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Andersen Press to mark Black History Month with Birdie by Sunday Times bestselling author J. P. Rose

14/05/2024 16:33:15

Andersen Press are delighted to announce the publication of Birdie by J. P. Rose, an incredible story of hope and courage, exploring themes of racism, family and identity.

Perfect for fans of Michael Morpurgo, Katya Balen and Patrice Lawrence, Birdie is a historical family drama following a young girl who finds solace with a beloved pit pony, who lives in the local coal mine.

Birdie Bagshaw has never known her parents. Having grown up in a children's home for mixed race children in 1950s Leeds, now she has come to live with her great-aunt Mabel in the Yorkshire Dales. From her arrival, things are strained, and Birdie cannot understand why she is treated like an outsider by the local children. When their bullying drives Birdie to hide in the nearby coal mine, she finds an unexpected rescuer in the form of Mr Duke, the last remaining pit pony in the village.

As the weeks pass, Birdie forms a special bond with the spirited little pony. But his future is in danger, and Birdie comes up with a daring plan to save his life in return . . .

Inspired by J. P. Rose’s experiences growing up in 1970s Yorkshire, this compelling story has already received a wealth of praise from some of children’s publishing’s finest authors.

Early praise for Birdie

‘A captivating story of the profound and powerful magic of animals – and how they can help us find our way in the world. I loved it’

A. F. STEADMAN, author of Skandar and the Unicorn Thief

‘A tender and touching story for animal lovers everywhere’

HANNAH GOLD, author of The Last Bear

‘This book doesn’t just break your heart, it smashes it to smithereens, before delivering the most heart-warming ending I’ve ever read. I was glowing as I turned the final page’

NATHANAEL LESSORE, author of Steady for This

Birdie is the second novel in a two-book deal with Andersen Press and J. P. Rose, acquired by Senior Commissioning Editor Chloe Sackur from Clare Wallace of Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency. The first, YA horror The Haunting of Tyrese Walker, was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award and the Diverse Book Award, and longlisted for the Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize.

Senior Commissioning Editor, Chloe Sackur said of the book: Birdie is both a wonderful adventure about the deep bond between a spirited young girl and her brave pony, and a story that explores themes that are deeply personal to J. P. Rose, about the importance of family, identity and standing up for dignity and fairness, and standing against racism. We are so proud to publish this inspiring tale later this year.

The inspiration behind the book is deeply personal, as J. P. Rose explains: I was born in Manchester in the 1970s, and like Birdie, I was a child of colour. For a short while I was placed in care, then I was moved between several foster families, as I was considered a ‘hard to place’ baby. Those words were even stamped in red across my foster care file. Eventually I was adopted by a loving, kind family in Yorkshire, but when I went to school in a small mining village, it was very difficult for me to fit in. I faced the exact same difficulties that Birdie does in this book. However, just like Birdie, I not only made a couple of friends, but I also fell in love with a small, scruffy pony called Wild Sun, who lived in a local farmer’s field.

As a child, I was fascinated by the mines and miners, and I used to watch the pit ponies being taken to the mine to live a life underground. Like Birdie, I wanted to save each and every pony, to take them out of the mines and let them roam and gallop in lush fields. I was always trying to dream up ways of doing so, but of course I was never able to, so this book is the closest I can get to giving them the life they deserved. By telling their stories, I hope to show you what brave and heroic animals they really were.

Birdie by J. P. Rose will publish in paperback for Black History Month in October 2024

For more information please contact Rob Farrimond, Publicity and Marketing Officer at Andersen Press: rfarrimond@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk