Daisy Meadows Author Profile Assignment


The United Kingdom



Daisy Meadows is the pseudonym used for the four writers of the Rainbow Magic children's series: Narinder Dhami, Sue Bentley, Linda Chapman, and Sue Mongredien. Rainbow Magic features differing groups of fairies as main characters, including the Jewel fairies, Weather fairies, Pet fairies, Petal fairies, and Sporty fairies.

Narinder Dhami was born in Wolverhampton, England on November 15, 1958. She received a degree in English from Birmingham University in 1980. After having taught in primary and secondary schools for several years she began to write full-time. Dhami has published many retellings of popular Disney stories and wrote the Animal Stars and Babes series, the latter about young British girls of Asian origin. She lives in CambridgDaisy Meadows is the pseudonym used for the four writers of the Rainbow Magic children's series: Narinder Dhami, Sue Bentley, Linda Chapman, and Sue Mongredien. Rainbow Magic features differing groups of fairies as main characters, including the Jewel fairies, Weather fairies, Pet fairies, Petal fairies, and Sporty fairies.

Narinder Dhami was born in Wolverhampton, England on November 15, 1958. She received a degree in English from Birmingham University in 1980. After having taught in primary and secondary schools for several years she began to write full-time. Dhami has published many retellings of popular Disney stories and wrote the Animal Stars and Babes series, the latter about young British girls of Asian origin. She lives in Cambridge, England with her husband and cats.

Sue Bentley was born in Northampton, England. She worked in a library after completing her education and began writing for children once her own began school. Bentley is the author of the Magic Kitten, Magic Puppy, and S Club series and lives in Northamptonshire.

Linda Chapman has written over 50 children's fiction books, including the following series: My Secret Unicorn, Stardust, Not Quite a Mermaid, and Unicorn School. She lives in Leicestershire with her husband and daughters.

Sue Mongredien was born in 1970 and grew up in Nottingham, England. She has published over 100 children's books, including the following series: The Adventures of Captain Pugwash, The Magic Key, Frightful Families, and Oliver Moon. She has also contributed many titles to the Sleepover Club series and written picture books. Mongredien created the Royal Ballet School Diaries under the pen name Alexandra Moss. She lives with her family in Bath, England.
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Ruby the Red Fairy (Rainbow Magic, #1)
byDaisy Meadows, Georgie Ripper(Illustrator)
3.80 avg rating — 4,061 ratings — published 2003 — 29 editions
Amber The Orange Fairy (Rainbow Magic, #2)
byDaisy Meadows, Georgie Ripper(Illustrator)
3.82 avg rating — 3,168 ratings — published 2003 — 22 editions
Crystal The Snow Fairy (Rainbow Magic #8; Weather Fairies, #1)
byDaisy Meadows, Georgie Ripper(Illustrator)
3.89 avg rating — 2,586 ratings — published 2007 — 15 editions
Fern The Green Fairy (Rainbow Magic, #4)
byDaisy Meadows, Georgie Ripper(Illustrator)
3.81 avg rating — 2,313 ratings — published 2003 — 16 editions
Sunny The Yellow Fairy (Rainbow Magic, #3)
byDaisy Meadows, Georgie Ripper(Illustrator)
3.80 avg rating — 2,293 ratings — published 2003 — 17 editions
Heather The Violet Fairy (Rainbow Magic, #7)
byDaisy Meadows, Georgie Ripper(Illustrator)
3.83 avg rating — 2,131 ratings — published 2003 — 15 editions
Sky The Blue Fairy (Rainbow Magic, #5)
byDaisy Meadows, Georgie Ripper(Illustrator)
3.81 avg rating — 2,138 ratings — published 2003 — 19 editions
Goldie The Sunshine Fairy (Rainbow Magic, #11; Weather Fairies, #4)
byDaisy Meadows, Georgie Ripper(Illustrator)
3.89 avg rating — 2,065 ratings — published 2004 — 13 editions
Katie the Kitten Fairy (Rainbow Magic: Pet Keeper Fairies, #1)
byDaisy Meadows, Georgie Ripper(Illustrator)
3.90 avg rating — 2,069 ratings — published 2006 — 13 editions
Inky The Indigo Fairy (Rainbow Magic, #6)
byDaisy Meadows, Georgie Ripper(Illustrator)
3.77 avg rating — 1,983 ratings — published 2003 — 17 editions
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Topics Mentioning This Author

The Rainbow Magic series has sold 20 million copies to date (Hachette Children's books)

Several writers will write books within a series, and writers and editors frequently swap roles. "No single person owns an idea, because ownership brings preciousness," declares Snowdon. "We'd have tension within the team if one person owned a concept or character."

