Books for bedtime: Catherine Cooper’s Jack Brenin series
It started in 2009 when Catherine Cooper decided to self-publish her first book: The Golden Acorn. Catherine felt all her dreams had come true when judges named her as the winner of the inaugural Brit Writers’ Award for unpublished writers and the Jack Brenin series was signed in a deal with independent publisher Infinite Ideas. The Golden Acorn has since earned over five-hundred 5* reviews on Amazon, with more than half a million downloads on Kindle Store in the UK and US.
As a retired schoolteacher, Catherine strongly believes in the potential of great children’s literature for nurturing enthusiasm for both reading and writing. She is a keen supporter of an innovative reading scheme run by KidsReadWriteReview, and Beanstalk, a charity that supports the network of volunteers who help children with their reading. So she was delighted when, this year, The Golden Acorn was recommended by The National Literacy Trust for Key Stage 2: ‘shared and guided reading’.
Unsurprisingly, it isn’t just the memorable characters, suspenseful narrative and an underlying moral core (reminiscent of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series) that make Catherine’s books so popular in schools; her writing abounds with cross curricular links, and most of her fictional sites are based upon real places – each book delves deeper into the Shropshire landscape. ‘All the historical facts are searchable… in book one, Viroconium is used. This was once the fourth largest city in Roman Britain, now called Wroxeter… The Raven’s Bowl is an ancient hill fort, part of a local legend on the summit of The Wrekin [known to Jack Brenin fans as Glasruhen Hill, meaning ancient green hill], and Falconrock is a real place called Hawkstone Park. Brion Ridge is an anagram of Ironbridge, and Newton Gill is an anagram of Wellington… I enjoy playing with words’, explains Catherine.
But great books should reach beyond the classroom. Just ten minutes of shared reading before bedtime is one of the best ways to support a child’s education, according to an article recently published by the BBC, so it’s important to choose a story that holds interest for parents, too. Catherine’s books won’t disappoint here – they’re filled with references to British customs and traditions, 6th Century poetry, environmental issues, ancient history, and myths and legends. ‘It’s written with family reading in mind and for anyone who’s young at heart, enjoys a bit of magic in their life, and has a sense of humour’, she explains.
If you’d like to find out more, get started by downloading book one, The Golden Acorn, free of charge, from the UK Kindle Store. You can also visit the Books tab on the Infinite Ideas web site to find information on the first four books chronicling the adventures of Jack Brenin. The fifth book, The Oak Lord, will be published on 15th November.