Costa-shortlisted author Rebecca F. John to join Firefly as Senior Editor

Costa-shortlisted author Rebecca F. John to join Firefly as Senior Editor

Acclaimed novelist Rebecca F. John is to join Firefly Press in a new role as Senior Editor this autumn.

Her appointment coincides with Firefly’s publication of her first novel for children, MG fantasy The Shadow Order, this September, and is part of an expansion at Welsh indie Firefly which also sees Assistant Editor Leonie Lock move to a position as Editor. Rebecca, who is author of Costa-shortlisted The Haunting of Henry Twist, has worked as an editor for a number of Wales-based publishers and also publishes two novels for adults this year, one with her own imprint, Aderyn Press.

Firefly Publisher, Penny Thomas said: ‘We are huge fans of Rebecca’s work as an author and an editor and are delighted that she is to join Firefly. She will be a wonderful addition to our small but dedicated team as we seek to publish exciting, innovative, quality fiction for children and young adults.’

Rebecca F. John, said: ‘Joining Firefly is a true honour. I have admired the work this press does from afar for a long while and, when the opportunity to work with them arose, I was poised to leap at it. Firefly does a huge amount to champion every one of their authors, while demonstrating what a small, Wales-based press can achieve, and I can’t wait to play a part in their exciting future plans.’

Firefly Press signs sparkling sequel to Major and Mynah

Firefly Press signs sparkling sequel to Major and Mynah

Karen Owen
Louise Forshaw

Leonie Lock, Editor at children’s and YA publisher Firefly Press, has acquired World rights for Major and Mynah 2 (title TBC) by Karen Owen, illustrated by Louise Forshaw.

‘Karen Owen has done it again –  this is a remarkable sequel. Book two features another brilliant caper, with amazing character additions and more hilarity. Callie Major is definitely a hero for modern times – she’s witty, resilient and absolutely does not let her hearing impairment stand in her way!’ said Leonie Lock.

The brilliant detective adventure for younger readers, Major and Mynah, is due to hit shelves May 2022. Callie Major realises her new hearing aids give her the ability to communicate with Bo, a mynah bird. Together, along with BFF Grace, the detective trio set out to investigate the local thefts and catch the culprit!

This squawk-tacular sequel follows the return of the Super Perceptive Undercover Detectives! When Bo sneaks into Callie’s bag on her school trip to the Tower of London, she and Grace are worried he’s going to cause lots of trouble. But when some gold coins and jewels are stolen from the site, SPUD have another case – and a spy in the sky comes in handy!

This sequel features the vivid backdrop of the Tower of London, exploring its rich history and the ravens that reside there. With more daring chases and some expert sneaking, Major and Mynah 2 is full of the same humour and mischief as book one. 

Karen Owen said: ‘Having the chance to take Callie, Bo and Grace on another adventure was one I jumped at. I’m a history fanatic so I loved being able to walk in the footsteps of famous people from our colourful past at the Tower of London.’

‘I’m incredibly excited to be asked to illustrate more of Callie, Grace and Bo’s world,’ said Louise Forshaw, ‘and I really can’t wait to dive (or maybe fly like Bo) into another Major and Mynah adventure.’

The novel is slated for publication in March 2023.

Firefly joins Welsh Government’s book-gifting scheme

Firefly joins Welsh Government’s book-gifting scheme

Community groups and food banks across Wales have added children’s books to the list of resources and support they are able to provide for families from this spring. As part of the Welsh Government’s book-gifting campaign, the Books Council of Wales have supplied over 40,000 books to food banks, community organisations and other local groups to make books available to children and young people in their local communities.

Nurturing a love of reading sits at the core of the Books Council of Wales’ work. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic they have delivered several book-gifting campaigns with selected groups such as families, young carers and looked-after children. Providing books and resources was one way to support children and families through the effects of the pandemic, such as social isolation and the impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

One of the main aims of this Schools Love Reading book-gifting programme is to provide a choice of high-quality and engaging reading resources for families to use at home.

“It’s been wonderful to work with our friends and partners at the Trussell Trust, FareShare Cymru, IFAN (Independent Food Aid Network) and many community groups across Wales to deliver these books for children and young people. We chose these high-quality books from amongst the best-selling titles produced by publishers in Wales to include a wide range of age ranges, subjects and titles so that everyone can choose the right book for them. We’d like to thank all the publishers who have worked so hard to make these books available for children across Wales to enjoy.”

Shoned Davies, Schools Love Reading Project Manager at the Books Council of Wales

This is the first stage in the book-gifting scheme. The next stages of this multi-million-pound investment in reading engagement include the gift of an individual book for every learner between the ages of 3 and 16 via all state schools in Wales, and a programme of Schools Gifting, where each state school will receive a specially chosen selection of books for their school library.


The Schools Love Reading programme will mean that learners across Wales have equal access to a diverse range of appealing and quality literature, in Welsh and English, that has been specially selected for children and young people.

“Reading is a fundamental skill in just about every aspect of life. I want to ignite a passion for reading for all our children and families. Through this exciting book-gifting initiative, as part of the £5m additional funding from Welsh Government, I want to ensure that every learner in Wales has a book of their own to keep.”

Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language

About the publishers
The books included in this phase of the Schools Love Reading programme are high-quality titles from amongst the best-selling children’s books produced by publishers in Wales. They cover a variety of age ranges, subjects and include titles in both Welsh and English, so that every child or family can choose the right book for them.

