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Meet Firefly authors at Edinburgh International Book Festival 2016

Sat 27 Aug 5:00pm - 6:00pm   Baillie Gifford Imagination Lab   £5.00

Breaking the Spell with Horatio Clare (author of Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot, winner of the Branford Boase Award 2016)
AGE 8-12
Aubrey's father has fallen under a terrible spell. To save him, Aubrey must do the impossible and fight the unkillable Spirit of Despair itself – the Terrible Yoot. In his award-winning first foray into children's fiction, highly-acclaimed Welsh author Horatio Clare brings us a big-hearted, original piece of storytelling which explores the difficult subject of depression with verve and vigour.
Book tickets here
Sarah Govett, author of the acclaimed dystopian thriller The Territory will also be appearing on the Schools Programme on 26 August.

Firefly storytellers at the Peaches and Chocolate Summer Picnics, Insole Court, Llandaff, Cardiff


To celebrate Roald Dahl 100, Firefly has partnered with Insole Court’s annual Summer Sunday Picnics on 7 and 21 August, where Firefly authors and illustrators Dan Anthony, Eloise Williams and Huw Davies will read from their favourite Roald Dahl books and treat children to fun drawing and writing sessions where they will be inspired to create their own stories. 
Roald Dahl lived in Llandaff, just around the corner from the Firefly office, until the age of nine and it is here where the famous sweet shop immortalised in his autobiography Boy is located.

The Summer Reading Challenge is here…


Libraries across the UK will be running the The Big Friendly Read, Summer Reading Challenge 2016 throughout the summer starting this weekend. Children aged between 4 and 11 are challenged to read 6 or more books over the summer holidays and can read any book they like. To help them chose there is a themed list of books selected by The Reading Agency including Firefly titles Aubrey and the Terrible YootPete and the Five-A-Side Vampires and Dragon Gold.      


Summer reading – Firefly recommends:

For 7-9 year olds

NEW COVER LOOK! Elen's Island ... When her parents send her to stay with a grandmother she hardly knows for the summer, Elen is furious. Gran lives on a tiny island and doesn’t want her to stay either - it’s not an easy start...
If you loved Dragon Gold, follow Harri’s new adventures with Tan in Dragon White  – but watch out, there’s a new dragon in town…
Steve and the Singing Pirates … Summer holidays loom but there’s no let up in piano lessons for unmusical Steve. But when the Library of Dreams lands him in the 18th century world of pirates and pistols at dawn, Steve finds the baton can be mightier than the cutlass… with hilarious drawings from Huw Aaron.

Thimble Monkey Superstar ... Life is never boring now that Jams and his family have a monkey to look after. Jams and his mum love Thimble, but Dad is determined to get rid of him - to a zoo, a school, even a demolition site... a laugh out loud story from best-selling author Jon Blake.
For 9-12 year olds
Alien Rain ... She came on a mission. She is trained to fight. But what Bree really needs to do is listen... Bree is an ordinary teenage girl living in a Martian city where everyone dreams of going back to Earth. Struggling in school, she is amazed when she is chosen for a mission to Earth, a rare honour usually only for the highest achieving pupils. Why has she been picked...?

Scrambled ... 14-year-old 'model pupil' Davidde lives with his dad after his mother died. His father does his best, but when a new headteacher starts at his south Wales valleys school, Davidde is unfairly labelled a troublemaker. To the horror of his teachers, Davidde finds a new passion for mortorcycle scrambling...
Teen and YA
The Territory ... A gripping fantasy thriller set in a future Britain where unflooded land is scarce. Everyone must pass an exam at 15 to stay in The Territory or be exiled to the disease-ridden Wetlands…

White Petals ... An unforgettable YA novel about friendship and family. Emmeline has been trying to hold her family together since her dad died. Now her mum’s been sectioned, everyone’s split up and she has to live in a care home. Just for three months...


Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot wins the Branford Boase Award 2016!

