All About Karen Wallace
Karen Wallace was born in Canada and grew up in a log cabin in Quebec. Her childhood was spent playing in the forests and messing about on the Gatineau River. It was a wonderful wild time and in many ways is the source of all of her writing. Karen comments “Children’s writers are an eccentric bunch. Someone once said they never grow up and in many ways, this is probably true in my case.”.
Karen Wallace writes books for children from five to fifteen years old. The ability to recall how you felt and what your world was like at a particular point in your childhood is something that all children’s writers share. It’s like pushing a rewind switch and going back in time. Many of Karen’s natural history books for children, like Think of an Eel, which won awards on both sides of the Atlantic, Imagine you are a Tiger, or I am a Tyrannosaurus Rex all reflect her own sense of wonder exploring the woods and the river around her when she was a child. Years later, Karen wrote about this childhood in her first novel Raspberries on the Yangtze, which was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize.
In the early 1960s, Karen came with her family to England and was sent to a boarding school. She lasted about eighteen months before leaving to go to a day school and wrote about this experience in her second novel, Climbing a Monkey Puzzle Tree.
After leaving school, Karen Wallace went to London University to read English. At that time, there was a great emphasis on the study of Anglo-Saxon literature. So she read many poems that were written in such a way that they would be remembered and re-told again and again since very few people could read or write. The deceptive simplicity and the strong internal rhythms of the poems came back to her when she began to write picture book texts and short dramatic narrative non-fiction.
Karen has done all kinds of jobs in her life so far. She’s worked in public relations and runs her own publishing company. She’s made pizzas and sung in a cabaret act and a bluegrass band. But when Karen is asked whether she always wanted to be a writer, she says, “yes – making up stories is something I’ve done all my life.”
Karen’s most recent teenage novel is Emerald which is set in Tudor times and was shortlisted for the Northern Book Award. She has always wanted a pet bear so she gave one to her heroine. The bear is called Molly and it’s a great read!
Also Sticky Story Books for toddlers are now available. This the first time she has ever designed a book and they look amazing, thanks to Hachette and Jo Lodges’ artwork and last but not least, a strong suction disc which means they can go anywhere!
She write scripts for children’s television, natural history programmes and the occasional documentary. Script writing uses a different writing muscle, but it’s still about telling a story.
All Karen’s books are special to her. She says: “I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.”
Karen’s School Visits
Over the years Karen has spent much time talking and teaching about the creative processes involved in her own work. She believes that good writing lies at the base of many other important skills.
Given the range of her work, Karen will happily tailor her talks to the teachers’ needs.
She usually spends a full day at a primary school, dividing the day into three or four one-hour sessions.
Session Length: 60 minutes including time for Q&A
30 mins for nursery
plus time for book signing at all schools.
For reception and years 1&2, Karen will talk about animals and read from her non-fiction animal picture books which have won many awards. Karen has a PowerPoint presentation for every book. These are always popular talks and even the youngest children enjoy these talks.
For years 3&4 and 5&6, Karen brings a PowerPoint presentation based on her Edwardian, ‘Indiana Jones’ style, historical adventures, The Man With Tiger Eyes, set in New York and The Secret of Crocodiles set in Egypt. She uses the pictures and photographs she studied when researching the books.
These presentations are an excellent source of general knowledge as they contain fascinating and quirky facts about the social and economic history of the time. Karen also explains how to turn fact into fiction to make an exciting historical thriller.
For older pupils and those particularly interested in creative writing, Karen gives a talk that is basically about how to write a novel, how she approach it, recurrent themes, place, and characterization – based on Raspberries on the Yangtze, Climbing a Monkey Puzzle Tree, Wendy, the Unrivalled Spangles and Emerald.
Alfie Takes Action
Alfie the meerkat is fed up of doing what he’s told. Life should be about more than digging holes and standing on guard duty. He wants adventure and excitement, not babysitting duty! So when a film crew for a nature programme arrives in the desert, Alfie decides to take action. Is this his chance to become a star?
It Takes Two
Karen Wallace looks at the often bizarre behaviour of females and males in the animal world, showing what they will do to attract each other’s attention, who makes the home, who looks after the young, who share the work and who are partners for life.
