Curious Fox signs Princess Poppy creator for new Superfairies series

Curious Fox is delighted to announce the acquisition of SUPERFAIRIES by Internationally bestselling author Janey Louise Jones and rising star illustrator Jennie Poh.

The first two books, Basil and the Bear Cub and Dancer the Wild Pony, will publish in January 2016, with the next two, Martha the Little Mouse and Violet the Velvet Rabbit, coming out two months later in March 2016.

Superfairies combines two popular passions of young girls – animals and fairies. In each story, the fairies from Peaseblossom Woods must use their skills, teamwork and a sprinkling of magic to save animals in danger.

Penny West thinks it’s an irresistible concept: “We’re so excited about Superfairies. The fairies plus animals mix has instant appeal to girls aged 6-8 years, and the full-colour illustrations are simply gorgeous. These are thoroughly modern fairies who use a Strawberry computer and a fairycopter as well as their magical superskills – perfect for girls today.”

Janey Louise Jones, renowned for her multi-million selling Princess Poppy series, knows what makes young girls tick and what gets them excited about reading. She was also eager to make the fairies positive role models: “They’re very sweet stories obviously, but they’re also about using teamwork to solve a problem. The fairies are determined, independent and skilful in how they save the animals, and there is also an environmental message running through the world. Cute stories for girls must offer more than sugar and fairy dust these days, and in Superfairies I wanted to create modern, can-do characters that girls can aspire to emulate.”

This ‘girl power’ approach was part of the illustration brief right from the word go, as illustrator Jennie Poh explains: “The fairies had to be cute of course, but they’re also individuals, with their own strengths and weaknesses, and I worked very hard to express that in the pictures.”

Jones and Poh’s partnership on the series has been more collaborative than the traditional author/illustrator relationship, as Jones explains: “Jennie and I have been working on Superfairies for about four years, and it’s been my closest working relationship with someone visually realising my stories. Typically an author writes a book, a publisher selects an illustrator, and the two rarely interact. With Superfairies however, Jennie and I created it together, in almost weekly contact and dialogue, and only then did we take it to publishers to see. It’s been a hugely rewarding and refreshing process.”

The Superfairies deal covers world rights and was signed by Janey Louise Jones, Anne Moore Armstrong at Bright Illustration Agency and Penny West, Senior Editor at Curious Fox. The books will publish in January and March 2016 in paperback original. Curious Fox will launch the series via a widespread pre-publication campaign, followed up with a focus around launch on social media, national interview coverage, competitions in the parenting press and promotions with reading groups.

Basil the Bear Cup coverDancer the Wild PonyMartha the Little MouseViolet the Velvet Rabbit


My Smoky Bacon Crisp Obsession

By Jackie Buckle

When I finished Half my Facebook Friends are Ferrets, the main character, Josh, had left school and was generally a lot happier. It felt like I could wish him a fond farewell and move onto protagonists new. But then I started wondering about Josh and his friends and I kept thinking about all the things young people, including my own daughters, go through during their teens. I decided that Josh had a lot more to share and so, deep-fried potato snacks on standby, I began working on the sequel: My Smoky Bacon Crisp Obsession.

There’s a lot in the news today about young people and mental health, and rightly so. This is an area that has been woefully neglected in the past. For example, I realise now, that when I was growing up in the seventies and eighties I was often in a state of high anxiety. I would do almost anything to get out of going to school – Including, one memorable time, boarding a ferry to the Isle of Wight with a much older boy I barely knew (not recommended). Back then, I just didn’t feel I could tell anyone, not even my mum. I didn’t know of any others who felt anxious and so came to the conclusion that I was just weird.

Thirty years on, anxiety and depression are much more out in the open but still very hard for the sufferer to cope with. Experiences in my family and with friends have shown me this at painfully close quarters. So, having been lucky enough to find a wonderful publisher, I wanted to bring this into my writing, to normalise it a little and to help people who are dealing with these issues realise they are not alone. After all, more than 850,000 children and young people in the UK have been diagnosed with a mental health condition.1  And that’s just the ones we know about.

These are upsetting issues but I didn’t want the book to be too dark. I think humour can make a lot of tough things much easier to handle. A little illustration of this happened recently when someone told me about an anxiety attack they had had on a bus. The only way they could think of dealing with it at the time was through distracting themselves by eating and so they began madly ripping open packets of cheese, biscuits, ham and anything else they had in their shopping. Apparently the looks they got from fellow passengers were priceless. That actually happened about fifty years ago and was told to me by a relative who is now in her eighties. This was the first time she’d told anyone about her life-long anxiety problems. I am happy to say, however, that she managed to have a really good chuckle over it now.

