Book People: Jacqueline Harvey
I am slightly over excited that Jacqueline Harvey is coming to visit my school library in March; as are the students, which is good, seeing as really, she is coming to see them not me!
Jacqueline Harvey is the bestselling author of the ‘Alice-Miranda’ and ‘Clementine Rose’ series. These are books that you want to keep reading long after the child you are reading them to at night has fallen asleep – yes I did that and yes I then had to re-read the final chapters to PudStar the following evening.
Harvey has cleverly written for children of today whilst adding a touch of loved and adored books from our own childhood such as Enid Bylton’s, ‘Pippi Longstocking’, ‘Madeline’ and ‘Milly Molly Mandy’. The ‘Alice-Miranda’ and ‘Clementine Rose’ series are utterly charming, full of adventure and plucky, resilient characters; young readers (and their parents) will love escaping into these stories.
I’m so pleased to have Jacqueline Harvey take part in our Book People series. More information about Jacqueline and her books, plus links to teachers’ notes and activities are at the end of this post. To purchase any of the ‘Alice-Miranda’ or ‘Clementine Rose’ books please click on the covers or title links below.
Ten Things You Need to Know About Jacqueline Harvey
1. Tell us about your latest book.
Alice-Miranda heads off to Japan because the family cook, Mrs Oliver has been invited to present at a conference on her Just Add Water (JAW) freeze dried foods. As well as being the Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones’ cook, Dolly Oliver is also a brilliant food technology scientist. The timing was perfect as Alice-Miranda was on her long school break and had just returned from a trip to the seaside with her friend Millie and her family. Alice-Miranda’s mother Cecelia was eager to go to Japan to track down some new suppliers for their department store, Highton’s as well. In the end it was a family and friends affair with Alice-Miranda and her parents, Jacinta and her mother, Millie and Mrs Oliver all going along. Alice-Miranda’s Aunt Charlotte, her husband Lawrence Ridley and Lawrence’s son Lucas joined them after a few days too. The story centres on a mysterious young runaway, but Alice-Miranda doesn’t meet her for a while. Early on, Alice-Miranda’s father, Hugh Kennington-Jones buys her, Millie and Jacinta three beautiful necklaces in a local antique shop – the perfect memento of the trip; however, Alice-Miranda’s chrysanthemum locket contains more than just a photograph of a beautiful woman. The locket which was unintentionally lost by its owner, is worn constantly by Alice-Miranda. She has no idea that she’s leading a pair of bumbling henchmen on a strange chase. Eventually Alice-Miranda realises exactly who the young ‘boy’ in the house next door really is and sets a train of events in motion to rescue him (or it is her) in the nick of time.
2. How did you get started as a writer?
For nearly 20 years I was a teacher, Deputy Head of Junior School and most recently a Director of Development. I have always loved working with children and in the beginning I wrote a lot of stories and poems and plays for the students in my classes. About 14 years ago after some excellent questions from my husband (e.g ‘You talk about wanting to write books for children all the time. Are you ever going to do anything about it or just talk about it for the rest of your life?’) Mmm, I didn’t want to die wondering so I started writing with the goal of being published. I maintained writing as a hobby until the end of 2012 when I became a full time author.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
That very much depends where I am. If I’m at home writing, I tend to be at my desk somewhere between 7.30 and 8am (after I’ve made coffee!). Some days I will answer emails and do interviews and other paperwork first but when I’m working on a book, I try to start on that straight away. I have all good intentions to go for a walk at some point during the day (sometimes I succeed but not as often as I’d like) and generally work through until about 6pm. If the deadline is looming I often work much longer. There are days that I go for a walk and edit in a local café and do other far less glamorous jobs like washing and housework. If I’m on tour, those days generally involve travelling and talking to groups of children. That’s usually very busy with up to four separate events scheduled. In the past 18 months I’ve done three big overseas trips too, to the US, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, France and Portugal – seven months in total. If I’m on the road I’m usually writing so I’ve become very good at scribbling in airports, on planes, in hotels and cafes. I worked on Alice-Miranda Shines Bright for several days in a row in the education rooms at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and eventually finished it in a hotel in Singapore.