Participating publishers are:
Graffeg Publishing
Firefly Press
Candy Jar Books
Atebol
Welsh Children’s Books by Dref Wen
Rily Publications
Y Lolfa

Firefly signs Kate Mallinder’s summer feel-good follow-up

Firefly signs Kate Mallinder’s summer feel-good follow-up

Penny Thomas, Publisher at children’s and YA publisher Firefly Press has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights  in Summer Under The Stars by author Kate Mallinder from Hannah Sheppard at DHH Literary Agency.

In the sequel to the much-loved Summer of No Regrets, the four friends drive across France in what should be the holiday of a lifetime. 

But Sasha feels as if her dad’s wedding will be the end of her relationship with him; Cam is reeling from being rejected by her birth grandparents; Hetal is doing badly in school for the first time; and Nell’s in love and afraid she’ll lose Tom if she’s away too long.

They need to rekindle their friendship. They need a road trip to end all road trips. They need a summer under the stars.

‘This novel is a summer holiday in a book,’ said editor Janet Thomas. ‘I’m so delighted that we’re publishing this book. It’s full of Kate’s wise understanding of friendship. It’s a great read and an escape, and it’s also very wise, particularly on difficult families, first love and perfectionism. Readers are going to love it, and it’s such a joy to be working with Kate again.’

Kate Mallinder said: ‘I’m thrilled to continue working with the lovely Firefly team, and for the opportunity to write more adventures for Sasha, Hetal, Cam and Nell.’

The novel is slated for publication in Spring/Summer 2023.

Firefly launches competition to find new children’s fiction from Wales

Firefly launches competition to find new children’s fiction from Wales

Award-winning children’s and YA publisher Firefly Press has launched a competition to find the best new stories for children and young adults, by writers from Wales.

Launched on St David’s Day, the competition hopes to discover new authors, writing for children. With three separate age groups to write for (age 7-9, 9-12 and 12-18), three winners will be selected by top children’s authors Catherine Fisher, Catherine Johnson and Malachy Doyle and Firefly Publisher Penny Thomas. The winner of each category will win a one-to-one editorial session with a Firefly editor and the overall winner will win a place on a Literature Wales’ Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre residential course in 2023 (subject to availability).

The competition is for a story written in English by writers either based in Wales or who have grown up in the country. Entry is free to ensure that it is accessible to as many writers as possible and Firefly actively welcomes entries by writers from underrepresented communities. The entry must be an original story, all the author’s own work, and the competition is open to published and unpublished writers.

Firefly Press is an independent children’s and YA publisher based in Wales, established in 2013. Firefly is the winner of the Wales Small Press of the Year British Book Awards (NIBBIES) 2020 and 2021, and currently shortlisted for 2022. We publish quality fiction for 5-19 years olds and authors include former Children’s Laureate Wales Eloise Williams, Horatio Clare, Catherine Fisher, Jennifer Killick, Luke Palmer and Nicola Davies among many others.

Firefly Publisher Penny Thomas said: ‘Firefly is keen to find the next generation of children’s writers from Wales, particularly from underrepresented communities. If you write, or want to write great stories for young people, we’d love to hear from you, so please be brave, go ahead and enter.’

Sarah Todd Taylor, winner of the first Firefly writing competition in 2013 said: ‘Winning the Firefly prize was the start of an exciting adventure in children’s publishing. It gave me confidence in my writing and the chance to have Arthur and Me published by an amazing team who were truly interested in the story and were so kind and supportive of me as a debut writer. It brought me the friendship of other Firefly authors too – it really is a very special publisher. There is nothing quite like the thrill of seeing a book in a shop with your name on the spine. Now I’m editing my sixth book, and it all began by pressing send on an entry to the Firefly prize. I’d encourage anyone who wants to write for children to enter this fantastic competition.’

Entries open from 1 March and close on 24 April. Winners will be announced in October 2022.
For full information on how to enter please visit our dedicated page here.

Firefly signs second Stupendous Sports title: Fantastic Football

Firefly signs second Stupendous Sports title: Fantastic Football

Penny Thomas, Publisher at award-winning children’s and YA publisher Firefly Press, has acquired world rights in non-fiction title Fantastic Football, the second instalment in the Stupendous Sports series by author Robin Bennett, from Joanna Moult at Skylark Literary.

Full of facts, funny stories, and crazy cartoons by Matt Cherry, the series aims to do for PE what Horrible Histories did for Friday afternoon history lessons.

Hilarious (hopefully), irreverent (probably), but factually correct (obviously), this action-packed book is about the spirit of the beautiful game as much as the rules. Covering the history of football, the future of the game including the rise in women’s football and the continuing importance of diversity, Fantastic Football also features a practical section on player positions, skills and tricks.

Illustrations by Matt Cherry
Design by Becka Moor

‘Football is a hugely loved sport, and this fun and factual guide for primary school readers is a terrific second title in Firefly’s innovative Stupendous Sports series, coming as it does, ahead of the 2022 World Cup’ said Firefly Publisher Penny Thomas. ‘And cartoons are definitely the best way to explain the offside rule as far as I can see!’

Robin Bennett said: ‘Fantastic Football was brilliant to write. It’s aimed not just at young players but readers who want something fun and funny to dip into and, like the game itself, to share with friends. Fantastic Football is a team read!’

The book is slated for publication in early autumn 2022, ahead of the FIFA World Cup in November.

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