Today is my stop on the blog tour for fab circusy middle-grade mystery, POPPY PYM AND THE PHARAOH’S CURSE. I interviewed Poppy about her new book!
KO: Hi Poppy! First can you introduce yourself?
PP: Hello everyone! My name is Poppy Pym, and I’m eleven. I’m here today to talk to you about this lovely book, called ‘Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse’. It’s all about me, my friends, and my amazing mystery solving skills. (By the way, doesn’t it look good, the way my name is written in giant golden letters on the front of the book? I’m a big fan of that.) I grew up in a travelling circus, and this book is about how I got sent to a boarding school called Saint Smithen’s and tangled up in an ancient Egyptian mystery.
KO: And can you tell us a little about Madame Pym and the circus?
PP: When I was a tiny baby I was left at Madame Pym’s travelling circus with a mysterious note pinned to my blanket. The Magnificent Marvin, who is a top magician, pulled me out of his magic hat and luckily for me I found a brilliant family at the circus who taught me loads of spectacular things like how to walk a tightrope, and do gymnastics on the back of a white pony, and make extraordinary balloon models. I live in a cosy trailer with Madame Pym, who is an expert on the flying trapeze and who has a scrunched up eye that can see into the future. I mean, it’s all pretty standard, normal kid stuff really. Actually, there are a couple of people here who would like to introduce themselves quickly. They’re sort of pushing me out the way so I don’t have a lot of choice in the matter to be hon-
THAT’S ENOUGH, TOMATO. IS MY TURN NOW. HELLO PEOPLE OF THE WORLD WIDE WEBS, IS ME, FANELLA. I AM ITALIAN FIRE DANCER AND SNAKE CHARMER, AND ALSO PROBABLY YOUR FAVOURITE CHARACTER IN BOOK. IS NOT MY FAULT THAT EVERYONE LOVE ME.
WHAT HO! My name is Lord Reginald Felix Anthony Sylvester Lucas, fourteenth Earl of Burnshire, but you can call me Luigi. I changed my name when I became a lion-tamer – not that my little Buttercup needs much taming. I must say it’s splendid for Poppers that her book is doing so well, and I do think that my character adds a particular sense of dash and style to the proceedings.
KO: Can you share the first line from your story?
PP: “What you need, Poppy, is a bit of stability, some structure,” cried Madame Pym, clapping her hands together, as we hung upside down, forty feet above the ground.”
KO: And why is this the perfect way to start your book?
PP: I think it’s perfect because straight away the story is sort of wobbly and upside down. In most of the books I read people run away from school to join the circus, but I have to do things the wrong way around. Lots of the things that may seem ordinary to you seem really strange to me, and when I get sent to Saint Smithen’s it’s difficult for me to fit in because of that.
KO: If you could be friends with any character in any book, who would you pick?
PP: Well, my favourite books are the Detective Dougie Valentine Mysteries. They’re about this boy, Dougie and his dog Snoops and how they go around having adventures and cracking cases wide open. But I think if I could be friends with someone it would be Matilda from Roald Dahl’s book. She’s kind and funny and clever, and she likes to read, plus she knows what it’s like to live in a world with a bit of magic in it.
KO: And to wrap up, can we end with a quote from your story?
PP: “I stood very still as the darkest darkness smothered itself around me like a thick woollen scarf. There was absolute silence – and then, from inside the school building, came the sounds of lots of people shouting at once. Somewhere, a high-pitched alarm was sounding.
I felt a tug on my arm.
“Poppy?” It was Ingrid, and her voice fluttered out into the night like the nervous wings of a moth.
“Yes,” I whispered, “I’m here.”
“Must be a power cut,” came Kip’s too-loud voice, cutting through the air with an edge of nervousness creeping in.
There was a pause.
“That’s weird, isn’t it,” squeaked Ingrid, trying to laugh in a carefree way and failing miserably, “that the power went out just … just as the ruby arrived.”
The air was warm and soupy, but the three of us stood shivering, straining our eyes and ears for any further peculiar goings-on. in the darkness I began to wish I had taken Pym’s advice to eat my carrots a bit more seriously.
There was a rustling noise behind us, and I swung round to find a bright light being shone in my face. I think all three of us screamed then, but it could have been just me, shouting loud enough for three.
“Will you stop that racket?” I heard a cross voice say. It didn’t sound like an undead mummy come to eat our brains, but you never know.
“It’s Miss Susan,” breathed Ingrid, sagging against me in relief.
For a second I thought I’d rather it had been the mummy.”
When Poppy’s circus family decide she needs an education that is more than they can offer, they send her to boarding school. Poppy’s worried about making friends, having lived her whole life at the circus eating candy floss for breakfast, petting lions, and surrounded by a lively bunch of performers. But her fear soon passes when she meets Ingrid and Kip, who love to hear about the circus, and the three become best friends. When an Egyptian exhibition is being held at the school, with stories of a cursed ruby followed by a string of unexplained events, the trio launch into detective mode to get to the bottom of the curse that’s taken the school and who or what is behind it. This was a really fun read! Lots of energy in the writing, a twisty mystery to follow, a brilliant mix of characters, and great humour. Perfect for fans of Circus Mirandus and Murder Most Unladylike.
The extraordinary story of a little girl raised in a circus who is about to embark on a boarding school adventure. Featuring an ancient Egyptian curse, two best friends (one who wants to be taller and one who knows everything), dangerous secretive teachers, accidents, a mystery to be solved and a menagerie of circus characters.
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Many thanks to Scholastic.