Related to: 'Toto the Ninja Cat and the Incredible Cheese Heist'

Author Spotlight with Graham Marks

Chris Higgins

Chris Higgins is an ex English and Drama teacher turned award-winning writer. She has written the My Funny Family series for younger readers, but is probably best known for her teen novels, which have gained her two nominations for Queen of Teen. Here she talks to Graham Marks about how she became a writer, tells us some of her writing secrets and talks about her latest novel, The Day I Met Suzie.

Hodder Children's Books

Toto the Ninja Cat and the Great Snake Escape

Dermot O’Leary, Nick East
Contributors:
Dermot O’Leary, Nick East

Meet Toto: she's no ordinary cat, and she can't wait to have an adventure with you! From one of the UK's best-loved broadcasters, purrfect for fans of The Aristocats, The Secret Life of Pets and Atticus Claw Breaks the Law. Toto the cat and her brother Silver live footloose and fancy-free in a townhouse in London. Toto is almost totally blind, and learned to trust her senses from a ninja cat-master who taught her back in Italy where they were born. By day, Toto and Silver seem to be ordinary cats, but by night, they love to have adventures! One evening, news reaches Toto that a king cobra has escaped from London Zoo! Together with help from a very posh cat and two hungry tigers, Toto and Silver must investigate. Can they find the giant snake, before it's too late?Ideal for reading aloud or for children to curl up with and read alone, the story features brilliant black and white illustrations throughout. With gentle themes of friendship, inclusivity and winning in the face of adversity, this is a hilarious must-read for all animal-loving kids! Dermot says: 'The idea for Toto first came to me when my wife and I rescued two stray cats from an olive grove in Italy. One of them, Toto, has been blind from birth, but we quickly realised she had ninja-like reactions. Like a lot of cat owners (or cat servants), we like to imagine our pets having secret lives when we're out or asleep. So before I knew it I was writing about Toto and her brother Silver's nocturnal adventures around London. I really hope that children who pick it up enjoy reading the adventures of our little Italian underdog (cat).'Toto's second adventure, The Incredible Cheese Heist, comes out in September 2018.

Annabel Savery

Annabel Savery is an experienced writer and editor of children's books. She enjoys researching new topic areas and finding out fascinating facts. In her spare time, she loves to bake and walk along the river.

Ben Hubbard

Ben Hubbard began his writing career at a what's-on newspaper in the 1990s, interviewing bands, actors and artists in his native Wellington, New Zealand. He later joined the fast-paced world of daily newspaper journalism before packing up shop and moving to England. Here, Ben tied a number of new strings to his bow: magazine editor, book editor, and finally, author. Today, Ben writes a mix of non-fiction for all ages - preschoolers through to adults. He has penned titles on an eclectic subject range: from space exploration, samurai warriors and medieval castles; to pop music, pets, tornadoes and rugby skills.

Fabi Santiago

Fabi Santiago is the author of Tiger in a Tutu, shortlisted for the Waterstones Picture Books Prize. Fabi was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and has been making pictures ever since she could hold her first crayon. After studying art and design, Fabi went travelling and came across the MA in Children's Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art, from where she graduated in 2014. Fabi's illustrations are full of movement and bold limited colours, and her media of choice is screen-printing. She likes the outdoors, cycling, dance and theatre, all of which are inspiration for her stories. Fabi lives in London with her ginger fellow and her cat, Porridge.

Georgia Amson-Bradshaw

Georgia Amson-Bradshaw is a children's writer and editor who lives in Brighton, East Sussex. She has worked on a number of high-profile and award-winning science books for kids, including the Royal Society Young People's Book Prize winner Eye Benders, and the London Science Museum activity book This Book Thinks You're a Scientist. She remembers the eye-opening and inspiring effect her favourite books had on her as a child, and so takes her responsibility to pass that interest and excitement on very seriously!

Izzi Howell

Izzi Howell is the author and editor of over fifty children's books. She lives in East Sussex and enjoys learning languages, cooking and travelling around Europe.

James Mayhew

James Mayhew studied at Maidstone College of Art and his first children's book, Katie's Picture Show was published in 1989. It's been firmly in print ever since, recognised universally as the original and best introduction to art for children. Many more titles have followed, and the series sells in museums and galleries all over the world, from the Met in New York, to the Uffizi in Florence, the Louvre in Paris and beyond. He is also the creator of the much-loved Ella Bella Ballerina series, and many other titles. Alongside his work in publishing, James has devised and performed in a hugely successful series of concerts for children, combining live classical music, storytelling and live art. From Peter and the Wolf, to Scheherazade, James has worked internationally with many different orchestras and musicians, creating illustrations in time to music. James grew up in Suffolk but now lives in Hertfordshire.

Joy Lin

Joy Lin was a high school science teacher in Austin, Texas until recently. She has a BA in Biology, a BS in Chemistry and another BS in Biochemistry from UT Austin. In 2013, TED and Kohl's Cares teamed up to look for 18 most inspiring lessons to animate, and her Hollywood vs. Science lessons were selected. She wrote a series of 6 videos: If Superpowers Were Real. She is now in the process of becoming an entertainer. She is a stand-up comedian who's been featured in 4 comedy festivals and competitions, most recently in NYC. And she is also acting in a TV show that will premiere in the US in 2017.

