Asha and the Spirit Bird - Jasbinder Bilan

with Jasbinder Bilan

Children's Literature Event

Asha lives in the foothills of the Himalayas. Money is tight and she misses her papa who works in the city. When he suddenly stops sending his wages, a ruthless moneylender ransacks their home and her mother talks of leaving.

From her den in the mango tree, Asha makes a pact with her best friend, Jeevan, to find her father and make things right. But the journey is dangerous: they must cross the world's highest mountains and face hunger, tiredness - even snow leopards.

And yet, Asha has the unshakeable sense that the spirit bird of her grandmother - her nanijee - will be watching over her.

About the author

Jasbinder won The Times Chickenhouse Fiction Prize for her debut Asha And The Spirit Bird in 2017.

Jasbinder studied for an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, which is where she began writing her magical adventure Asha And The Spirit Bird.

She was born in India close to the Himalayas on the family farm. Her mum told her that she was born in a stable which all her brothers and sisters think is very funny!

On the farm they had lots of animals including a grumpy camel and a monkey called Oma who they adopted and became part of the family. Oma used to love carrying Jasbinder’s brother off to the neem tree in the farm-yard where she would rock him to sleep in her arms.
One of the things that Jasbinder’s family used to love doing was to sit outside under the starriest of skies, build a big fire and make pop-corn. This is when her uncles and grandma (her majee) would tell stories. Even though she was only a baby, it was those nights that gave her a love for the magic of stories.

When she was one and a half her family moved from India to Nottingham. But India was kept alive by continuing to talk about the farm and all the funny things that happened there during big family feasts.

  • 'Fantastic debut...uplifting and fury...Bilan creates a vivid world.' - Alex O'Connell - The Times Review Children'd Book of the Week - 02.03.19

  • 'An evocative debut...weaves ancient Hindu beliefs into a fast-past quest...satisfyingly classic in feel.' - Imogen Russell-Williams - Guardian - Books of the Month 25.01.19