Image to follow



London is at war and as the Blitz rages, youngsters like Josie and her brother Len face the same dangers as the adults. Can they show the same guts under the bombs as the men and women of the emergency services - the fire brigade, civil defence, and the ambulance auxilliaries?

A tale of amazing bravery inspired by the true story of the Dead End Kids of Wapping, young people who fought fires and rescued their friends, their neighbours - and thirty dock horses - from the devastation of the enemy bombing.

Orchard Books (2nd July 2015)
ISBN(10) 1408338955
ISBN (13) 978-1408338957
Kindle edition £4.49

Reviews for Dead End Kids

Wow. Dead End Kids is a tale of true bravery. I read the story with a sense of genuine admiration at a group of young people who step up to the plate in a time of crisis and do it with next to nothing in the way of resources and in defiance of the adults. You hear a great deal a=of the indomitable spirit of Londoners during the Blitz but Dead End Kids really brings it home. And you can't help but love Josie, who not only defies the authorities and her mother to help, but also her brother and the older boys, who want to exclude the girls. Way to go Josie!

Ashley writes in his usual easy and accessible style, but the book is chock full of accurate historical detail and dialogue. It's an immersive and an exciting read.

There really was a group of teenaged firefighters in the East End during the Blitz. And they were called the Dead End Kids and they did take the pressure off the fire service by putting out the smaller fires and they really did drag unexploded bombs into the Thames. Two of them died protecting their community. It makes me feel weepy just typing that. Why aren't these young heroes better known? Hopefully this Ashley story will spread the word . I certainly won't forget about the Dead End Kids.

(Jill Murphy - The Bookbag 2nd July 2015)

To Josie Turner and her gang of friends the war is something that is happening around them. But then, in 1940, the Blitz starts - 57 consecutive nights of bombing in the capital alone.

This young group of pals do something incredible: they decide to form a unit of unofficial firefighters. They help to rescue people from rubble, drag unexploded bombs into the Thames, rescue the dock horses, and extinguish small fires.

It's an incredible story of courage, of growing up quickly as they do what they can to help their fellow humans while their very existence is at risk.

I loved the characters. Josie is a strong 13-year-old Londoner, defying those around her who try to stop a girl doing her bit, and her brother Len is a natural organiser, intelligent, and courageous.

Award-winning author Bernard Ashley writes for young readers with such clarity, bringing the characters' lives into sharp focus. It's a fantastic read - accessible and easy to digest, and it leaves you thinking long and hard about what children living in war zones have to contend with.

(Jayne Howarth: Children's Book of the Week - Financial Times Regional Newspaper chain)

This is a gutsy story about the East End of London during the early years of the Blitz. The story is inspired by a group of young people who did fight fires during the war, but in his foreward Bernard Ashley makes it clear that his characters are not based on those living then.

Josie Turner is a bit old for gangs really (but she) determines that just because she is a girl shouldn't mean she can't form a group to do the same.

Once the reader is accustomed to the cockney dialect (this would read aloud well) the story moves quickly. Bernard Ashley's vivid descriptions take the reader into the heart of the East End. Josie's character in particular stands out.

Young people of 12+ will get the most out of this story and be full of admiration for their forebears.

(JF - Books for Keeps July 2015)

For Josie Turner war was just a game she played against rival gangs in the East End, but now it is 1940 and air raid sirens fill the sky, bombs tear through the city and the real enemy is more menacing tha a group of unruly school kids. While the characters may be fictional, Bernard Ashley's novel is inspired by the actions of the real life 'Dead End Kids' of Wapping.

From the first page to the last, the plot unfolds at a relentless pace. The story is told from the perspective of Josie, a plucky 14-year-old who refuses to be shunned from the war effort on the basis of her gender. Adolescence is made more complex against the backdrop of bombed out London and Josie?s fight to save her city is intertwined with her first experience of romance and loss that are inevitable when growing up in a world at war.

Despite the book's young target audience, author Ashley brings the horrors of the Blitz to a vivid reality. The story is told through rich cockney dialect and immersed in historic references that add a strong element of realism to an otherwise innocent teenage novel. Ashley's vice is utterly unique. This compelling story is a must-read for young fans of war novels although, with its sophisticated writing, it could easily be enjoyed be an older audience as well. Ashley's Dead End Kids depicts a war that was not confined to the battlefields a war fought on the streets, fought in the flames of bombed out houses and a war fought by children.

