Firefly acquires first poetry collection from Welsh poet Alex Wharton

Firefly acquires first poetry collection from Welsh poet Alex Wharton

We are over the moon to announce that we have acquired world rights in our first poetry collection for children, Daydreams and Jellybeans by South Wales poet Alex Wharton, publishing in spring 2021.

Alex is a senior building surveyor when he isn’t busy writing or performing poetry for both adults and children. He said ‘I am delighted that my collection of children’s poems Daydreams and Jellybeans will be published with Firefly Press. It’s a marvellous opportunity on the quest of connecting people with words. Knowing my poems will reach a wider audience makes me happy – and I hope they spark curiosity and happiness in the people they find.’

Alex has also won the inaugural 2020 Rising Stars Wales Award, an award held in partnership between Literature Wales and Firefly Press, which gives children’s poets from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds based in Wales the opportunity to further develop their skills and writing for children. The runners-up to the award were Sadia Pineda Hameed and Taylor Edmonds.

Firefly Publisher Penny Thomas said, ‘Alex’s poetry is both funny and reflective, and is perfect for primary school-age children, inspiring we hope a love of words, poetry and reading. We feel very lucky to have signed such a terrific collection and hope it will be hugely popular in homes and schools around the UK.

‘It’s also very exciting that the Rising Stars Wales Award, run with Literature Wales and sponsored by Quarto Translations, should have showcased three such inspiring poets right away. We hope this is just the beginning and we aim to be able to publish an anthology of Rising Star poets from Wales in the not-too-distant future.’

Daydreams and Jellybeans will publish in spring 2021.

Find out more about Alex Wharton and read some of his poems here.

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Firefly acquires Monster Max book by Robin Bennett

Firefly acquires Monster Max book by Robin Bennett

We are thrilled to announce that we have acquired World English rights in a hilarious and fast-paced adventure story for 7-9s, Monster Max and the Bobble Hat of Forgetting by Robin Bennett from Joanna Moult at the Skylark Literary Agency.

Max is an ordinary boy until he burps, when he turns into a big hairy monster. Fortunately when he sneezes he can turn himself back into a small, grubby boy again.

When he’s a monster, Max does all the monster things like roar loudly and eat whole dustbins. But, after scaring a few too many elderly neighbours Max, resolves to use his monstering to ‘protect and do good stuff’.

If only it were that easy…

‘We are really thrilled to acquire this very funny and hugely enjoyable story, which we’re sure will delight readers everywhere,’ said Firefly publisher Penny Thomas.

Robin Bennett, an author and entrepreneur who has previously published under the Monster Books imprint, said: ‘In my life I have been a very bad gravedigger (assistant), chaotic tank commander and a jammy entrepreneur. Finally I’ve found out I’m an expert in small boys who can turn themselves into hairy monsters. I’ve found my place in the world.’

Monster Max and the Bobble Hat of Forgetting will be published this autumn and will be illustrated by Tom Tinn-Disbury.

Firefly acquires new feel-good teen novel from Kate Mallinder

Firefly acquires new feel-good teen novel from Kate Mallinder

We are delighted to announce that we have acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in Asking for a Friend by Kate Mallinder, author of Summer of no Regrets, from Hannah Sheppard at the D H H Literary Agency, publishing in paperback on 21 May 2020.

Asking for a Friend is a feel-good friendship story following three school friends over the Easter holidays as they confront their fears, including loneliness, fear of illness and social media bullying, in a character-driven story about valuing the friends who value you.

Agnes, Hattie and Jake travel on the school bus together, but don’t know each other well. They plan a week in Weston-super-Mare, as a ‘study break’ before exams, but none of them admit the real reasons they need to get away. Agnes must find her sister. Hattie can’t bear being home now all her friends have ghosted her. And Jake is afraid he’s ill and has absolutely no idea how to tell anyone. In one amazing week, they’ll risk their lives, face their fears and find themselves.

Kate says: ‘I’m thrilled that my second book, Asking for a Friend, is being published by the fantastic Firefly Press team. I’ve loved writing new characters and can’t wait for readers to meet Agnes, Hattie and Jake.’

Firefly editor Janet Thomas says: ‘We are so excited to have a new book from Kate on the Firefly Press list. Asking for a Friend is a hugely entertaining, character-driven story about how friends can be found in surprising places, and how they can help you face your greatest fears.’

Kate Mallinder lives with her husband, four children and two cats near Ashby- de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire. She grew up in Solihull and went to college in Leeds. If left to her own devices, she’d live on a window seat with a good book and a never-ending cup of tea. Her first book, Summer of No Regrets, was published by Firefly in May 2019 and was shortlisted for the Bristol Teen Book Awards 2019. Kate is a regular at YA festivals and chaired a panel at YALC 2019. Find out more at and follow her on Twitter @KateMallinder.

Praise for Summer of no Regrets:

‘Bucketloads of summer fun… warm, funny, utterly delightful story about friendship, taking chances, and living life to the full!’ Simon James Green

‘A perfect summer read to share with your best friends.’ Keris Stainton

‘Summer of no Regrets is a complete page turner … I loved spending summer with the gang!’ Jenny McLachlan

‘A wonderful summery, happy-ending story about friendship. I raced though it.’ Perdita Cargill

Eloise Williams named first Children’s Laureate Wales

Eloise Williams named first Children’s Laureate Wales

Huge congratulations to Firefly author Eloise Williams who has been selected as the first Children’s Laureate Wales (2019-2021). This new national ambassadorial post run by Literature Wales, aims to engage and inspire the children of Wales through literature, and to promote a child’s right to have their stories and voices heard.

