Two new books about two extraordinary periods in history!

Last year was a year of writing feverishly. I had four commissions, which together with other work seems to have taken up my whole year. The books are now coming in (love getting my author copies!) and I hope to pull a few blog posts and resources together around them.

The late 1960s, USA

First to come through the door were sample copies of Katherine Johnson: A Life Story. This is a 30,000 word biography of the Black American mathematician who – in an age when barriers for Black Americans and women in the USA were not only present, but often enshrined in law – nevertheless joined NASA, became crucial to the space race and played an essential part in getting men to the Moon. Aimed at 8 – 12 year olds, it also contains plenty of science activities to try at home, and even a playlist to take readers into a world of space dreams. Katherine Johnson’s amazing life and achievements have spanned the 20th century, and in particular, the biography focuses on the Moon landings of July, 1969.

Cover of Katherine Johnson: A Life story

Katherine Johnson: A Life story by Leila Rasheed. Illustrations by Sarah Papworth

The early 1800s, Egypt

Then just this morning, my author copies of The Smiling Stones arrived. This is a story I’ve wanted to write for ages, and Rising Star’s Reading Planet reading scheme gave me the chance to do that. I grew up  in a country where astounding ruins of ancient civilisations were everywhere. But how would I have felt if someone – from a richer, more powerful country, with permission from the ruler himself – had come along, equipped to dig up the beautiful statues and awe-inspiring columns that were part of my home landscape, to ship them far away to a place where I would never see them again? That was what happened in the early 1800s, when the first Europeans began to explore and exploit Ancient Egyptian sites,  and though I was brought up on Indiana Jones and the magic of exploration, I knew that as an adult, I couldn’t bear to write that sort of adventure story.  So I decided to flip the story: make it about an Egyptian boy in the 1800s (and his very smart big sister) who manage, against all the odds, to outwit and outmanouvre the man who wants to take their ‘smiling stones’ away from them. It was a tough period to research, and I hope I got enough right.

smiling stones

The Smiling Stones by Leila Rasheed. Illustrations by George Ermoyenous

About Leila

Author of Chips, Beans and Limousines and other books for children and young people. Director of Megaphone writer development programme:

Posted on September 16, 2019, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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