We are delighted to welcome author Jane Elson to our blog today. Jane’s new book Storm Horse is published this month (available here) – an urban horse story with a 12-year-old dyslexic boy at the heart of the adventure and set on an Inner-City London estate.
Storm Horse is formatted with a dyslexia-friendly design to make it accessible to all readers. The story explores themes of teamwork, bullying, meeting challenges and is a celebration of neurodiverse thinking and believing in yourself.
Jane popped by our blog to tell us about the London housing estate at the heart of all of her middle-grade stories.
Guest Post -Filling the Beckham Estate with Stories
by Jane Elson, author of Storm Horse (available here)
My name is Jane Elson. I write middle-grade books about children who are often side-lined in society.
Many of my stories are set on the North London Beckham Estate. My books are all individual standalones – however to keep the world of the Beckham Estate real, in each book there is a moment where you meet characters from other books as shadows in the background, busy living their lives.
Another feature of some of my books is that role models from history are woven in to inspire and guide my protagonists.
Let me introduce you to the residents of the Beckham Estate:
My latest book Storm Horse is a celebration of Neurodiversity. Daniel Margate is dyslexic and lives in Flat 33 on the 6th floor. His hero is Seabiscuit the little racehorse with knobbly knees who won races against all odds in the 1930s ridden by his jockey Red Pollard who was blind in one eye and an avid reader – so a perfect hero for a dyslexic child.
This book is personal to me. Running through the centre of the story about secret horses and finding friendship is Daniel’s journey. He starts the story wishing with all his heart that he was someone else. Someone who didn’t face the challenge of dyslexia in every aspect of his life. Over the course of his adventure he learns to embrace the gift of neurodiverse thinking, and by the end he doesn’t want to be anyone other than himself. As a child I would have loved to have seen myself reflected in a book, so this book is incredibly important to me as it’s the first time I’ve written a children’s book about a dyslexic character. Daniel forms the Secret Horse Society with his friend Molly-May who lives in Flat 12 on the second floor. In this friendship food poverty is touched on.
Let me introduce you to some of the other residents of the Beckham Estate.
In How To Fly With Broken Wings we meet Spitfire obsessed Willem who is also Neurodiverse and is autistic. He lives in Flat 103 on the 18th floor with his gran Gracie, higher than the birds, as she always says.
Down on the eleventh floor in Flat 61 we meet equally Spitfire-obsessed, feisty Sasha who longs to fly too. Sasha and Willem form an unexpected friendship. Then a few doors along in Flat65 is Finnm, who has got himself trapped in gang culture.
The narrative is interwoven with the story of Rachel, one of the brave ladies from the ATA, who flew Spitfires in World War 2.
In Will You Catch Me? we meet animal obsessed Nell Hobs in Flat 5. Nell prides herself on being the only naturalist on the Beckham Estate and her animal family – including Bob Marley the tortoise Beyoncé, Destiny the goldfish and Fizz and Tyrone the gerbils – mean everything to her. Nell also has an alcohol-dependent mum who she cares for as well. Nell’s guardian angel is Nell Gwyn, the celebrated comic actress of Restoration England who was also the child of an alcoholic.
This book is endorsed by the help line charity Nacoa who call Nell ‘Nacoa’s Angel’. During Lockdown I was asked to write a short story to encourage children trapped with alcohol-dependent parents to phone the helpline. Here is the link to the recording I made which has now gone global.
Next door in Flat 6 lives aunty to the whole estate, Aunty Lou who fosters Michael, Nell’s best friend and ally.
In Moon Dog we meet Delilah who lives in Flat 23 on the fourth floor. She is grieving for her dad and falls victim to the illegal puppy trade which has been rife during the pandemic.
They say write what you know, and this is what I know: the rhythm and beats and diverse population of North West London. People have kindly offered me chances to stay in cottages by the sea or in the countryside, ‘to be inspired’ they say, but I don’t need that. I am actually inspired by the hustle and bustle around me.
The books mentioned in this blog post are available to purchase here.
Many thanks to Jane for visiting our blog and sharing her inspiration for the diverse cast of characters in her stories. For more about the book, check out the other stops on the blog tour, too.
> Order Storm Horse from Amazon
> Order Storm Horse from Bookshop
Where next? > Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub
> Browse our Topic Booklists
> View our printable year group booklists.
> See our Books of the Month.