News & Reviews

SCOTTISH BOOK TRUST AUTHOR IN RESIDENCE

I was thrilled to be invited to be Author in Residence at Forrester High School in Edinburgh for the 2018/19 school year through the Scottish Book Trust Live Literature Residencies scheme. This collaborative project will involve working with the English department teachers and school librarian on a project to help enrich the creative writing of the fifth year students for their exam portfolio. All our news will be up on a new Author in Residence page coming soon!

You can read all about the Scottish Book Trust Live Literature School Residencies Programme here


 

BOOK PEN PALS SCHEME

This year an exciting new project set up by Kate Scott  and Sara O’Connor got underway to connect authors with schools. The #BookPenPals scheme on Twitter pairs authors with classes and their teachers to share postcards with reading recommendations and writing tips. I’m really enjoying sharing letters and reading recommendations with the following schools every month:

Four Lanes Junior School

St Pius X RC Primary School

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School

Hawkedon Primary School

GEMS FirstPoint School, Dubai


AUTUMN REVIEWS

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle received more glowing reviews and recommendations for autumn 2018. Here is a recent roundup:

BookTrust Review

Get Kids Into Books Review

Orange Marmalade Book Review

Scoop Magazine Issue 17 Review

Medium Book Review

That Boy Can Teach – Writing Characters in Key Stage 2

Books for Topics – Children’s Books About Refugees and Immigration

Education Library Service Recommended Primary Fiction Autumn Term 2018

Youth Services Book Review

Booklist Online Youth Preview Fall 2018

Writing with Wolves Book Review


KIRKUS STARRED REVIEW

Exciting news arrived in July when The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle received a starred review from the highly regarded Kirkus Reviews magazine in the USA! The prestigious Kirkus star is awarded to ‘books of exceptional merit’, and praise for the book included:

‘By alternating the two girls’ first-person narrations (punctuating them with the fox’s voice in verse), Williamson allows readers to quickly relate to both white Glaswegian Caylin and Syrian-immigrant Reema, seeing in them reflections of the many problems children face around the world today. Her writing is culturally sensitive, incorporating various Arabic phrases and Islamic practices without Orientalizing them or sensationalizing the circumstances.

With her two characters, Williamson movingly makes it clear that working-class solidarity traverses borders, race, ethnicity, and religion.’

Read the full review here 


SUNDAY POST iN10 MAGAZINE FEATURE

I was thrilled to be interviewed by Sally McDonald for a 1st July 2018 full page feature in the Sunday Post’s  iN10 magazine. In it I describe how my own experience teaching children from diverse background influenced the choice of characters in The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle. I also discuss how my love of reading books was kindled by my mother reading to me as a child, and the importance of public libraries in my early years as a reader. You can read the story here:


BOOK REVIEWS

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle continues to gather great reviews – here is a roundup of the most recent ones to date including recommendations for Empathy Day (12th June 2018) and Refugee Week (18th – 24th June 2018):

The Midwest Book Review

Storgy Kids Review

Lovely Bookshelf Review

#BooksMadeBetter – Essential Reading For Refugee Week List

GoodNightToRead Blog – #Mgiechat on Diversity in Children’s Literature

Empathy Lab – #EmpathyDay Recommendation

That Boy Can Teach – #ReadForEmpathy Recommendation

Mytchett Primary and Nursery School – Key Stage 2 Recommended Reading List

Staffordshire County Council Young Teen Fiction Booklist – March and April Picks 2018


 

Glowing reviews were written by book bloggers in the first few weeks of The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle having been published, including:

Publisher Spotlight Showcase – Kid Lit Fall 2018 Preview

Golden Books Girl

Julia Thum – May Book of the Month

That Boy Can Teach

Books For Topics

Book Murmuration

Playing By The Book

The Reader Teacher

Minerva Reads

Mr Davies Reads


WINNER – #BOOKOFTHEMONTH April Vote

April was an exciting month, as not only was The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle published on the 19th,  it also won the #BOOKOFTHEMONTH vote on The Reader Teacher Blog, and came a close second to The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day by Christopher Edge in the #Primary SchoolBookClub vote run by Scott Evans (@MrEPrimary) on the @PrimarySchoolBC Twitter account. Thanks to everyone who voted and helped The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle do so well in its publication month!

