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Joanne Owen - Editorial Expert

About Joanne Owen

Joanne Owen’s lifelong love of reading and writing began when she was growing up in Pembrokeshire, and very much wished that witches (and Mrs Pepperpot) were real.

An early passion for culture, story and folklore led Joanne to read archeology and anthropology at St John’s, Cambridge, after which she worked as a bookseller, and led the UK children’s book buying team for a major international retailer. During this time, Joanne also wrote children’s book previews and features for The Bookseller, covering everything from the value of translated fiction, to the contemporary YA market. Joanne later joined Bloomsbury’s marketing department, where she had the pleasure of working on epic Harry Potter launches at Edinburgh Castle and the Natural History Museum, and launching Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. After enjoyable spells as Marketing Director for Macmillan Children’s Books and Consumer Marketing Manager for Walker Books, Joanne went freelance, primarily working for multi-award-winning independent children’s publisher, Nosy Crow.

Alongside her publishing career, Joanne has written several books for children/young adults. She’s now a fulltime reviewer, workshop presenter and writer, working on YA novels with a strong basis in diverse folklore from around the world, as well as fiction for younger readers (in which witches are very much real).

Latest Reviews By Joanne Owen

Propa Happy sees pillars of primetime TV, Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, deliver a lively, inclusive guide to emotional health and happiness. Written with guidance from the NSPCC, and in consultation with a child psychology expert, this smartly-designed, visually engaging handbook is packed with jokes, challenges and quizzes, with activities designed to help kids find their way to happiness alongside tonnes of invaluable advice.  Lending itself nicely to being used at home and in the classroom, Propa Happy kicks off in exuberant style by inviting readers to “Be PROUD to let others see how AMAZING you are!” ... View Full Review
Imparting wisdom from across two decades, Philip Pullman’s Dæmon Voices shares a generous banquet of thought-provoking insights into the art of story-telling and Pullman’s personal processes and passions.       As the book’s editor, Simon Mason, writes in his introduction, Pullman is “interested in, above all, human nature, how we live and love and fight and betray and console one another. How we explain ourselves to ourselves,” and this all-encompassing ethos is reflected here, with essays covering everything from the responsibilities of the storyteller, how stories work, and authors&... View Full Review
Framed in the context of a sweet grandfather telling a favourite tale to his library-loving granddaughter, Polly Ho-Yen's The Boy Who Grew a Tree is a pitch-perfect charmer for 5+ year-olds wondering what it will mean to have a new sibling. It’s also a beautiful book about the magic of nature, stories and libraries, and the coming together of a community, with Sojung Kim-McCarthy’s softly emotive illustrations adding further beauty and depth. Timi has always loved growing things, and now his mum is growing something too – his baby sister. While he imagines his sister “to ... View Full Review
Otherworldly, yet rooted in patriarchal realities, Kelly Barnhill‘s When Women Were Dragons is a storytelling masterwork. Set from the 1950s, it presents a magnificent maelstrom of fire-breathing women who refuse to keep quiet, exposing the trauma of enforced silence, and shining a blazing light on how vital it is to transcend imposed shame and live your own way. “I was four years old when I first saw a dragon. I was four years old when I first learned to be silent about dragons. Perhaps this is how we learn silence — an absence of words, an absence ... View Full Review
Brimming with inspiring messages about shedding shame and feeling positive about sex, and driven by a magnificent heroine whose journey to selfhood enlightens as it entertains, Joya Goffney’s Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl is laden with heart, hilarity and a whole lot of helpful information. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also infused with feminist magic - what begins as a 17-year-old’s quest to “fix” herself to get her guy back becomes a joyous journey of self-discovery that sees a sister doing it for herself. “I love my daddy, ... View Full Review
Navigating loss, love and family strains while standing out as a brown girl in a predominantly white school isn’t easy for Ellie, a budding songwriter and music aficionado. A beautiful, funny ode to finding the strength to sing up and stand out, Ellie Pillai is Brown is sure to chime with readers who also feel they don’t quite fit in, with QR codes peppered through the book bringing Ellie’s songs to life, and adding extra depth to the experience. Ellie Pillai is a girl who know what she loves — music. And, against her ... View Full Review
Caribbean folklore meets futuristic fantasy in Alake Pilgrim’s Zo and the Forest of Secrets, an exhilarating Middle Grade adventure driven by the determination of its endearing heroine and the shocking secrets she finds in the forest. This is heartily recommended for readers who are into adventure, fantasy and ecological issues – it’s an an absolute page-turner with real-life resonance. Zo is staying in Samaan Bay on Trinidad’s northeast coast with her mum, baby brother and stepdad, and she’s not happy. Missing her dad and friends, she decides to run away. What could ... View Full Review
Part of the Very Short Introductions for Curious Young Minds series, The Secrets of the Universe tackles big questions in manageable bite-sized chunks. This colourful, compact book can’t be beaten on the accessibility front as it answers questions like “what is the universe?”, “how big is it?”, “what’s our place in it?”, with “Speak like a Scientist” boxes highlighting key terminology budding scientists will relish adding to their vocabulary. As the book takes us through the history of studying the universe, and explains everything from gravity, galaxies and ... View Full Review
Part of the Very Short Introductions for Curious Young Minds series, The Invisible World of Germs delivers fascinating information in engaging style. Kicking off with a clear explanation of what germs are, and an intriguing history, colourful cartoons introduce us to the different types of germ - bacteria, fungi, protists and viruses. At every stage, readers are armed with terminology through “Speak like a Scientist” features as we discover how germs are transmitted, our natural defences, and the future of germs. Like all the books in the series, The Invisible World of Germs was written in consultation with ... View Full Review
Haunted by her mother’s death, and now uprooted from Limerick to a rural village, 18-year-old Saoirse is desperate to leave school and start her life afresh. Her tremendously tough journey through guilt and anxiety - quite brilliantly related with raw compassion by Helena Close - makes for an engaging, thought-provoking, moving read that sheds light on the realities of depression while offering honest glimmers of hope. Just ahead of sitting her sitting the Leaving Certificate, Saoirse’s ex-boyfriend commits suicide. It’s no secret that she cheated on him with his best friend, and she’... View Full Review
What a treat it is for a Rosemary Sutcliff treasure to be newly presented to the world, and in a beautiful package that befits the story’s historic charms and thrills, with charming chapter heading illustrations by Isabel Greenberg, and an introduction by Lara Maiklem, the acclaimed author of Mudlarking. This Manderley Press edition of The Armourer’s House will make a glorious gift for fans of historic fiction who relish intrigue and atmosphere, and comes highly recommended for readers who love Eva Ibbotson’s writing, and contemporary writers like Celia Rees and Katherine Rundell. First ... View Full Review
Derek Landy’s riotously inventive Skulduggery Pleasant series first blasted its way onto bookshelves back in 2007, and fresh fantastical thrills keep on coming in Dead or Alive - no mean feat for book fourteen in a series. With the world teetering on the brink of irrevocable, devastating change, this penultimate novel sees Skulduggery, Valkyrie and Omen face their most trying test (yet…).   As wildly witty and exhilarating as ever, this doorstopper of a page-turner sizzles with a burning sense of time slipping away, for if Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie can’t rid the world ... View Full Review