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Brent schoolgirl sparks international interest with book she wrote at the age of eight

PUBLISHED: 16:00 06 October 2013

Author Africa Blagrove, 10

Author Africa Blagrove, 10

Jonathan Goldberg

A 10-year old primary school pupil has seen her parable of a homeless hedgehog published, creating international interest.

Africa Blagrove, from Latis Close in Park Royal penned Harry The Hedgehog, about his search for a new home, when she was eight years old.

With the help of her filmmaker father, Ishmahil Blagrove, she turned a dream into a reality which has already attracted the interest of American theatre groups keen to turn it into a play for young children.

“I’m very happy, very excited,” Africa said of her success. “I showed it to my headteacher who said it was brilliant and showed it at our assembly. My stage school friends thought it was amazing and they thought that maybe they could buy one as well.”

In the story Harry’s house is flooded by rain and so he sets out on a big adventure to find a new home, bumping into friends, Italia the worm, Louise the spider and Shelby the snail.

Respect

Themes of friendship, respect and tolerance run through the book through to its conclusion.

Africa, who attends West Twyford primary school and Make Believe stage school in Ealing, came up with the names of her characters while talking about them with her friends.

She drew her characters herself before illustrator Francisco Blanco recreated them for print.

Two weeks ago she was invited to the African Film Festival for a book signing and gave a speech.

She wrote the story over five weeks and publication took a year. One hundred first copies were sold within a fortnight and a further 300 copies have been ordered.

Sophie Thompson, Africa’s mother, said there was already an offer on the table to translate the Harry book into Spanish and in America there was talk of turning into a “Gruffalo type stage play”.

She said: “Africa’s overwhelmed by all the attention. She doesn’t realise the magnitude of what’s happening.”

Africa plans to write a further four stories. Asked what they might be about she said: “You’ll have to wait and see!”


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