Return of the Pests, by Emer Stamp. An agent’s perspective…
What makes an author a children’s author? I only find myself asking this when I come across a manuscript – normally on submission – that tells a story about children, or childhood, by someone who feels they may be a children’s author, but just somehow…isn’t. You can tell from the voice – it may be polished & distinctive & accomplished but it’s still a non-starter (for a children’s agent) if it’s written about children, but for adults.
Whereas sometimes, you find a script among the submissions from someone who’s just trying their hand for the first time, so the voice isn’t polished, but something just hooks you – some spark of individuality, of wit or charisma that you feel will speak directly to children – & you can’t stop reading.
Emer Stamp used to be the UK’s top female advertising creative, according to some industry chart – it was her team behind the John Lewis Christmas ads when they first became a thing.
But I didn’t know that when I started reading The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary Of Pig – I just started reading, then smiling, then grinning, chuckling & then properly laughing. And went on reading.
That book was a bestseller back in 2013, & was translated into 14 or so languages. There are four of Pig’s diaries in all, and the last one features a three-legged dog called Rusty based 5% on me and 95% on Rambo. (Just saying.)
PESTS is Emer’s new series, about a mouse who lives a very quiet life with his grandma behind the washing machine in Flat 2, Peewit Mansions (their lives depend on not being seen or heard) until it all goes wrong, pest control are called, and poor Grandma gets flushed down the loo.
Like all Emer’s books, it grips its readers from the first chapter to the last. Mainie was far in the future when Pig came through the submissions but is just the right age for PESTS now.
It’s so gratifying to find she’s just as gripped by Emer’s voice & the way she spins a story as I was, almost ten years ago.
– James Catchpole
Return of the Pests is available from all the normal places, or from our page on Bookshop UK.
- Mainie, a 6yo girl dressed as Batz, a bat, is hanging upside-down reading a copy of Return of the Pests, a middle grade novel. She’s white with blondish hair and bat ears (they might be cat ears? Let’s go with bat) on a hairband, and is hanging in her treehouse. It looks a bit like her eyes are closed but she is actually reading.
- A book portrait of Return of the Pests – it has a black/grey background and a joyful illustrated mouse is doing a handstand in the beam of a torch. The front cover also reads ‘Emer Stamp’, ‘This book glows in the dark’, and ‘Hairier and scarier than ever’.
- A portrait photo of Emer Stamp, a white woman with short blonde hair. She’s smiling at the camera.
- All 4 Diary of Pig books, lined up on our piano.
- Viola (2) is dressed as a mouse – Stix – and is lying in the treehouse with her chin propped on her hands. Mainie, still a bat, crouches behind a blackboard, on which she’s written ‘Pests’ and the word ‘revenge’ repeated 5 times in a numbered list. In case there’s any doubt, this book is about revenge.]