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Lots of children find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve, because they’re so excited about the presents that Father Christmas is going to bring. But Pip Parker isn’t excited – she’s scared. Every night for a week, she’s been lying awake watching the horrible skull shape gleaming from her bedroom wall. What is it? Why is it haunting her? When will it go away? Written by a former Children’s Laureate, this deliciously spooky but ultimately reassuring Christmas story combines Anne Fine’s wonderful words with Emma Chichester Clark’s evocative illustrations.

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Anne Fine

Anne Fine is a multi award-winning novelist, and was Children’s Laureate from 2001-2003. Her novels range from the wickedly funny Diary of a Killer Cat for young readers, to the provocative_Road of Bones_ for teenage readers.

Speaking about her work, Anne says: “A lot of my work, even for fairly young readers, raises quite serious social issues. I believe that many personal decisions have a social or political resonance, and the way people try to pick their way through tricky family situations interests me. But people won’t (and shouldn’t) read books that don’t hold their interest, and I still adore funny books. So since I write for the reader inside myself, I always end up with the kind of book I would have loved to read (if only someone else had bothered to write for me.”

More about Anne: “When I was young, it never occurred to me that I might be a writer. I think I must have thought that books were born on the library shelves. But I was good at writing stories, and I had a good deal of practice.

At school, I enjoyed languages most, and took French and Spanish, along with History, for A levels. That meant there was no room for English, and so for my whole life I have been able simply to read what I want when I want, and only for pleasure or interest. I suspect that this has been really important for the way I write, making it so much easier to think always of the reader.

I studied Politics and History at University, and the interest in political issues shows up in many of the books. After university I taught in a girls’ secondary school for a year — exhausting! — and then moved with my husband to Oxford, where I worked as an Information Officer for Oxfam. Though I was only in this job for two years, it changed my attitudes to money, to ‘things’, and to what is truly important in life, for ever.

In 1971 my first daughter was born. Unable to get to the library in a snowstorm to change my library books, in desperation I sat down and started to write a novel. Clearly this was the right job for me, for I have never stopped writing for more than a few weeks since.

My husband’s job took us to California, Arizona, Michigan and Canada, where our second daughter was born. In 1981 I returned to Edinburgh, and a few years later moved to County Durham, where I now live quietly in a stone house beside a river with Richard, my partner of fifteen years.”