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Joanne Owen - Editorial Expert

About Joanne Owen

Joanne Owen’s lifelong love of reading and writing began when she was growing up in Pembrokeshire, and very much wished that witches (and Mrs Pepperpot) were real. An early passion for culture, story and folklore led Joanne to read archeology and anthropology at St John’s, Cambridge, after which she worked as a bookseller, and led the UK children’s book buying team for a major international retailer. During this time, Joanne also wrote children’s book previews and features for The Bookseller, covering everything from the value of translated fiction, to the contemporary YA market. Joanne later joined Bloomsbury’s marketing department, where she had the pleasure of working on epic Harry Potter launches at Edinburgh Castle and the Natural History Museum, and launching Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. After enjoyable spells as Marketing Director for Macmillan Children’s Books and Consumer Marketing Manager for Walker Books, Joanne went freelance, primarily working for multi-award-winning independent children’s publisher, Nosy Crow.

Alongside her publishing career, Joanne has written several books for children/young adults. She’s now a fulltime reviewer, workshop presenter and writer, working on YA novels with a strong basis in diverse folklore from around the world, as well as fiction for younger readers (in which witches are very much real).

Latest Reviews By Joanne Owen

Jonathan Stutzman’s second Tiny T. Rex tale is a dream of a picture book for dinosaur mad toddlers, with Jay Flack’s stylish, warm-hued illustrations a perfect partner for the heart-warming, empathetic sentiment of the story - how to make a friend feel better through a hug (even when you have teeny, tiny arms!).   Tiny T. Rex faces something of an existential crisis when his poor friend Pointy is feeling sad and needs a hug to cheer him up. Alas, Tiny, observes, “I have tiny arms. It is very difficult to hug with tiny arms.&... View Full Review
Voiced by three unforgettable characters – Frankie, Jojo, and Ram, Frankie’s ex boyfriend - whose lives are inextricably bound by unexpected, life-changing circumstances, this impactful novel sparkles with heart, hope and a riveting storyline.   Jojo and Frankie have been best friends since forever. Both promising actresses, their lives are on the brink of new horizons, so when Jojo doesn’t turn up to collect her GCSE results, Frankie is frantic with worry. Then, when she eventually hears from Jojo, and also hears a baby crying in the background, Frankie puts two and two together to get ... View Full Review
From award-winning Jon Mayhew comes this book-themed blast of bedlam, replete with puns aplenty and breakneck pace.   Despite his name, reluctant hero (and reluctant reader) Kian Reader is not a fan of reading. In fact, “I hate reading. It’s boring,” he declares. “Book are really rubbish…Only losers read books”. Annoyingly for Kian, his mum’s new boyfriend Anthony is campaigning to keep the local library open, jiggling a placard while dressed in a Gruffalo costume in the presence of the mayor and Kian’s super-strict new English teacher. Talking ... View Full Review
From the author of Fall Out, Gut Feelings is a powerful autobiographical novel-in-verse charting a boy’s life-changing operation at the age of eleven through to his hopeful young adulthood as a gay man. Sure to be enjoyed by fans of Sarah Crossan and Dean Atta’s The Black Flamingo, it’s both beautifully written and easy to read, with an impactful, unsentimental voice. There’s no self-pity here, despite the harrowing nature of what he endures.   Diagnosed with FAP (Familial adenomatous polyposis, a rare genetic condition in which a person develops precancerous polyps in ... View Full Review
Co-written by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet (perhaps better known as Cate Tiernan, author of the Wiccan Sweep series), this tenth novel in the Maximum Ride sequence reels with action and plot-driving, straight-talking dialogue.   A gripping, in-your-face opening tells seventeen-year-old Hawk’s backstory: “My parents’ muted voices, the fogged-out faces - that was ten years ago. No friend ever came. My parents never came back…What kind of a pathetic idiot waits on the same corner every day from five to five thirty for their whole life? Or at least ten years of it? The ... View Full Review
Taking in five decades, three generations and the tender love between a girl and her grandmother, Dragonfly Eyes is an exquisitely-written novel set against a backdrop of unrest and change in 1960s Shanghai. With celebrated Chinese author Cao Wenxuan at the helm, readers are taken on an enthralling journey from a Golden Age in 1920s France, to poverty in post-war Shanghai, to rural Cultural Revolution China, in the beguiling company of Ah Mei and her French grandmother, Nainai.   Ah Mei has always been close to Nainai and, since they look alike, she “looked different from other children; she ... View Full Review
Written and illustrated by Jion Sheibani, Sohal Finds a Friend is a sweet side-splitting story that will provide much comfort to little worriers as they enjoy an adventure in the company of an endearing boy and his furry friends. It’s a brilliant way to help children understand their anxieties and express themselves - think Pixar’s Inside Out in book form.   Sohal is one of life’s worriers and dreads bedtime, when “the darkness would grow and grow, until it filled every part of his body”. His dad’s suggestion of calm ... View Full Review
Set in the author’s native Wales during the dark days of the fifth century, Ellen Caldecott’s The Short Knife is an energetic, edge-of-your-seat page-turner with present-day resonance as 21st-century Britain - island of migrants - faces the challenge of forging an identity independent of continental Europe.   With the Romans compelled to leave Britain after 400 years, the island is on the brink of collapse. Amidst this uncertainty and the chaos of Saxon invasion, thirteen-year-old Mai is cared for by her dad and sister (she lost her mam when she was three), and wrestling with ... View Full Review
This pacey page-turner teems with tension, twists and terror from the moment Irish girl Niamh arrives in London for a drama course and finds herself in a storm of vicious attacks on fellow students. Accelerating the fear factor, the victims look like Niamh, and bear marks reminiscent of those made by Spring Heeled Jack, a Victorian folklore figure who was said to slash his victims with metal claws.   Amidst this terror, Niamh takes up her placement in a Victorian museum, where she plays the role of a factory owner’s daughter who died a gruesome and untimely death. ... View Full Review
A whole lot of heart fizzes through this humorous Middle Grade mystery by Adam Baron, the Carnegie-nominated author of Boy Underwater. With masses of mystery, and mix-ups aplenty, it’s a twisty rib-tickling tale of teddy bear detection, with plenty of plot for capable Middle Grade readers to get their teeth into, plus dialogue that’s ideal to have fun with aloud. The lively design adds an extra element too, with lots of capitalised words, well-considered layouts and oodles of exclamations.   When Brighton girl Jessica finds a tatty teddy in a river, she has little idea ... View Full Review
Perfectly-pitched for fans of funny fiction who are ready to move on from early chapter books, Bethany Walker has hit the spot with her debut, Chocolate Milk, X-Ray Specs and Me! This is the kind of book laughter-loving readers of seven upwards will become drawn into and pore over, exhilarated by the silliness of the fast-paced story and absorbed by the ultra-energetic medley of words, pictures and design. Jack Noel’s illustrations do a stupendous job of bringing the craziness to life, with a fine use of typefaces, doodles, postcards and newspaper clippings among the book’s visual ... View Full Review
Interest Age Teen   Reading Age 8 What a book! Alex Wheatle’s writing buzzes with energy and captures twelve-and-a-half-year-old Welton’s experience of being in love in all its heart-pounding, stomach-flipping, confusing giddiness alongside a run of seriously bad luck. With Wheatle’s outstanding Jamaica-set historic novel Cane Warriors one of my favourite books of recent years, this confirms the author’s status as a writer of huge talent, with the ability to infuse all genres with a special kind of magic.   Things begin to go downhill for Welton the moment he finally plucks ... View Full Review