Young Joseph books bounce into bookshops

Today I’m bouncing with happiness because the first three books in the Young Joseph series of picturebooks are being released in bookshops around the world.

It is always a very strange thing to see the character and story that just started as a little daydream take flesh and flourish. Many thanks to the fantabulous Andy Catling who turned my crazy ideas into pictures – and added some more craziness of his own! Thanks too to the wonderful team at SPCK, including our splendid editor, Tracey Messenger.

Between the three of us, we’ve had some good laughs. We hope that you will too when you read these books with the children in your life. But beyond that, that you’ll have a little glimpse of the deeper meaning of the stories.

To order your books, click here or on each of the covers in the right-hand side book column.

Joseph and the Rainbow Robe

The first in a delightful series of illustrated picture books on the life of Joseph for 3-6 year-olds.
In the first book of the Young Joseph series, we find Joseph living in Canaan with his dad, stepmothers, eleven brothers – and lots of scene-stealing cows! Joseph is his father’s favourite, which makes his brothers very cross, especially when he tells them about the dream he has had in which the sun, moon and eleven stars bow down to him. To cheer him up, Joseph’s dad gives him a beautiful coat of many colours – a ‘rainbow robe’ to remind him that God loves everyone – even his brothers.

Joseph and the Jealous Brothers

The second title in the Young Joseph series.
Joseph’s brothers grow more and more jealous of their favoured brother. They come up with a cunning plan to take Joseph down a peg or two by throwing him in a well to give him a fright. Eventually they sell him to passing slave traders but that’s not the end of his story!

Joseph and the Lying Lady

The third book in the Young Joseph series.
Joseph finds himself in Egypt and is sold to a very important man called Mr Potiphar. Mr Potiphar is very busy and his servants are very lazy – as a result his house is a mess! With the help of his ever-helpful cow companions, Joseph soon takes charge and has things spick-and-span in no time. There’s only one problem – and that is Mrs Potiphar, who is jealous of Joseph. What scrapes will Joseph get into next?

Where did the Peace Garden come from?

fiona-veitch-smith-the-peace-gardenI’m relieved and excited to finally have finished my literary thriller, The Peace Garden. One of the most common questions readers ask is “Where did the idea for your book come from?” Some authors I know get irritated by the question and sarcastically say: “A warehouse off the M1” or something equally flippant. But I don’t mind it. In fact, it helps me to understand my own creative process.

A story of two worlds

The Peace Garden is about a group of neighbours who live between two worlds. They are all displaced in some way: either by being literal immigrants, or being from different races, religions or socio-economic classes. I was born in Northumberland but moved with my family to South Africa when I was 10. Every four years or so, I would come back to England to visit my two grandmothers who both lived in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. As an adult I visited a couple more times and finally moved here with my South African husband when I was 32. During those holidays I became increasingly aware of a sense of displacement; of wanting to feel that I belonged somewhere but never knowing whether I was truly South African or English. Some of this is expressed in the main characters of Natalie, Thabo and Gladwin.

A story of gardens

Grandma Veitch, Uncle Ernie and Auntie Emma

On one of my visits to my Grandma Veitch who lived in a cul-de-sac very similar to Jasmine Close, she took me to see her sister Emma who lived around the corner. Auntie Emma lived in another cul-de-sac, and just like my grandma, was very proud of her garden. She told us that the neighbours were up in arms because someone had been stealing plants from them. She said that they all suspected the-man-at-the-end-of-the-street because he was the only one with a wall around his front garden. My grandma thought this was a good assumption.

I thought it was one of the funniest things I’d ever heard and I began to wonder who that man might be. The writer in me took over and before I knew it, Gladwin Nkulu, the political exile from South Africa, was born.

A story of mystery and terror

The Peace Garden started out as a literary novel using people’s gardens as a metaphor for their lives. But as the story began to unfold, it became clear that it fell into the mystery genre. I suppose this is the inevitable outcome of starting a story with a character hidden behind a garden wall. This was not an unwelcome development for me as I love reading mysteries and thrillers and much of my writing for children falls into this genre too. The book is divided into three parts. The first is a mystery about the main character, 12-year-old Natalie Porter, investigating plant theft in her Grandma’s cul-de-sac. She finally meets the-man-at-the-end-of-the-street but does not realise at this stage that he has a terrifying past. That past, and the horrors of Apartheid South Africa, are explored in the second part which ratchets up the tempo from mystery to thriller. The third part picks up with Natalie as an adult when she gets caught up in Gladwin’s shady world of international terrorism.

Soweto township, where Gladwin spent his youth

A story with humour

Although The Peace Garden deals with some serious themes and depicts violence, tragedy and injustice (particularly in the South African section) there is also a great deal of humour. Natalie is a charming narrator and has a quirky take on the world. So if you like your books with a good mix of darkness and light, you will find both in The Peace Garden.

A story of love

The Peace Garden is also a romance. Natalie falls for Gladwin’s son Thabo, but as in all love stories worth reading (or writing) not everything goes to plan…

Copyright Fiona Veitch Smith 2024. Privacy Policy

Up ↑