TEACH PRIMARY BOOK AWARDS SHORTLIST

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle received its first award nomination in March 2018 when it was shortlisted for the Teach Primary Book Awards run by The Teach Company, before it was even published! Judging criteria included ‘breadth of appeal’ and ‘learning opportunities’, and the shortlist features a wealth of books featuring diverse characters and important contemporary issues.


COMPETITION!

Between April and July 2018 I ran a #FoxandGazelle Top Trumps Card competition for pupils is P5-7 (Year 4-6). I received hundreds of brilliant entries, making it very hard to choose the winners! You can see all of the stories and designs  HERE

 


BOOK LAUNCH!

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle book launch took place on the 21st April at Hillhead Library in Glasgow, in conjunction with the Scottish Refugee Council. It was a brilliant afternoon! Check out the Events page to see some of the photos taken. 

I gave a talk about my journey to becoming an author; the importance of diverse character voices in children’s literature; and the inspirations I drew on to create my debut novel.

Lisa Seibold from the Scottish Refugee Council spoke about the work her organisation does with new refugees and family members of refugees reunited in Scotland to assist them in integrating in the country. She also gave us some ideas about what each of us can do to help this worthy cause. Guest speaker Alex gave a moving account of his own experience of being forced to flee Kenya as a child to seek refuge in the UK. Today, after graduating with a degree in Business Studies, he feels at home in Scotland and he now volunteers with the Scottish Refugee council to help others who have been forced from their homeland. 

You can listen to a podcast of the launch HERE

Next up there was a delicious (and massive!) cherry cake representing the book cover, which was reduced to crumbs within minutes! We celebrated Scottish and Syrian culture with a wide range of traditional food and drink. Everyone was welcome and while we enjoyed the food we were treated to an unusual mixture of Syrian and Scottish music! 

I had lots of fun meeting guests and signing books, and finally the raffle was drawn and many fabulous prizes were won, all of them donated by local businesses and brands in aid of the Scottish Refugee Council. What a fabulous day!

A huge Thank you to everyone who came along and gave their support!

 

Here is a full list of the companies and businesses who very generously provided raffle prizes and product donations:

Experience Days – www.experiencedays.co.uk 

Charlie Bears – www.charliebears.com

Vine and Canvas – www.vinencanvas.co.uk

Wellsfield Farm Park  – www.wellsfield.co.uk

Glasgow Music City Tours – www.glasgowmusiccitytours.com

Open House Studio –  www.openhousestudio.co.uk

M&D’s Theme Park – www.scotlandsthemepark.com

Treasure Trails – www.treasuretrails.co.uk

Kelbourne Saint – www.kelbournesaint.com

Aerial Edge – www.aerialedge.co.uk

Drawing and Painting Studio – www.drawingandpaintingstudio.com

The Climbing Academy – www.theclimbingacademy.com

Hamley’s (Glasgow St Enoch Centre) – www.hamleys.com

The Body Shop (Glasgow St Enoch Centre) – www.thebodyshop.com

Tesco Metro Sauchiehall Street – www.tesco.com 

Podiatry Clinic Renfrew

Tunnocks – www.tunnock.co.uk

Shortbread House of Edinburgh – www.shortbreadhouse.co.uk/

Nairn’s Oatcakes Limited – www.nairns-oatcakes.com/


The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle has been getting rave reviews! Here are some of the readers’ comments in full:

“A touching, thought-provoking adventure.”

