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Helen Peters grew up on an old-fashioned farm in Sussex, surrounded by family, animals and mud. She spent most of her childhood reading stories and putting on plays in a tumbledown shed that she and her friends turned into a theatre. After university, she became an English and Drama teacher. Helen lives with her husband and children in London, and she can hardly believe that she now gets to call herself a writer.
Read more about Helen Peters on writing Anna at War here.
Anna is a Jewish child sent from Germany to the UK on the Kindertransport just before war is declared. This is the story of her welcome into a simple farming family in Kent, and to the constant worry she feels for her parents back in Germany. Although she is welcomed to England, there are problems to overcome, antisemitism at school, jealousy at home and worry about how the war is going. Anna is an intelligent, resourceful girl who proves her bravery and gratitude by saving a VIP from an insidious spy ring operating nearby. The level of detail about life in the countryside in the late 30’s into the 40’s is fascinating and will be an eye-opener for many children today. There is an exciting plot involving soldiers and spies which runs alongside, entwined within, the normal life of a 12-year-old girl trying to find her way in a society, which is completely different to anything she has known. A sense of danger runs through the whole novel, as well as the poignant plight of so many Jewish children at that time. A moving war time adventure.
In a nutshell: warm-hearted animal story set on a proper farm These sweet little stories are perfect for animal-mad youngsters and filled with useful information about how to care for pets. When friends Jasmine and Tom find an abandoned kitten they know they need to look after it. As Jasmine’s mum is a vet she can give them lots of advice on how to do this and soon the kitten, called Holly, is thriving. Jasmine loves Holly very much but as Christmas approaches she has to make the brave and generous decision to give Holly to someone who really needs her. A typically well-written and convincing story in this excellent series which has lots to appeal for young readers, particularly those who dream of living on a farm. ~ Andrea Reece The Editor at Nosy Crow says: “This series is going to be a classic. It’s beautifully written with clever plotting and proper animal adventure. Life as a farm vet’s daughter shows Jasmine that nature is not always kind and life-and-death situations are never far away. But what cute animals! And what great stories!”
In a nutshell: upstairs downstairs time-slip adventure | Evie is feeling sorry for herself. Her mum has – selfishly in Evie’s opinion - gone on honeymoon with her new husband leaving Evie with a godmother she hardly knows. Her godmother lives in a flat, part of an old mansion house and Evie’s room seems haunted by the ghost of a girl with a sad story to tell. When Evie finds herself back in time and working as a lowly house maid she gets the opportunity to help the ghost. In the process she learns lots too about the ordinary lives of children the same age as her who had to work as servants in Victorian England. Beautifully told this is a thrilling story and will grip young readers; like Evie, they may see their own lives differently by the story’s conclusion too. This tale of adventure and self-discovery is one to recommend to fans of A Little Princess. ~ Andrea Reece The Editor at Nosy Crow says: “There’s so much to love about this book. It’s spine-tingling, moving, funny and heartbreaking – a real rollercoaster ride!
In a nutshell: warm-hearted animal story with realistic farm setting | Jasmine finds a clutch of duck eggs by the river, but their mother has been killed by a dog so she decides to take them home and hatch them herself. It’s a difficult process but Jasmine lives on a farm, her mother is a vet and help is to hand; sure enough five weeks later a duckling hatches. Button is a cheeky little thing though, and the adventures are only just beginning. This is the perfect book for any child who loves animals. Life in the farmhouse is beautifully described and there’s lots of detail about hatching duck eggs that will fascinate readers. Jasmine’s arguments with horrible class-mate Bella Bradley are great fun too. This is a series to recommend to fans of Dick King-Smith and Michael Morpurgo. ~ Andrea Reece The Editor at Nosy Crow says “This series is going to be a classic. It’s beautifully written with clever plotting and proper animal adventure. Life as a farm vet’s daughter shows Jasmine that nature is not always kind and life-and-death situations are never far away. But what cute animals! And what great stories!”
With a realistic farming setting this is a warm-hearted story that will delight all those who love Dick King-Smith’s animal stories. When Jasmine finds one of the farm’s brand new piglets is too weak to feed from its mother she must do everything she can to save it. Quickly naming it Truffle, Jasmine manages to get the piglet home without her mother noticing. But can she keep it alive? And what will happen as Truffle grows? ~ Julia Eccleshare The Editor at Nosy Crow says: “This series is going to be a classic. It’s beautifully written with clever plotting and proper animal adventure. Life as a farm vet’s daughter shows Jasmine that nature is not always kind and life-and-death situations are never far away. But what cute animals! And what great stories!”
Chosen as one of the Top Ten Best New Books for Children 2015 by Andrea Reece. The Secret Hen House Theatre, Helen Stephen’s debut, was a real treat: a hugely successful mix of animal story, stage school caper and adventure. If anything the sequel is even better. Hannah lives on a proper old-fashioned farm with her siblings and dad. Mum has died. The only thing she likes more than farming is acting, and her mother’s old hen house makes a wonderful rural theatre. In this book the farm is threatened by a water company who want to flood the valley for a reservoir. Can Hannah convince her neighbours that ancient hedgerows and yew trees are more rewarding than new ‘leisure facilities’? The descriptions of the countryside and its wildlife are sublime, while Hannah’s battle against the money men of the water company is compelling. Once again, a dramatic production provides the setting for the climax. Genuinely child-centred, this is set to become a favourite with many young readers. ~ Andrea Reece Kirsty at Nosy Crow says: “It’s so good to be back with Helen’s characters – I’d been wondering what had been going on with them! The writing is as warm as ever and as Michael Morpurgo said of The Secret Hen House Theatre, I didn’t want this one to end.”
Shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2013Since the death of her mother, Hannah's family life has been a bit chaotic. Her father works all day on their dilapidated farm, and the four children are pretty much left to themselves. One day, Hannah finds a ramshackle old hen house in a forgotten corner of the farm and decides to turn it into a secret theatre. But then the farm is threatened with demolition. Hannah hatches a bold plan to save it. Who can she trust? And what will happen when her dad finds out?