A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Diana Wynne Jones
The writer I have returned to over and over. When she’s on form, no one can touch her for richness of imagination and elegance of plot and prose. Wynne Jones does it all: great characters, rich world building, intelligent plotting and the right amongst of darkness leavened with humour. I have read all her books multiple times. My favourites remain: Charmed Life, Fire and Hemlock and Magicians of Caprona.
New Zealand’s literary treasure: the great Margaret Mahy. Another writer whose imagination built worlds I wanted to live in. Mahy wrote for all ages and stages, but my favourites among her books are her paranormal YA novels. The Tricksters, Memory and especially The Changeover. If you love spooky, read these.
I love all Aiken’s books, but especially those featuring Dido Twite, surely one of the best-ever female characters in children’s fiction. Feisty is getting a bad name in some quarters, but why settle for bland and boring when you can travel through an alternative 18th century England with Dido for your companion? The series starts with the Wolves of Willoughby Chase, and ends with The Witch of Clatteringshaws. What great titles!
I haven’t read a Hardinge book I haven’t loved. The language, the world-building, the characters. All are rich and lovingly imagined. Her intelligent plots always satisfy. No favourites: all are superb! Fly By Night and Verdigris Deep are favourites.
Leon Garfield wrote historical fiction for young people, and few have done it better. Smith is his masterpiece, and I read and re-read it when writing Castle of Shadows and City of Thieves. Highly recommended atmospheric page-turner that will drag you deep into to the black heart of 18th century London.
I don’t know how many times I have read the Abhorsen books. A lot. Lirael is mine (and many others’) favourite in this series. The character of the Disreputable Dog alone would guarantee that! Great female characters as well. I re-read the series about once a year. And this from a someone who normally avoids the undead like, well, zombies.
Skellig is a prose poem of exquisite beauty and humanity. Skellig also is the first book my son read cover to cover without stopping. It hooked him on reading for life.
I love the books of the Pulitzer and Nobel-prize winning Morrison. Start with The Bluest Eye, an astounding first novel guaranteed to break your heart. Then continue with Sula, Song of Solomon, and Beloved.
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Ellen Renner was born in the USA, in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, but came to England looking for adventure, married here, and now lives in an old house in Devon with her husband and son. Her first book, CASTLE OF SHADOWS, winner of the Cornerstones Wow Factor Competition, was published by Orchard Books in 2010. It was chosen for both The Independent and The Times summer reading lists. Both CASTLE OF SHADOWS and the sequel, CITY OF THIEVES (Orchard, 2010), were included on The Times reviewer Amanda Craig’s list of best children’s books of 2010. CASTLE OF SHADOWS has won the North East Book Award 2011 and been shortlisted for 4 other awards, including the West Sussex Children’s Book Prize 2011. Ellen originally trained as a painter and surrounds herself with sketches of her characters as she writes. She spins wool as well as stories, knits and weaves; and collects teapots and motorbikes.