If my book can help anyone, even in the smallest way, with any of these issues I will be very happy and I am proud to donate a percentage of the royalties to Young Minds, a brilliant charity who are doing lots to help young people with mental health problems.

smoky bacon crisp cover fan

1: Young Minds –

Amelie’s passion for baking drives her forwards

A guest post by Vanessa Curtis (@VanessaCurtis1) author of The Baking Life of Amelie Day, out today. 

It feels a little surreal and very exciting to have The Baking Life of Amelie Day published by Curious Fox today. The book has been on a long journey to get to this stage and has changed a little along the way, so I’m delighted that my book will reach a wider audience from today. The Baking Life of Amelie Day Although the book has a light-hearted theme and contains some mouth-watering recipes, the deeper message behind the book is that it’s possible to achieve anything if you put your mind to it.

Amelie is really quite seriously ill and yet her passion for baking drives her forwards all the time and helps her to plan for a future despite the limitations put on her by Cystic Fibrosis. I’m also pleased that the illness itself will become better known about now that the book is published.

As part of my research I read the blogs of some young adults who live with the illness and I felt a lot of respect for the way in which they pushed on with their lives despite having to take countless pills and do breathing exercises every day just to stay alive. I hope that something of their bravery is shown in the character of Amelie Day.

It feels fantastic to have the book published today by a successful, vibrant publisher like Curious Fox and it also feels important to spread awareness of Cystic Fibrosis too. I’m looking forward to hearing what my readers think of Amelie and her baking obsession.

So, enjoy the read – and hopefully, baking the delicious recipes too! You can learn more about Cystic Fibrosis on the Cystic Fibrosis Trust website.

Surprised by Serpents!

A guest post by Bea Davenport (@BeaDavenport1) author of The Serpent House, out today.  

One of the secret surprises about being a writer is that you don’t always end up with the same idea you started with.

The Serpent House

When I started writing The Serpent House I had two ideas in mind. I wanted to write about the medieval leper hospital that lies, buried by history, under the streets where I live.

I also wanted to write something based on the lives of my three great-aunts who worked in service, Downton Abbey-style, at the turn of the twentieth century.

As I began to write, it came to me that my main character Annie had lost her hair. Alopecia is something I know about from my own childhood and I know how traumatic it can be.

And then the snakes crept in – or maybe that should be slithered. This happened rather against my will, as I’m terrified of them. Did you know, though, that snakes are regularly used in medicine and this was the case even back in the Dark Ages? They were clearly meant to be part of this story.

So when a friend asked me why I wrote about something that frightened me, I realised that this fear gave an extra power to the writing. And the presence of the creatures moved the story on in ways I didn’t plan, like a game of snakes and ladders, but which always felt right.

Now that readers are about to get their hands on it, I’m very excited to hear what they have to say about it. I’m hoping readers will find it scary, funny and above all, exciting and worth turning the pages.

Wish me – and Annie! – luck!

Hopefully You Will Love Alex Too

A guest post by Alyssa Brugman, author of Alex As Well, out today. 

I’ve never been to the UK before, and I was super excited to be invited. I’m very grateful that Curious Fox are so enthusiastically backing my little book. ‘Alex as Well’ is different to anything I have done before, and I’m quite proud of it.

Alex As Well

It’s been a very busy few months for me. Firstly I graduated from Canberra University. I now have a PhD which I have been working on for a few long years now. There were many times I was ready to give up, and it’s very satisfying to be finally finished. ‘Alex as Well’ was the work that was submitted for examination, along with my thesis. It was tricky at times, but I am confident that it’s made me a better writer. I am finding that there is a lot of space in my brain where the PhD used to be, and I’m not sure what to do with that space now! It’s a bit like a big lumbering machine with cogs that have suddenly ground to a halt. It’s different from the space that has books in it, which is kind of like an overstuffed filing cabinet that refuses to close no matter how hard you slam it.

Alyssa in her PhD hat

After the graduation I went to Outback Queensland to break in some wild horses on a remote two-million acre cattle station. That was a wonderful experience, although it was hard, rough and scary. I was lucky to pick a five year old stallion who ended up being a bit of a softy. As soft as a brumby gets anyway! I learned some terrific horse handling skills. We rode our freshly started horses up and down some mountains. I slept under the stars and watched the moon, drank billy tea and all that good Aussie stuff.

Then it was my fortieth birthday. I put on a frock and a tiara and had a terrific party surrounded by all the people I love the most. Some people travelled a long way, and that was very touching.