While this manifesto might sound like a depressingly didactic, communist interpretation of fiction writing, it gets results, both in terms of sales and the devotion of little girls to a brand like Rainbow Magic. British library lending figures published last month showed that "Daisy Meadows" was the most popular children's author for 2011-12, the most recent year for which data is available.

Since 2003, 170 titles have been published, with each series running to seven books, and numerous specials; the latest - Georgie the Royal Prince Fairy - was published yesterday. And yet, while children adore Rainbow Magic, those two words are enough to strike fear into the hearts of many parents. "Rainbow Magic was put on Earth to punish me for my failings as a mother," says Rebecca, 37, whose daughters Emilie, eight, and Sophia, six, are "currently in the grip of a Rainbow Magic obsession so intense, it's driving me insane". She's not alone. "Rainbow Magic made me seriously regret naming my daughter Kirsty, since she's convinced every book is about her," says Josh, 44, referring to the heroine, Kirsty, who appears in each book. Josh is "ashamed to admit to having read 20 or 30 of those cursed fairy stories" to his daughters.

With pink glittery covers, and a huge cast of fairies, these are unashamedly gender-specific titles, with "real-life" themes such as the Olympics or pop culture. "Showtime Fairies" include Taylor the Talent Show Fairy and Darcey the Dance Diva Fairy, while Jessie the Lyrics Fairy and Adele the Singing Coach Fairy appear in the Popstar series. And back when Ms Cole was still the nation's sweetheart and an X Factor host, Cheryl the Christmas Tree Fairy sold 64,716 copies.

This plundering of pop culture is one reason parents accuse Rainbow Magic of cynicism. Many see them as poorly written books - as I learnt when my daughter read them, the verbs "gasped" and "grinned" appear with mindnumbing regularity - whose saccharine packaging and clever marketing exploit the predilections of little girls.

"The charge of cynicism is water off a duck's back for us. Giving children a world they're familiar with removes hurdles to early reading, and that's our goal," says Snowdon, who argues Rainbow Magic has democratised the children's market, bringing fiction to non-reading households, while enabling children of more literate parents to speed up as readers. "We love Philip Pullman as much as anyone else, but I don't know many children who could progress to them without having done grounding in repetitive reading." Children's writer Berlie Doherty, who has twice won the Carnegie Medal award for children's literature and is praised by Philip Pullman for her emotional honesty, begs to differ. "This sort of limited plot and simple characterisation is depressing," she told me. "Books like this don't develop a child's imagination. We need to have a bigger push for the life-affirming literature individual authors are producing." Doherty describes series fiction as "unstoppable", but concedes its value lies in making children confident readers. "I hated reading Rupert to my children, but it helped them learn."

(Hachette Children's books)

And even if series fiction can feel like a cynical marketing ploy intended to shift millions of books, it's hardly new. Collaborative series fiction created by the Stratemeyer Syndicatedominated the children's market in America throughout the last century, with multi-million-copy-selling series like The Hardy Boys and the fearless girl detective Nancy Drew. Born during the American Civil War, Edward Stratemeyer was himself a prolific writer who brought together a stable of writers to churn out children's novels based on his own storylines. According to Marilyn S Greenwald, author of The Secret of the Hardy Boys, he was a ferocious taskmaster who paid writers as little as $85 for a 45,000-word novel.

Writing under the pen name Franklin W Dixon, Leslie McFarlane was one such writer milked by the syndicate, completing over 100 titles in The Hardy Boys series, something he loathed. McFarlane despaired at the formulaic nature of the books, and as he succumbed to alcoholism he poured out his woes in his diaries: "Whacked away at the accursed book. The ghastly job appalls me." Despite being one of the bestselling authors of the last century, he was virtually penniless, forced to raid his children's piggy to feed his family. When Stratemeyer ordered him to keep his true identity secret, he was more than happy to do so.

