Tag Archives: Lou Kuenzler

Tales Q&A with Lou Kuenzler


I am over the moon to have the lovely Lou Kuenzler on Tales today to celebrate the release of her new book Finding Black Beauty which was released on the 6th October published by Scholastic.

Finding Black Beauty tells the other side of the classic horse story Black Beauty by Anna Sewell which Scholastic have also re-jacketed as part of their Scholastic Classics.

51r84uyrfml-_sx324_bo1204203200_ A huge thank you to Olivia at Scholastic for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour and for sending me copies of both beautiful books.

Today Lou talks about rewriting a classic, inspirations and writing in this brilliant Q&A.


Told from the point of view of a young girl who masquerades as a boy in order to become a groom, this is the other side of the classic horse story BLACK BEAUTY. Aspiring groom Jo comes to love Beauty and when they are separated she travels to London to find him – on the way solving the mystery of her long-lost mother. A sweeping tale of a young girl and her love for a horse, and the circumstances that divide them.

Hi Lou

Welcome to Tales Of Yesterday.  I’m so happy to have you here!  Thank you for returning to a treasured classic of mine!

Thank you for having me, Tales of Yesterday. I always find it really interesting to answer questions about the thinking behind writing my books.  It often makes me realise things I had not consciously known.

Can you tell us a little about Finding Black Beauty?


Finding Black Beauty revisits Anna Sewell’s classic animal adventure and explores the untold story of some of the characters.  Above all, I hope it offers a cracking read for middle grade children with plenty of drama and pace (and maybe even a few tears) along the way.

What made you want to write a retelling of Black Beauty?

I loved Black Beauty as a child and read it many times. I think what drew me in was the sheer drama of it – the life and death struggle of the horse at the centre of the story.  I wanted to recapture some of that for modern readers, paying homage to Anna Sewell’s brilliance but also creating an original story of my own.

Can you tell us a little about the main character Josie?

I loved writing Josie.  She is based on the young stable lad Joe Green who only appears very briefly (but at two crucial moments) in the original Black Beauty story.  Almost at once, I decided Joe would really be Josie, a girl in disguise, as she is desperate to be allowed to work with horses.  Once that decision was made, everything else fell in to place.  I knew to take a risk like that in Victorian Britain, Josie would have to be the sort of child who is used to getting her own way – perhaps too much so – but who is also brave, inventive and full of imagination. It was really interesting to have the chance to explore Victorian ideas of class and gender through the framework of this character, and to reflect some of those questions and assumptions back on our own times for contemporary readers too, I hope.

And is Beauty the same black horse we know from the original classic or did you change him in any way?

He is as close to the original as I could make him.  The magnificent horse is the heart and soul of Anna Sewell’s story.  Without giving respect to that, I think I would have lost any integrity in the project.  We get to meet the adorable pony Merrylegs and the tricky-natured Ginger too, of course.

 What was your favourite scene to write?

I have to say, I loved it all. This is the most fun I have ever had writing a book – perhaps because it was such a direct link back to my own childhood love of reading and the first secret ambitions to be a writer (scribbled in the back of exercise books) which began at around the same time.  But ,if I had to pick one scene, it would be when Josie’s horrible aunt shuts up the stables and sends her away from home. The baddies are always the most fun to write!

 What was the hardest scene to write?

This would have to be the scene where Ginger dies.  It always made me cry in the original and, to make things worse, we had just had to have our much-loved family dog put down in the same week that I needed to get those chapters written.  There were a lot of tears! At the same time; though, I had to try and keep perspective and check I wasn’t overdoing the sentiment too much.

Who was your favourite character from Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty?

I think it would have to be Black Beauty himself.  I defy any child who has ever loved horses not to dream that Black Beauty could be their own.

Do you see yourself in any of the characters in Finding Black Beauty or have you used any of your own experiences in the story?

