Louisa (Zizou Corder Young a Joint Pseudonym) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights
Female; Education: Trinity College, Cambridge, M.A. (history).
Agent—A. P. Watt, 20 John St., London WC2, England.
Writer and journalist.
A Great Task of Happiness: The Life of Kathleen Scott (biography), Macmillan (London, England), 1995.
Baby Love (novel), Flamingo (London, England), 1997.
Desiring Cairo (novel; sequel to Baby Love), Flamingo (London, England), 1999.
Tree of Pearls (novel; sequel to Desiring Cairo), Flamingo (London, England), 2000.
The Book of the Heart (nonfiction), Flamingo (London, England), 2002, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2003.
WITH DAUGHTER, ISABEL ADOMAKO YOUNG, UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM ZIZOU CORDER
Lionboy, Puffin Books (London, England), 2003, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Lionboy: The Chase, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Lionboy: The Truth, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Junior, Marie-Claire, London Evening Standard, and Manchester Guardian.
Author's works have been translated into numerous languages.
Lionboy was adapted as audiobooks read by Simon Jones, HighBridge Audio, and by Anton Lesser for Puffin Books, both 2004; the series was optioned for film production by DreamWorks SKG.
After writing her first book, A Great Task of Happiness: The Life of Kathleen Scott, a biography of her grandmother and the wife of famed Antarctic explorer Robert Scott, freelance journalist Louisa Young was on an assignment to cover a story about a motor-biking belly dancer. Discovering that the object of her newspaper story for the London Evening Standard did not actually exist, Young decided to create her out of her own imagination. "I met some belly dancers [while researching the story]," Young recalled in a Books magazine article, "and thought what a good job that would be for a thriller heroine." The result was Young's first novel, Baby Love, which follows the adventures of Evangeline, who is raising Lily, the daughter of a sister killed in a motorcycle accident. A flawed but well-meaning character, Evangeline tries to do right by Lily while also agreeing to work for the police to uncover crime in the underworld in order to wipe out a drunk-driving charge that would otherwise cause her to lose custody of her niece.
"It's all ludicrously far-fetched, but very enjoyable, packed with interesting facts about the history of belly dancing and touching descriptions of mother-child love," wrote Christina Patterson in a London Observer review of Baby Love. With her first book under her belt, Young continued writing fiction, and soon produced two sequels: Desiring Cairo and Tree of Pearls.
Young moved to nonfiction with The Book of the Heart, a look at the ways the human heart has been used as a symbol, a metaphor, a sign of love, and a religious icon. The heart appears in various forms in popular music, serious literature, religion, art, and science. People from around the world have attributed the heart with
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magical and religious powers. Among the subjects Young covers are Valentine's Day, the hearts found on playing cards, and the ancient Aztec practice of removing the hearts of their fallen enemies as a sacrifice. A critic for Publishers Weekly called the book "a very personal cross-cultural meditation on the symbolism of the heart," while a Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that "Young takes an engaging journey around the human heart, exploring the manifold meanings that have been attached to this vital human organ." "She seems to have overlooked no detail," Donna Chavez admitted in Booklist, while Elizabeth Williams in the Library Journal found The Book of the Heart to be "filled with interesting bits of trivia and history."
With Lionboy, Young ventures into imaginative fiction. Teaming up with her young daughter, Isabel Adomakoh Young, she penned this young-adult science-fiction novel under the joint pseudonym Zizou Corder. Set in the near future, Lionboy focuses on Charlie Ashanti, the son of a British scientist mother and West African scientist father. Charlie's blook became mixed, in a jungle accident, with that of a leopard cub, giving the boy the ability to communicate with felines of all sorts. This talent proves handy after his parents are kidnapped, and Charlie teams up with a pride of escaped circus lions to embark on an extraordinary mission to save his parents from the Corporacy. Charlie's parents, it seems, have discovered a cure for asthma, an illness that until now has been treated by medicines which make a profit but do not eradicate the disease.
