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Catherine studied English at Oxford University and has been juggling life as a teacher, children’s author and mum for the past fifteen years. As an English teacher at King Edward’s School, Bath, she sees first-hand the impact stories can have on young readers – opening their eyes, expanding their horizons, making them ask questions and see the world differently. Her books tackle some of the big issues faced by young people today – terrorism, immigration, the cult of celebrity, the refugee crisis – in ways that are heart-breaking, often hilarious, but invariably hopeful.
Her multi-award nominated debut, We Can Be Heroes was recently made into a film starring Alison Steadman and Phil Davies and, as an ‘extra’ on the film set, Catherine got to realise her a lifelong dream when she actually got to spend a day living in one of her own stories!
No Ballet Shoes in Syria received much acclaim on publication in 2019, was nominated for the 2020 CILIP Carnegie Medal, featured as a BBC Bitesize text and was selected as The Times Children’s Book of the Week as well as sweeping the reviews pages of most national newspapers.
She is also the author of I Predict a Riot and Pop! And as her alter-ego Cate Shearwater, she is the author of the much-loved Somersaults and Dreams series.
I had better declare, from the very start, that I am an avid reader of Charles Dickens – and can find books that purport to be continuations or reflections on his work quite unsatisfactory. But right from Chapter One this fascinating flight of fancy had me gripped. The language feels authentic, the character names, if not originally Dickensian, fit and would be equally at home in a Dickens novel. The invention of a twin sister for Oliver shows just how very unequal Victorian society was for girls – to the point that the healthy girl child was left on the rubbish heap, whilst the sickly Oliver was raised in the workhouse – as boys had more economic value! This really is a an authentic tale of Victorian society – and particularly the rather grubbier elements of that society. Dickens’ London leaps off the page - with all its smells, sounds and rather unpleasant characters (as well as a couple of wonderful, welcoming and delightful folk too!) Catherine Bruton is a teacher who regularly teaches Dickens in her classes, so she appreciates that he can be hard to access for today’s students – this book is intended as a welcoming way into what can seem to be a very difficult cannon of literature. Bruton proves herself to be a great storyteller, using vibrant language, powerful descriptions and a wonderful sense of the hardships of fighting for the underdog in society. I hope many of today’s students will find this a great way into reading Dickens – especially in this year – the 150th anniversary of Dickens death.
An astonishing debut. Moving. Funny. Explosive. And most of all, unexpected...As powerful as Frank Cottrell Boyce's Millions. A Piece of Passion from Ali Dougal, Catherine's Editor at Egmont Books: We Can Be Heroes is the sort of book that I dreamt of working on when I decided I wanted to be an editor. It’s a book that pushes boundaries; it addresses racial and class issues and explodes stereotypes . . . but most of all it’s funny, moving, madcap and utterly unputdownable. Catherine Bruton took inspiration from various sources when writing the book: the kids she teaches who love manga, a boy she met whose father had died in the 7/7 bombings and an article she had written previously about children whose parents died in the 9/11 attacks. This is what gives the novel such depth and integrity, and makes the voice really shine. In some ways, Catherine’s writing reminds me of Frank Cottrell Boyce’s work: she delivers a cracking rollercoaster of a plot, beautifully observed and full of unforgettable characters. We Can Be Heroes is a novel with heart and soul and real staying power that offers something to everyone from 11-111. It’s Catherine’s first book for children and young adults (her second, Pop!, is coming in 2012) and I have no doubt that readers will fall in love with it just as much as I have.