Jo has been an actor, a teacher and a fireworks technician, but she likes writing best. She has published over thirty books for children and young adults and likes to tackle diverse issues such as refugees (Looking at the Stars), grief and young carers (A Library of Lemons) and disability and sexuality (A Storm of Strawberries). Her books have won several awards, including the Hampshire, the Coventry and the North East Book Awards.
Jo also writes the superhero part-book, part-comic series Electrigirl with illustrator Cathy Brett, as well as short books for readers who struggle, helped by her previous experience as a learning support assistant. When she’s not reading, writing or out visiting schools and festivals, Jo likes to write songs and make interesting things out of paper. She lives in Oxfordshire with her family.
Looking at the Stars: What if the only thing you had left were the stories in your head Amina’s homeland has been ravaged by war, and her family is devastated. The women of the family – Amina, her two sisters and their mother – have no choice but to leave their home town, along with thousands of others, and head for a refugee camp. But there are even more challenges ahead.
A Library of Lemons: Calypso’s mum died a few years ago and her emotionally incompetent Dad can’t, or won’t, talk about Mum at all. Instead he throws himself into writing his book A History of the Lemon. Meanwhile the house is dusty, there’s never any food in the fridge, and Calypso retreats into her own world of books and fiction. When a new girl, Mae, arrives at school, the girls’ shared love of reading and writing stories draws them together. Mae’s friendship and her lively and chaotic home – where people argue and hug each other – make Calypso feel more normal than she has for a long time. But when Calypso finally plucks up the courage to invite Mae over to her own house, the girls discover the truth about her dad and his magnum opus – and Calypso’s happiness starts to unravel.
A Storm of Strawberries: Darby is twelve and has Down’s syndrome. Her favourite things are music, chocolate, and her big sister Kaydee. It’s nearly time for the annual chocolate hunt, the highlight of Darby’s year, but Kaydee has brought a friend home for the weekend. Suddenly both the chocolate hunt and her favourite person are in danger of slipping away… and to make things worse, the family’s strawberry farm is hit by a tornado. When the storm clears, what will be left? And can Darby mend what’s been broken when nobody will listen to her?