Wanderer and The Key to Rome in Kids’ Corner

We’re delighted that Victor Kelleher’s Wanderer and Sophie Masson’s The Key to Rome have been featured in the newest edition of Kids’ Corner, a fabulous digital magazine from the NSW Branch of the Children’s Book Council of Australia. They’ve been included in a feature called Legends and Journeys, and come with some comments from Victor and Sophie.

You can read the whole issue here–the relevant pages are from 9-11, inclusive.


Another excellent review for The Key to Rome!

There’s an excellent new review, by Debra Williams, of The Key to Rome. The review was published on the popular Buzz Words site. This is what she said:

This is a first-class middle-grade historical adventure. It is set in Ancient Rome, in the province of Britannia, and the year is AD84. When motherless and only child Livia’s father dies, she is orphaned. On his death bed, her father gives her a mysterious key with instructions to find his brother, a former centurion, and give him the key.

12-year-old Livia sets out two days later, on her old horse, determined to find the estranged uncle, whom her father guaranteed would give her a home. The future journey was going to be neither smooth nor easy, with many pitfalls. Arriving at her uncle’s house, he has gone, and Livia is unable to find out where he is. Along the way, Livia is aided by a young runaway servant, Mato, who has a journey of his own to complete, after hearing of his mother’s illness. He also claims to know where her uncle is.

So begins a treacherous journey of danger, lies, deceit and mistrust. There are heart-stopping moments as the reader becomes absorbed in Livia’s quest, and the deadly cat-and-mouse games with various characters, Roman and otherwise.

Multi-award-winning author Sophie Masson has carefully crafted a believable and suspenseful adventure. Her details of the period have been thoroughly researched to create an intriguing historical mystery.

This book will appeal to readers 10+ years.

Another great review for The Key to Rome!

There’s another great review for The Key to Rome, which has just appeared on writer Sue Bursztynski’s Great Raven blog.

Here’s a short extract:

Here is another one of the talented Sophie Masson’s exciting historical adventures. Many of them have fantasy elements but this is a straight historical mystery, well researched and with a useful historical background and glossary at the back. 

The cover art and internals, including a map, are drawn by Lorena Carrington, a gifted Aussie artist who has worked with Sophie Masson before. 

Livia is a strong leading character who refuses to give up, even when the quest for her uncle looks as if it might be useless. She weaves together the clues to lead her in the right direction. 

This novel, aimed at ages about nine to twelve, reads like a Rosemary Sutcliff adventure, perfect for young readers who enjoy history and are inspired by strong characters their own age. It’s also not a bad place to start children on historical fiction.

You can read the whole review here.

Publication date for The Key to Rome

We’re delighted to announce that today is the publication day for our latest title, The Key to Rome, Sophie Masson’s exciting historical mystery novel for middle-grade readers. The book is now available in all good bookshops around Australia. The gorgeous cover illustrations, map and chapter decoration are by the wonderful illustrator Lorena Carrington, editing by Lucy Eddy, and internal design by Authors’ Elves. We hope readers will love it as much as we do–as well as being a fabulous adventure, it’s a thoughtful exploration of a very different, dangerous world, and a touching story of friendship across a great divide.

You can watch a trailer for The Key to Rome here.

Advance review for The Key to Rome

The Key to Rome, by Sophie Masson, our Eagle Books title for 2023, has received an excellent first review from Heather Zubek in the West Australian yesterday. Here’s what she said:

A dying man’s promise, a mysterious key, and a dangerous journey in ancient times; The Key to Rome is a story that will keep you reading until way past your bedtime. Set in the Roman Province of Britannia in AD84, the story sees 12-year-old Livia keeping a promise to her dying father to deliver a key to her estranged uncle. Along her perilous journey, Livia meets Mato, a boy who needs to see his dying mother before it’s too late. Together the two travellers make their way through ancient lands where they learn that the key may hold a dreadful secret. Multi award-winning author Sophie Masson has created a thrilling historical adventure that not only excites but teaches us about the troubled times in which the story is set. For ages 9+.

A great start for the novel, which is officially released next Monday, May 1, and is available in all good bookshops across Australia.

