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Dark secrets, secret agents and, erm, ladybirds


New for April


Gaslight by Eloise Williams

 Cardiff 1899. All Nansi knows is that she and her mother were running away from someone, and then she was being fished out of Cardiff docks with no memory of how she got there. Now she is forced to work for Pernicious Sid at the Empire Theatre, while trying desperately to search for her vanished mother.

A darkly delicious romp through the backstreets of Victorian Cardiff. I loved it!’ Emma Carroll, author of Frost Hollow Hall, Strange Star
‘Keep an eye out for this firecracker, folks - it’s gorgeously raw, dark and Dickensian.’ Lucy Strange, author of The Secret of Nightingale Wood.
Gaslight, for 9-12s, is Eloise’s second novel for children, following her much-loved debut Elen’s Island, for 7-9 year olds. Gaslight launched to a sell-out crowd at the Cardiff Kids Lit Festival on 2 April, and Eloise had a packed launch in Waterstones Carmarthen on Saturday 8 April. 


Explore the dark side of Victorian Cardiff 

Eloise will also be in Cardiff on Saturday 22 April from 2-3pm at Waterstones Cardiff. Join Eloise on a tour of some of the hot spots from Gaslight in central Cardiff with readings and fun facts about the dark side of Victorian Cardiff.

Suitable for ages 8+ must be accompanied by an adult. Start and end point Waterstones Cardiff. Walk will be approximately 30 minutes followed by a signing with the author. Free, but limited spaces: please book with by tweeting @WaterstonesCDF or emailing:


Coming soon - Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink by Jennifer Killick


'A brilliantly bonkers, side-splitting, superhero story!' M.G. Leonard
‘A laugh-out-loud extravaganza of a read’ Booklover Jo
Alex Sparrow is a super-agent in training. He is also a human lie-detector. Working with Jess, who can communicate with animals, they must find out why their friends – and enemies – are all changing into polite and well-behaved pupils. And exactly who is behind it all. A sparkingly funny book for 8-12s by new author Jennifer Killick.
Comic debut Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink, is publishing on 1 May, with a launch in Waterstones Uxbridge on April 27th.
Alex Sparrow has been selected for the Summer Reading Challenge 2017, along with Firefly title Thimble Monkey Superstar by Jon Blake, and both are available in all good bookshops and for libraries to order now through all usual distribution channels.


Award shortlisting for Alien Rain



Congratulations to Ruth Morgan, whose wonderful futuristic novel for young teens, Alien Rain, has been shortlisted for the Wales Children’s Tir na n-Og Awards 2017.

Alien Rain sees ordinary Martian teenager Bree, selected for a mission back to Earth. Surprised by the honour Bree travels to a future Cardiff where the arcades are jungles and ghosts haunt the national museum. But mystery surrounds her mission. What are the secrets of the past, and whose side should Bree be on, Earth or Mars?
The awards are sponsored by CILIP Wales and the Welsh Books Council with the winner announced on May 11. Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council, said, ‘The titles that have reached the shortlist this year are evidence of the high standard of books for children and young people in Wales.’


Firefly author wins Literature Wales Writers’ Bursary

Congratulations to Kat Ellis for winning a Literature Wales Writers’ Bursary. Kat’s stunning debut YA novel Blackfin Sky was one of Firefly’s very first titles in May 2014, while her most recent is Purge, a high-energy thriller for older teens.








Catch the Ladybirds at Hay Festival



Carnegie-longlisted author Horatio Clare will be launching the further adventures of Aubrey in Aubrey and the Terrible Ladybirds at the Hay Festival next month on Saturday 27 May at 4pm.
This hilarious new adventure from the star of Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot (winner of the Branford Boase Award 2016) sees the young hero shrunk to the size of a coin, ride on the back of a swallow and travel the web of time and space to Europe and back, with the help of a couple of spiders. But there’s trouble waiting for him back home where the Ladybirds have flown into Rushing Wood, only to find they’re not welcome …

Book your places here.




We are thrilled that Alien Rain by Ruth Morgan has been shortlisted for the Tir na-n'Og Award, a prize for the best children's book of the year set in Wales.

As the judges say, Alien Rain is 'A science fiction novel set on Mars in the year 3016. Earth has been abandoned and the novel’s characters live in a scaled-down replica of Cardiff within a dome.' It's a hugely exciting adventure with an unforgetable heroine and everyone at Firefly is delighted to see Ruth acknowledged on the award shortlist.  Helen Jones, the Welsh Books Council's Head of Children's Books and Reading Promotion, noted, "The variety of books on this year's shortlist is really encouraging. Our aim is to foster a love of reading, from the youngest toddler to young adults."

Congratulations to Ruth and all the shortlisted authors in Welsh and English. See the full list here:

Aubrey on the CILIP Carnegie Longlist

Congratulations to Horatio Clare and Jane Matthews after Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot is named on the 20-stong longlist for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017! 

Up against great competition from the likes of Frank Cottrell Boyce, Philip Reeve and MG Leonard, the Branford Boase winning title continues to shine, with a sequel, Aubrey and the Terrible Ladybirds, due out in May.

Announcing the longlist Tricia Adams, chair of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals judging panel, said: 'It is truly a special privilege to be chairing the panel in this historic double anniversary year. The subject matter that emerges from the two lists – stories about refugees, our relationship with the natural world, and living with disability and loss – reflect the very real issues children have to deal with. In turbulent times, we need children’s books to provide a safe space from which to help make sense of the world.'