Kay Barnham

Kay Barnham was born in Barrow-in-Furness, grew up in Carlisle, went to college in Brighton, and lived in Hove for a while, before sailing for Kinsale, Co Cork, popping back to Hove and then moving to the New Forest with her husband and daughter. And never at any point has she lived more than ten miles from the sea. She began working in children's publishing in 1992. She was an editor first of all, working on illustrated non-fiction and learning fun facts like how long it would take to walk to the moon - nine years - and how to spell palaeontology. Next, she commissioned fiction titles, editing picture books, storybooks and novels. And then she got the chance to write her own books, which she thinks is quite the best job ever. Except possibly being a chocolatier. She writes non-fiction as Kay Barnham. Her specialist subjects include ice-skating, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, lightning, fairies, Roald Dahl, Sir Isaac Newton, Christmas, dolphins, Florence Nightingale and very bad cracker jokes. And chocolate.She also writes fiction as Kay Woodward, including the Skate School series for Usborne and the novels Jane Airhead and Wuthering Hearts for Andersen Press. Altogether, she's written about a hundred books. Her favourite colour is navy blue. Her favourite chocolate is 85% cocoa solids.

Louise Spilsbury

Louise Spilsbury is a prolific children's book author. She has written titles on almost every subject, from science and geography through to world affairs, social issues, art, history, and literacy. Louise is married to the author Richard Spilsbury and has two children. She lives and works in Devon.

Mike Gordon

Mike Gordon is an ever-popular and award-winning cartoonist. He has produced over 500 cards for Hallmark and over 300 picture books for various publishers. His talent has been rewarded with numerous awards inlcuding Berol cartoonist of the year (1988) and runner up for the Trento Fra realto e Follia (1990). He was also nominated for the Silver Quill Award (Germany, 1991) and for the Book and Magazine Illustrator of the Year by the National Cartoonists Society (1995).

Nicola Morgan

Nicola Morgan is an international speaker and award-winning author for and about teenagers. She has written nearly 100 books, including novels such as Fleshmarket (currently being adapted for the London stage) and Mondays are Red, but in the last twelve years she has become increasingly well known for her passionate factual work on adolescence, with Blame My Brain - The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed and The Teenage Guide to Stress being seminal titles for teenagers and the adults who work with and care about them. A former teacher and dyslexia specialist, Nicola now writes and speaks around the world on a range of subjects relating to adolescence and wellbeing, as well as the reading brain, reading for pleasure and the effects of life online. Her positive, respectful and empathetic attitude towards young people naturally led her to write Positively Teenage.

Paul Christelis

Paul Christelis has worked as a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, writer, group facilitator and teacher for over twenty years. He is director of School of Moments (www.schoolofmoments.com), an organisation dedicated to teaching mindfulness to individuals, groups and communities.

Piers Torday

Piers Torday began his career in theatre and then television as a producer and writer. His bestselling first book for children, The Last Wild, was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Award and nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal as well as numerous other awards. His second book, The Dark Wild, won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. His most recent book for children, There May Be A Castle, was published in October 2016 to critical acclaim and was a Children's Book of the Year for The Times. The son of the late Paul Torday (author of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) Piers recently completed his father's final unfinished novel, The Death of an Owl. He also adapted John Masefield's classic The Box of Delights for stage in 2017. In regular demand as a speaker at schools and festivals, Piers is also a reading helper with Beanstalk, a former judge on the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, a Patron of Reading at Heathmere School and a trustee of the Pleasance Theatre. Born in Northumberland, Piers now lives in London with his husband and their dog Huxley.

Pippa Curnick

Pippa Curnick grew up in rural Essex and studied at Camberwell College of Art. She graduated from the University of Derby with a First Class degree in illustration. Her website is www.pippacurnick.com and you can follow her on twitter @PippaCurnick

Rachel Bright

Rachel Bright is a wordsmith, illustrator and professional thinker of happy thoughts. She has written several books for children, including Love Monster, The Lion Inside and The Koala Who Could - winner of the Evening Standard Oscar's Book Prize and the Sainsbury's Book Award. Her books have sold over 100,000 copies in the UK alone and been translated into over 25 languages. She is also the creator of award-winning stationery and homewares range, The Brightside. Rachel lives on a farm near the seaside, with her partner and their two young daughters.

Rachel Ignotofsky

Rachel Ignotofsky is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator who is proud to share stories of amazing women with the world. She grew up in New Jersey, USA on a healthy diet of cartoons and dessert before graduating with honours from the Tyler School of Art's graphic design programme in 2011. Now Rachel lives in beautiful Missouri, USA, where she spends all day drawing and learning as much as she can. She has a passion for taking dense information and making it fun and accessible, and is dedicated to creating educational works of art.

Rikin Parekh

Rikin Parekh is a children's book illustrator based in North West London. He has two art degrees from Camberwell College of Arts and the University of Westminster. His past jobs include working in a primary school and as a film production illustrator on monster movies. Rikin has a vast collection of comic books and comic art and he LOVES eating pizza ... any time, any place! Therefore, you could say Rikin was a match made in pizza heaven for Iguana Boy!

Ryan Higa

Ryan Higa is a YouTube celebrity, actor, comedian, and producer. He got started on YouTube while uploading videos as a teenager growing up in Hawaii back in 2006, and he's been doing it ever since. Ryan has over 18.3 million subscribers to his nigahiga channel, and has held the coveted 'Most Subscribed to Channel on YouTube' spot multiple times. His 'Draw My Life' video, which inspired the idea for his book, has had over 27.5 million views since being posted three years ago. While he no longer lives in Hawaii, Ryan continues to produce weekly videos from his home in Las Vegas, NV.

Sally Spray

Sally Spray is an author of children's non-fiction books. She studied Early Years Education, then an MA in Children's Literature, and worked as a teacher before becoming an art director in children's publishing. Sally lives in the Cotswold countryside, and enjoys daily chats with her chickens, daughters and sometimes her husband, the illustrator Mark Ruffle. Her mission is to find out loads of interesting, really hard to understand stuff and pass it on to her readers as simply and concisely as possible.