The Sleeping Army by Francesca Simon: children's book of the month, May 2012
We're launching the Mumsnet children's book club with an exciting new novel for children by Francesca Simon, creator of Horrid Henry.
The Sleeping Army is the result of Francesca Simon's life-long love of Norse stories. The idea for the book came to her when she was looking at the Lewis Chessmen, the 12th-century Scandinavian ivory pieces in the British Museum. She wondered what would happen if they came to life and decided they were Odin's warriors, asleep and frozen until he summoned them at time of great peril.
The book's heroine is Freya, an ordinary girl living in modern Britain, but with a twist - people still worship the Viking gods. One evening, stuck with her dad on his night shift at the British Museum, she is drawn to the Lewis Chessmen and Heimdall's Horn.
Unable to resist, she blows the horn, waking three chess pieces from their enchantment - the slaves Roskva and Alfi, and Snot the Berserk. They are all summoned to Asgard, land of the Viking gods, and told they must go on a perilous journey to restore the gods to youth.
If Freya refuses she will be turned into an ivory chess piece, but if she accepts her destiny and fails, the same terrible fate awaits her...
About Francesca Simon
Francesca Simon was born in St Louis, Missouri, grew up in California, and attended both Yale and Oxford universities, where she specialised in medieval studies. How this prepared her to write children's books she cannot imagine, but it did give her a thorough grounding in alliteration.
After stints working both as a medievalist and journalist, her son Joshua was born in 1989 and it was then she started writing full time. One of the UK's best-selling children's writers, Francesca has published more than 50 books, including the immensely popular Horrid Henry series.
The paperback of The Sleeping Army is published on Thursday 3 May. We'd love to hear your thoughts, or your children's thoughts, on the book when they've read it. At the end of this month (date TBC) Francesca will be joining us for a live webchat, where you'll have chance to put your questions to her (or your children's) about The Sleeping Army or any of her other books.