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Ages 12+: Fiction

Books by Karen Wallace


I have always been fascinated by Tudor Times. If I could choose to be stuck in a lift with someone, that person would be Elizabeth I. With EMERALD, I wanted to find a voice that was modern and engaging. Emotions don’t change like fashions and while I tried hard to make Emerald a girl of her time, she had to be first and foremost a girl who had problems and worries that someone would understand to-day.

At first I tried to write the story in the third person but that didn’t work because I wanted the immediacy of the voice that was in RASPBERRIES ON THE YANGTZE and CLIMBING A MONKEY PUZZLE TREE but set in an authentic and believable historical background like that of WENDY and THE UNRIVALLED SPANGLES. So I wrote EMERALD in the first person and that was the breakthrough.

EMERALD took me a long time to write and many of the issues in the book are ones that I have faced in my own life. It seems to me that you write best about what you know and certainly I knew a lot about how EMERALD was feeling about herself and particularly the relationship with her mother. I also intended to make the story funny and I hope the reader will find ‘laugh out loud’ moments as they turn the pages.

I believe EMERALD marks a new distinctive and personal approach to writing a historical novel.

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Books by Karen Wallace

Raspberries on the Yangtze

‘This was my first novel and based on a world I knew only too well because it was the world I grew up in.’ KW

Shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize 2002

‘It is funny and moving; everything about it is gorgeous.’ The Sunday Times
‘Very funny and touching.’ The Daily Express
‘Brilliant. A Swallows and Amazons for the 21st century.’ Michael Morpurgo, former Children’s Laureate

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Books by Karen Wallace

Climbing a Monkey Puzzle Tree

‘When I first came to England, I was sent to a boarding school. This is the setting for this novel. Titles are important to me. The leaves of a Monkey Puzzle tree are sharp and spiky so climbing one would be a prickly business. So you can guess the story is a prickly one, too.’ KW

‘a poignant novel (written) with a breezy stylishness that compels you to read on…’ The Sunday Times

‘I raced through this with huge enjoyment,’ Jacqueline Wilson

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Books by Karen Wallace


‘One day I was looking at an old copy of Peter Pan on the shelves and got the the idea to write about a young girl growing up in Edwardian times. That young girl was Wendy Darling and the book is about the events in her life that make her imagine a boy who will stay young forever.’ KW

‘a vivid and moving account of one child’s loss of innocence set amid tumultuous changes in society.’ The Bookseller

‘a stunningly good idea, well executed,’ The Observer

‘clever and original,’ The Sunday Times

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Books by Karen Wallace

The Unrivalled Spangles

‘The world of the great Victorian tenting circuses was extraordinary as indeed was the world of the East End of London. This story brings the two together and was a challenging moving book to write.’ KW

Shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Prize 2005
‘Smell the sawdust, hear the horses, feel the heat… this book bursts with energy.” The Bookseller.

‘Roll up and be entertained.” The Sunday Times

‘Read it for the sheer exuberance and supberbly drawn historical setting…’ The Guardian

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