There is no doubt the Brightstorm trilogy by Vashti Hardy is incredibly important to our family. Following the adventures of boy/girl twins, Arthur & Maudie, they have given our own twins, Tom & Lucy, the opportunity to follow a positive, loving twin relationship that is so like their own.
We first met Vashti Hardy when she visited our school in May 2019 for the Leeds Book Awards. Tom, Lucy and big sister Charlie were completely taken in by her exciting sky ship stories full of action, peril and touching family moments. They went on their own “Brightstorm adventures”, imagining they were travelling to South Polaris, meeting Thought Wolves and escaping from Eurdora Vane!
We all eagerly awaited the publication of the second Brightstorm adventure, Darkwhispers. In December 2019, we received an exciting parcel containing an advance copy of Darkwhispers and a very special Aurora Crew mug. We were thrilled to discover the book had been dedicated to Tom & Lucy – a complete surprise!
In the months leading up to publication, we read (and reread) the story together, feeling every heart-stopping moment. The water bears became the new favourites and all three children wished Valiant could come to live with us as a pet.
When publication day finally arrived, we made a special trip to Waterstones Leeds to see Darkwhispers and purchase additional copies. Tom & Lucy wanted to check every book to see if they were mentioned in them all – they couldn’t believe it when they saw their names in books in a real bookshop. The excitement continued when we listened to the fantastic audio book for the first time – absolutely honoured and so pleased to have been mentioned by their favourite author.
As members of Twins Trust (a national charity supporting parents of twins, triplets and more), we wanted to share our Brightstorm experience with other twin families in the hopes that they would find as much joy and meaning in the books as we had. We were so pleased to have an article published in the Twins Trust magazine in March 2020.
As a teacher, Brightstorm has been a powerful class read time and time again. Children are gripped from the very first chapter as they race across Lontown with Arthur and Maudie. The thrill of taking off in a sky ship; the charm of Felicity Wiggety and her lucky spoon; the mystery of Harriet Culpepper; the danger of quicksand, the freezing South Polaris and terrible villains; and strong family ties leave children asking for one more chapter every time. There are so many valuable curriculum connections to be made and children are inspired to write and create within the Brightstorm theme.
We approached the final book in the trilogy, Firesong, with mixed emotions. We couldn’t wait to find out what Arthur & Maudie were up to next but also didn’t want it all to end. What we found was a beautiful story of family and growing up. Arthur & Maudie recognise that they are changing – that their relationship is changing – but that’s ok. No matter what, they will support and care for each other. Nothing can take away the special bond they share and the future looks bright. This is the fitting end to an adventure that took them from one end of the Wide to the other. Along the way, they discovered far more than they ever dreamed.
Tom & Lucy have written their own reflections on what Brightstorm means to them:
We love the Brightstorm series of books by Vashti Hardy because we are boy/girl twins and the main characters, Arthur and Maudie, are too. Just like us, they look out for each other, care about each other, encourage each other, and even tease each other. They understand what each other are thinking and feeling without even asking.
We first met Vashti Hardy when she came to our school for an author visit in 2019. It was great to hear about where she gets her ideas, including survival tips from Bear Grylls! Her stories are such exciting adventures set in amazing places with incredible characters, including Thought Wolves who communicate through thoughts.
We were thrilled when Vashti dedicated Darkwhispers, the second book, to us and called us “real-world Brightstorm twinnies”. Now we’re so excited to read the third book, Firesong, but are a bit sad that the adventures have come to an end so soon. We wish the Brightstorm twins could go on forever.
As a parent, I will be forever grateful to Vashti for the beautiful twin relationship she has created in her stories and how she has encouraged my children to celebrate who they are and their special relationship. Growing up alongside the Brightstorm twins has been a privilege that will stay with them always.
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