Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Reviews on Jasmine Skies

'I really wish Sita had been writing when I was growing up as this beautiful heartfelt book explores so eloquently the need to find your history in order to find yourself. '
Meera Syal

 'I've just finished reading Jasmine Skies and absolutely loved it. Sita Brahmachari has such a loving touch with the way she delicately and compassionately picks her way through experiences, families and relationships. She has an absolutely sure voice when writing about adolescence and teenagers.'
Jamila Gavin

‘Sometimes second books can be disappointing.  This one most certainly isn't.  In fact, I think it's even better than the first. Its skill lies in making her reader really feel that intimate tug and pull of family relationships as well as the confusing ups and downs of teenage love, and in this book she also shows us facets of India not often seen in children's books... Mira is as tenacious and endearing as ever, and the tantalising ending promises what would be (for me) a welcome third volume in the series.'
Lucy Coats - Scribble City Fridays 

A Mad as a March Hare news round up!


Now I know I promised that I would be blogging every day up until 29th March (launch Date for Jasmine Skies) But what did I forget? That I would be out and about at schools and events talking about the book.

So here I am with a news round up for Jasmine Skies

Book Trailer

The Jasmine Skies trailer was launched early this month. You can see the link here. Or if that doesn't work just look up ' Jasmine Skies' on Youtube.


Thanks everyone for your enthusiasm for the trailer. It was commissioned by Macmillan. Scripted and directed by me and filmed by Shaun Cobley (Camera Man on 'War Horse' and 'The Iron Lady'... and Dad in Esha's class!) The sound design was created by Julian Portinari with original music from 'Transformer'. The Editing was done by James Knox and Greg Davenport at Epoch Films with grading by Ben Appleton.

Actors - Maya Harrison, Ronak Khujneri, Esha-Lily Harrison, Tania Roderigues, Jai Patel, Anya Patel,
Dancer - Neha Patel
Kolkata Footage from Trilby James and Shelley King featuring  actress - Zohra Segal

Click on this link to find out more about this wonderful actress and dancer.

(Thanks to Kiran Segal for pemission to use this video footage of Zohra who celebrates her 100th birthday next month.)


The brilliant Hattie at Macmillan has been busy posting articles about Jasmine Skies. Including:

How Kantha stitching is woven into the fabric of the story and an interview with Nihal Arthanayake Radio 1 and BBC Asian Network DJ. Click here to read...



Last week I was at:

The Wandsworth FAB awards.  (Artichoke Hearts was Shortlisted for this student led award, and I'm proud to say came third)

The Suffolk Book Mastermind with the lovely Adele Geras.

Monday 26th
This week I have been to visit the lovely Red House Book People to talk about the inspiration behind Artichoke Hearts and Jasmine Skies.

Tuesday 27th
Writing Blog and speeches for the launch!

Wed 28th
I will be signing copies of Jasmine Skies all over London, on a road trip with my publicist Sally Oliphant. In the evening I'll be meeting the talented authors of this years Waterstones Book Award in the beautiful flag ship store in Piccadilly.

Thursday 29th
Here it is...

Jasmine Skies Launch day. It takes place at Hampstead Waterstones. To celebrate I will be visiting my children's school Alexandra Park School and local school Heartland's High!

Friday 30th
I will be at Wood Green Library and Marcus Garvey Library to meet students from Haringey Schools and sign books. This local launch for Jasmine Skies has been organised by Librarian Sean Edwards of Wood Green Library, and books supplied by the Big Green Book Shop in Wood Green.

Sunday 1st April
A bit of April foolishness to end the week!
Our local Deli  - Owen's of Alexandra Park Road is being transformed into a Kolkata Sari store for the local launch of Jasmine Skies with Kate Agnew of The Children's Book Shop Muswell Hill.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Last day of the Jasmine Skies photo gallery.

This is the last day of the Jasmine Skies photo gallery. These are photos I took myself and they have played an important part in leading me into my story.

'Everything I was before. All the forever things are slipping away from me here under Jasmine Skies'

So says Mira Levenson as her eyes are opened on another world; a world which is part of her own family history.

Mira:  'Even the cows are taking a rest. We walk past one cow dozing under an old film poster of Marilyn Monroe. I can't resist taking a photo!'

A lane of great significance in Jasmine Skies

Open this beautiful carved door to find out the secrets hidden in Jasmine Skies

Children playing on the street. They could be children from Anjali's street refuge...
 'The house of garlands.'
 There are always amazing children in my stories...

I hope you enjoyed the Jasmine Skies photo gallery.
 Thanks to Shelley King for the earlier wonderful photos.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Meera Syal likes my book!

I am jumping around my living room with joy!

The brilliant, multi talented actress, writer and comedienne has said this about Jasmine Skies

"I really wish Sita had been writing when I was growing up as this beautiful heartfelt book explores so eloquently the need to find your history in order to find yourself. "

Just my silly, pleased as punch Cheshire cat grin today! More photos on the background to Jasmine Skies tomorrow.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Kolkata gallery Day 3

Eyes are an important symbol in Jasmine Skies... Through which
lenses do we view the world?

'May the Kali force be with you' - Anjali

Manu's Ambassador

Bathing in the waters of the river Hooghly

Queen Victoria's ample skirts 'Straddling continents' as Grandad Bimal says...

Is this dog 'Bacha?'   Let sleeping dogs lie!

Copywright Shelley King. Visit back for more photos taken by me in the coming days...
leading to a very important house in Jasmine Skies...

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Cover Story - Photo Gallery Day 2

Kolkata Gallery 

My Aunt Marilyn in New Market

From childhood monkeys are my character Anjali's favourite animal. In Jasmine Skies my seven year old's monkey illustrations were accepted for publication!