( September 18, 2015)

A wonderful author hard-hitting and realistic, his books really show his knowledge of his city. London is at war and as the Blitz rages, children like Josie and her brother Len face the same dangers as the adults. Terrified, they showed the courage that East End children showed during those dark days.

Superbly written, you are really drawn into the horror of the time and will marvel at the resilience show by Londoners, young and old.

( July 2015)




Tom knew better than to dive alone. But the day was so hot, and the water was so cool. He was lucky to escape with his life.

Tom's still in shock from a near-disaster in the Blue Dam when the alarm sounds in the camp site. The dam has burst its banks, and a torrent of water is heading down the valley. Nothing that stands it its way can survive.

Has Tom's luck run out?

A dyslexia friendly Barrington Stoke Teen book.

Barrington Stoke (Jan. 2015)
ISBN 978-1-78112-454-3



The Way it is

Four gripping stories set at turning points in the lives of Kantu, whose tribal dance leads to his exile; Lenny, who has reasons for hating school; Zafar, caught up in a catastrophic tsunami; and Winnie, who has her indifferent eyes opened by her blind uncle.

Troika Books (4th June 2015)
ISBN: 978-1-909991-05-7


Nadine Dreams of Home

Nadine hates her new life. She doesn’t speak the language, she doesn't understand what’s going on at school, and more than anything, it’s just not home - especially since her father isn’t here with them in the UK. But it just wasn’t safe in Goma anymore, not with the uprising and the violence of the rebel soldiers. So Nadine tries to find something in her new life that will remind her of happy memories of Africa... A touching and sensitive story about a refugee girl in Britain.

Published by Barrington Stoke
ISBN 978-1-78112-369-0



2014 saw the publication of Bernard’s ‘Shadow of the Zeppelin’– a powerful look at the effects of war and the nature of courage.

From the ‘home front’ the Castle family’s story moves to France – to Ypres and the Somme – while in London teenager Freddie Castle’s life is turned upside down by Zeppelin L31 and by family conflict.

Serving in that fateful Zeppelin is Ernst Stender, a Jewish conscript. Such men flew without parachutes, and the dreadful question on each mission was, if the airship were shot down, did you jump, or burn?

Orchard Books
ISBN 978-140832–727-2
also available as an E-book


Little Soldier

Bernard’s popular novel ‘Little Soldier’ was fifteen years’ old in 2014, celebrated with a new cover.

When Kaninda survives a brutal attack on his village in East Africa he joins the rebel army, where he’s trained to carry weapons, and use them.

But aid workers take him to London where he fetches up in a comprehensive school. Clan and tribal conflicts are everywhere, and on the streets it’s estate versus estate, urban tribe against urban tribe.

All Kaninda wants is to to get back to his own war and take revenge on his enemies. But together with Laura Rose, the daughter of his new family, he is drawn into a dangerous local conflict that is spiralling out of control.

Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Book Award.

Orchard Books
ISBN 9781 – 86039-879-7
also available as an E-book


Q&A with Bernard Ashley

No Way to Go is a pacy, hard-hitting thriller centred on the world of urban gangs. Gangs are big in the media – did this influence your decision to write on the topic?
It was the murder of the Liverpool boy Rhys Jones, coming at a time of increasing gang-related violence on the streets and estates of major cities, that made me want to write another book exploring a gang theme (the first was Little Soldier). The media slant was not important, I wasn't keen to do the book because gangs were getting attention in the press and on TV – I would never want to profit in any way from tragedy – but because gang membership is a big issue in society. On a related note, I had written the first draft of No Way to Go before teenager Ahmed Benyermak died, falling from a block of flats.

You must have done a lot of research for this book. Did you enjoy it and/or find it difficult?
I like doing research. As I say to students in schools, it's like being a reporter or a detective. Not only can you find out what you want to know, but sometimes unexpected doors are opened that can change the shape of a story. Research for this book was not easy, though. People didn't want to talk to me – and here I mean people who should have wanted to talk to me, like some of the agencies involved in working with youth crime. But I found the local police very helpful – talking with them led to a significant change in my plot – as were some teachers, and school students themselves. As well as making personal contact I also read a lot about modern gang culture in the UK – in books, magazines, internet and newspapers.