Drawing parallels between scientists entrapped into working for corporations and wild cats caged for the purpose of entertaining people, the theme in Lionboy offers "much food for thought, and fodder for future installments" in a series, according to a Publishers Weekly critic. "The saga is imaginative and engaging," wrote Paula Rohrlick in Kliatt, while Steven Engelfried, reviewing the novel for the School Library Journal, admitted that "there's some inventive storytelling here." Wildly popular in the authors' native England, Lionboy was the first choice for the BBC's Blue Peter Book Club.
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The second book of the trilogy, Lionboy: The Chase, appeared in 2004. In this installment, Charlie continues his travels in search of his missing parents. Traveling from Paris to Venice via the Orient Express and then on to Morocco, the boy and his six lions and one saber tooth tiger are held prisoner, survive a shipwreck, and are chased by corporate baddies. At one point the friendly king of Bulgaria comes to their rescue; at another a stray cat joins in the fray. A critic for Kirkus Reviews praised the book's "fast-paced cinematic action," while Jennifer Mattson in Booklist wrote that readers "will be rewarded with a bang-up conclusion." Genevieve Gallagher predicted in School Library Journal that "fans of the young Lionboy will leave this installment looking forward to the third book."
Young explained to Heidi Henneman in BookPage.com that the inspiration for the "Lionboy" books came from her daughter. "She said, tell me a story, and I said, OK, what about? And she said, a naughty little boy called Charlie." Speaking with a writer for the Bookseller, Young explained that every time she got stuck in the developing bedtime story, she would ask her daughter for advice: "She'd say, 'I want him to ride on a whale,' and that perks you up again." She went on to explain that "we wanted to put in everything you could possibly want in a story, so you've got to have a boy, adventures, animals, a circus, a boat and quite a lot of villains." The pseudonym Zizou Corder was also partly created by Isabel, who owns a pet lizard named Zizou.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, December 15, 2002, Donna Chavez, review of The Book of the Heart, p. 714; January 1, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Lionboy, p. 852; September 1, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Lionboy: The Chase, p. 120; January 1, 2005, review of Lionboy audiobook, p. 778.
Books, October, 1997, "Free Wheelin': Journalist Louisa Young Discovers the Joy of Making It All Up," p. 16.
Bookseller, July 18, 2003,"Autumn Highlights," p. 24.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2003, review of Lionboy, p. 1358; September 1, 2004, review of Lionboy: The Chase, p. 862.
Kliatt, January, 2004, Paula Rohrlick, review of Lionboy; September, 2004, Paula Rohrlick, review of Lionboy: The Chase, p. 6; March, 2005, Nola Theiss, review of Lionboy: The Chase, p. 54.
Library Journal, January, 2003, Elizabeth Williams, review of The Book of the Heart, p. 144.
Magpies, November, 2004, review of Lionboy: The Chase, p. 38.
Publishers Weekly, October 28, 2002, review of The Book of the Heart, p. 58; November 17, 2003, review of Lionboy, p. 65.
School Librarian, spring, 2005, Barbara Lonergan, review of Lionboy: The Chase, p. 33.
School Library Journal, January, 2004, Steven Engelfried, review of Lionboy, p. 128; November, 2004, Genevieve Gallagher, review of Lionboy: The Chase, p. 139.
Spectator, June 17, 1995, Beryl Bainbridge, "A Lovely Life," pp. 41-42.
Times Literary Supplement, August 11, 1995, Claire Harman, review of A Great Task of Happiness: The Life of Kathleen Scott, p. 24.
Contemporary Writers Web site, http://www.contemporarywriters.com/ (May 8, 2005), "Louisa Young."
HarperCollins Australia Web site, http://www.harpercollins.com.au/ (October 6, 2004), interview with Young.
Independent Online, http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/ (November 30, 2002), review of The Book of the Heart.
Louisa Young's Web site, http://www.louisayoung.demon.co.uk (October 6, 2004).