Kate Pankhurst at Waterstones Deansgate

Kate Pankhurst, author and illustrator of the Mariella Mystery Investigates series, appeared at Waterstones Deansgate yesterday for an evening of storytelling and drawing. The Mariella Mystery Investigates books follow the adventures of Mariella Mystery, a nine year old girl who opens her own detective agency and solves all kinds of wacky mysteries with her friends. So far, four books have been released and when complete, the series will be made up of eight books.


Before Kate Pankhurst arrived to greet her visitors, I spoke to Eleanor, aged 7, who told me that she loves the Mariella Mystery Investigates books and has read them all. “What was your favourite thing about the books?” I asked Eleanor. She thought about it for a moment before telling me, “The way that they get more mysterious and the way that you find out what’s going to happen.” Eleanor also told me that she really liked the illustrations in Mariella Mystery Investigates.


When Kate arrived, she was introduced to guests by James Draper, director of The Manchester Children’s Book Festival. James gave Kate a warm welcome, saying, “We are always delighted to bring new people like Kate into the Festival’s programme.”
Kate then began chatting to her visitors about her work. “I was an illustrator for eleven or twelve years,” she told them. “But I always had an ambition to write my own books. The best thing about Mariella Mystery Investigates is that I get to make all this crazy, mysterious stuff happen to Mariella.” Kate treated us to a wonderful reading: a section of The Curse of the Pampered Poodle. The children – and adults! – were really gripped by Kate’s lively storytelling.


Guests also joined Kate in a drawing session and helped her design an illustration of Mariella holding a book and a test tube (objects were suggested by members of the audience.) Then they were given clipboards, paper and coloured pens to re-create their own pictures of Mariella. A few of the children were given props, such as a detective’s hat and a fake moustache. There was plenty of talent in the room and the drawings really impressed Kate. “Some of these are better than mine!” she laughed.


Once the pens and pencils had stopped scribbling (for now, at least) Kate held a Q&A session. A parent asked, “Did you do an art degree?”
“I did,” replied Kate. “I studied illustration. I got to draw and colour in for three years and got a degree at the end of it! After that, I entered a competition run by a publisher. I came second and that’s how my work got noticed and how my career started. Competitions are a really good way of boosting confidence.”


Kate with fans and their Mariella drawings. Also featuring: sea monkeys!
One of the children in the audience asked Kate where she does all of her writing and drawing. “I have an artist’s studio,” Kate said. Then she laughed. “Actually, it’s my spare room. It has a computer and a table for drawing. Sometimes I like to go to cafes, too, with my dog.” Kate also told guests that her Dalmatian, Olive, has “lots of doggie friends” and that they feature quite heavily in the Mariella Mystery Investigates series.
At the end of the event, a raffle took place. A little girl called Polly won a signed Mariella Mystery Investigates book of her choice. Kate Pankhurst also signed books for the rest of her guests and chatted to families as the evening drew to a close. Visit Kate’s website by clicking here.
There are plenty more author events like this coming up at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival! Visit our What’s On Guide to find out more.

This event was brought to you in association with IHSSR. The Institute for Humanities and Social Science Research.



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