The book deals with the immediate aftermath of a shocking bereavement for a teenager with little family support. Do you think teenagers who are bereaved or simply face the neglect Amber and Connor experience are given enough support from society?
It's unwise to generalise. Those who have plenty of loving support can still take wrong decisions, and some who have none can shine like Amber. But a local structure should be there, brought into play through the school. In my time with the ILEA and the London Borough of Greenwich we had a cross-agency system that worked well for children in distress; and I didn't have to decide whether to allot money to it – or pay to patch a hole in the school roof.

Dawn Feldman is the straight talking and inspirational deputy head at Amber Long’s school. She makes some damning comments about the education system failing Connor Long. As a former head teacher in the area in which many of your books are set, what are your views on this and the education system today?
Many of us can name the teacher who made a difference to us; as we can name the teacher who has made a difference in one of our children's lives. Such people are special – and we have to pity those children and students who never come across a teacher like that. In our school in south London we took in children who had been expelled by other heads. It wasn't always easy, and whatever was achieved was due to the teachers who worked day to day with those children; but never once were we let down by them; and none of those children was ever 'moved on'. Sadly, the setting up of an over-rigid national curriculum, the imposition of literacy and numeracy strategies which took learning away from children's interests, the SATs tests that have distorted the syllabus, and league tables which set school against school in the parental arena, these measures have deprived children of learning as pleasure, and encouraged some heads to 'get rid' of the disaffected pupil who won't score well. Happily, amongst all this there are charismatically-led schools that have put up two fingers to the system, and have carried on with the business of real education.

The book ends with a nail biting yet satisfying climax. What would your hopes be for Amber Long in the future?
I know what happens to Amber after the book shuts. For a real person I would have to hope, but for a character of my creation I can know. The answer lies within the book – because I put it there.

  ISBN 9781846169671
Orchard Paperback Original £5.99


For younger readers Ragged Bears has republished two Justin Perfect stories:


Bernard's new book for 2013 comes from Troika Books in May.

Troika Books

When Jack tumbles off the Kent train with the other wartime evacuees from London, no one in the village wants to take him in. Then Lady Ashwell patriotically sweeps him off to the Hall, where Jack learns how to hold a knife and fork and her son Clive learns how to fight dirty - and when events in the night turn nasty, the boys team up to unmask a sinister enemy.

ISBN 978-0-9573013-4-4

Troika Books £6.99



Hero GirlsThey're all girls who make a difference, heroes in their own ways, each rising to a serious challenge - colourful characters who've featured in Bernard's books and joined here by Milly Webster in a new story 'Stronger than Sprite'.

ISBN 978-0-9570357-2-0


Ashley Chappel Books

Ashley Chappel Books

(Sales: Target Sales Ltd. 0843 289 3266


Bernard is proud to announce his new teenage thriller



Dive BombingWhat happens to Charlie Peat's life with his famous rock and soul parents when terrorists put his life in jeopardy? In this thrilling, multi-layered book Bernard sensitively explores the effects of urban terrorism on young people today. 'Very gritty, very tense, very exciting, very emotional – some amazingly powerful scenes that really stick in the mind.'

Bernard's new novel comes in May.

'Time after time Bernard Ashley delivers, really delivers.' (The School Librarian quarterly journal)

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408313923


Look out for re-issues of


Mr Anchor the headteacher kicks a football down the school corridor, hitting Mr Branston smack in the face with it. But Justin Perfect was there at the time, and could have done it. How can Justin get justice for himself, for poor Mr Branston, and for Mr Anchor?

Ashley Chappel Productions

ISBN 9780957035706



The rain hit Nicky hard as he came out of school. It was screams and running feet all along the street, especially when the lightning started. So it seemed too good to be true when he saw his dad's yellow Mini. But it wasn't his dad's car – and Nicky is plunged into a terrifying adventure and a frantic race against time.

Fits with National Curriculum KS2 PSHD: Developing a healthy, safer lifestyle:

'…to recognise the different risks in different situations and then decide how to behave responsibly…'

Ashley Chappel Productions

ISBN 9780957035713



When Justin says something he shouldn't to Tanya, her big brother decides to teach him a lesson - with his fists. Is Justin going to end up mincemeat? Or is someone in for a big surprise.

ISBN 978-1-85714-404-8
Ragged Bears £4.99


When his grandad from Australia moves in and takes over his bedroom, Justin declares war to drive him away. But grandad's got a few tricks up his sleeve, too. (Originally published as Justin Strikes Again).

ISBN 978-1-85714-403-1
Ragged Bears £4.99


For Ronnie Warren World War II brings a whirlwind of events and emotions that carry hime through the terror of the London Blitz to evacuation in Lancashire, to adolescent romance and misunderstandings, to the bittersweetness of VE Day, 1945.

