Corpse Talk: Ground-Breaking Women


History is full of incredible stories about amazing people, many of whom have been women. However, many of these incredible life stories have been forgotten, along with the heroic deeds that were ground breaking in their day. The best way to unearth these histories is to speak to the individuals themselves, but this seems impossible as these people died hundreds of years ago. Corpse talk is the comic book chat show that brings the dead interesting and dead famous to life, quite literally. In order to get the real scoop on the lives of the most brilliant individuals in history, host Adam Murphy picks up his shovel and digs up the remains of these individuals and conducts fascinating and hilarious interviews. ‘Corpse Talk: Ground Breaking Women’ is the female edition to the comic book series. It’s a truly horrible take on history, with a female twist.


This book features queens and con-artists, saints and suffragettes, philosophers and pirates, a historical timeline from Hatshepsut, the female pharaoh who traded her way into the Egyptian record books through to Josephine Baker, entertainer, sophisticated high society lady and spy for the French Resistance. There are interviews with Empress Irene, the first women to rule the Roman Empire, Khutulun, the Mongolian warrior princess, Pocahontas, the native American who encouraged peace between her people and English settlers and Harriet Tubman, guide through the underground railroad. If that’s not enough ‘girl power’, there are also interviews with Granny Nanny, the plantation slavery resistance fighter, Joan of Arc, the valiant visionary who helped the French armies defeat the invading English and Emily Wilding Davison, the English suffragette who died for her cause.


Adam Murphy’s interviews with each brilliant woman from history uncover highlights from incredible life stories, showcasing great accomplishments and bring to light little known personal historical facts. If the life stories aren’t enough, Corpse Talk also explains a whole host of details surrounding the lives of these famous women. Hatshepsut reveals the plans for her temple and Josephine Baker explains how to dance the Charleston; Empress Irene explains how Byzantine Silk was created; Khutulan showcases her best Bokh Wresting Moves and Harriet Tubman walks you through the underground railroad. This is a book jam-packed with incredible historical facts and even more amazing life stories.


This is fourth book in the ‘Corpse Talk’ series, which unearths dead amazing details from historically famous people throughout history. Some of the interviews from this book have been previously featured in the weekly story comic, ‘The Phoenix’ but his book brings them all together and adds so much more. Due to the humorous nature and engaging comic book style, this book is hard to put down. Perfect for reluctant readers, history buffs and lovers of stories that empower attitudes of independence, confidence, and brilliance among young women- and men!


This is a great text for any KS2 library shelf. It’s perfect as a research resource and as a starting point for further investigation. Take a more detailed look into some of these incredible lives, the geography and history surrounding them. Readers could find their own incredible characters to make their own ‘Ground-Breaking’ history book, writing their own reports or interviews. They could also write narratives imagining what it would be like to step into the shoes of their favourite characters.

The Phoenix Presents…Corpse Talk: Ground-Breaking Women

Adam and Lisa Murphy

David Fickling Books ISBN: 978-1910989609

South Ken Kids Festival


Yesterday, I went to the South Ken Kids Festival for a wonderful day of book-ish delights! There was an amazing atmosphere at the Institut Francais and it was a wonderful opportunity to see some illustrators and authors I had never seen before. It was also fantastic to hear so many different languages being spoken!


Due to issues on the track, GWR didn’t get me to London in time for my first event. However, this meant that I had plenty of time to browse the wonderful bookshop which ‘Tales on Moon Lane’ had set up in the foyer of the Institute. Plenty of treats on offer!


I was delighted to meet Kris Di Giacomo, illustrator of ‘Take Away the A’ (reviewed here) and ‘Enormous Smallness’ (review here), both books which have been on our awards lists in previous years. Although I had missed her session, it had obviously been great fun as there were many happy children milling around! Signing at the same time was David Litchfield, I saw David at last year’s Cheltenham Festival (read about it here) and so knew what a lovely session the children who had seen him had had! You can read our review of ‘The Bear and The Piano’ here. I was delighted to get my copy of ‘The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle’ signed by David who very kindly drew a bear in my book.


The ‘Live Drawing’ workshop with Axel Scheffler, Tor Freeman and Ronan Badel was a wonderfully chaotic, mad session with these incredibly talented individuals drawing whatever the audience suggested. This was in a mixture of English and French and the suggestions came thick and fast, ranging from imaginative to wildly creative! It was incredible to see the illustrators working together and responding to the children’s requests!


Having just bought a copy of ‘Drawing Europe Together’, I was delighted to be able to ask Axel Scheffler to sign it for me. I have seen him speak so many times over the years and we still treasure all the books that he signed for my son when he was little. You can read our review of ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ which Axel illustrated here. Tor Freeman also signed the illustration she has contributed to the book which is a treasure trove of artistic delights! She was lovely, chatting warmly with everyone and showing a real interest in the children she spoke to.


Ronan Badel completely stunned me when he drew an absolute masterpiece in each of my books as he signed them!


I am constantly in awe of people who have such fabulous artistic skill and could have watched him work for hours! He made my day!


My next event was Victor Dixen and Philip Reeve talking about their work for the YA sector. This was a fascinating session which I really enjoyed. I am constantly ashamed by my mediocre ability to speak another language and listening to Victor Dixen speak English, slip into French to answer questions and then translate those questions was quite amazing. I MUST try harder!


Both read from their books. I finished ‘Ascension’ last night on the train home and really enjoyed it so will be reviewing it soon. Philip’s books are always a great read and I loved ‘Rail Head’. More to come on this session soon.


Whilst waiting for my next event, I was delighted to bump into the wonderful Sarah McIntyre and quickly asked her to sign he picture in my ‘Drawing Europe Together’. It was so lovely to have a chat with her before she whisked Philip Reeve off for dinner. You can read our reviews of Jinks and O’Hare here and The Legend of Kevin here . You can read our review of ‘The New Neighbours’ here.


My day finished with having books signed by Charlotte Gastaut and Aurelia Fronty. Once again, I was treated to lovely illustrations in each of my books which I was thrilled by! I can’t wait to show my class each one!


I had the best day and wish I could have returned today! Never mind- next year definitely!

Picklewitch and Jack


Having just moved house, Jack is about to start a new school- St Immaculate’s School for the Gifted- where he is convinced he will fit in perfectly unlike his old one. However, a cheeky little witch has decided that he is her new best friend and to his horror, Jack finds himself in trouble for the first time in his life! Jack tries everything he can to rid himself of Picklewitch until he realises that friendship can be found in the most unlikely places and a little bit of magic can make life a bit more fun!

Full of wonderful characters, ‘Picklewitch and Jack’ is a warm, fun look at friendship and how opposites not only attract, but often need each other. Jack’s development as his world is turned on its head and he learns the importance of loyalty and being yourself is wonderful. Picklewitch is just a bundle of fun- and she loves cake!

Claire’s writing is lively and brilliantly descriptive, adding detail to every scene. Teemu Juhani’s illustrations are quirky and wonderful and match the story so well. The book is just a joy from start to finish!

Picklewitch and Jack Claire Barker, illustrated by Teemu Juhani

Faber and Faber ISBN: 978-0571335183

You can read out review of ‘Knitbone Pepper: Ghost Dog ’ here and about Claire’s visit to one of our schools here.