I did not use any direct experiences but I was lucky enough to grow up on a farm and have a pony of my own. I used my knowledge of riding (not something I get to do very often anymore) and my sense memory of being around horses a great deal.  I would love to say I am like Josie (I certainly like to get my own way and can be quite stubborn) but I know she is much braver than I am.

If you could cast your characters from Finding Black Beauty in a big Hollywood film adaptation who would you choose?

I would love Emma Thompson to play the horrible aunt, Miriam Margolies to play Josie’s nanny and Maggie Smith to play Lady Hexham (now wouldn’t that be a trio!!).










Zac Efron would make a great handsome and moody James (the brooding groom who makes Josie’s life especially tough) and it would be great if we could tempt Emma Watson to be Josie. Quick someone, call their agents …









We would love to know a little bit more about you!  Can you give us 5 random facts we don’t know about Lou Kuenzler?

The last time I rode a horse, I fell off.

I am afraid of rats.

I am quite superstitious about magpies.

I have two cats and a dog.

My screensaver is a walrus.

Can you tell us a bit about some of your other books?

I write picture books and younger fiction too.   My latest picture book, Eat Your People, is the grisly tale of what a monster has on his dinner plate. 


Meanwhile, my most recent chapter book for younger readers, Bella Broomstick: Halloween Havoc, comes out on the same day as Finding Black Beauty.  This story is the third adventure in a really fun series about a big-hearted young witch who has come to live in the human world and causes magical chaos wherever she goes – often aided and abetted by her naughty kitten, Rascal.


You can find a review of the first Bella Broomstick here

Which of your characters from any of your books would you most like to spend the day with?

I’d love to hang out with Shrinking Violet (my fish-finger sized girl) but only if I could get to shrink and scuttle about spying on people along with her.  One of my favourite moments in the Shrinking Violet books is when she slides down a giraffe’s neck like a helter-skelter.  I’d love to have a go at that!


Growing up who inspired you into writing?  Are there any Authors or books that inspired you?

I am dyslexic and the person who inspired me most was my secondary school English teacher, Mrs Moore.  She told me that she always loved reading my stories (even if the spelling was atrocious). That made all the difference. Thank you.

Genuinely, the book I read most in my childhood was Black Beauty. Reading wasn’t easy and I loved the way it was in short, manageable episodes with bold characters and heartfelt emotion.


Are there any recent works or authors that you admire or books you wish you had written?

Oh, so many! In particular, I do wish I had written Any Stanton’s Mr Gum books just for the sheer, laugh-out-loud, jelly-wobbling silliness. Inspired!


Are there any authors you would like to collaborate with?  Who?

I would love to do a picture book collaboration with Redhouse winner Andrew Weale (Spooky Spooky House, Newt In A Suit, Nora etc.) – I think his joyous use of rhyme is fantastic.


When starting a new book or idea what does your writing process look like?

Lots and lots of walking, talking out loud – the very first thing I tend to do is write down a few snatches of dialogue (these, almost without exception, end up in the final book).  Once the voices start, I know I have something to build on. Then it is just down to the tricky little matter of plot …

Do you have any strange writing habits?

Biscuits. Biscuits. And (you guessed it) … more biscuits!

Did music influence your books or your characters.  Did music have any influence the story of Finding Black Beauty?

I am married to a music journalist who plays his music full blast just upstairs from where I write.  So the theme tune to my writing is always the heavy base from a song I can’t quite catch.  I don’t play music myself while I write as I find lyrics too distracting and the fast or slow tempo of orchestral pieces tends to influence me too much.  Again, I do lots of talking out loud while I write.  I like to hear the sound of the words – I think this is especially important in children’s books.

 Are there any exciting plans for the rest of 2016 or 2017?

That would be telling – but I am definitely thinking about animals and history again for older readers. I have a new pre-school picture book, My Digger Is Bigger, with gorgeous bright, funny illustrations by Dan Taylor coming out with Scholastic next year. I have just seen the final proofs and am over the moon.

Thanks so much for answering all of my questions today Lou!