Trailer for The Key to Rome

We are proud to present a great little trailer for our upcoming Eagle Books title, The Key to Rome, an exciting historical mystery novel by award-winning author Sophie Masson. The book, which is out in May, is set in a tumultuous period in Roman Britain, and is for middle-grade readers. It includes a map(created by illustrator Lorena Carrington, who also created the cover and internal illustrations) and a glossary.

Enjoy the trailer, may it whet readers’ appetite for this fabulous novel!

Fantastic news for Wanderer!

We are absolutely thrilled to announce the very exciting news that Victor Kelleher’s extraordinary novel, Wanderer, which we published last year in our Eagle Books imprint, has just been shortlisted for the very prestigious Patricia Wrightson Prize, which is the children’s category in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards! This is absolutely wonderful news, and a very well-deserved major recognition of Victor’s magnificent book. Here’s what the judges said about the novel:

With danger at every turn and constant action that grinds to a dramatic climax, Wanderer by Victor Kelleher grips the reader from the start, never letting up on the drama, tension, and conflict. This novel stood out for its strong narrative voice and for its child protagonists who remain in control of their own destinies throughout. Theirs is a high-stakes, life-and-death struggle against the decaying, lawless world around them as they must battle and attempt to outwit adults, wild animals, and nature itself.  

This middle-grade novel is set in a dystopian future where ocean levels have risen and society has crumbled. Young Dane and his new friend, Lana, must complete a perilous quest that focuses on special treasures: precious, rare books. And, yet, Wanderer is also much more than this. It’s a tale of friendship, courage, endurance, and a warning of what the future may hold for humanity.

Huge congratulations to Victor! We are so proud to have been able to publish Wanderer, and so delighted that the book has been honoured in this wonderful way.

Winners of the Awards will be announced at the State Library of NSW, Sydney, on May 22. It will also be the opening event for the Sydney Writers’ Festival. #NSWPLA

A great new review for Wanderer

A great new review of Victor Kelleher’s Wanderer has just been published on the excellent site, Kids’ Book Review. Here’s a very short extract:

If I were to use the vernacular, I’d say it’s been a long time between drinks Victor, but it was certainly worth it. 

Multi-award winner, Victor Kelleher, has crafted his first middle grade novel in fifteen years with this gripping and absorbing post-apocalyptic narrative. If you think Waterworld for kids, you might get a little sense of the setting…

You can read the rest of the review here.

Announcing our acquisition of another brilliant Kelleher novel!

From Books+Publishing, January 12, 2023:

Christmas Press has acquired world rights to The Cave, an upper middle-grade novel by Victor Kelleher, via Margaret Connolly of Margaret Connolly and Associates.

Described by Christmas Press publishing director Sophie Masson as an ‘extraordinary adventure’ exploring loss, survival and courage, The Cave is set in the Palaeolithic times and follows teenagers Irian and Ulana who, with their Clan, have made a cave their home ever since they used fire to drive off the Beast—a savage sabre-toothed tiger.

Protected by an ongoing fire at the cave mouth, they continue to keep the Beast at bay until one fateful night when the fire goes out. What happens next shatters the Clan and leaves Ulana badly injured and Irian too traumatised even to speak. Alone and adrift, they have little hope of survival, until a chance meeting with a prickly old woman called Trug who, grudgingly, takes them on a journey of discovery, flinging them into the many wonders and hard realities of ancient times.

Explaining the genesis of the novel, Kelleher said: ‘For almost as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by pre-history. In particular by the question of how our early ancestors, starting out as helpless wanderers on the plains of Africa, went on to become secure cave dwellers and greatly feared hunters. How did this great change come about? Clearly, the discovery of fire must have played a part. And so, too, the creation of better weapons and tools. But how did the change actually occur? That’s precisely the story I’ve tried to tell in The Cave.’

Said Masson: ‘Last year, we had the great delight of publishing Wanderer, Victor Kelleher’s first new middle-grade novel for over fifteen years, to great reader acclaim and excellent reviews. Its success also saw the author reinvigorated to create more works for middle-grade readers, and The Cave is the brilliant result … As compelling, exciting and thoughtful as Wanderer, it too is sure to find many, many readers.’

The middle-grade novel is set to be published in April 2024 under the Eagle Books imprint.

Category: Junior Local news Rights and acquisitions