Finding Violet Park by Jenny Valentine

Finding Violet Park

Written by Jenny Valentine

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

Highly commended in Branford Boase 2008 Award. Told with a delightfully light touch, this thoughtful and introspective novel for teens tells how hearing the story of Violet Park, leads Lucas on a moving and thought provoking mission that helps him to understand much more about his own life.

Shortlisted for the 2008 Carnegie and Branford Boase Awards.

Comments from the judges of this year's Branford Boase, Best Debut Novel of
the Year Award:

Nikki Gamble: “This year a large number of books were submitted for the awards and the judges noted an increase in established adult writers producing first novels for children. These trends reflect the increased profile of children's books in the press and media as well as the commercial success. The books selected for the shortlist are marked by their distinctive voices and authentic feeling for child or teenage readers. They are accessible but explore profound themes in the context of a story well told”.

Linda Buckley-Archer: “With its aim of recognising the author of the best debut novel for children and its editor(s), The Branford Boase Award continues to highlight and promote the next generation of children’s fiction writers. The 2008 shortlist represents some fascinating new voices across a variety of genres which are sure to excite and challenge readers. The judges noted a tendency on this year’s longlist away from fantasy and towards history and social realism.”

Trish Beswick: “We were delighted to find a spread of intelligent fiction submitted, eliciting spirited discussion amid the good humour and agreements. One-size-fits-all cannot and does not belong in the world of writing for children, and the complacent and bland were quickly cast aside. My thanks to the other judges for a booky, sparky afternoon!”

Ian Dodds: "The nominations for the 2008 Branford Boase Award yet again demonstrate the full range of new writing talent for children and young people. All the writers on this year's shortlist have distinct voices and all are adept at creating stories that will grip, excite and challenge young readers. Good writing for young people is vitally important and this shortlist proves that."


Finding Violet Park by Jenny Valentine

Narrated by the most compelling voice since Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, this is a quirky and original voyage of self-discovery triggered by a lost urn of ashes.


"A wonderful debut for many reasons … What marks this book out is not just its charm, warmth and wit, but also the skill with which Valentine braids together the threads" The Guardian

"Has the originality of Mark Haddon, the immediacy of Jacqueline Wilson and the emotional connection of Kevin Brooks. It really does work." Jill Murphy, The Book Bag

About the Author

Jenny Valentine

Jenny Valentine moved house every two years when she was growing up. She has just moved house again, probably not for the last time. She worked in a wholefood shop in Primrose Hill for fifteen years where she met many extraordinary people and sold more organic loaves than there are words in her first novel. She has also worked as a teaching assistant and a jewellery maker. She studied English Literature at Goldsmiths College, which almost put her off reading but not quite. Jenny is married to a singer/songwriter and has two children. 'Finding Violet Park' is her first novel.

I owe the showbiz name to my husband!

This is your first book, have you always wanted to be a writer girl and how did you make it happen?
My mum bought me a notebook when I was about nine that looked like a novel on the outside. I had to put the title and the author on the front and then fill it with a story. I knew then. I’m not sure exactly how I made it happen - I put the work in I guess.

What was your favourite book as a teen girl?
Such a hard question! I read a lot and I always wish I’d made lists of all the books I loved. One that stands out would be The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

For people who haven’t read your book yet - Finding Violet Park, what’s it all about?
It’s about a boy who finds an old lady’s ashes in a mini cab office and decides to find out who she was. He learns a lot of other things while he’s doing it.

Lucas is a great narrator, what made you write from a boy’s perspective?
No idea! He just jumped out, fully formed, in about the second sentence. I’m not sure I had that much choice in the matter.

Secrets are a big part of the book,what’s your biggest secret?
Good try!

If the book had a soundtrack, what would be on it?
Well, Lucas listens to all his Dad’s old records so there’d be some early David Bowie, some Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Ella Fitzgerald, maybe Rolling Stones. Then there’d have to be some piano pieces for Violet to play, Rachmaninov gets played at Lucas’s granny’s.Then Lucas’s own choices might be Sufjan Stevens, Will Oldham, and a song from my husband Alex Valentine’s record TARDIS HEART. It’s called SORROW and as soon as I heard it I said I’d want it in a soundtrack if I was ever lucky enough to get one.

Apart from your own, what’s your favourite book for teens?
Holes by Louis Sachar. I love that book. I think it’s perfect.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Finding the exact word you’ve been searching for.

Do you have a writing routine, Jenny? Tell us about it…
Well it’s very un-HELLO! I drink coffee, I have a walk by the river with our dog, I sit down and I re-read some of what I did the day before. Then I get going. Sometimes I look up and three hours have gone by, sometimes it’s like getting blood out of a stone. I think it helps to have no routine at all, just to go with it, see how it’s working.

What’s next in the world of JV?
I’m working on my next book. It should be out next year. I can’t tell you what it’s called yet because I don’t know. I’m very indecisive.

The colour pink. Discuss.
Let’s see… bubblegum, fake fur, rose petals, cold noses, underwear, marshmallows, candy floss, lip gloss…. how am I doing?!

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Book Info


208 pages
Interest Age: From 13


Jenny Valentine
More books by Jenny Valentine


Harpercollins Publishers

Publication date

3rd September 2007




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