And President of the Carnegie Kate Arnold said: 'Over the past 80 years, the Carnegie and, latterly, the Kate Greenaway Medal have played a crucial role in highlighting excellence in children’s books. Just as librarians do every day in recommending books to readers at school and in public libraries, the medals act as a guide to exciting new stories, storytellers and artists. This year’s longlists are exceptionally strong, with images and stories that will linger in the imagination long after the last page has been turned.'

The shortlists for both will be announced on 16th March, with the winners being announced on 19th June in central London. The winners will each receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library, a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize. One title from each of the shortlists will also be named the recipient of the Amnesty CILIP Honour. The prizes are judged by a panel of expert librarians.

The Carnegie Medal, awarded annually, was established in 1936 in memory of the Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1919) who set up more than 2,800 libraries across the English speaking world. The Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1955 for distinguished illustration in a book for children in tribute to the nineteenth century artist known for her children’s illustrations.

Firefly Press is expanding its team

We are pleased to announce that thanks to the WBC funding announced in January, we are looking to increase the Firefly team with two positions, a marketing officer and an assistant editor:

Firefly Press Marketing Officer (supported post)
15 hours per week, £25,000 pro rata

In 2017-20 the post-holder will work on a list averaging 8 titles per year, all high quality fiction ranging from early readers (7-9) to young adult titles. In addition the post-holder will promote Firefly as a brand on social media and to print media, to the trade, readers and opinion formers.

Candidates will have a great deal of experience of book marketing and PR - experience in children’s books marketing is essential.  They will have great communication skills and energy.  They will mostly work from home, but will attend meetings with the rest of the Firefly team in Cardiff as necessary and will attend book launches, festivals and other publishing events across the UK.

If you would like a detailed job description please email
Any interested candidates should email a CV and covering letter to Firefly Publisher Penny Thomas at by 24 February and interviews will be held in Cardiff in early March.

Firefly Press Assistant Editor (supported post)
7.5 hours a week, £25,000 pro rata

In 2017-20 the post-holder will work on a list averaging 8 titles a year, all high quality fiction ranging from early readers (7-9) to young adult titles. They would work with the Firefly Publisher and Editor on assessing scripts, editing, copyediting, proofreading and liaising with authors and agents. They would also prepare sales materials for sales and marketing and work with designers and printers where appropriate.

The successful candidate would have editorial experience, preferably but not essentially in children’s books, and excellent editorial skills.  They will have a depth of knowledge about and enthusiasm for the children’s book market. They would work from home, but would attend meetings with the Firefly team in Cardiff as necessary, and attend other book events and presentations across the UK occasionally, as appropriate.

If you would like a detailed job description please email
Any interested candidates should email a CV and covering letter to Firefly Publisher Penny Thomas at by 24 February and interviews will be held in Cardiff in early March. 

We would also like to note that while we are keen to fill the assistant editor position, if we did not find the right candidate at this time, we would then be looking for freelance editors to work on books on a book by book freelance basis, so freelance editors are also welcome to send us their CVs at  Our priority, though, is to find the right person for the position.

First Gateshead YA Book Prize goes to The Territory

Many congratulations to Sarah Govett (right), whose debut novel The Territory has won the Gateshead YA Book Prize at the first ever Gateshead Biblio-Con. This compelling story about teenagers Noa, Raf and Jack, adrift in the dangerous world of 2059, was chosen by local schools and teen book groups as their favourite YA read of 2016. Read more about The Territory and The Territory, Escape here.

And great news too for Firefly's Jon Blake and Jennifer Killick, whose books Thimble Monkey Superstar and the as yet unpublished Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink - coming soon - have been chose for The Reading Agency's Summer Reading Challenge 2017. We're really looking forward to the challenge this year, which is on the theme of Animal Agents.



Congratulations too go to Hoxton Mini-Press, winner of the IPG Independent Publishing Nick Robinson Best Newcomer Award 2017, an honour hotly contested by the other shortlisted publishers, Firefly Press and Orenda Books. The award was presented at the inspiring IPG conference last week, which also saw Nosy Crow crowned Best Children's Publisher and academinc publishers Edward Elgar Publishing win the overall award for the Best Independent Publisher.




Firefly Press acquires new YA novel by Rhian Ivory

Janet Thomas has acquired World English rights in Hope, a YA novel from Carnegie-nominated author, Rhian Ivory, from Gillie Russell from Aitken Alexander Associates.

Rhian Ivory is the author of five novels including The Boy Who Drew the Future (2015), also published by Firefly Press, which has been nominated for a number of awards including the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017. 
Hope is a beautiful contemporary YA novel, about the summer between school and sixth form college. When 16-year-old Hope, already grieving for her dad, doesn’t get into drama college, she feels like all her dreams are over, but new friendships and a summer job in the Singing Medicine group at the hospital, help her, with many tests along the way, to find a new path.  
Janet Thomas, Firefly Press Editor, says: 'We are so thrilled to be publishing Rhian again. Rhian has one of the greatest gifts I’ve worked with for communicating to YA readers through her work. Hope is an uplifting story of trying new things, learning who to trust and the healing potential of music.'
Hope will be published in September 2017 in PB priced £7.99.