picture Books | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment