Author Focus—Tamsin Cooke

Joy Court shines the spotlight on children’s author Tamsin Cooke !

“Ever since she burst onto the scene in 2015 with The Scarlet Files: Cat Burglar, her electrifying debut novel that was shortlisted for many awards and went on to win the Stockton Children’s book of the year 2017—Tamsin Cooke has been an author to watch! An ex-primary teacher who learnt to walk in South Africa, roller-skate in Florida, and synchronise swim in Hawaii as she moved with her scientist father around the world, she always wanted to live in her imagination. I am sure her colourful experiences growing up have contributed to her ability to create vivid, credible, and exciting adventures for her feisty central characters, and she has definitely inherited a scientist’s precision, weaving tightly controlled and nail-biting plots that are perfect for KS3 and older KS2. Told with an admirably straightforward and crisp style, these stories are bound to develop fiercely loyal fans.

Scarlet, or ‘Scar’ as she prefers to call herself, is the eponymous cat burglar. Under her meek schoolgirl exterior there is a definite feisty heroine, and following the death of her mother she has been gradually trained to assist her father in his daring robberies. Robin-Hood-like, they try to restore precious ancient treasures to their rightful owners—this is morally acceptable robbery, but no less thrilling for it. When her father mysteriously disappears, Scar sets out to find and rescue him and in the process thwart the villain’s plans for the mysterious Aztec artefacts that were the object of their latest robbery. Scar herself is changed forever by the Aztec bracelet they recover; it is absorbed into her body, and she develops thrilling powers and abilities which are fascinatingly grounded in Aztec lore about Nahualli—your animal shadow soul.

In the second book in the series, Mission Gone Wild, Scar’s abilities continue to develop and surprise the reader as she tries to retrieve another ancient Aztec artefact from a master criminal before he can enact a deadly ritual. This book also deals with hunting of critically endangered species and the illegal fur trade alongside more everyday teenage concerns such as a new relationship for Scar’s father and bullying at school.

This engaging mix of everyday life and common concerns with cracking adventure, generously laced with mystic elements, characterises Tamsin’s second successful series too.

Stunt Double introduced us to fourteen-year-old Finn and his doting single mum, whose own acting ambitions never materialised and who does all she can to support Finn’s career. After an early acting failure, Finn’s career is given a new boost with the opportunity to be a stunt double for teen heart-throb Blake. Without giving too much away, the latest book in the series, Stunt Double: Jungle Curse, will reveal just what links Finn and his nemesis, Blake, together and will threaten everything Finn thinks he knows about himself. This series is full of authentic and glamorous detail about film sets and the exotic locations in which the films are being shot. Once again the mystical elements adding to the danger for Finn are firmly rooted in legend. The Ripen of Papua New Guinea nearly kills him in Stunt Double and yet here it gives him the ability to see and defeat the evil monkey ghost Lingphi—who is now threatening the whole film crew in Thailand in Jungle Curse—adding a real spine tingling element to these unputdownable thrillers.

I sincerely hope we have more to come from Scar as well as Finn and maybe the authentic filming details in the Stunt Double series will plant the seed in some film producer’s mind. Any of these books would make an absolutely cracking film!”


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