ISBN 978-1-84780-054-1
Francis Lincoln £6.99



the story of Fran Scott, the kidnapped daughter of the Home Secretary, who will be killed if she can't be found in time.

ISBN 9781846169671


Down to the Wire

in which Muj Kal, the brilliant new African Premiership footballer, is caught up in his country's civil war, and is forced to choose the direction his life will take.

ISBN 9781846169656
Orchard Paperback Original, £5.99


Like FLASHPOINT the stories involve TV star Ben Maddox - who makes dramatic news as well as reporting it.


Leonard runs away from home to the historic slave fort town of Elmina, where he is kidnapped by a gang of street kids and forced to work for them.

'A thought-provoking story set in the sinister, poverty-driven underworld of gangland, leading to a taut, thrilling climax as he tries to escape from a living nightmare.'

ISBN 9781845078140 (hardback)


THE TROUBLE WITH DONOVAN CROFT, Bernard's first-ever novel. It has never been out of print since it was first published in 1974.

When Donovan comes to stay with Keith's family, Keith knows it will be hard having a foster brother. But it turns out to be even harder than he expected - because Donovan won't speak. Not to Keith, not to anyone. And for Donovan it's harder still - because he couldn't speak to save his life. It's only a matter of time before things get really dangerous - and only a growing bond between the two boys can prevent a tragedy.

ISBN 978-0-19-275556-8



Who is Pax - and how did he get to the uninhabited Indian Ocean island? Can he survive - and will he ever be found?

'A shipwreck, a secret and a shocking discovery reveal the true depth of the casualties of war. Haunting memories and hidden truths reveal a silent betrayal in a thrilling and moving adventure.'

ISBN 9780746081372


The third 'Ben Maddox' adventure thriller.

Working undercover for Zephon TV, Ben gets himself taken on as a stagehand for the European tour of She-Pirate, a musical starring rock star Flame. Suspecting that drugs are being brought into Britain by members of the company, Ben discovers a repugnant and shameful business - while caught up in the dangerous consequences is Paul Filey, a young East End actor who, in his first professional job, has personal battles to fight. ISBN 9781846160608
Orchard Paperback Original £5.99

  Little Soldier ? the play
For performance or for reading, this Bernard Ashley adaptation of his own novel for the stage is fast moving, action packed and emotionally powerful. It has a large cast and great parts for both sexes, ideal for schools and youth productions ? very suitable for 'open stage' performances.

ISBN 0435-125-818
Heinemann (hardback) £7.99

Ellie hates leaving behind her friends, but the worst thing about moving to the pub by the canal is that the dark, sirling waters bring back traumatic memories. And Ellie's troubles only grow when she discovers the shady dealing that take place in the Regent's Arms on Friday nights. There is somebody who could expose the truth ? if only she could escape the evil gang that holds her captive. An electrifying thriller that twists and turns through the shadowy underworld of a dangerous trade.

ISBN 0-7460-6791-7
Usbourne (paperback original) £5.99
"This is an extraordinarily powerful story; Bernard Ashley at his commanding best." (Guardian)
  Ten Days to Zero
When journalist Ben Maddox is thrust full throttle into an investigation for Zephon TV, he worries that he's in over his head. But as he digs deeper into events, he realises that what's really important is being prepared to fight for what you believe in ... and if that means taking risks, then that's exactly what he'll have to do.

A gripping novel written in an inventive way. We 'hear' the conversations, 'handle' the evidence, and 'live' the experience.

Its appeal is broad, including to those who like their stories in fast-moving, snappy instalments.

ISBN 1-84362-649-7
Orchard Paperback Original £4.99

As published in paperback in America and Canada. Kanida must revenge the deaths of his mother, father and sister - gunned down by the enemy Yusulu tribe. They thought Kaninda dead.too. But he is very much alive, staying silent, like a good soldier.

As he plans his escape from London, he must fight on another front - a gang war that is drawing him in. Kanida was trainied to be a soldier.

But can he live away from war?

'A Gripping novel' - The Washington Post 'Timely, 'meticulously orchestrated' - Publishers Weekly 'POINT' paperback by Scholastic $5.99 / $8.99 CAN

ISBN -439-285002-X

A new edition of Tiger without Teeth. Of this book Philip Pullman wrote: 'Bernard Ashley's great gift is to turn what seems to be low-key realism into something much stronger and more resonant'

Hard Stew always gets what he wants, but he's not the only thing chasing Davey. There's also a secret - the sort that jumps up on you and is more frightening than a hundred Hard Stew's...