The day after my birthday I had a terrible car accident. I was on my way to a book club talk and a motorcycle came flying around a corner and wedged into the bonnet of my car. The rider lived, but has very serious injuries. My three year old daughter was in the car with me, but thankfully we were both unhurt. It really emphasises how arbitrary and chaotic life is and makes me grateful for my good fortune so far.

Alyssa and Brumbies

Meanwhile my normal life still goes on in the background. Sadly I can’t pause it. I run a small business offering hoof care and equine nutrition. We are a growing business and it’s challenging to juggle a growing demand from our clients at the same time as the speaking engagements relating to my writing – not to mention finding opportunities to sit down and write!

There is also the business of writing. Alex is coming out in a few different languages and overseas editions. There is always mail to respond to from readers about the other eleven books also.

When you do a tour like this there is a lot of preparation, interviews, speeches to plan. It also pays to practice the readings that you are going to do. I have always wanted to do the parts of the books that I find the most affecting, but then I worry that I will cry like a big sooky lala, so I usually pick a funny part instead.

And what to wear?

We’ve already had some great reviews for the book in the UK. Georgia, our lovely publicist has been working so hard to make this trip a success, and I am very grateful for that!

I’m really looking forward to meeting you all, and hopefully you will love Alex too.

The Ruby Airship: New characters, new places, and new challenges

A guest post by Sharon Gosling, author of The Diamond Thief and The Ruby Airship.

Isn’t it funny how time seems to move so slowly, and then suddenly speeds up? It’s about a year since I finished writing The Ruby Airship, but so much has happened during that time that it actually feels much longer.

The Ruby Airship is available to buy now!

A little over a year ago, my husband and I decided to change our lives forever. We put our flat in London up for sale and started looking for a house in Cumbria. The plan was to ditch our office-based day jobs and move north to open a second-hand bookshop in Penrith. In between we thought we’d take advantage of the fact that we’d be homeless for a while to do some travelling – but by then I also knew that I would need to finish The Ruby Airship before we moved into our new home.

Thus, the first draft of the book was written while we were staying on La Gomera, one of the smallest islands in the Canaries. It’s a beautiful, quiet place, with the extinct bowl of a volcano housing a rainforest in the centre, edged by jagged peaks that slope down to sandy, calm beaches around its edge.

Every morning I would get up just as the sun was about to tip the horizon, and I’d sit on the balcony that overlooked the ocean and work. My husband would get up a little later and go out walking in the mountains. I’d write until about lunchtime then join him for a walk myself. At the end of the six weeks that we were there, I had a finished manuscript and Adam had a fantastic tan (actually, so did I!). Then we came back and started our new lives.

The bookshop (Withnail Books) opened in July, and I worked on the second draft of The Ruby Airship surrounded by the Pennines. Maybe that’s why the landscape of the book is so mountainous – I wrote what was around me into Remy and Thaddeus’ new adventure!

I really hope readers enjoy The Ruby Airship. I had so much fun writing it, not just because of where I was as I worked, but because I do so love the characters.

It’s funny, but despite the fact I hadn’t written them for quite some time, Remy, Thaddeus and J came back to me very swiftly. It seems that their voices stay in my head even if I’m not writing down what they’re saying. They’ve all grown up a little – and they grow up even more over the course of this particular story. There are new characters for them to meet, new places for them to explore and new challenges for them to overcome – and I hope you have as much following them as their adventure unfolds as I did!

Read more about The Ruby Airship, download a sample chapter, and take advantage of great offers here.

From the Curious Fox birthday party

You may have noticed (it’s not as if we’ve kept it a secret) that Curious Fox has just turned one. Obviously that means a birthday party is in order, and that’s exactly what we had last night in London.

We were very lucky to have loads of our authors along, and guest appearances from Batman and Superman, no less!Ann, Jasmine, Superman, Jackie, LauraStewart, Batman, Laura

No party would be complete without a birthday cake, and even if we do say so ourself, this one was pretty special:


A huge thank you to everybody who came along – it was great to see you all, and we can’t wait until our second birthday!

The sound of Josh Walker

If you’ve read Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets, you’ll know that the brains behind the book, Josh Walker, is a fifteen-year-old wannabe metalhead, who has some brilliant ideas for lyrics – like these:

Like a mockingbird
Whose song is unheard
Whose beak has been tied
Slowly dying inside

And now the brilliant talents of our good friend Jack Cape have brought Josh’s lyrics to life in this full-length version of ‘Like A Mockingbird’, from the maybe-to-be-released debut album ‘Slowly Dying Inside’ by Josh Walker.

