Hello my name is Anna McPartlin and I am an international bestselling novelist and scriptwriter from Dublin, who has written for TV serial dramas featured on BBC, UK, RTE, and The History Channel in America. I’ve been writing adult fiction for over ten years.
In 2019 I published my first children’s book, ‘The Fearless Five’, under the name Bannie McPartlin. I live with my husband Donal and our four dogs. Writing for kids was a real dream come true for me and it brought me back to when I was child and all the books that inspired me and transported me to different worlds, teaching me life lessons, making me laugh and cry and taking me on great adventures. That’s what I wanted to do for kids today. I read every book Enid Blyton ever wrote but my favourites were the St Clare’s series, Mallory Towers, Famous Five, and Nancy Drew.
I lived with my mother and my grandmother back then, and my mom was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS and for us everything slowly changed. Life became a little smaller and a lot more difficult. I couldn’t stray far from home because she needed my help and so the characters in those books became friends of mine. I cared deeply about them and learned so much from them. I read fairytales, fables, and everything by Roald Dahl, and of course Dr Suess. After reading ‘A Bear Called Paddington’, I asked my mom if I was really good could I have a bear cub for Christmas. She said no because we didn’t have room for a bear and also one day, he would try to eat us. It was fair point but I was heartbroken nonetheless.
My mother was an amazing woman. She encouraged me to be true to myself and to laugh at life, and she also encouraged me to read. Every Saturday I’d go to Easons and I’d buy a book and afterwards I’d have McDonalds. As much as I loved McDonalds food I could not wait to go home and open that book. I’d be finished it by Monday night and wish the week away until I could buy my next book. I had a library card and I used to take myself down to the Ballymun Library most days. I think I knew and read every book in the kids section once if not twice. I loved my little world living with my mom and gran but those other worlds between the pages of books, that’s where my imagination soared and I formed a great love for the art of storytelling.
Books to Love
There are so many great books for kids now and when I was a kid, I just loved a good book series. I loved getting to know the characters inside and out and growing them over time. So here are my top three book series recommendations.
Harry Potter – There are seven books. Harry Potter is all about magic, friendship, good versus evil, growing up, and finding out who you are. It’s fun and it’s scary and the characters leap off the pages.
Artemis Fowl – There are eight books and each is more hilarious than the next. Artemis is a 12-year-old criminal genius, and with characters like a kleptomaniac flatulent dwarf, and a centaur called Foaly who happens to be a tech whizz, what is not to love?
How to Train Your Dragon - There are twelve books! Gawky, geeky Viking Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III and his dragon ‘Toothless,’ go on many madcap and marvelous adventures. You’ll be hooked from page one.
You can find out more about Anna on her website annamcpartlin.com or on her Instagram @mcpartlin.anna
We got to have a quick chat with Emma-Jane Leeson, author of the Johnny Magory books.
Hey Emma-Jane, tell us about your love of reading?
I had the most amazing childhood which was jam-packed with outdoor adventures and books and stories. My mother read to us from the moment we were born and it’s easy to see the benefits of her doing that. Myself and my siblings all have pretty wild imaginations and spirits that I believe is directly attributed to the books that were read to us and that we subsequently read growing up. It’s a tradition I carried on with my own children and developed a routine of reading to them since day one. Our bedtime routine was mam reading us a story from a book and then dad telling us a story about Johnny McGory. He basically made up a highly imaginative version of whatever we had done that day and it was always peppered with talking animals and trees.
Nowadays my reading pattern hasn’t changed too much. I love reading children’s books still, or else biographies.
What made you want to start writing books?
My parents, mam especially, always encouraged us to tell stories and write them down. I remember winning the ‘Write a Book’ competition in second class, a story about Dinks the Dinosaur (I was obsessed with Dinosaurs!) so I suppose that’s where it all started really! When my eldest daughter was born in 2004 I wrote down a few Johnny McGory stories one night and then left them in a box for 12 years until my 30th when my mam encouraged me to “do something with those stories you’ve written down”! I self-published the first Johnny Mcgory in the Magical Wild as a pure hobby following the nudge from my mother and, well, I was bitten by the bug then!
What are your top ten children’s books?
In no order:
- Don Conroy – The owl who couldn’t give a hoot
- Roald Dahl – Revolting Rhymes
- Roald Dahl – Matilda
- Dolores Keaveney – The Little Sunflower Seed
- Abi Elphinestone – The Dream Snatcher
- Kevin Doyle and Spark Deeley – The worms that saved the world
- Jon Klassen – I want my hat back
- Dr Seuss – Oh the places you’ll go
- Sandol Stoddard Warburg – I like you
- Benji Bennett – Before you sleep
Find out more about Emma-Jane here