The creation of Nancy Drew was no more harmonious, as revealed by Melanie Rehak in Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women who Created Her. First published in 1930, Nancy was nothing like the subservient female characters that preceded her. Unlike the wooden Hardy Boys, Nancy was a three dimensional heroine. While Stratemeyer wrote the earliest Nancy Drew plots, Mildred A Wirt Benson penned them into novels under the name Carolyn Keene; Stratemeyer himself never knew of Nancy's success, dying a month after the first book was published, when his daughters Harriet and Edna took on responsibility for the girl detective. Adams wrote the outlines after her father's death, and entire books from the Fifties onwards, but there was always tension between the sisters. Adams championed a less wilful version of Nancy, while simplifying plot and writing out her racism.

Controversy seems to follow series fiction; James Frey, provocative author of A Million Little Pieces, has his own series fiction agency, Full Fathom Five, selling 12 books in three series, including The Lorien Legacies. But Frey became entangled in controversy when the New York Times ran a piece accusing him of exploiting young talent.

And yet, unlike poor Leslie McFarlane, those series fiction authors I contacted loved their jobs, since they tend to be prolific writers who use series fiction as a way of exercising their writing muscles. "As a writer I bring colour and description to the original story idea," says Michael Ford, an editor at Working Partners who's written 25 Beast Quest books, and likens his training with the company to "constantly being in a creative-writing class. Brain-storming sessions are brilliant for writing, as they're both highly creative and very efficient. They've taught me to think acrobatically."

Ford creates novels from a detailed synopsis of 10 well-developed chapters with cliffhanger endings. "If it becomes repetitive, I bring in some filmic knowledge, like details from Star Trek, to save my sanity."

"It might be frustrating if this was my only writing but it's just one part of what I do," says author Rachel Elliot. "And if the end result is that a child loves reading, enjoyment in my work is the same whatever the genesis of the story."

Children's publishing director Megan Larkin

Rainbow Magic author Narinder Dhami has 200 books under her belt. She was a literacy teacher until 1998, and the skills she learnt then are ingrained in her style. "I know how to write books children will love reading. But if I don't think a brief will work, I suggest how to redo it."

While the concept itself isn't exactly ground-breaking, Megan Larkin, publishing director of Orchard Books, who worked on the Rainbow Magic series for two years, believes simplicity is key to its success. A decade after first publication, they still receive fan mail. "Many publishers have tried and failed to reproduce Rainbow Magic, but there's real skill to packaging an idea like this.

We know from fan mail the fairy names really matter to the children, as does the collectable nature of the books." An educational specialist checks the right vocabulary has been used for the age range, and the design of each book is as carefully planned as the writing; designers use the Next catalogue to choose suitable outfits for the characters that will appeal to the average six to eight-year-old reader. As Megan says "For publisher and children, everyone's a winner."

At the annual Reading Agency Lecture, Neil Gaiman argued there's "no bad fiction for kids". Speaking about the civilising effects of literature, he dismissed the "foolishness" of declaring any literature a "bad book", arguing we should encourage children to read any book they enjoy. "Well-meaning adults can destroy a child's love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books you like. You'll wind up with a generation convinced reading is uncool and, worse, unpleasant." He asked adults not to "discourage children from reading because you feel they're reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is the gateway to books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste."

"Series fiction has been heavily criticised, but is a key element in children's reading, whether it's Nancy Drew or Rainbow Magic," says Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust. "Of course adults find it boring, but it's not created for them. The lack of originality and repetition is part of the attraction, and the patterns are psychologically reassuring, especially for children whose lives are increasingly stressful."

Instilling a love of fiction is probably the most compelling argument for series fiction. Perhaps parents should just grit their teeth and endure it, safe in the knowledge that those plodding building blocks will lead to literary strides.

I think of this one evening, as I lie in bed with my children, all of us quietly reading. Jimmy is devouring I am Number Four, thanks to James Frey's anonymous writer, having just finished The Great Gatsby. Dolly is now released from the sugary shackles of Rainbow Magic and is working her way through Lemony Snicket. And me? I lie between them, lost in Casting Off, number four in the five-part Cazalet series. Written by Elizabeth Jane Howard, I've devoured the Cazalets, and with engaging plot and familiar characters, they're not a million miles from the idea of adult series fiction, either.

We're all completely engaged by our individual books, but if we swapped, we'd probably be very bored. Does it matter we're all reading a version of series fiction? I don't think so. The point is: we're reading.

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