News and Mayhem

It’s been a very long while since I last wrote anything here; Russian and Spanish (see post below) have enjoyed a very durable top spot on this blog. Most of the action has been happening over there on my French blog, which I keep up much more diligently than this one. But a lot of things have been happening since this summer, bookwise (academia-wise too, but I’d better talk about it separately).

Firstly, The Royal Babysitters, or rather Les royales babysitters, came out in French in August. This was the very first time ever that I ever had a book translated from English to French – and it wasn’t by me, but by the very talented Amélie Sarn. She did it so amazingly that I actually laughed when reading it, which is no small feat since I’ve read the damn book something 24540536 times in English.

royalesfrancaisesThen The Royal Bake-Off came out in September. In that third book in the Anna, Holly and Pepino tetralogy (that’s four books), the three aspiring holy-moly-holidayers go to Americanada (on an uncomfortable Kryin’Air flight), where the Emperor, Sam – who is also King Steve’s brother – has organised a huge baking competition between various royals around the world. The tasks take place in the Grand Yeswecanyon, the N.H.E.A.G.A.R.A falls (the Nobody Has Ever A’crossed the Gigantic Awful River Alive Falls), and a spaceship. Many invasions are repelled and enemies puréed.

Don't they look adorable together? All the credit to Bloomsbury, and of course the amazing Becka Moor.

Don’t they look adorable together? All the credit to Bloomsbury, and of course the amazing Becka Moor.

I also finished A Very Royal Holiday, which is the last book in the series – scheduled to come out next April – and which turned out to be my personal favourite, so I’m particularly looking forward to seeing that one in print.

French-book-wise, this summer has been a busy one for my latest YA novel Les petites reines. We sold the full rights to the cinema in September, and a film script is currently being written, which is an exciting and weird thing to happen. It’s been nominated for lots of awards, and the book will also represent France for ‘Writing’ on the IBBY international honour list, nominated by the children’s literature people at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, whom I feel very grateful to for chosing it.

It's about bikes, black pudding, rural France, and friendship.

It’s about bikes, black pudding, rural France, and friendship.

Meanwhile, my and Antoine Déprez’s picturebook La louve, which had slipped by unnoticed when it first came out at the same time as Les petites reines, has gathered steam. It’s been nominated for one of the top children’s book awards, the Prix des Incorruptibles, and recently I saw that it’s in the White Ravens list of remarkable international children’s books at the Munich Youth Library. I’m delighted about that, because it’s a book I’m particularly fond of and which works very well with children. I love reading it to whole classes when I do school visits. Antoine and I are currently preparing another one together.

couvIMG_20140204_142431Last but, proverbially, not least, and leaping back to the English side, I can announce the release in May 2016 of a book of detective short stories in which I have a story myself – it’s with Egmont, it’s edited by the astonishingly talented and murderously imaginative Robin Stevens, and it looks fantastic, look:

Mystery and Mayhem front coverGorgeous gorgeous cover, amazing all-female crime club, and deliciously murderous stories – not all murders, also thefts and other kinds of crimes. Mine is very definitely a murder though. Or is it? Look out for Mystery and Mayhem when it comes out next year and you’ll know all about it.


A Very Royal Book Birthday

Happy book birthday to The Royal Babysitters, which is coming out today with Bloomsbury and illustrated by Becka Moor!

Book 1: The Royal Babysitters

Featuring Holly, Pepino and Anna















The Royal Babysitters is basically a secret ode to royalty and to the benefits of earning money through hard work from a very young age. Yep, that’s me, monarchy-worshipping and dirty capitalist all the way.

It’s all about little Anna and Holly Burnbright, who are not so happy with their forced staycation (they’re not very rich, because their dad disappeared years ago in the beak of a pelican, and their mum is a writer of ABC books paid 1 pound per letter). And it gets worse when the two sisters spot an advert for an incredible Holy-Moly Holiday involving volcano scuba-diving and baby-elephant polo.

Therefore, they have to find a summer job to buy tickets to that holiday.

A summer job comes in the form of royal babysitting: it so happens that today is the King and Queen of Britland’s annual day of leave to the Independent Republic of Slough, and they need someone to look after their rather energetic princes. Anna and Holly are ideal for the job (well, they aren’t, but no one else wants to do it.) At the Royal Palace they meet the charming little Prince Pepino, who’s not exactly the bravest prince in the world but has a cool felt-tip-drawn watch on his wrist that always says it’s ice-cream time.

As if their job wasn’t complicated enough, King Alaspooryorick of Daneland, who’s always been jealous of the King and Queen of Britland’s indoor swimming-pool and cellar full of Francian cheeses, has decided that today is the perfect day for an invasion.

Will Pepino, Anna and Holly manage to repel the invasion?

Will all the princes survive?

Will the Royal Cow be refrigerated in time?

Will King Steve of Britland manage to jump from the highest diving-board at the swimming pool of the Independent Republic of Slough?

You will know the answers to all these stressful questions if you gift the book to a young human and then read it to him or her (doing a big voice for King Alaspooryorick, a little peremptory one for Anna, etc.; and making it sound animated and hilarious; I trust you are fully able to read a book out loud to a child in an interesting way, or else they might not find it funny and all my efforts will be ruined; so please do your best.)

