TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour

The TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour is your opportunity to learn from and build personal connections with extraordinary book creators and their brand-new titles. Included in all Virtual Book Tour posts are original interviews with authors and illustrators, lesson plans, an activity designed for young people, and much more!

Welcome Heather Camlot

Heather Camlot on The Prisoner and the Writer

In this post, we feature author Heather Camlot, whose previous titles include the novel The Other Side. You can hear her speak about her new middle-grade title, The Prisoner and the Writer, illustrated by Sophie Casson, and try her “invitation to imagine” activity. You’ll also find other resources to explore. Thanks for joining us, and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Heather Camlot and the cover of The Prisoner and the Writer

The Prisoner and the Writer

  • Written by Heather Camlot and illustrated by Sophie Casson
  • Published by Groundwood Books, an imprint of House of Anansi Press
  • Release date: October 4, 2022

In 1895, a prisoner watches the ocean through the bars of his cell. Accused of betraying France, Captain Alfred Dreyfus is exiled to a prison on Devil’s Island, far from his wife and children. It’s a horrible fate—and what if he’s innocent? Seven thousand miles away, the famous writer Emile Zola wonders: Is Alfred a traitor to France? Or a victim of anti-Semitism? Convinced that Alfred is innocent, Emile knows that it is his duty to help. He pens a now-famous letter, explaining that Alfred was blamed, charged, tried, and convicted only because he is Jewish. This powerful middle-grade story, written in verse with full-page illustrations, is told from the perspectives of both Alfred Dreyfus and Emile Zola, two men whose courage changed the world. The true story acts as a reminder that a person committed to truth, justice, and equality must stand up and speak out against prejudice for themselves—and for others.

An interior spread from The Prisoner and the Writer, illustrated by Sophie Casson. On the left, an illustration shows a blazing sun over a sea coast; on the right, a small image of man's face behind prison window bars appears above lines of  free verse text.
An interior spread from The Prisoner and the Writer, illustrated by Sophie Casson. On the left page, spare white bars cut through an image of people walking the streets, reading newspapers above lines of free verse; on the opposite page, people stand together indoors conversing above free verse text.

Explore The Prisoner and the Writer

Listen to Heather Camlot talking with TeachingBooks about creating The Prisoner and the Writer. You can click the player below or experience the recording on TeachingBooks, where you can read along as you listen, and also translate the text to another language.

Invitation to Imagine

TeachingBooks asks each author or illustrator on our Virtual Book Tour to share a writing prompt, a drawing exercise, or just an interesting question to spark curiosity and creativity. Enjoy the following activity contributed by Heather Camlot.

Imagination Activity with Heather Camlot

This is a prompt I’ve used with students and seems to have been enjoyed! A single object can inspire an entire world. Look around your home for an “item of interest,” something on display that’s always been around but you have no idea why or the meaning behind it. Build a short story around the object, each day adding a new layer: set the object in a place it shouldn’t be, describe it with all your senses, have a character stumble upon it, let it lead your character in an unexpected direction, and, finally, reveal what the object really is (you’ll have to do some research for this part and/or ask family members some questions!).

Finish This Sentence . . . with Heather Camlot

As part of our Virtual Book Tour, TeachingBooks asks authors and illustrators to complete short sentence prompts. Enjoy Heather Camlot’s response.

“My favorite books as a child were…”

My favorite book as a child was The Monster at the End of this Book. I mean it’s got everything: humor, mystery, interactivity, Grover! As a teen, I read John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men for school and those ideas of loneliness, big dreams, and impossible choices made an incredibly deep impression on me. It was just so honest in tackling human relationships (the good and the bad), and now that I think about it, it probably played a big part in what I write about today. 

“I hope my book encourages readers to think about…”

I hope that my book may encourage young people to think about what they hear, see, and read in the media and from those around them. Are they getting the full, accurate story or someone’s one-sided take? I hope my book will remind kids and teens that they have a voice and encourage them to stand up and speak out for others who can’t.

Thank you!

To wrap up this Virtual Book Tour, we thank Heather Camlot for signing a book for all of us.

The title page of The Prisoner and the Writer, signed by the author, Heather Camlot, with the message, "Stand up and speak out!"

More Connections to Heather Camlot and The Prisoner and the Writer

Explore all of the titles featured in the TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour: one link with author interviews, lesson plans, activities, and more!

All text and images are courtesy of Heather Camlot, Sophie Casson, and Groundwood Books and may not be used without expressed written consent.

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