New April books!
It’s officially spring! The sun is shining on us here at a Chicken House HQ and three fantastic little book chicks have just hatched. If you like fantasy and magic, April is the month for you. Here’s what's out now … (more…)
Stuart Hill stops by our blog
Today marks the publication of a brand-new edition of Stuart Hill's classic novel The Cry of the Icemark! Stuart stopped by the blog to tell us about his journey from aspiring writer to award-winning published author ... (more…)
Stuart Hill, author of the popular Cry of the Icemark fantasy trilogy and the prequel The Prince of the Icemark, was born in 1958 and raised in Leicester, where he still lives. He failed all his exams at school, but was fortunate enough to be taught by an inspiring teacher who gave him a lifelong love of reading.
Since leaving school he has worked as a car trimmer, a cemetery gardener and an archaeologist, but it was during snatched coffee breaks from his job in a busy book shop that Stuart wrote his first children's book, The Cry of the Icemark. This debut went on to win the inaugural Waterstones Children's Book Prize in 2005.
Stuart's books have since been translated into 15 languages.
TOP 5 FRIDAY: Gingers
There can't be many minority groups that are over-represented in children's fiction but we have a sneaking suspicion that redheads might be. Making up just two per cent of the population, we reckon at least one in ten children's books has a feisty, spirited girl character with ginger hair, pale freckled skin and green eyes that flash when her temper flares. And we're not knocking them - we wouldn't dare incur their fiery fury! Publishing Manager Esther, fan of all things ginger (especially her two sons), picks her top five red-headed characters.
1. Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables
She may have claimed that having red hair was a 'lifelong sorrow' - and there's no forgetting the time she accidentally dyed it green in a desperate attempt to have hair as 'black as the raven's wing' - but she embodies red from root to tip. Tease her for it and you'll be made to pay - just ask Gilbert Blythe! A blonde or brunette Anne would have been a literary flop. She will always be my kindred spirit.
2. Thirrin from The Cry of the Icemark
This girl can kick butt! How many thirteen-year-old princesses do you know who can take down a werewolf with their bare hands? A fierce, proud, fearless warrior with a blaze of red hair, her 'halo of wrath'. She may be the heir to the throne of the Icemark but forget blue blood, it's the red-headed blood coursing through her veins that makes her awesome!
3. Katie Morag from the Katie Morag series
The gentler setting of a fictional island off the west coast of Scotland is the home of Katie Morag. But gingers are rarely mild: Feisty? Tick! Creative? Tick! Unruly? Tick! I want to be her, roaming the island unaccompanied, wild Titian hair blowing in the wind. She is also a style icon - I dream of being able to rock the white Fair Isle jumper, tartan skirt, bare legs and wellies look ...
4. Mr Fox from Fantastic Mr Fox
I don't really believe that hair colour has any bearing on intelligence (some of the brightest people I know are blonde) but ginger-furred Mr Fox is as smart as they come, outwitting farmers for a pastime. He manages to be both shrewd and generous, the saviour of a host of starving underground animals. I want an invitation to one of his banquets ... oh, to feast on duck, goose and ham pilfered from Mr Bunce and down a few pints of Mr Bean's cider!
5. Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter series
I can't get away without mentioning Ron, perhaps the most famous ginger in children's fiction, and good value for money as he brings with him six ginger siblings. Ron is funny, brave and a loyal BFF to Harry. For the most part he handles being a sidekick, having an awful name and being teased for being poor with charm and dignity. And although he does have the typical temper, there's nothing wrong with wearing your heart on your sleeve. Good choice Hermione!
Any other flame-haired favourites to add to the list? Tweet us @chickenhsebooks!
Icemark Chronicles Prequel: Prince of the Icemark
Prequel to the bestselling The Cry of the Icemark.
When his brother, the king, is killed in battle, brave young Prince Redrought must rally his people and learn to defend his tiny kingdom against savage supernatural invaders – werewolves, vampires and zombies. Redrought must take the fight to enemy territory in The-Land-of-the-Ghosts, and it’s there he will fall or stand for ever in the legends of the Icemark.
Icemark Chronicles 1: The Cry of the Icemark
When her father dies in battle, 14-year-old Thirrin becomes Queen of the Icemark.
Determined to defend her tiny kingdom from the most terrible invasion her nation has ever known, this is the epic story of how she rallies her country and finds some extraordinary new allies: Vampires, Wolf-folk, giant Snow Leopards and – most precious of all – her friend Oskan, Witch’s Son.
Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Winner 2005.
Books 2 and 3, Blade of Fire and Last Battle of the Icemark, are available in ebook format.