Born in England; children: two. Hobbies and other interests: Walking.
Writer. Has also worked as librarian and classroom assistant for special-needs children.
Robopop, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Yearling (London, England), 1997.
Monster Shoes, illustrated by Georgien Overwater, Corgi Pups (London, England), 1999.
Megamouse, Andersen Press (London, England), 2001.
Mummy Mania, Andersen Press (London, England), 2002.
Clone Rangers, Andersen Press (London, England), 2003.
Minus Magic, Andersen Press (London, England), 2006, published as Missing Magic, Dial Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2007.
Dungeon Dragon, Andersen Press (London, England), 2008.
Emma Laybourn has published several fantasy books for children in the United Kingdom while also working as a librarian and classroom assistant for special-needs children. In 2007 her novel Minus Magic crossed the Atlantic and entertains North American readers under the title Missing Magic. In this novel, Laybourn describes the adventures of Ned, an ordinary eleven-year-old growing up in a family with special magical powers. At the urging of his uncle Kelver, Ned enrolls in Leodwych, a private boarding school where the other students comfortably use magic to complete their assignments—and also to torment Ned, who cannot retaliate because he cannot do magic. Frustrated and alienated, the boy nearly leaves the school, but when he and a few fellow students are abducted by evil Necromancers, he must fight to save himself and the others caught in the net. In the process, Ned learns why he has no magical abilities and takes steps to regain his lost talents.
Some reviewers recognized the thematic similarity between Missing Magic and the popular "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling. As a Kirkus Reviews contributor put it, Laybourn's novel is a "younger read" that will appeal to elementary school students who may not be ready for the Potter books. The same reviewer cited Missing Magic for containing "lots of humorous school scenes" and a narrator who uses his wits to overcome adversity. According to Corinda J. Humphrey in School Library Journal, Laybourn's plot "goes against convention" by creating a world in which magic does not solve every problem. Kathleen Isaacs, reviewing the work in Booklist, described Ned as an "engaging character who copes manfully with his difference," and a Publishers Weekly critic commended Laybourn for combining "heaps of humor and a strong moral message."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July 1, 2007, Kathleen Isaacs, review of Missing Magic, p. 62.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2007, review of Missing Magic.
Publishers Weekly, June 18, 2007, review of Missing Magic, p. 54.
School Librarian, spring, 2002, review of Megamouse, p. 33; spring, 2003, review of Mummy Mania, p. 34.
School Library Journal, September, 2007, Corinda J. Humphrey, review of Missing Magic, p. 202.
Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/ (September 7, 2008), author biography.