We’re celebrating at Firefly after the news that author Horatio Clare and editor Penny Thomas have won the 2016 Branford Boase Award with the wonderful Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot!


The 2016 winners of the Award, given to the author and editor of an outstanding debut novel for children, were announced at a ceremony at Walker Books in London, with the prize presented by children’s laureate Chris Riddell.

The book, for 8-12 year olds, beat off strong competition from other shortlisted titles and publishers including Penguin Random House and Harper Collins.


The judges said Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot was ‘something very special … it stood out from the first and the author’s voice is very exciting.’  


And they added: ‘Horatio Clare writes about animals as well as T.H. White. This is a very fine book with real quality in the descriptions – it comes from the heart of someone who loves landscape and wildlife. A book that is both pensive and sparkling with originality and life. It is a testament to the healing power of the imagination.’


Horatio Clare has won several awards for his books for adults. Of writing for children he said: ‘I am absolutely lit up about writing for children. I feel there are no limits, their imaginations are so powerful, and I love being in dialogue with an imagined child reader. It is the most exciting writing I have yet discovered. It’s an honour to win such a prestigious prize and I am particularly delighted to win an award which recognises the role of editors in children’s fiction. We would be nowhere without them!’


Penny Thomas said: ‘Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot is a wonderful book, a future children’s classic: funny, magical and profound, and we are delighted for Horatio who is a superb writer. This award is particularly exciting for Firefly too, as we’ve only been publishing for three years and we were up against some terrific shortlisted titles. 


‘It shows that great books can come out of Wales as well as great football!


‘I’d like to thank the Branford Boase judges, and the Welsh Books Council for their support in helping us commission this title, as well as the whole Firefly team, particularly my fellow editor and director, Janet Thomas – publishing this book has been very much a team effort.’


Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot tells the story of rambunctious child Aubrey and his determination, with the help of the animals of Rushing Wood, to save his father, Jim, when he falls under the spell of the spirit of despair itself, the Terrible Yoot!


Beautifully illustrated by Jane Matthews, it has been praised as ‘a sheer joy’ by former children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo, and ‘A jewel not to be missed’ by the Sunday Times, which, along with the New Statesman, put Aubrey in its round-up of the best children’s books of 2015. 


Founded in 2000 the Branford Boase Award was set up to encourage new writers and to highlight the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent. It has an impressive record in picking out future stars. Frances Hardinge, winner of this year’s Costa Book of the Year won the Branford Boase in 2006 while Meg Rosoff, recent recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, is also a previous winner, as are Marcus Sedgwick, Mal Peet, Siobhan Dowd and Kevin Brooks.

This year’s judges were Russell Allen, Simon Key, Marion Lloyd, chaired by Julia Eccleshare of the Guardian and Hay Festival. 

To buy Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot, go to

Monkey business and motorcycle mayhem - new reads for summer



When Thimble turns up on Jams' doorstep he can’t believe his luck. But for some reason Dad is not so keen. In fact he does everything he can to lose the new monkey on the block – at a police station, a school or even the zoo. But Thimble is always a step ahead, and when his new family is in real trouble, he shows just why he is a Monkey Superstar. With wonderful illustrations from Martin Chatterton, Thimble Monkey Superstar is a marvellous new Dragonfly story for primary school readers. 

Thimble Monkey Superstar is available to buy on the Firefly website and is up for a giveaway on Toppsta until 19 June. 


We had a wonderful launch event at Radnor Primary School in Cardiff with a donation from book sales going to Bobath Childrens Therapy Centre Wales.  

Jennifer Carroll, Centre Director and Consultant Physiotherapist at Bobath Children’s Therapy Centre Wales said: ‘I really enjoyed reading this book, it was so refreshing to have a main character with a disability without that being a major theme of the story. Jams is just a boy in a slightly atypical family living an adventurous life. I read it to my son and we both laughed raucously. A great book for all children!’ 

Bobath is selling Thimble on their website and in their Therapy Centre along with other Firefly titles. 