The Bookseller

“I tried to make notes the first time I read this, but kept getting so caught up that I forgot. Then I thought I should read it again to make sure it was as good as I thought it was. It was and is, in spades. This is one of the finest pieces of writing I have read in a very long time. It is relevant, moving, and quite extraordinary as a first novel. I was totally convinced by Caylin and Reema, and by the slow, deft revelation of their stories and characters — and the growth of their friendship, which seemed entirely organic and unforced. This is a novel of loss and love, and the fox story which stitches the two girls together is convincing and heartwarming, as well as just tragic enough. I think readers will absolutely love it, and I can absolutely see it on prize lists. If it’s not on the Branford Boase, I will happily eat my hat.”
Lucy Coats, acclaimed author of Cleo, Cleo 2: Chosen, and the Beasts of Olympus series, among others.

“A beautiful story singing with love and hope, about finding your feet in a world turned upside down, while treasuring your past. Two exquisitely drawn characters from very different worlds, who find common ground through a burning hope and a passion to protect what matters most. Williamson has such a deep knowledge of her characters’ inner worlds and has created *two* distinct voices, belonging to two very different characters who I defy any reader not to root for from start to finish. I adored this book. A heart-shattering tale of survival and learning to trust again. Real, fresh, and unflinching. A celebration of the beauty and joy that can be found glinting on the greyest of days. Williamson deftly shows how it takes a child to see beyond the surface to find the beauty within.”
Sarah Driver, Acclaimed author of the Huntress series, a Waterstones Book of the Month

“Wonderfully written and an absolutely beautiful novel. Reema and Caylin come so vividly to life I felt their every joy and cried for every heartache. The story is a wonderful melding of cultures, mixing the heat and colours of Aleppo with the grit and humour of Glasgow. The girls’ plight touched my heart and I found myself desperately rooting for them as they fought against adversity and for the survival of their little family of foxes.”
Claire McFall, twice winner of the Scottish Teen Book Award and bestselling author of Ferryman, Bombmaker, Black Cairn Point and Trespassers

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle is an engaging, inspiring refugee story that subtly shows the reader how ultimately the differences between people are far outweighed by their common humanity. An essential read in today’s political climate.”
 Lu Hersey, MsLexia Children’s Book Award winning author of Deep Water

“Brimming with hope, The Fox Girl and The White Gazelle is timely, surprising and beautiful. When we first meet Reema and Caylin, their situation and grim prospects are heart-breaking. As Victoria breathes life into their characters, sensitively layering them with nuanced detail, the reader comes to believes in them wholeheartedly. We share in their triumphs and heartaches alongside them and, as they start to realise the possibilities that do exist – even for them – so do we. Together, they and their reader start to appreciate something universally important; whatever differences may divide us, what we share as human beings far outweighs those differences and is so much bigger and SO much more important. As Reema and Caylin make those first few tentative steps towards understanding and friendship, the resultant uplifting wave of optimism and hope is so glorious I almost soared away with them myself. I can’t imagine a more important or inspiring message to convey in a book right now, and that Victoria has achieved that so successfully and with such sensitivity is a great achievement and should be welcomed by her readers and by us all.”
Eloise Williams, author of Gaslight, the 2017 Wales Arts Review’s Children’s Book of the Year and the forthcoming Seaglass

“In Reema and Caylin, Victoria has created two girls who are foreigners in their own homes, and I was cheering them on to become friends, despite their differences. It’s a salient reminder of how hard it is to be an outsider, which all young readers will empathise with, and the strength that comes from working together. Beautifully written, touching, and inspiring.”
Nikki Sheehan, twice Carnegie-nominated author of Swan Boy and Goodnight, Boy, among others

“A well-crafted, inspiring debut and a wonderful read. The diverse cast of characters is sensitively drawn and felt so real I found myself suffering with them through all their bad decisions and cheering alongside them at each of their triumphs. Caylin and Reema’s story demonstrates the basic human truth that we are all more alike than we are different, and their interactions with each other, and with the world around them, offer an interesting exploration of what it really means to belong in today’s society. And, if that’s not enough, readers are treated to the occasional glimpse through the eyes of an urban fox. What’s not to love?
Rachel Hamilton, author of Louie Lets Loose and Louie in a Spin, among others.