Hana Tooke

Portrait Hana Tooke
Hana Tooke [© Charlotte Knee]

Hana Tooke was born in Alkmaar, Holland in 1985 and moved to England in the late 90s. A singer-songwriter since the age of twelve, she graduated from Plymouth University with a degree in music performance. She wrote her first fairy tale for her bachelor thesis. She earned her master’s degree at Bath Spa University in Writing for Young People. This resulted in her first novel for children, »The Unadoptables« [2020].

The plot begins in 1880, when the matron of Amsterdam’s most famous orphanage witnesses an outrageous incident: five babies are egregiously abandoned, one in a tin toolbox, one in a coal bucket, one in a picnic basket, one in a wheat sack, and the fifth in a coffin-shaped basket. Lotta, Mads, Mona, Gisbert, and Milou have been inseparable ever since. At the beginning of the story, Milou is twelve years old. Her talent is fantasizing and storytelling; the other four are distinguished by talents that lie outside the ideas of gender roles of the time: Lotta is enthusiastic about scientific topics, Mads likes to draw, Mona cooks, and Gisbert has exceptional social skills and is a tailor. One day, a sinister gentleman shows up wanting to adopt them, but the children discover that he actually intends to buy them as slave labor to man his ship. The gang of five decides to escape and follow a clue that was hidden in Milou’s stuffed animal: a pocket watch with coordinates engraved on it. With it, they are also on a quest to find answers about what happened after they were born and where their parents are. While still fighting back against the cruelty of adults, they themselves have become the family they were looking for. »While the vivid, Dickensian setting — grim orphanage, icy mists, and shadowy dockyards — and quaint clockwork creations and life-size puppets spin a web of Gothic creepiness, the bonds among this found family of lively orphans add plenty of warmth and light« [»Kirkus Review«].

In her new children’s book, »The Midnighters« [2022], Hana Tooke again tells a story set in the 19th century, this time in Prague. Ema Vašková is born into a family of famous scientists who don’t care much for her psychic talent. She is sent to live with her eccentric uncle in Prague, and there she meets Silvie, who finally recognizes her exceptionality and sets off with her on secret midnight adventures.

Hana Tooke worked for many years as a primary school teacher and now works in special education. The author lives in Bath.

Date: 2022