According to family stories, Jasbinder was born in a stable in the foothills of the Himalayas. Until she was a year and a half, she lived on a farm inhabited by a grumpy camel and a monkey called Oma. Jasbinder graduated from Bath Spa University where the seeds of her story were nurtured, but it was the incredible bond with her grandmother which was the inspiration for Asha & the Spirit Bird. She lives with her husband, two teenage boys and dog Enzo in a man pad and splits her time between teaching and writing.
Asha & the Spirit Bird won the Costa Children’s Book Award 2020 and the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition in 2017. 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.
‘An evocative debut novel… satisfyingly classic in feel.’ – The Guardian
‘[A] warm, comforting story… the final ending is as perfect as any fairy tale.’ – Booktrust
‘The words do justice to the pictures. If one of the gifts of fiction is to proffer unfamiliar footwear in which to walk a while, Bilan’s story is an eye-opening adventure, with one sandalled foot in atmospheric realism and a toe-hold in the mythical.’ – The Observer