A thrilling story of survival, discovery, and two sorts of love.

ISBN 1-842991-96-5
Orchard paperback £4.99


Torrent is story for teenagers - an exciting, spooky adventure, highly illustrated, set in the French Alps.

High in the mountains the Blue Dam bursts, flooding the camp site in the valley below. Can Tom save his life? And who is the mystery girl who tries to help him?

ISBN 1-842991-96-5
Barrington Stoke £4.99


A picture book with illustrations by Lynne Willey. One day Joyce's mother brings home two rabbits. They soon have babies and Joyce becomes very fond of them, especially one, which she names Kipenzi. When Mum says that she's going to take them to 'The Bush' Joyce is in for a big suprise. 'A delightful family story'.

ISBN 1-870516-60-5
Tamarind £5.50 (April)


Life with dyslexia is difficult enough for Tom - he thinks of himself as a no-hoper, not up to much. But he’s a keen sailor in his Mirror dinghy and he’s brilliant with maps, and when he rescues Danni – an immigrant girl – off the Somerthorpe rocks his life takes on a whole new meaning where subterfuge and quick thinking are called for. Can Tom show the world what he’s really worth? And what is that word called Love?

ISBN 1-84121-306-3
Orchard Paperback £4.99



A thriller for teenagers.
Marsh End. Lonely, isolated and bleak, Sophia's mum loves it.
But for Sophia, the brooding skies hold no solace for her lost father, or her lost life in London. Nothing ever happens in this dead end place. That is until Revenge House begins to reveal its murky secrets and Sophia and her mum find themselves sucked into a brutal criminal underworld that will eventually threaten their lives.

ISBN 1-84121-814-6
An Orchard Paperback Original £4.99


The East End thriller - re-published in the Oxford Children's Modern Classics series.

Ronnie lives in an area controlled by the Bradshaw brothers.
Everyone knows what they get up to but no one dares speak out. When Ronnie's father gets into trouble with the brothers, Ronnie is left behind to fend for himself. Soon up to his neck in a terrifying scam, Ronnie knows he must get the Bradshaws - whatever the price.

Commended for the Carnegie Medal
Oxford University Press £6.99


A picture book with exuberant illustrations by Carol Thompson.

Blossom is a lucky girl - she has two grandmothers. The city one she calls Nan and the country one she calls Gran, and she loves them both.
At the big party for Blossom's little brother, Blossom sees Nan and Gran together for the first time. Now they'll have fun - all three of them!

ISBN 1-84121-625-9
Orchard Books £10.99 (hardback) Paperback, £4.99
ISBN 1-84121-278-4


with Derek Brazell (illustrator). Ling Sung goes off school when he sees others getting clapped for what they can do. What about him? Then one day he discovers that he can do something extra special which nobody else can - not even the teachers! LingSung feels like a hero and decides that school isn't so bad after all. Harper Collins paperback.

ISBN 0-00-663855-4

Buy this book at Amazon


with David Mitchell (illustrator). Pleasure is happy to help Dad with the shopping at the busy market. Her baby brother Paul is teething and she'd like to buy him a present. But while Pleasure is looking at the toy stall, she loses sight of Dad and thinks he has disappeared. Where has Dad gone? Harper Collins paperback
ISBN 0-00-664160-1
(also available in eight dual language versions from Mantra)

Buy this book at Amazon


Jason Paris has a smack instead of breakfast and everybody feels the sting. In Linda's Lie a second story, one lie leads to another - and an almost impossible situation.

ISBN 0140 315934 Puffin

Buy this book at Amazon


A welcome Frances Lincoln re-issue of Bernard's second world war story, thought by the Sunday Times to be, 'A wonderful, totally absorbing book (that) has all the ingredients of a classic children's book.' As fiction it supports National Curriculum studies on WW2 – the Home Front.

Wartime London – the Blitz - and the East End was taking a hammering. If it hadn't been for the gold watch, found down his sock, Johnnie wouldn't have been miles away. But the watch had him branded a thief and locked away with the real criminals… Now it wasn't easy for Johnnie to look after Number One, especially after meeting little Shirley.

One of the best books set in wartime London (Times Educational Supplement)

Barn Owl at Frances Lincoln

ISBN 9781903015285