Eloise was one of the first authors to be published by Firefly Press in 2015, after her first story for children, Elen’s Island, was shortlisted for the Firefly Children’s Book Award. The story, for 7-9 year olds, is set on a magical island off the coast of Pembrokeshire and reflects Eloise’s love of the sea and the Welsh coast which echoes through her other books, Gaslight and Seaglass, both for 8-12 year olds. Eloise’s fourth book, Wilde, will publish with Firefly Press in May 2020.

Firefly publisher Penny Thomas said: ‘Eloise has a talent for creating magical setting and characters in her books, and for engaging children in stories and reading. She will make a wonderful first children’s laureate and we are extremely proud to be her publisher.’

Eloise Williams worked as a touring actor and creative practitioner for over a decade before becoming a children’s writer. Her novel, Gaslight – which was written with the support of a Literature Wales New Writer’s Bursary – won the Wales Arts Review Young People’s Book of the Year 2017, the YBB Book Awards 2018, and was shortlisted for the Tir na nOg Awards 2018. Her latest novel for young people, Seaglass, was also shortlisted for the Tir na nOg Awards in 2019, and the North East Book Awards 2019.

A regular speaker at festivals and events, Eloise uses her drama skills to engage young people in children’s literature and now finds herself onstage more than she ever did as a professional actor.

Eloise said: ‘I’ve always loved stories. The joy of losing yourself in a good story is simply magical. Stories connect us, give us empathy and understanding, exercise our brains and imaginations, let us travel the world and experience the greatest wonders.

‘Children’s literature is thriving and there couldn’t be a more exciting time to be involved in its growth in Wales. I feel passionately that there is a connection between children’s books and the hope I feel every time I walk into a classroom. I truly believe that young readers will make our futures bright and I’m honoured to be a part of that.’

The Children’s Laureate Wales will work alongside the Welsh-language equivalent, Bardd Plant Cymru, primarily working with children between the ages of 5-13. Eloise was appointed following a public call-out for writers to express their interest in the role.

The Children’s Laureate Wales will visit a number of schools, clubs, festivals and events across Wales during their two-year tenure, as well as devising and delivering bespoke activity with Literature Wales’ target client groups.

Find our more and read Eloise Williams’ open letter to the children of Wales

To arrange a Children’s Laureate Wales school visit, or to discuss other activity, email Literature Wales on

Rising Stars Wales Award 2020

Rising Stars Wales Award 2020

New initiative launched to find talented children’s poets from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds based in Wales.

If you write poetry for children and come from an under-represented background in Wales, a new award run by Literature Wales and Firefly Press, could be great news!

The Rising Stars Wales Award aims to discover new talent, provide opportunities and spotlight emerging writers of all ages from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, living in Wales.

We’re looking for up to five individuals who write poetry for children aged 8-12 years old. This opportunity is open to emerging poets of all ages, and entry is free. Prizes include a cash prize of £250, sponsored by Quarto Translations and the chance to stay at a writer’s retreat in North Wales, worth £400.

And the organisers hope that as well as discovering and nurturing talent, this call-out could also lead to a poetry anthology and events for primary school children in Wales.

Firefly Press publisher, Penny Thomas said: ‘We’re so excited to launch the Rising Stars call-out, and would encourage anyone who is thinking of entering to go right ahead and do so! Firefly publishes for 5-19 year olds and is always looking for new writers for these age groups from diverse backgrounds. It’s so important that all children can see themselves in the stories they read.’

Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales said: ‘The literature sector is vibrant and diverse but true representation is still a long way off, and our priorities will address these inequalities of access and opportunities. To achieve this, we will continue to work with partners to amplify unheard voices. This isn’t about excluding anyone. It is about creating equal and fair access to artistic innovation and professional development.’

To enter, budding poets need to submit between three and five poems by the deadline of Friday 11 November to

For more information go to:



US Auction for Magical Catherine Fisher MG Novels

US Auction for Magical Catherine Fisher MG Novels

Award-winning MG novel The Clockwork Crow and sequel The Velvet Fox by Catherine Fisher, published by Firefly Press in the UK, has just been sold to Walker Books US (Candlewick) in a three-way auction ahead of Frankfurt Book Fair, with publication scheduled for autumn 2020.

Rights deals in both books have also been secured in China, Turkey, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia where Eksmo has also snapped up the third book in the series, The Midnight Swan (to be published in the UK next autumn).

Rights were sold by the Margot Edwards Rights Consultancy, on behalf of Firefly Press

Karen Lotz, President and Publisher, and Susan Van Metre, Executive Editorial Director of Walker Books US said ‘We have been big fans of Catherine’s writing since Incarceron and believe she’s created the perfect holiday fantasy in The Clockwork Crow. It reminds us of the work of beloved authors such as Joan Aiken and Rumer Godden, with its gothic enchantments that charm but never sentimentalise. It’s a particular goal of the Walker US list to publish great writing that’s also great storytelling and Catherine Fisher, as usual, delivers.’

Penny Thomas, Publisher at Firefly Press said: ‘We’re so delighted that The Clockwork Crow is flying out around the world; where we are sure he will be much loved. Catherine Fisher’s writing is deeply rooted and endlessly inventive, and continues to cast a spell over new readers.’

For rights enquiries contact

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