 Thank you again for inviting me to share my thoughts.  It has been great fun. Lou


You can buy a copy of Finding Black Beauty here or from your local book shop!

You can find a review of the first Bella Broomstick here

About Lou Kuenzler


Lou Kuenzler’s popular SHRINKING VIOLET, PRINCESS DISGRACE and BELLA BROOMSTICK books offer fun, fast-paved adventure stories for newly-fluent readers.

For older – more confident – readers, FINDING BLACK BEAUTY is a re-imagining of Anna Sewell’s classic story with plenty of Victorian interest and exciting twists.

Lou also writes picture book for much younger children. If you’ve got a fussy eater, try EAT YOUR PEOPLE for a hilarious new look at how to leave nothing on a plate!

Lou loves doing festivals/school visits and is always happy to talk to groups of children.

To find out more about Lou visit her website – www.loukuenzler.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @LouKuenzler  

Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge huge thank you to Lou for a brilliant Q&A and answering all of my questions and to Olivia at Scholastic for organising!

Have you read Finding Black Beauty?  What did you think?  If you could re write a classic which would you choose? I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading


Review – Bella Broomstick by Lou Kuenzler

Bella Broomstick

I have recently read this fun, magical MG read by Lou Kuenzler, Bella Broomstick which was released on the 7th January 2016 and I loved it and I am so over the moon to be part of the wonderful blog tour for this book!

This book had me smiling so much.  It was adorable!

For my stop on the blog tour I am going to share my thoughts on the book and post a review!

A huge thank you to Faye Rogers and Lou Kuenzler for having me on this wonderful tour and for sending me the book to read.

Bella Broomstick

This delightful new series, full of doodle illustrations and themes of friendship and fitting in, will have young readers bewitched from the very first page! Bella Broomstick is a hopeless witch. So hopeless that nasty Aunt Hemlock is sending her to live in Person World – with the warning that she must never do magic again! But when Bella finds a kitten in trouble, a spell is the only way to rescue it. What is Bella to do? For where there is magic, trouble is never far away!

Publisher – Scholastic UK

Published – 7th January 2016

Pages – 198 pages

Format – Paperback and E-book

Category – MG Fantasy

Source – I was sent a copy of this book by the wonderful people at Scholastic as part of the blog tour organised by Faye Rogers.  This does not affect my review or my opinions in any way and am delighted to write an honest review.  Thank you Scholastic for sending this to me to read and to Faye for organising!

** Please note Tales Of Yesterday Reviews are written as spoiler free as possible**

TASK ONE – Using your blog, your typing fingers and your so called sense of humour Chelley Toy write a review of Bella Broomstick for the wonderful Bella Broomstick Blog Tour!

“Belladonna Broomstick, you are the most hopeless young witch in the whole of the Magic Realm!”

Wow!  Right you crazy crocodiles!  I was so very excited to be asked to be a part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of this magical book.  I threw out my smart busyness person clothes and handybag and donned my witches outfit and hat in celebration and with a Swish Swish Swish I was transported into the world of the wonderful Bella Broomstick!


As the quote above suggests Bella Broomstick is the most hopeless witch in the whole of the magic realm.  She can talk to animals, but has no warts and can do no magic or when she does it goes horribly wrong (poor Dr Rattlebone).  She has even failed her entrance exam at Creepy Castle School three times!  Poor Bella Broomstick is as useless as a leaky cauldron and she is living a miserable existence with her Aunt Hemlock in the magic realm.

Bella’s awful Aunt Hemlock who has seven warts that wobble like nettle jelly, picks her teeth with chicken bones and smells of rotten eggs, garlic and cheesy feet (ewwwwww) along with her horrible leather headed bully of a chameleon Wane decide that Bella has to go and live in the person world where she is banned from doing magic!

“I’ll dip you in porridge and gobble you up like that spider”

Scuttling Scorpions!  Aunt Hemlock is terrifying how could she do that to poor Bella and….well who would eat a poor little spider!

