The Butterfly Heart and The Sleeping Baobab Tree are both published by Walker Books and endorsed by Amnesty International.
On 28th May 2012 The Butterfly Heart won the Eilis Dillon Award (CBI Book of the Year Award) for best first book! Absolutely delighted with that. And in 2014 The Sleeping Baobab Tree won the CBI Special Judges Award.
Both books are set in Zambia – and contain folk tales and legends from Zambia, humour and sadness, old meeting new.
Reviewers have had the following to say:
On The Sleeping Baobab Tree: Once again, Leyden manages to sweep us off our feet and transports us to an African landscape which fills the senses and enriches the heart. If you haven’t read either book, treat yourself to both and read them one after the other. You won’t be disappointed! Sadie Cramer
As with Leyden’s first book; ‘The Sleeping Baobab Tree’ is simply beautiful, and an absolute joy; a rare and wonderful gift. Mary Esther Judy on Fallen Star Stories
This enchanting tale is like Alexander McCall-Smith, but for kids. Sue Leonard, Irish Examiner 27 August 2011
This novel will transport many readers to somewhere they’ve never been before- Zambia. Epic book and examination of Africa’s past, present and future. A top pick of Children’s Laureate Siobhán Parkinson. Aoife Murray, Children’s Books Ireland on the Moncrieff Show, Newstalk website
The Butterfly Heart tells a magical tale that is full of wisdom and wit. This is an incredibly touching story that respectfully speaks to tradition in a simple but powerful way. It is definitely one for the shelves of the young adults in your home. Karabo Kgoleng, City Press newspaper, South Africa
Paula Leyden is that rare thing a natural storyteller who conjures a rich magical-realist terrain in which sorcery and modernity coexist. Her Zambian childhood provides the material for her moving debut, The Butterfly Heart (Walker Books £5.99 ). Mary Shine Thompson, Irish Times
You know how people are drawn to certain places and a lot of people are drawn to Africa. I’m not in fact particularly drawn to Africa but after reading this I might just go to Zambia. It is the most wonderful evocation of place that I think I’ve ever read in a book, and it is a very loving evocation. Siobhán Parkinson, Children’s Laureate of Ireland and multi award winning author
It’s a brilliant story, very well told. It tackles extremely serious issues in a way that is not preachy, this is highly effective because we as readers are often desensitised by people shouting down at us. The perspective of the tale through a child’s eye is the triumph of this book. Their innocence endears us to them and makes the story all the more powerful. Mwanabibi Sikamo, Uprooting the Pumpkin.
While the story deals with difficult, even impossible circumstances, it is not at all didactic or heavy-going. The drawing of the storyline is seamless. Leyden paints a picture of the textural beauty of Africa, and the richness of the people who inhabit it. The descriptive quality is exquisite without being overly laboured. With genuine humour and warmth throughout, ‘The Butterfly Heart’ compels the reader gently and quietly forward to a very satisfying ending. It is, quite simply, beautiful. A book to be loved and pondered over with tenderness. Mary Esther Judy, in Inis and BookBag as well as on her blog Fallen Star Stories
The author of this book shows in this debut work that she can spin a fine tale that would enthral young readers.
Indeed, this is a stirring, lyrical story from the butterfly heart of Africa. It will have appeal to the mainstream young reader and boost literacy in South Africa and in other parts of the continent. Mpikeleni Duma, The Sowetan Newspaper
Ms Leyden’s writing is beautiful. Her descriptions are vivid, and I had little trouble seeing the different scenes in my head. I found myself fully engrossed in the story from the beginning to end. On the pages with insights and dialogue from the children’s characters I really believed I was reading the words and thoughts of children, and not an adult’s interpretation. In the hands of a less skilful writer the effort could have fallen flat. Bwalya Chileya The Zambian Economist and Seize the Moment blog
The adult wisdom and considered pace of Ifwafwa contrast well with that of eager Bul-Boo, while the interaction between Bul-Boo and her dizzy twin sister Madillo is well-observed and finely-drawn. Sister Leonisa, the children’s teacher, is hilarious; in fact throughout the novel, Paula Leyden successfully uses opportunities for humour to lighten what might otherwise be an overly dark tale. The setting is vivid, with wonderful detail of life in rural Zambia, which is clearly familiar to her. Jane Mitchell, award winning author
The writing in this book is utterly beautiful. I found the story just flowed off the pages like a winding, lazy, river. It is one of the quiet books, where everything happens in a quiet way but produces immense results, leaving you feeling satisfied that everything has been dealt with. Vivienne da Costa Editor of the Serendipity Blog
Available in all good bookshops as well as online in the following ways