4. Can you describe your workspace for us?
I have a lovely light filled study at home which looks out onto garden courtyards on both sides. I can see a lot of trees and the second storey of a beautiful Queen Anne heritage home next door. I work at a big old oak desk and have two screens. I try to keep things quite neat but find the paper builds up and I have to have regular culls.
5. Any words of advice for young readers and writers?
If you want to be a writer, be a reader. Keep a book of ideas where you write down things that have caught your attention. As a writer you need to be observant and really look at the world around you. How do people behave? How do they talk to one another? What do they look like? How do things smell and taste? Use all your senses including your feelings. Reading is a joy but it sometimes takes a while to hit on the type of stories you like best. Ask your librarian for suggestions about books and persevere. There is nothing better than getting lost in the pages of a story.
6. Do you have a favourite book or character?
I love the character of Miss Honey from Matilda. She’s kind and caring and overcomes great adversity. Of course I love Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose too. I certainly couldn’t spend as much time as I do with them if I didn’t enjoy their company! My favourite book as a child was Heidi and I also adored Black Beauty.
7. If you were not a creator of books for young people what would you be?
When I started out as a teacher (which I knew I wanted to do from the time I was nine years old) I fancied that I would end up as a headmistress, probably of an independent school for girls. I would have loved to be a voice over artist too and I think if I’d been more confident as a young person I might have gone into acting.
8. What is your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books?
I try not to eat too much while I’m writing, as it’s a sedentary job! I like to have a cup of tea about 11am. I can’t listen to music while I’m working on a book as I find it too distracting. I like silence. I also love when it rains – there’s something really soothing about the sound.
9. How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?
I don’t use real people as characters but some of my former students have inspired ideas that have morphed into characters with a life of their own. I certainly didn’t have a childhood like Alice-Miranda’s but I’ve known lots of little girls a bit like her.
10. If you could have one wish for the world what would it be?
I want people to be kind to one another. To imagine what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes and understand that our differences are the thing that make us who we are. Treat everyone the way that you would want to be treated and know that no matter who you are or what you do, everyone deserves to be heard and feel valued.
Thank you so much Jacqueline!
You can read more about Jacqueline Harvey at her website here.
You can read more about the Clementine Rose and Alice-Miranda books at their blog here.
There are excellent teaching notes for the Alice-Miranda books on the Random House website here.
To purchase any of the books please click on the covers below.
Clementine Rose titles suitable for readers aged 5 years+
Clementine Rose came to be part of her family in a most unusual way. She was delivered in the back of the local baker, Pierre Rousseau’s mini van, in a basket of bread rolls. No one knows how she came to be in the van, but pinned to her baby blanket was a letter addressed to Lady Clarissa Appleby, Penberthy House, Penberthy Floss. It read, Dear Lady Clarissa, her name is Clementine Rose and she is now yours. The papers attached to this letter say so. No one can take her from you. Please do not look for me. I came on the wind and now I am gone. Love her as I wish I could have done. As soon as Lady Clarissa laid eyes on Clementine, she was in love. And soon, no one could remember what life was like before Clementine arrived in the basket of dinner rolls.
Alice-Miranda titles suitable for readers aged 6-7 years+
Can one tiny girl change a very big school? Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones is waving goodbye to her weeping parents and starting her first day at boarding school. But something is wrong at Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies. The headmistress, Miss Grimm, hasn’t been seen for ten years. The prize-winning flowers are gone. And a mysterious stranger is camping in the greenhouse. Alice-Miranda must complete a series of impossible tests. Can she really beat the meanest, most spoilt girl at school in a solo sailing mission? Could she camp in the forest all on her own for five whole days and nights? Well, of course. This is Alice-Miranda, after all.
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The titles of each book takes you to the Australian based online bookstore Booktopia. You can also compare prices on Fishpond and Bookworld for Australian purchases.If you live in the US or would prefer to use Amazon click here. If you live in the UK or would prefer to use Book Depository click here. Purchases clicked through from the Children’s Books Daily site result in a small commission. Commission is used in part to maintain Children’s Books Daily and to support community groups which connect children with books.