Dale, Anna 1971–
Dale, Anna 1971–
Born 1971, in England. Education: Kent University, B.A. (history); M.A. (writing for children), 2002. Hobbies and other interests: Walking with her dog, conservation work, swimming.
Home—Southampton, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Bloomsbury Publishing, 36 Soho Square, London W1D 3QY, England.
Novelist. Works part time at a bookshop.
Carnegie Medal longlist inclusion, 2004, for Whispering to Witches.
Whispering to Witches, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2004.
Dawn Undercover, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2005.
Dale's books have been adapted as audiobooks.
Anna Dale loved to tell stories as a child, and that hobby, along with her love of children's literature, has followed her into adulthood. When a temporary job at a book shop following college became something more permanent, Dale was inspired by her daily involvement with both children's books and their readers to do some writing of her own. Her first novel, Whispering to Witches, came out of her coursework toward a master's degree in creative writing and was actually written over a span of two months. While her more recent work has been less hurried, Dale has devised a useful strategy to combat writers' block. "If I'm struggling with a particularly troublesome sentence," she explained in an interview for the Bloomsbury Web site, "I find the consumption of chocolate an absolute necessity."
A fantasy involving a threat to British witchery, Whispering to Witches introduces Joe Binks, a twelve year old who becomes caught up with a coven of rather confused witches while taking the train from school to visit his mother and stepfather for Christmas break. He befriends Twiggy, the youngest of the five members of the Deadnettle Coven, and through her becomes aware of a plot by the diabolical Logan Dritch to rid Earth of its spell-casting population through use of a powerful hex. Dritch has acquired the hex by stealing page 513 from the powerful witches' reference, Mabel's Book, and the Deadnettles now hope to regain the missing text, with Joe's help. Comparing Whispering to Witches to J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books, a Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the author "nimbly ties together the spidery threads of her story in a beguiling denouement," while in Booklist Kay Weisman praised Dale's story as "tightly plotted and with enough twists and turns to keep readers on their toes." "Dale has fun creating the witch universe … and imbues it with some clever spells and tricks," according to Rambles online reviewer Celeste Miller, the critic dubbing Whispering to Witches a "light and exciting tale."
From fantasy, Dale turns to the mystery genre in Dawn Undercover. In this middle-grade story, eleven-year-old Dawn Buckle longs for excitement, but because of her drab dress and unremarkable appearance she is often overlooked by everyone around her. Dawn's nondescript nature ultimately serves her well, however; while leaving school one day, she is recruited for a super-secret spy organization, undergoes super-secret-spy training, and then embarks on her super-secret spy mission: to travel to a small village and track down a fellow spy named Angela who has mysteriously vanished while on the trail of the evil Murdo Meek. While noting that Dale starts her story off slowly, a Publishers Weekly contributor cited the author's "ample humor" and quaint British references, concluding that the "complex" plotting of Dawn Undercover incorporates "false leads and tangles that will keep kids guessing." "Dawn's growth in self-esteem and confidence is believable," wrote Cindy Dobrez in a Booklist review of Dale's novel, adding that the book's "secondary characters are unique."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, November 15, 2004, Kay Weisman, review of Whispering to Witches, p. 601; March 1, 2005, Traci Todd, review of Whispering to Witches (audio version), p. 1218; October 15, 2005, Cindy Dobrez, review of Dawn Undercover, p. 50.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2004, review of Whispering to Witches, p. 958; October 15, 2005, review of Dawn Undercover, p. 1135.
Kliatt, Carol Reich, review of Whispering to Witches (audio version), p. 58.
Publishers Weekly, October 4, 2004, review of Whispering to Witches, p. 88; December 20, 2004, "Flying Starts," p. 30; January 10, 2005, review of Whispering to Witches, p. 24; November 14, 2005, review of Dawn Undercover, p. 69.
School Library Journal, November, 2004, Elaine E. Knight, review of Whispering to Witches, p. 140; February, 2005, Cindy Lombardo, review of Whispering to Witches (audio version), p. 76.
Bloomsbury Web site, http://www.bloomsbury.com/childrens/ (May 1, 2006), "Anna Dale."
Rambles Online, http://www.rambles.net/ (February 5, 2005), Celeste Miller, review of Whispering to Witches.