I'm thrilled to have my friend, Susan (S.P.) Gates back to celebrate the sequel to Monster in the Mudball, one of Lee & Low's Middle Grade best sellers. Learn more about...

by S.P. Gates
(Book 2 in the "Artifact Inspector" series, published in UK by Tamarind Books)
'"A tall woman with an eye patch came striding in. She wore a headwrap and dress in sizzling colours: hot pink, flaming orange, scorching yellow. She lit up the bakery like a firework display.
"Hello Frankie," she said.
"Mizz Z!" gasped Frankie.
"You've come back from Africa!"
     Yes, Miss Zauyamakanda (otherwise known as Mizz Z), Chief Inspector and part-time football coach, is back in town! In China Town to be specific, in a city in the North of England. (Here's the fabulous gateway to Chinatown with the city football stadium in the background.)

     Here are a couple of dragons. There are dragons everywhere you look in China Town.

     Mizz Z has come to the Money Tree Bakery owned by Frankie's Auntie Tang, where Frankie is working to earn extra pocket money, selling cakes like these. The Pineapple Bun makes a brief appearance in my story. Also a Moon Cake, but, sadly, I couldn’t find one of those to photograph for you!

     Back in Book One, "Zilombo", published in UK by Tamarind Books (American Edition published by Lee and Low as "Monster in the Mudball") Mizz Z, Chief Inspector of Ancient Artifacts, along with Jin and his big sister Frankie, battled an ancient shape-shifting monster. Now Mizz Z is back, facing an even more formidable foe, the dreadful Avenger, once the most deadly weapon of a tyrant called the Crocodile King. And, this time, it's personal!
     AVENGER in my story partly inspired by African statues like these, called Nkisi Nkondi. Nkondi means “Hunter”.

"No one the Crocodile King cursed EVER escaped Avenger," Mizz Z told Frankie. "You could run to the ends of the Earth, hide in the deepest caves, or on the highest mountains but Avenger never, ever gave up. It ALWAYS tracked you down. And it showed no mercy. It couldn't. Because it's just a machine with no feelings."
"It's a heap of junk!" said Jin.
"You're joking us!" scoffed Frankie.
"I do not joke," said Mizz Z, "about things like that. But it is perfectly harmless," insisted Mizz Z, "because it has lost its powers completely. Only the Crocodile King can activate it. And the Crocodile King has been dead for centuries. So it cannot happen."
      But, for once, the amazing Mizz Z is WRONG! She and all her family end up cursed by the Crocodile King who orders Avenger to hunt them down. Mizz Z finds herself tracked through the night-time city streets by the terrible Avenger. Somehow, Jin and Frankie must break the Crocodile King's curse, or the Chief Inspector herself will be Avenger's first victim. Followed by her little brother Kapito (ace computer game designer) who, with terrible timing, is flying into England from his home in America next morning!

     An ancient and very temperamental bun steaming stove called The Iron Dragon, that drives Auntie Tang crazy.
     Jin's Dad, a tough rodent control technician (or rat killer), who is a legend in his own life time.
     A Giant African Pouched Rat (who can sniff out land mines) and is a hero back in Africa.
     A truly terrifying ghost dog called Darkness.
     And, I almost forgot, a public toilet in a baobab tree!

     To find out how they all fit in, read "The Curse of the Crocodile King"! Click here to buy "Curse of the Crocodile King" on Amazon.

About Susan
     Susan Gates' is an award winning children's author. She's been a professional children's writer for more than 25 years. She's written for all ages from picture books for tinies ("Run, Run, It's Scary Poo!") to thrillers for young adults ("Viridian: Venus Angel"). She's also diversified a lot in children's literature, writing play scripts, poetry, graded readers for schools, comedy thrillers, thrillers, historical novels, ghost stories, short stories (to name but a few genres she's had a go at!). She once even wrote a series of funny books as W.C. Flushing about a time-travelling public toilet called Superloo. She has three children (now grown up) and lives in County Durham in Northern England with her husband Phil.

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