You can even read the first four pages, look:

P1060309 P1060310



The second book in this perfectly nonsensical series will be called The Royal Wedding-Crashers, and will come out in April 2015. In the meantime you may reread The Royal Babysitters a thousand times, or pick up the Sesame Seade series (DOUBLE PROMOTION BLOG POST ALERT).

Sesame lurking under the Royal Babysitters

Sesame lurking under the Royal Babysitters

Or plan your own invasion of some faraway land.

I will be touring some schools and doing some festivals to meet future readers of this extremely educational book in the next few weeks. Full report to follow!

Clem x

Royal Cover!

Hurrah! We’ve got a cover for The Royal Babysitters! and it’s as yellow as royal jelly, and as energetic as the story inside. I’m absolutely thrilled with it – look at that!

Royalbabysitters_CVRand the whole thing:

Royalbabysitters_CVR-page-001-1All thanks to the great Becka Moor and the Bloomsbury designers…

It’s got everything a good cover needs: a prince with ice-cream cones stuck behind his ears, a very large number of royal babies, a robot sea monster, a snake and a zeppelin piloted by a mad king. Therefore, I call it an extremely successful cover.

Since it’s been approximately a very long time since I told you about this series, here’s a reminder of the story:

In another world not quite at all like our own, though very like it in other respects, but mostly not, although a little bit, the King and Queen of Britland are going on their annual day of leave to the Independent Republic of Slough. As a result, they are in urgent need of a royal babysitter for their two three four numerous little princely toddlers. Coincidentally, Anna and Holly Burnbright are in urgent need of two thousand pounds to go on an intergalactic holiday they’ve seen advertised in the newspaper. Great summer job opportunity, no?

Uh oh, it’s also the day King Alaspooryorick of Daneland has chosen to invade Britland…

The Royal Babysitters is out in September and will be followed by The Royal Wedding-Crashers in April, when Anna, Holly and Prince Pepino will be off to Francia.

And yes, I promise, I’ll update this blog soon again. I’ve been revising my monograph. I might talk about that, because it’s so thrilling it’s almost worthy of its own Buzzfeed article.


Some Royal News

Having read quite a few children’s books since I was born (they’re generally pretty good, you should try them), I recently became dissatisfied. Yes, dear readers, dissatisfied. Because none of them, no – none of the books I’d read ever gathered the following ten things all together in the same story:

  1. Windsurfing starfish
  2. Sextuplet princes (of toddlerish age) (crowns equipped with elastic bands)
  3. A foreign king obsessed with blitz invasions (finished in time for dinner)
  4. Hummingbird cannons
  5. An amazing holiday including a trip to a Mars bar
  6. A babysitting job paid one thousand pounds a day
  7. A naked porcupine
  8. A knitted parachute
  9. A lift especially designed for a cow
  10. A day of leave at the Independent Republic of Slough.

I was extremely sad about this oversight, because it appears to me that no children’s book can ever be quite complete without these ten things.

So I decided to write it!

And since other people agreed that the children’s literature world could not survive much longer without these ten things all neatly folded into a children’s book, it will be published as the first book in a series, by Bloomsbury, in September 2014!

(NB The lovely people at Bloomsbury, as a welcome present, having somehow heard from somewhere that I didn’t dislike one of their series, gave me this brand new Harry Potter box set -)

now I'll have to reread them for the 67th time... oh well!

uh-oh, now I’ll have to reread them for the 67th time. Ah well!

The first volume of my own series, meanwhile, will be called The Royal Babysitters.

Based on a true story. (not)

Based on a true story. (not)

What’s the pitch? Bickering sisters Anna and Holly, along with rather clueless little prince Pepino, have to look after six little princes for just one day – yes, but a day chosen by the bloodthirsty King Alaspooryorick of Daneland to invade the country.

A rather tough job, then, but you see, they have to earn some serious money to pay for the unbelievably cool Holy-Moly-Holiday that they’ve seen advertised in the newspaper. .

The second book in the series doesn’t have a name yet but it will be out in April 2015.

And it all takes place in a world… not quite like our own.

“But what age is it for?” asks the anxious adult. “From your description, it sounds like it could be for anyone between seven and a quarter and eight and a half! I need it to be more precise!!!”

It will be, I think, intended for children who are just getting to grips with the Art of Reading (well done them), though once again, like the Sesame books, I have written them carefully so they won’t immediately burn the neurons of anyone at a different stage of literacy.

And, what is supermuchmore exciting, it will be what I believe my friend and colleague Eve Tandoi would call a hybrid book series, that is to say a book where words and pictures both tell the story. It’s not quite a comic and it’s not quite a picturebook, but it’s somewhere in between, and I think it’s going to be hugely fun once the pictures are all drawn.

And it will be edited by none other than the extraordinary Ellen Holgate, who had already picked my Sesame at Hodder before moving to Bloomsbury. All those of you who’ve read Sesame books know how beautifully conceived and designed they are, so I’m ferociously excited that she’s working on the series too.

I hope you’re looking forward to it too. In fact I hope you’re now considering making lots of new babies in order to have an excuse to read them this series and then the Sesame Seade books. I’ll leave you to do that, then. I’ll just leave you to it.

Clem x