Funky chickens and front covers

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Lots of exciting things have happened in the last year. I’ve taken a break from my academic career to pursue an old dream: writing and illustrating children’s books. And after lots of hard work (and a big dose of patience!), I’ve secured a couple of book deals with Macmillan Children’s Books and Frances Lincoln. I’m writing and illustrating a middle-grade series for Frances Lincoln (called Cinnamon Grove) and some rhyming picture books for Macmillan.

The first book in my Frances Lincoln series is called A Hen in the Wardrobe. I’ve drawn heavily on my experiences as an Anglo-Celtic Muslim in both Britain and North Africa and have centred the story on a young boy called Ramzi Ramadan and his sleepwalking, homesick Dad. In Book 2: Chess and Chapattis, Ramzi and his best-friend Shaima Stalk (a tiny Pakistani child-genius) set up a detective agency in order to save Aunty Urooj from the dastardly Rasheed Khan. I’m not sure if there’s going to be a Book 3 but my head’s buzzing with material and I’d love Ramzi to return to Algeria. Especially as The Spider’s in trouble.

Oh, and I should mention that today I’m feeling ever so slightly chuffed: Frances Lincoln are letting me do my own front covers for Cinnamon Grove! Let’s just hope I can pull it off. Now the initial panic has subsided, I’m thinking funky chickens and wardrobes for Book I (A Hen in the Wardrobe). But Book 2: Chess and Chapattis – well, I’m not so sure. A chessboard might look groovy? And the story features an enormous beetle, an online marriage bureau, and a detective agency. So what’s it to be? Time to ponder and get out the paints …

I’ll post some sneaky previews just as soon as I’ve been given the okay.

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