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Sparky redheads are a proud tradition in children's books

Sparky redheads are a proud tradition in children's books, from Anne of Green Gables and Little Women's Jo to Cat Royal, adopted by Mr Sheridan and brought up backstage at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane two centuries before it named its hit show after her.

Cat, her streetwise friends and a full cast of eccentric theatricals star in The Diamond of Drury Lane, a showstopper of a children's adventure story set in Georgian Covent Garden, by former Oxfam campaigner and diplomat Julia Golding, who has just won the Ottakar's Children's Book Prize for unestablished authors. Before the sequel, Cat Among the Pigeons, comes out in August, Julia Golding's second novel, Secret of the Sirens, will be published next month by Oxford University Press.

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