August 19

Special Feature

Special Feature
Look out for a galaxy of stars, a sister on a mission, and a family with a secret in this fabulous new novel from LARA WILLIAMSON - THE GIRL WITH SPACE IN HER HEART. We asked Lara to tell us more!

Read more

The best new books, giveaways and favourite authors!

Find the latest books with extracts to download!

Find out about some of the best new books for children and teenagers with chapters to download and read!

Action and magic in Under Earth

Look out for battles at sea, hidden enemies and a destiny to fulfill in the latest book by ELLEN RENNER! UNDER EARTH is the follow-up to STORM WITCH, and follows Storm who has been gifted special powers - but they come at a price.

Read more

A dog with a mission

Cosmo needs plenty of bacon, some smooth dance moves, and a big heart if he's to stop his family from falling apart. Luckily, Cosmo is a Golden Retriever and he has all of these and more! Author CARLIE SOROSIAK tells us more about I, COSMO.

Read more

The Addams Family giveaway!

Look out for this spooky, hilarious book based on the new animated film, the Addams Family. We have copies to give away!

Read more

Giveaway of The Girl Who Speaks Bear

We're thrilled to be able to giveaway two sets of books by author Sophie Andersen - The Girl Who Speaks Bear and The House with Chicken Legs. Find out how to win a set of the books!

Read more

Special Feature
Special Feature Image

Special Feature

Look out for a galaxy of stars, a sister on a mission, and a family with a secret in this fabulous new novel from LARA WILLIAMSON - THE GIRL WITH SPACE IN HER HEART. We asked Lara to tell us more!

How did you start to write for children?

My first paid writing job was at a teen magazine where I worked on features and then on the beauty pages. It was so exciting writing for this age group that I've never wanted to stop. Maybe it's also because part of me is a child inside my head.

What kind of stories do you most enjoy writing?

I can't imagine writing anything but a story with an emotional heart, because that's essentially who I am. Below the surface, I feel everything really deeply and try to channel that into my work.

Another thing that's really important to me, and something I try to explore in my writing, is hope. Without feeling hope I don't think I could write anything at all. Hope is the ribbon that is woven through each and every one of my books. No matter how difficult things are there is always hope - I truly believe that and it's the draw that keeps pulling me back to writing these stories.

In The Girl with Space in her Heart, you follow Mabel Mynt, who has a 'worry suitcase' that is weighing her down. What was the starting point of the story for you?

A while ago, my sister gave me a CD which was supposed to help you relax. It had the sounds of waves lapping on a beach and seagulls and a man saying to close your eyes and pack your worries into a box or a chest and lock them in there.

It got me thinking about packing the worries away and then I got to thinking about what you'd do if you had to drag those same worries around with you and how heavy it would be if you couldn't get rid of them.

I still have that CD and put it on from time to time.

We discover during the story that Mabel's father has disappeared. What draws you to exploring how difficult family backgrounds can impact on children?

Separation and loss are all complex situations in a child's life and can have a huge emotional impact, affecting the child for a long time. So, I try to explore what happens afterwards and how the child will cope going forward.

It's important that the child in the book, despite having a difficult time, realises that things can and will improve and they will grow stronger as a result. 

Mabel struggles to get on with her prickly older sister, Topaz. Why did you decide to make their relationship so challenging?

Yes, their relationship is challenging but I think it's because they're both dealing with their own issues in different ways so when they come together, they clash. But I'm in no doubt that deep down they love each other and would do anything for each other. That's how I feel about family. You might argue and fall out, but you'd do anything for each other.

Space is quite a big theme in the story - are you a stargazer, or did you need to research your facts for the book?

I am a stargazer in the fact that I absolutely love looking at the sky. But for me, it's more of an emotional pull. I look up and feel awe at how vast it is and how incredible.

Do children contact you about your novels and have you ever followed through on a suggestion they have made?

Yes, I do sometimes get letters and I love it when readers take the time to write. A hand written letter is so special and they all find a little home on my fridge so I can see them every day. And if they make a suggestion that would help with a book then I would always keep it in mind because children are amazing and have the best ideas.

What are the best and worst things about being an author?

The best part is daydreaming. How amazing to have a job where I can daydream and be anyone or anything I want. I'm only limited by my own imagination.

The worst part, I guess if you could call it worst, is it can be a bit lonely at times. For a large part of the process you're alone and sometimes I miss having company like you'd have at school or in an office. 

Still, I can't complain because it's the best job ever so there isn't really a worst part at all.

What would your dream writer's shed look like, and where would it be?

I do my writing at the dining table so a writer's shed would be a total dream for me. I'd like to have a garden big enough to have a little painted, wooden shed at the back and then I'd fill it with inspirational pictures and quotes. Oh, and there would have to be fairy lights - there always has to be fairy lights because they remind me of stars.

Where would it be? That's an easy one for me. It would be at home. With all my characters - they go in search of something and they tend to find the answers in a special place and that special place is home.

What do you enjoy doing the most when you're not writing?

I tap dance, so that's my favourite thing in the world. I always feel full of joy when I've got my dancing shoes on. There's no better feeling than tired feet and a happy heart. I also have an interest in interiors so you'll often find me searching Pinterest for different fabrics and deciding whether I want Limestone or Mortar paint on my walls...


Read the full interview with Lara Williamson, download an extract and enter the competition to win a free copy of The Girl With Space in her Heart, available now from Usborne!

Watch out for...
Bookclub Highlights

We have free copies to give away for reviews. Please email your school details to for the chance to win a copy.

Kids Fight Plastic: How to be a #2minutesuperhero
Martin Dorey
We need superheroes to fight plastic and help save our oceans. Read this essential book and find out how you can become a #2minutesuperhero by completing 50 missions to fight plastic at home.

Read more

Pay Attention, Carter Jones
Gary D. Schmidt
Carter Jones is astonished to find a real English butler on the doorstep, who announces he is here to stay to help the Jones family, which is a little bit broken. So as well as figuring out middle school, Carter now has to get used to this new know-it-all adult in his life...

Read more

Sue Cheung
Teenager Jo Kwan, growing up in 1980s Coventry, lives above her parents' Chinese takeaway. And things can be tough with her neglected siblings, a series of very unlucky pets and utterly bonkers parents. All she wants to do is to break free, but what are the chances of that happening?

Read more

We would like to thank publishers Usborne Books, Nosy Crow Books, HarperCollinsChildren's Books and Andersen Press for supporting this month's newsletter.

©Readingzone 2020.