*snatches spider off the wall and swallows whole*


Anyway moving swiftly on….. *coughs*

I read this book in virtually one sitting!  And that wasn’t through fear of Aunt Hemlock getting hold of me and turning me into a guinea pig, handy bag or worse….maggot mush stew!  No!  Not at all!  Straight from the offset this book was a joy to read.  Full of magic, friendships, family and a fabulous feathery flamingo pen!  Lou Kuenzler introduces you to two different worlds, the magic realm and the person world whilst fun, danger and the Sellwell Department Store Catalogue awaits.

Bella is adorable and full of fun, compassion and humour and I loved her as a character.  Really routing for her to be happy and loved.  I loved reading about Bella experiencing the person world for the first time.  Seeing a toilet flush, having a bath, visiting the Sellwell Department Store and being happy!

I used to love the Worst Witch books when I was younger and reading Bella Broomstick has made me want to revisit them again!

Whilst I loved all of the characters in this book my favourite was the little kitten that Bella rescues, Rascal!  Awwwwww I loved him so much!

The illustrations by Kyan Cheng in the book are just perfect and act as a source of humour also!  I especially loved the picture of the chameleon Wane as a Lizard-shaped salt shaker and a handybag…oh how I chuckled at his expense!

I hope Aunt Hemlock didn’t hear me say this!

*legs shake like a bowl of newt-eye trifle*

This is the first book in a brand new series and jiggling jellyfish it got off to an amazing start!  Bella learns that she may not need magic and being a hopeless witch isn’t the end of the world.  It also embraces love and family and belonging and I think this is a beautiful message to send out to many children and adults that will read this book.

I can’t wait to read about more Bella Broomstick adventures and hopes that Aunt Hemlock doesn’t join the person world any time soon!  She has some rather disgusting habits and….

Oh fizzing ferrets!  She heard me that time!  Aunt Hemlock is here again!  Oh spinning spiders!  She wants to take me for a ride on her broomstick….last time she did that I felt a bit Broom-sick!

He he he laughing ladybirds!  I’m here all week!



Oh pickled porcupines!  She’s turned me into a guinea pig hasn’t she!

Now all I can think about is how I want to eat a carrot!

I award this book 4 out of 5 Tales Of Yesterday Books!


Bella Broomstick

You can buy Bella Bromstick (Bella Broomstick #1) here

Or why not add it to Goodreads here

About Lou Kuenzler

Lou Kuenzler

Lou Kuenzler likes to write stories which make children laugh.

Her popular SHRINKING VIOLET books are funny, action-packed adventures about a little girl who suddenly shrinks …. Think Mrs Pepperpot with a 21st century twist!

And then Lou’s next series PRINCESS DISGRACE introduces the clumsiest princess ever in a comic romp through life at a posh princess academy – unicorns, dragons and japes galore!

For slightly younger readers, Lou’s AESOP’S AWESOME RYHMES add a comic, rhyming twist to the classic moral tales.  

While JACK SPLAT: SUPERFLY PEST and JACK SPLAT: DOG’S DINNER tell the fly-on-the-wall adventures of … well, of a fly!

You can find out more about Lou on her website here

Or why not follow Lou on Twitter using @loukuenzler

Or find Lou’s Goodreads page here

You can buy Bella Bromstick (Bella Broomstick #1) here

Blog Tour

Catch up of follow the rest of this wonderful blog tour by checking out the stops below


Monday 4th January

 Linda’s Book Bag

La Chouett

 Tuesday 5th January

 Book Lover Jo

Mum Friendly


 Wednesday 6th January

 Live Otherwise


 Thursday 7th January

 The Arts Shelf

Over 40 and a Mummy to One

 Friday 8th January

 Tales of Yesterday

Beautiful Things

 Saturday 9th January

 The Books Bandit

My Make Up Life

 Sunday 10th January

 Kirstyes & Bibliobeth

You can find a Q&A with Lou Kuenzler here

Have you read Bella Broomstick?  What did you think?  Has this review made you want to go grab a copy?  I would love to here from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading


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