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Magical Weather in Children’s Fiction / Michael Mann

We are delighted to welcome primary teacher and debut author Michael Mann to our blog today, whose new book Ghostcloud is published this month (see our review here).


Ghostcloud is a riveting, magical adventure set deep underneath a richly reimagined London. It follows the story of Luke and his friends- children who are kidnapped and forced to shovel coal under Battersea Power Station, overseen by the terrifying Tabitha Margate. Whilst serving a punishment in the haunted East Wing, Luke realises that he can see things that other people can’t- ghostly things. He befriends a ghost-girl called Alma, who can ride clouds through the night sky and bend their shape to her will. Alma agrees to help Luke and his friends escape – and Luke has to learn to find his voice, while also finding his way home.

Michael says, “As a kid, I always looked up at the sky and wondered: was anyone looking back? I hope, when reading, that kids get to share this wonder. That they’re transported to this magical world, right above their heads, and that when they finish the sky doesn’t look the same as before.

As a teacher, I see far too many kids give up on books, so I’ve packed it with peril to keep those pages turning. Luke, the hero of Ghostcloud, is mixed-race like me and like so many kids, he feels caught between two worlds, unsure where he fits in.

Ghostcloud is an adventure, at heart, but it’s also about self-acceptance, finding your voice and standing up for yourself and the people you love.”


Michael popped by our blog to tell us about the magical weather from his favourite children’s books that inspired the setting of Ghostcloud.


Guest Post – Five Middle Grade Reads Featuring Magical Weather

by Michael Mann, author of Ghostcloud (available here)


My Five Favourite Magical Weather Middle Grade reads –

The sky and the weather have a very special place in my heart and I love to read stories about them. Here are my five favourite middle-grade books featuring magical weather. The only difficulty was narrowing it down to five!


1. James and the Giant Peach

by Roald Dahl & Quentin Blake


I remember crying the day Roald Dahl died. I adored his books and I know Ghostcloud’s villain, Tabatha, wouldn’t have existed without him. His first kids book, James & The Giant Peach, has all we’ve come to expect – delicious villians, a lonely orphan, a mindblowing adventure – but it also contains the oft-forgotten ‘Cloud-Men’: ‘wispy, wraithlike, shadowy, white creatures’, who are determined to tear the peach from the sky.


2. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

By C.S. Lewis


Eternal winter anyone? Yes please, I say, if it produces stories like this. The White Witch is as evil (and stylish) as they come and yet I still long to try her Turkish delight.


3. The Graveyard Book

By Neil Gaiman


‘There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife…’ but luckily for Bod – the hero of this terrific book – wisps of magical mist come to save him, just in time, leading him to the safety of the eponymous Graveyard. How long he can stay safe, however, is anyone’s guess….

This is Neil Gaiman at his best.


4. Any Xmen Comic featuring Storm


Storm from X-men was a trailblazer – the first major black female superhero, with weather-weaving powers that are magic in everything but name. Even today, magic and diversity are uncommon bedfollows, but Storm was there back in 1975.

(A good Storm issue is: “Duel” Uncanny Xmen #201)


5. The Weather Weaver AND The Lightning Catcher

by Tamsin Mori & Clare Weze


My last spot goes to two other weather-tastic 2021 debuts. Firstly, Tamsin Mori’s gorgeously written ‘Weather Weaver’, about 11-year-old Stella, who must learn the craft of weather-weaving, to defeat a sea-witch and protect her family.


Then Clare Weze’s ‘The Lightning Catcher’, about a boy called Alfie, who on moving into his new town, sets a strange creature loose, creating all manner of meteorological mayhem – and a perfect storm of a story.


Very honourable mentions also go to: The Wizard of Oz’s tornado (L. Frank Baum), Eeyore’s raincloud in Winnie the Pooh (A.A.Milne) and magical winters in The Dark is Rising (Susan Cooper), The Midnight Guardians (Ross Montgomery) & Sky Song (Abi Elphinstone)




Ghostcloud publishes 7th October and is available to order from Amazon or Bookshop.Org.


The book also features on our Autumn 2021 Ones to Watch list.




Many thanks to Michael for visiting our blog and his inspiration for the magical weather in Ghostcloud. For more about the book, check out the other stops on the blog tour, too.


> Order Ghostcloud from Amazon


> Order Ghostcloud 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.

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