Publication week for The Phantasmic Detective Agency

We are proud to announce the publication this week of Julian Leatherdale’s wonderful novel for middle-grade/YA readers, The Phantasmic Detective Agency, available now from all good bookshops around Australia.

Prepare to be swept into an amazing world….

London, Christmas Eve, 1911: the world is changing fast: giant warships, aeroplanes with bombs,  spies and assassins, fear of war with Germany. And the cosy lives of teenagers Lily and Leo Keeler,  who long for adventure, are about to be torn apart by secrets, espionage and monstrous creatures. When a shadow-puppet play unexpectedly releases the hungry spectre of Shadow Wolf, Lily and Leo get more adventure than they ever bargained for, as they battle the threat with their uncle Alfred, a brilliant, notorious Sherlock Holmes- like paranormal detective.

But that proves to be only the first mystery in a conspiracy that threatens the whole Keeler family, as Lily and Leo’s stage magician parents vanish for real in the middle of their latest spectacular magic act. From the Royal Naval dockyards of Plymouth to the bone-stacked catacombs of Paris, Lily and Leo and their uncle must confront eerie creatures and spine-tingling danger as they are chased by a ruthless spy-ring determined to harness the dark forces of Magick as weapons of war…

An exciting, inventive mix of adventure, fantasy, mystery and history,  written with a light, sure touch, and featuring engaging characters, atmospheric settings and many twists and turns, this is a novel to enthrall readers and keep them on the edge of their seats. As Michael Pryor notes in his cover quote: With bucketloads of colourful history, all the magic of the theatre and excitement galore, The Phantasmic Detective Agency is a cavalcade of imaginative steampunk delight.

As we mark the publication of this fantastic book, we mourn the loss but celebrate the brilliant creative achievement of its lovely author, Julian Leatherdale, who died last week. It was Julian’s first novel for young readers, after three acclaimed historical novels for adults, and though we are sad that we will not see more fabulous adventures from his pen, we hope that many, many enthralled readers are swept away into the riches and wonders of a truly special novel.

Julian at the Historical Novel Society of Australasia conference, Sydney, October 2019

Announcing United Publishers of Armidale!

Exciting announcement!

Christmas Press(of which Eagle Books is an imprint) and fellow children’s books publisher, Little Pink Dog Books, are delighted to announce a brand-new joint initiative, United Publishers of Armidale, with the launch of a new website, www.unitedpublishersofarmidale.net, and associated social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The United Publishers of Armidale website features a number of books from each publisher, with free activities and resources to go with each, as well as information on each title. Activities and resources include audio and video presentations by creators, puzzles, quizzes, word searches, printable colouring pages, teachers’ notes, and more. The Featured Books page will be updated regularly with new, upcoming and backlist titles and their associated activities, while the About page gives information about the UPA partner publishers.

‘The idea behind United Publishers of Armidale is that in these difficult times, it makes sense for publishers, especially small, regionally-based publishers like us, to pool our efforts and resources in order to promote and showcase our books and help to support our creator communities, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Little Pink Dog Books on this,’ said Sophie Masson, co-director of Christmas Press. ‘But it’s also very much about supporting the wider community, especially children, their families, teachers and carers, by offering free resources and activities through a dedicated website.’

‘We are delighted to be partnering with Christmas Press in this new enterprise and we hope that everyone will have lots of fun discovering our featured books and the activities around them,’ said Kathy Creamer, co-director of little Pink Dog Books. ‘And we warmly thank our authors and illustrators for getting so enthusiastically behind the project and creating such fabulous and diverse activities for our readers.’

Books featured for the website launch are, for Christmas Press, middle grade historical fantasy novel, The Phantasmic Detective Agency, by Julian Leatherdale (out May 2020 in Eagle Books) and Australian Children Laureate Ursula Dubosarsky’s recent collection of plays, The Boy Who Could Fly and Other Magical Plays for Children(2019); and for Little Pink Dog Books, author-illustrator Trish Donald’s picture book Tissy Woo and the Worry Monsters(2018) and Parmesan, The Reluctant Racehorse, written by Jacqui Halpin and illustrated by John Phillips (2017).

Check it all out here.

All welcome to celebratory Newcastle launch of The Girl in the Mirror!

On Saturday November 30 , 4pm-6pm, our latest title, Jenny Blackford’s fabulous The Girl in the Mirror, will be officially launched at MacLean’s Booksellers in Hamilton, Newcastle, NSW. The book will be launched by celebrated  Newcastle-based illustrator Liz Anelli, and Jenny of course will be in attendance to sign copies of the book. All welcome!

