Monday, 2 April 2012

Birthday for Jasmine Skies!

'Jasmine Skies'  birthday!
March 29th 2012

I have been spoiled by having two wonderful launches for Jasmine Skies. The first took place in Hampstead Waterstones. I was so touched that so many people from Macmillan's Children's Books came along to the launch and for the kind words of Belinda Rasmussen (Publisher), Sam Swinnerton (Editor) and Sophie Gorell Barnes (Agent)  of MBA Literary Agents. I was so happy to welcome journalists, Waterstones store staff,  book groups, friends, and family and also honoured that the event was so well supported by Librarians; so important in getting stories and books into the hands of young readers. I have been honoured by their response to my books. Sean Edwards of Wood Green Libary organised a wonderful local book tour of Haringey Schools to mark Jasmine Skies birthday.

Every person pictured here (and many who couldn't squeeze into the photo) have had a part to play in bringing about the birthday of Jasmine Skies. The event was beautifully organised by my publicist Sally Oliphant at Macmillan who also accompanied me on my local tour. Thanks to Haringey young people I met at Alexandra Park School, Heartlands High, Wood Green Library and Marcus Garvey Library for a lovely and memorable launch week. A highlight of the Waterstones launch for me was hearing from Chloe Spinx about  why her book group has taken Mira to their hearts and how she planned to travel with Mira in India over the Easter holidays. (She'll be writing a diary for MyKindaBook website on her return)

Family and Friends celebrate the birthday of Jasmine Skies

And then... On April Fool's Day
When Kolkata meets Deli!

Neha Patel ( In her finery) Anya Patel and Jai Patel with Sita Brahmachari at the launch

What fun and foolishness was this?  A Book Launch in a deli? With readings, author talk and signing. Tasty Indian bites prepared by chef Simon Owen, shop window transformed into a Kolkata sari store by craft queen Sarah Owen, live Kathak dance and launch of the trailer made by local cameraman Shaun Cobley of War Horse and The Iron Lady, featuring local children.

Artist, Sarah Owen of Owen's Deli, Alexandra Park Road.

Sarah transformed the shop into a Kolkata Sari store in the way that only Sarah can. Here she is pictured with her own pottery cow head. The sacred cow appears in Jasmine Skies. Also on this beautiful display table are: my own fourteen year old shoes, a photo of my Dad with other Indian doctors in 1959, Kali, and old letters, all of which feature in Jasmine Skies.

Hanging in the window is the most beautiful Kingfisher hand made by Sarah for me. I shall treasure it. It's made of recycled fabrics like the 'street wishes' and quilts sewn by the children in the orphanage in Jasmine Skies

'A Jewel bright kingfisher lands on a piece of gnarled driftwood, its turqoise feathers and amber breast are the most stunning combination of colours I have ever seen in nature'
Mira Levenson Pg 271 Jasmine Skies

The event was a wonderful gathering of much loved local businesses. The Children's Book Shop Muswell Hill has long been one of my favourite Independent bookshops. It was a real honour to share the launch with Kate, Meena and Sanchita. (I loved our sari folding at the end. It had the feeling of winding down after a wonderful party.)

Also hanging in the beautful shop window were Mira's personalised converse, Priya's dancing shoes and one of Priya's vinyl singles for her Dubstep mix. Sarah created a shop window to match the beautiful borders of my books created by illustrator Kate Forrester. I took a lot of photos because it was hard to dismantle such a work of art at the end of the day.

I was overwhelmed by the support of local people and authors at this event.

I spoke about the book being written in memory of my father Dr. Amal Krishna Brahmachari for my mum Freda Brahmachari. I spoke of my father's love of community and how much he would have enjoyed the event and tucking into Simon's delicious food!

'Grandad always used to say that one of his strongest memories when he was a little boy was eating bubbling hot puri from street-side stalls.'
(Pg 38) Jasmine Skies

I also talked about 'Pixie Punky Priya' the inspiration behind the classical dancer in her being my late aunt Mira (My heroine's namesake) and my cousin Jhuma with whom I have always had a strong connection. Jhuma and I have written letters since childhood and though there were no secrets hidden between the thin air mail folds of our correspondence, letters play an important role in Jasmine Skies.

I was so happy to be able to thank local people who have helped to give this book its birthday and to explain how local film maker Shaun Cobley, sound artist Julian Portinari and Epoch films had been involved in creating the booktrailer for Macmillan.

The gathering was, as I explore in Jasmine Skies, a true connection between the local and the global. Front right of this photo is the lovely Shrabani Basu of The Kolkata Telegraph!

 Neha Patel ended the event with a beautiful barefoot demonstration of Kathak dance on the pavement in N22. A young girl passing by exclaimed 'Mum.. I can see an Indian dancer on the pavement.' The little girl's rapt face said it all... as Mira says in Jasmine Skies when she sees her cousin Priya dance...

'There's nothing to say when you see someone as talented as Priya. You just have to watch and feel and let her spirit carry you away so that you almost feel like it's you dancing.'

Jasmine Skies is about the sustaining power of memory, and thanks to everyone's warmth and generosity at these launches the birth of Jasmine Skies will be for me, and I hope others, a treasured memory.


  1. What a beautiful event! Happy book birthday!

  2. The books a really good!!! I hope You make more like these!

    1. Hi Nakkita, I am so happy you enjoyed it. I am starting on my third book now!

  3. hi
    i love your book
    artichoke hearts

    i havent read jasmine skies but i hope it as good as artichoke and that mira levenson hasnt changed

    please make more amazing books!
    looking froward to jasmine skies!

    1. Hope that you enjoy it Preena. Like Artichoke Hearts it was written from the heart.