We think it’s really rather good – hope you enjoy it!

Track by Jack Cape – follow Jack online:

New recruits in the Fox’s den!

We’re coming up to our first birthday here at Curious Fox, and as we enter our second year we’ve got some great new people joining us in the fox’s den: Loraine Taylor as Publisher, Helen Freeman as Publishing Director and Chris Moody as National Sales Manager.

New recruits to the team at Curious Fox
New to the team at Curious Fox: (l-r) Loraine, Ann, Helen and Chris

Loraine Taylor joins Curious Fox in the role of Publisher on the basis of a long and highly
successful career in children’s publishing. She worked at Walker Books for 20 years, during which time she guided and developed the Where’s Wally publishing programme, as well as working on other high-profile properties such as Maisy and Guess How Much I Love You. Latterly Loraine has been working as a freelance literary consultant. At Curious Fox Loraine will oversee the list and shape its future, representing us at industry events and making sure we stay curious and creative.

Helen Freeman joins as Publishing Director, overseeing both the Curious Fox list and our sister list at Raintree, leading the content development teams across both imprints. Just
back from two years living in Perth, Australia, Helen worked as an education publishing consultant on a variety of projects, including an online education programme for Western Australia’s Department of Transport. Helen is known in the UK for her six-year role as Publishing Director at Scholastic UK.

Chris Moody joins Curious Fox after 10 years as Sales Director with Priddy Books. Prior to
this he held product and key account management positions at Egmont. His significant experience selling Children’s books make him ideally suited to help build and develop our trade business. In his new role Chris will work closely with the editorial/content and marketing teams to build Curious Fox sales across all UK channels.

Of the new appointments, Curious Fox MD, Miles Stevens-Hoare said: “I’m thrilled to have Loraine, Helen and Chris join our fox’s den! We’re publishing some of the best books available and we’ve hired the best people to get them in to children’s hands. I think these new appointments reflect our commitment and investment to our list, and send a message to the industry that we mean business. 2014 is going to be a big year for Curious Fox.”

New marketing executive, Ann Carter, also joins the marketing team from Oxford-based
internet start-up Journl, having previously worked at BrainPOP and Folens. She will be working on online and offline campaigns to build Curious Fox’s success over the course of 2014.

A very warm welcome to the team to all of them!

Meeting the ferrets at Wood Green

A guest blog by Jackie Buckleauthor of Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets.

Although a ferret features prominently in my book, I had yet to meet one in the fur so I was excited to be heading off to Wood Green, The Animals Charity near Cambridge for a ferrety photofest. Of course ferrets do have a certain reputation for biting and as we approached the shelter I conjured up an unwelcome image of a TV presenter from my youth screwing up his face in agony as his hand is prised from a ferret’s locked jaws. Hopefully the Wood Green ferrets would be better behaved.

Jackie Buckle visits Wood Green Animal Shelter

Jackie (right) and Marie (left), plus Albie and Frank

I was greeted by Katja who is Wood Green’s Business Development Officer, by Tara from PR and by Marie who is an expert in field and small animals. Marie introduced me to two different ferrets: Albie (pure white), and Frank (yellowy-brown). Both were very cute, in a lively, slinky, fast and furry kind of way! Like dogs, ferrets enjoy going for walks, so we harnessed them up and went to take the pictures. I must say Albie and Frank were very obliging throughout the rather windswept photoshoot and didn’t bite once!

Albie and Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets

After photos it was time for a tour. The shelter is one of the largest in Europe, covering 52 acres, and providing a home for pigs, ducks, goats and alpacas, as well as the more usual rabbits, cats and dogs. In addition to rescue, Wood Green also do lots of work educating the public on animal welfare, including showcasing how animals should be kept. Rabbits, for example, need much larger enclosures than most people are aware of. In fact, according to Katja, rabbits are probably the most abused of all British pets due to poor housing and neglect.

At the dog enclosure, it was time to get a few lumps in the throat, as the dogs came rushing up to the bars wagging their tails. Dogs are so desperate for human contact that it’s especially heartbreaking to see them in kennels. Wood Green have just opened new state-of-the art enclosures to house the dogs, though, which will be a lot more homely.

Katja then had to go for a meeting so we didn’t have time to see the cats. In hindsight this was probably a good thing as I have an especially soft spot for kitties. It meant I was able to leave with my dignity and mascara largely intact!


We will be making a donation to Wood Green for every copy of Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets that’s sold. I am so pleased to be helping this excellent charity, even in a small way. They really are a worthwhile cause and the staff are so committed to making things better for animals. You can find out more about them and the great work they do at