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Laura Wood is the winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing. Her first YA novel A Sky Painted Gold was shortlisted for the 2019 YA Book Prize, 2018 BAMB Readers’ Awards and the 2019 Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Awards.
She is also the author of the critically acclaimed Vote for Effie and the Poppy Pym series for younger readers.
Set in the 1930s and inspired by Much Ado About Nothing, this thrilling feast of coming-of-age edginess is giddy with the glamour of freethinking artists, and tingles with romantic tension. Constrained by her life in England, aspiring natural historian Bea constantly battles her parents’ attempts to marry her off: “As far as my parents are concerned, daughters aren’t a terribly useful asset. I’m not supposed to go out in the world and actually do things.” But being “too big, too loud, too clever – too much”, Bea has her own ideas about her future, which she’s able to embrace when she’s sent to stay with her wealthy uncle in Italy and discovers with glee that “things at Villa di Stelle might not be so respectable after all.” Among the villa’s vibrant collective of artists is handsome painter Ben, and sparks fly between he and Bea from the off. A lighthearted challenge sees them set out to enjoy a summer romance without falling in love, until events at a decadent party to invoke rain turn out to be explosive in more ways than one. As the heavens crack open, fireworks fly between Ben and Bea and their lives will never be the same again. Alongside Bea’s awakening of body and heart, she also realises that she cannot return to her previous life. She wants what the artists’ have: an “all-consuming passion for their work...a purpose, a vocation.” With the conflict between her free-spirited nature and societal constraints exacerbated by her Italian experiences, with the world now opened up to her, the gateway cannot be closed. The author’s Great Gatsby-esque A Sky Painted Gold was a 2018 favourite of mine, and this is every bit as bathed in coming-of-age hope and a sense of being on the brink of something special.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | As elegant and energising as a flute of fine champagne, this enchanting novel sees 17-year-old Cornish farmer’s daughter and aspiring writer Lou embrace the dizzy decadence of 1920’s aristocracy, with life-changing results. “You can learn an awful lot from books,” according to Lou, and it’s Lou’s love of books that first brings her into contact with the wealthy Cardew family and their “exotic creature” socialite friends. One night she steals across the causeway to empty Cardew House to savour the delights of the library and unexpectedly encounters charismatic Robert Cardew. Their first ablaze-with-banter meeting leaves Lou “hot and cross” but also piercing with “pleasure and longing”, for it’s given her a tantalising glimpse into another world. Then follows an invite from Robert’s fluttery sister, Cailtin, and a summer of extravagant parties opens up. Robert’s voluptuously glamorous fiancé and her “film-star handsome” brother have quite an impact, but it’s the Cardew siblings who weave their way into Lou’s heart. Exuberantly entertaining, breezily romantic and shimmering with the delicious anticipation of pastures new, this is jubilantly fine fiction in the vein of I Capture the Castle.
September 2015 Debut of the Month - Winner of the Scholastic Montegrappa Prize for New Children's Writing Laura Wood’s debut combines favourite genres: it’s a boarding school story, a mystery - with a touch of the supernatural, and a circus story. Poppy Pym was left at Madame Pym’s Spectacular Touring Circus as a baby and brought up by the circus folk. Now she’s twelve and Madame Pym decides she must go to school. Poppy is enrolled at Saint Smithen’s, a boarding school with all the proper characteristics. She soon makes friends with brainy Imogen and short but sparky Kip, and the three make a great team when – for entirely plausible reasons of plot – the famous Ruby Scarab of Ankhenamum is put on display at the school, apparently bringing a curse with it! Poppy is a very appealing heroine, the school setting is spot on, while her eccentric circus family add to the fun. A lively, satisfying adventure and hopefully the first of a series. ~ Andrea Reece
In grey, 1930s England, Bea has grown up kicking against the conventions of the time, all the while knowing that she will one day have to marry someone her parents choose - someone rich enough to keep the family estate alive. But she longs for so much more - for adventure, excitement, travel, and maybe even romance. When she gets the chance to spend the summer in Italy with her bohemian uncle and his fiancee, a whole world is opened up to Bea - a world that includes Ben, a cocky young artist who just happens to be infuriatingly handsome too. Sparks fly between the quick-witted pair until one night, under the stars, a challenge is set: can Bea and Ben put aside their teasing and have the perfect summer romance? With their new friends gleefully setting the rules for their fling, Bea and Ben can agree on one thing at least: they absolutely, positively will not, cannot fall in love... A long, hot summer of kisses and mischief unfolds - but storm clouds are gathering across Europe, and home is calling. Every summer has to end - but for Bea, this might be just the beginning.
Join Effie Kostas as she fights to become Student Council President in her new school. With a campaign team of loveable misfits, she tackles the truly important subjects: gender imbalance, outdated school conventions... and good-looking boys stealing the last slice of chocolate cake at lunchtime. A laugh out-loud rallying call for switched-on kids everywhere.
A gorgeously dreamy coming-of-age romance set against a stunning Gatsby-esque backdrop, this is perfect for fans of I Capture the Castle and Eva Ibbotson. Growing up in her sleepy Cornish village dreaming of being a writer, sixteen-year-old Lou has always wondered about the grand Cardew house which has stood empty for years. And when the owners arrive for the summer - a handsome, dashing brother and sister - Lou is quite swept off her feet and into a world of moonlit cocktailparties and glamour beyond her wildest dreams. But, as she grows closer to the Cardews, is she abandoning her own ambitions... and is there something darker lurking at the heart of the Cardew family?
When a mysterious runaway van crashes into St Smithen's on the first day of the new school year, Poppy knows it's going to be an action-packed term! But when accidents continue to happen at St Smithen's, Poppy can't shake the feeling that her every move is being watched. With the Christmas holidays looming, secrets lurking in every corner and rumours of a dangerous beast on the loose, Poppy must unravel her biggest mystery yet. Can Poppy unmask the hidden spy before someone gets hurt?
Winner of the Scholastic Montegrappa Prize for New Children's Writing = Poppy is thrilled that they're spending the summer at Smuggler's Cove. It might even take her mind off the mystery of her past. But Poppy is about to make some amazing discoveries - and solve more than one mystery...
From the Winner of the Scholastic Montegrappa Prize for New Children's Writing It's Halloween at Saint Smithen's. When the Brimwell town hall burns down, the amateur production of Macbeth is moved to the school and it's all hands on deck. But when the play is struck by a series of mysterious attacks, it's up to Poppy, her friends and her circus family to save the play and unmask the culprit.
Winner of the Scholastic Montegrappa Prize for New Children's Writing = Poppy Pym has grown up in the circus, taming lions before lunch and learning acrobatics in the afternoon. But when she turns eleven, her circus family decides she needs a more traditional education, and she is sent to boarding school. At first Poppy doesn't fit in at St Smithen's, a school that is very different from the circus. Then, an ancient Egyptian ruby arrives at school and dangerous accidents start occurring. Suddenly it's up to Poppy to save her new school and solve the mystery of the Pharaoh's curse!
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