Sun set over the Victoria Memorial

All of the photos in the this gallery were taken by Shelley King and have something to do with the story of Jasmine Skies...

Monday, 5 March 2012

The Cover Story

Do you judge a book by its cover?

Covertype /pattern by Kate Forrester and Cover Illustration by Paul Young.

A lot of people have commented on how lucky I am to have such lovely covers for my first two books. When I visit schools one of the questions I ask young people is 'Do you judge a book by its cover?' and the overwhelming answer is 'yes, it can make or break if we read a book in the first place'.

My character Mira is a 'doodler and a daydreamer' hence the lovely borders of the cover, but there is also a lot of  beautiful carving in Jasmine Skies, and these borders designed by Kate Forrester resemble some of these wonderful carved wood patterns.

I am amazed at the extraordinary creativity that goes into creating a cover. As a starting point my editor Sam Swinnerton asked me to send over some photos  that I felt would be interesting to use in the design.

If you look closely you may see how these influences ended up on the cover of Jasmine Skies. Other photos have siimply been an inspiration to my story.


New Market, Kolkata - a significant place on Mira's journey


These lovely photos were taken by Shelley King In Kolkata. Shelley's late father Kelly King was an extraordinary photographer. I think she's inherited his eye.

I'll post up a  few photos a day... they may even give you some teaser clues into the story!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Announcement - New Arrival!

Proud mum of Jasmine Skies, is recovering well, if slightly overwhelmed!

On Friday 2nd March at 3.33pm I welcomed my new arrival - Jasmine! It's a girl. She weighs 337 pages and  I've been told she looks beautiful (if just slightly on the orange side!) Family and friends were on hand to welcome her. I thought you would like to share in our news!

And then as if her arrival wasn't enough Jasmine was presented by the most wonderful review by Lucy Coats
In her blog Scribble City Central as part of her # FantabFri mythical creature series in which I write about Airavata; the celestial elephant God of the clouds.  http://bit.ly/yXDpWq.

'Sita's first novel, Artichoke Hearts, won the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize last year, and is currently on the Carnegie 2012 longlist. When I read it, I was struck not only by its tender but unflinching depiction of the relationship between a dying grandmother and her grandaughter, but also by the vivid and unique voice of its narrator, Mira Levenson (then 12 years old). I was therefore delighted to meet Mira again in Sita's new book, Jasmine Skies, which I've been lucky enough to get my hands on early (it's out at the end of this month). 
 Mira - now two years older - travels to Kolkata to meet her grandfather's family for the first time. But there's a mystery.  Why haven't her mother and her mother's cousin spoken for so many years? What happened to estrange them all that time ago?  Why won't anyone talk to her about it?  Stolen letters throw up questions whose answers seem to lie in the tumbledown family house on Doctor's Lane - where she's not allowed to go.... 

‘Sometimes second books can be disappointing.  This one most certainly isn't.  In fact, I think it's even better than the first.  Sita's skill lies in making her reader really feel that intimate tug and pull of family relationships as well as the confusing ups and downs of teenage love, and in this book she also shows us facets of India not often seen in children's books.  I don't want to put up any plot spoilers, but I loved small touches like the practical solution the Kolkata mums find to the smelly loos at the dancing gala, which give this book the stamp of true insider realism. Mira is as tenacious and endearing as ever, and the tantalising ending promises what would be (for me) a welcome third volume in the series.  
Lucy Coates – Scribble City Central . March 2nd 2012.

Rea and Ciara from Alexandra Park School were the first fourteen year old girls through my door. As Mira is fourteen in Jasmine Skies I thought it good Karma for them to have the first free signed copies of Jasmine Skies.

My elder daughters Maya and Esha-Lily holding our new book-baby Jasmine Skies in their arms!

In this book Esha- Lily (aged 7) makes her illlustrator debut with the most adorable monkey drawing. On March 1st she was lucky enough to have the wonderful Jane Ray visit her school for world book day. She wanted to tell her about her soon to be published illustration but was too shy.

I have not added to by blog recently on account of being a bit preoccupied with writing my book! However, I promise to add regular entries in the build up to the publication of Jasmine Skies on March 29th.

'Mad as a March Hare'  blogs I'm planning are:

The Book Trailer ... coming soon .

The debut launch of my book trailer will be on Macmillan's MyKindaBook website on March 16th. featuring Maya my daughter, Kathak dancer Neha Patel, Ronak Rajj, the eyes of many of my friends and footage of Kolkata. Camera man Shaun Cobley (Camera Man on 'War Horse' and ' The Iron Lady') With sound and original music by Julian Portinari. Edited by Epoch Films. It's a visual treat...

Give Away.... There is fleeting footage of an extraordinarily famous actress in the trailer. If you can:
name her and a film she's been in, I'll put your names in a 'correct answer Easter bonnet!' and the three first names I pull out will receive a free signed copy of Jasmine Skies. Deadline April 30th.

The Cover
How photos of Kolkata (and my shawl - above!) contributed to the cover design.  Illustrations by Kate Forrester and Paul Young

Musing on Fate
How March the thirteen is a significant day (My Birthday) and Miras and why my real aunt Mira seems to have been part of this story.

DJ Research
How Nihal Arthanayake DJ for Radio 1 and BBC Asian Network helped me with the research for my Kathak-dancing, dubstep-mixing character Priya.

Strange but true..How an extraordinary real life coincidence is woven into the fabric of Jasmine Skies.

Letters in Jasmine Skies
Why I still write letters to my Kolkata cousin, even though we also facebook, email etc.

And don't forget to check out and leave comments on:

Where Jasmine Skies is to be Book of the Month in the lead up to publication on March 29th...