This is a free event but you should register your interest in attending here. 

Reprint for Tomodachi: The Forest of the Night!

We are delighted to announce that today we’ve ordered a reprint of Simon Higgins’ fabulous novel, Tomodachi: The Forest of the Night. The book was first published in March, and has been so popular with readers, booksellers  and librarians that we’ve run out of copies! Congratulations to Simon whose briliant storytelling skills have captured young readers’ imaginations, to Jenny Wang, whose beautiful cover and internal illustrations have really helped the book to stand out, and to our own design and editing team who worked tirelessly to produce this fabulous title!

And if you haven’t yet caught up with this wonderful book, we recommend you head over to your nearest bookshop and grab a copy now 🙂

Publication day for Tomodachi: The Forest of the Night!

We are delighted to announce that today is the official publication day of our newest Eagle Books title, Simon Higgins’ fantastic adventure novel, Tomodachi: The Forest of the Night!

Beautifully-written, excitingly-paced and with a deep understanding of one of the most interesting historical periods and fascinating cultures in the world, this is a superb novel that we are very proud to publish, with its beautiful cover and internal illustrations created by Simon’s wife, artist and animator Jenny(Yuxiao) Wang.

To whet your appetite for Tomodachi: The Forest of the Night, we are thrilled to present this lively and atmospheric trailer, created by Crane Animation and scripted and narrated by Simon Higgins. Enjoy!

Something from author and illustrator on Jack of Spades

Coming up to the official release date of Jack of Spades on April 3, we’re bringing you some fascinating words about the book’s creation from its author Sophie Masson and illustrator Yvonne Low.  Enjoy!

Author Sophie Masson

Something from Sophie Masson:

Jack of Spades is set in Paris in 1910: a city and a period I’ve always been interested in. My family is French but we come from the South, and though we often went back to France for family holidays when I was a child, I only got to know Paris as an adult. That happened over several visits, and particularly in 2010, when I spent six months as a writer in residence at the Keesing Studio in the heart of the city, thanks to an Australia Council grant. 2010 was the centenary of the great Paris floods of 1910, when the Seine River waters spread around the city’s streets and even lapped around great landmarks like the Eiffel Tower! And so in 2010 there was also a great deal in Parisian museums, exhibitions and in newspapers about 1910. The novel is set several months after the flood, of course, (it lasted about a week, in late January-early February 1910) but that concentration on 1910 and what was going on in France then helped me to visualise settings for the novel later.

1910 is part of the period known as the Belle Époque (literally meaning ‘Beautiful Times’) in France, which ran from around 1871, which marked the end of the Franco-Prussian War, to 1914, which marked the beginning of the First World War. In Paris, it was a time of glamour, prosperity, optimism, great artistic achievements and technological innovations, but despite its happy name, it had a dark side, of course, and some of that comes out in Jack of Spades. It was also a time when the European secret services were beginning–for example, in Britain, MI5 and MI6 were formed in 1909.

I used a lot of primary sources in order to recreate the background and atmosphere of Paris in 1910, and to really immerse myself in it bought old postcards, old newspapers and also a fabulous old Baedeker’s Paris guidebook from the time. The Baedeker’s really helped with details such as how the Metro system worked back then, how much a cab ride would cost, where hotels were situated, where you could send telegrams from, and so on, and there were great maps which made it easy to plot journeys. Linda carries that guidebook, of course!

 

Something from Yvonne Low:

From my reading of the novel and the title itself, I realised the most important elements of the novel were Paris, 1910, playing cards, Jack of Spades and danger, all of which needed to be brought out in the illustrations.

I researched images of Paris in the 1900s, including the fashion, art and architecture of the time.  This was the era of long dresses, almost everyone wore hats (straw hats, bowler hats and top hats), the horse and carriage and steam engines, impressionist painters such as Monet, and grand and ornate buildings on wide boulevards and mysterious narrow lanes.  Contemporary photos were often sufficient for building and street references, as Paris has hardly changed since the 1900s, which is what makes it such a charming and beautiful city to visit!

The playing card (and Jack of Spades specifically), is an important reference to the title of the book and a continued motif in the book, so the ‘spades’ or pike symbol was used on the back cover, spine and inside the book as chapter headings.  Art Nouveau was still popular in 1910 Paris, so I came up with my own version of this elaborate and decorative style to use in these elements.

The internal black and white image for the novel was created to portray two of the most important characters’ first interaction, along with some suspense and action in the scene – a grand railway station with steam engine, full of bustling passengers and an escaping street urchin.

I used pencil and watercolour with some ink pen to create the finished pictures.