Davidde has always been a model pupil, (even if his parents had trouble spelling). But now, bothered by the barmy new headmaster and picked on by Lyndon’s gang, he’s kind of had enough. Then he discovers motorcycle scrambling and everything changes. But when the TV talent people come to town will Davidde reach for the stars, or is heading for a fall? A hilarious tale of boys, bikes, art classes, and some not-so-hard bullies from Huw Davies.

Originally from Nantyffyllon near Masteg in South Wales, as an English teacher Huw came to feel there was a lack of what he calls 'daft books for boys', and started work on Scrambled, set in the fictional valleys town of Maesunig.

'Despite most students enjoying reading books as a class, there can be resistance to independent personal reading from some students,' he said. 'I’d say it’s not that you don’t like reading, you’re just trying to read the wrong books – if you’re a boy or girl who likes playing football or going up the mountain on your dirt-bike, you’re unlikely to enjoy reading a book about horses and kissing. I decided that I’d try to engage reluctant readers. I thought that there didn’t seem to be enough daft books for daft boys.'

Scrambled is available to buy on the Firefly website and and at all good bookshops.

Huw Davies reading from Scrambled at his launch at Waterstones Carmarthen

New signing – Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink by Jennifer Killick



Alex Sparrow wants to be a super-agent, but the superpower he mysteriously acquires has some very undesirable side-effects. Undeterred he teams up with Jess, who has a few unusual powers of her own, to tackle the wave of weirdly polite behaviour which is sweeping their school. But can they win, and what part does Bob the OCD goldfish have to play in all this…

Firefly is delighted to sign this first book for 8-12s by Jennifer Killick of Brunel University and the Golden Egg Academy to be published next year.  

Firefly Editor, Janet Thomas, says ‘I love the non-stop mix of comedy and adventure Jennifer has managed to create in this brilliant story, a book that is laugh-out-loud funny and page-turning, daft and thrilling, with loveable heroes, memorable villains and a truly unforgettable goldfish. It’s wonderful and I can’t wait to see it in readers’ hands.’


Autumn titles

Watch out for three new YA titles from Firefly this autumn. First up in September are Purge, a virtual reality teen thriller from Kat Ellis (author of Blackfin Sky), and The Martian Girl, the second in the Mars trilogy from Paul Magrs, launched last year with the much-loved Lost on Mars, and taking us ever deeper into the heart of Lora’s wild and wonderful adventures in the red Marian prairies…


And in October we’ll be bringing you The Territory, Escape by Sarah Govett, second in the thrilling Territory trilogy described as 'a powerful and compelling novel' by Book Trust. Sarah will be at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on 26 August. 

Watch out also for wonderful new Halloween fun with Grace Ella, Spells for Beginners by Sharon Marie-Jones.


Catch award-shortlisted first novel Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot at a festival near you!



After a great day out at the Hay Festival  - and thank you to all those who came along - we’re looking forward to a summer of events with Branford Boase Awardshortlisted Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot by Horatio Clare. Catch Horatio at the Bath, Cheltenham, Cork or Edinburgh festivals this year – full details are on our website.


Dan and Dahl Catch Dreams with Dan Anthony


Dan Anthony, author of the Steve's Dreams books, has teamed up with Literature Wales to offer a special Dahl-inspired creative writing workshop for schools, libraries, festivals, venues and cultural organisations in Wales.

We all love reading and writing stories, but where do they come from? Using Roald Dahl’s The BFG and other favourites, and his own Steve’s Dreams stories, Dan shows how Roald Dahl can help us all write, and read, better. Being influenced isn’t the same as copying.

“There’s magic in Dahl’s stories,' says Dan, 'these workshops are about unlocking it.'

Full details on how to book Dan's workshop are on the Literature Wales website.

Good luck to Rhian Ivory who will find out if her YA novel The Boy Who Drew the Future has won the Calderdale Children’s Book of the Year on 17 June.

Malachy Doyle, author of Pete and the Five-a-Side Vampires, is The Reading Agency's Author of the Month for June. Watch his fun video here.