Raspberries on the Yangtze
It all began the day my brother and I decided to poison our mother. This is Nancy’s story. Naturally inquisitive, she’s always getting into trouble, along with her dreamer, pain-in-the-butt older brother Andrew, best friends Clare and Amy who live in the back of an old car, and weird sisters Sandra and Tracy, with their magazines full of boys. The children have known each other and their families for ever, but everything they thought they knew, is about to change. Filled with sparkling ideas and vivid dialogue, this is the story of a summer when old dreams are shattered and new dreams are born. For Nancy and her friends, things will never be the same…
Something Slimy on Primrose Drive
Unlike the rest of her family, Pearl Wolfbane is neat and tidy and is delighted to note that everyone else in Primrose Drive – the street into which her unconventional family has just moved – is normal, too. She does her best to keep her room neat and tidy amid the chaos the others are wreaking. When the Wolbanes’ neighbours, the Rigid-Smythes, return home to No. 33 a few days later, Dudley Rigid-Smythe is horrified. He’d hoped to buy No. 34 and turn it into flats, but that’s impossible now that it looks like a film-set of a second-rate horror movie. The two families are set for a collision course, especially when it seems that each of the daughters is much better suited to living in the other’s house …
Imagine you are a Dolphin/Crocodile/Tiger
These books encourage the reader to imagine how each animal feels and tell a story at the same time.
Reviews and Recommendations
“Karen Wallace enthralled and inspired our children with her accounts of becoming a writer with readings of her own work. She brought a wealth of experience and knowledge of writing that is invaluable for children like ours, many of whom would like to follow in her footsteps. The books she brought along to sell represented a wide range of styles and age groups, giving the children plenty of ways of broadening their experience of books.” – Moor Park Prep School, Ludlow
“Karen visited out school yesterday to help us launch our curriculum ‘Book Week’ to coincide with World Book day later this week. She arrived promptly and was very flexible, happy to go along with the groupings we had organised. I can highly recommend Karen’s visits in Primary Schools. She is such an interesting and inspiring person to listen to and is able to pass on her wealth of knowledge to go on inspire young writers. Moreover her back catalogue of over 300 books includes something that will appeal to all. She was very professional and able to adapt to our needs. A fantastic visit and a very successful way for us to start our ‘Book Week’!” – Ceri Williams, Literacy Co-ordinator, Hodnet Primary School
“Karen’s visit was a complete success. We were keen to invite an author into school who had written for a wide range of ages and would thus inspire our pupils from Reception right up to Year 6. Karen’s informative and engaging talks delivered on every level and inspired every member of the school to be a great writer.” – Rebecca Carpenter, Literacy Co-ordinator, St, John’s Primary School, Tiverton
“Thank you for taking the time to visit Highgate Junior School and providing the children with the opportunity to garner so many literary and authorial insights. The day proved to be not only popular with the children but has also, without a doubt, stimulated a much greater interest in the complex symbiosis of processes, necessary to produce a quality work of fiction. It has been a pleasure to see the children walking around the school carrying so many copies of your books and to witness the obvious enjoyment with which they devour them. This, I am sure, is due to them being able to associate a real-life author with an actual novel, and to have heard how the work sprang to life and was moulded into its final form. I look forward to repeating the experience with other year groups and will be in touch with you to arrange this. Once again, thank you for your time and the informative and inspirational approach you took in your talk” – Highgate Junior School
“The International School of Stuttgart was pleased to host Mrs. Karen Wallace as our guest author for Book Week in March, 2012. During the three days Mrs. Wallace was with us, she presented her work to students in the Early Years through Middle Years grades. She prepared carefully and thoughtfully for our students, sending ahead all multimedia materials so that we could test the technology in advance. We found Mrs. Wallace to be an engaging, dynamic visitor who brought the magic of reading and writing books into our school. Because Mrs. Wallace has published so many books in so many different genres, she is an ideal guest. She connects with all age groups and adapts her presentations flawlessly. Mrs. Wallace was an all- round good sport as we put her through her paces at two separate campuses. She autographed hundreds of books, interacted beautifully with the staff, and took the time to make each workshop a special one. I give Mrs. Wallace my highest recommendation and know that other schools would cherish a visit with her.”
To Make a Booking
To make an enquiry about Karen Wallace, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org