As a children’s book blogger I have come to see 2019 as the year to celebrate the success of the debut author and have become a huge fan of some newly published authors that I look forward to future titles from. This year there has been a constant flow of outstanding publications, at times being hard to keep up with the volume coming through the door, and I have loved being a part of it and providing what I hope has been an interesting, relevant and always improving blog. I use book fair funds to purchase fiction in my library and as such have to be very specific and certain about the titles I choose to ensure quality content and that I cover all interests so I have compiled this 52 book shopping list of 2019 releases I would recommend to those in similar situations because they are the ones I have purchased, sought out, read to my children, and kept to share with reading groups to inspire as many children as possible with a range of literary content. Happy Holidays. Enjoy!
The Switching Hour by Damaris Young.
Debut title, perfect for children that enjoy suspense, adventure and mythical type creatures. Utterly stunning story with high quality content and depth for KS2 readers to enjoy. The story involves a creature called Badeko, who steals dreams from children while they sleep rendering them useless. When Amaya’s little brother falls victim it is down to her to find and rescue him – but time is not on her side and she must face her fears along the way.
I have recommended this book to students in school and at home, as well as fellow librarians and school staff because I immensely enjoyed reading this book myself, finding the content a welcome change to other books I had been reading at the time and enjoying where the adventure takes your imagination as the reader and how gripping the story is in its entirity – I could not put this book down!
Shadows of Winterspell by Amy Wilson.
Featuring magic, mythical creatures, and the world of fae this book is perfect for fans of Harry Potter, Abi Elphinstone and The Worst Witch. A fantastic read that will immerse the reader into a whole new world just like other titles by Amy Wilson – of which I own and love! Amy has a natural talent for making magical worlds feel as though they are as real as our own and this book is no exception.
Children have borrowed this book in school and loved it, searching out other titles by Amy to read as they love her narrative and the depth she creates to her worlds. I am a huge fan of her work and cannot recommend her titles enough, and love that her previous release Snowglobe was the first book I officially reviewed ( for Armadillo Children’s Magazine). If you have competent readers that advocate the world of magic definitely suggest Amy’s books, the children will love them all.
Everdark by Abi Elphinstone.
My Pick from the WBD titles this year, this book has all the quality and content needed to engage and immerse confident readers into the worlds created by Abi as she begins a series of books known as The Unmapped Chronicles. Magic and Adventure await, readers will not be disappointed.
Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone.
Following on from the phenomenally popular WBD title Ever Dark we are introduced to the new worlds and characters Abi has created that immerse the reader into a world of magic and possibility, rewarding the readers imagination with every chapter.
Hugely popular, these stories have remained with me since reading them in March/April this year. I love the worlds Abi has created and the characters are so easy to fall in love with as we are treated to incredible adventures as the reader with what are undoubtedly modern day classics. I am counting the days until the next instalment is in my hands, as are many students at school who appreciate this series will provide welcome transition material as they make the move to high school in September 2020 and can look for further titles within the library there.
Garden of Lost Secrets by AM Howell.
Debut title with a nod to The Secret Garden this book takes readers on an adventure to uncover a mystery amongst the grounds of an estate under a backdrop of WW1. Utterly brilliant read that children will enjoy immensely.
I had the pleasure of hearing Ann-Marie read from this title in person at the Bury St Edmunds Book Festival this year and she did not disappoint. In one of many references I will make in this blog about the advantages and benefits author visits I was privileged to learn of the inspiration behind this phenomenal read, the local link (which I LOVE!) and also her upcoming projects, of which I am anxiously awaiting – look up The House of One Hundred Clocks to pre order ( out Feb 6th!)
Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods by Samuel. J, Halpin.
Debut title that treats readers to an incredible adventure whilst discovering the mystery of Riddling Woods. One for those that love mystery, adventure, and eerie undertones this book has the depth confident readers look for in a text and the right storyline to ensure they are gripped.
We had the pleasure of a school author visit from Sam, the day after WBD and it was an incredibly popular book sale/signing that followed from an unforgettable event in which he talked about the inspiration behind Peculiar Peggs, how his reading material as a child and his childhood had been a massive influence in his writing style and so much more – including a photograph of a creepy spider that I think of frequently! Children that attended went up into Year 6 this September (2019) and they still speak of the book, the visit, and how they hope we see more from Sam soon.
Return to Wonderland by Various Authors.
A collection of short stories that treat the reader to an adventure in the world of Wonderland, introducing a new generation to the characters and locations of a classic title known by so many and encouraging them to delve into the original too. Perfect for fans of the Classics section in the library.
This is an utterly brilliantly book to hand to children that are put off by large books yet still appreciate and comprehend high quality texts. This collection all together gives an insight into the wonderful world of Alice (and all things Wonderland) for children who aren’t familiar with the original text just as much as those looking to revisit. This would be a gorgeous gift for a parent that grew up hearing of Lewis Carroll’ imaginative creations, to read to their child whilst reflecting fondly.
Scavengers by Darren Simpson.
Debut title that takes readers into a world of boundaries – physical and mental through accompanying many character Landfill as he survives through scavenging at a dump site whilst living off the grid on wasteland. With a nod to Stig of the Dump, this book has all the qualities of a modern classic.
A huge highlight of my year was attending the FCBG Annual Conference at which a memorable moment was getting to meet the hugely inspiring Darren Simpson – and of course get my copy of Scavengers autographed! Darren gave a presentation on behalf of his publishers Usborne at the very start of the conference which I can still vividly recall as he proceeded to talk about his debut which I could not put down once I began reading and have recommended regularly since.
The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery by Allison Rushby.
A gripping WW2 based story that combines the real world with that of the dead through ghost characters that reside in various cemeteries. The story is full of suspense, will have the reader gripped and takes the readers imagination on an unforgettable journey.
I have a junior librarian that has spoken to me along her journey reading this book. As a student studying WW1/WW2 at the same time as this book being recommended to her by myself the history within gripped her, and characters like Winston Churchill being mentioned in the book gave her a sense of familiarity. The story is a hugely memorable, gripping read that children with a good level of comprehension will thoroughly enjoy.
Malamander by Thomas Taylor.
Debut title that takes the reader on an incredible seaside adventure where we follow a charming young boy whose job is to return lost and found things to their owners. This story has phenomenal characters and content which will immerse readers into the world of Eerie-on-Sea as they uncover information relating to a gripping mystery.
I got to meet Thomas during his book event at my local Waterstones in May this year where he talked of Sea Glass, Eerie-on-Sea, and all about his first title in what we can only hope will be a long running series of titles based at the seaside resort that we come to walk the streets of with a sense of familiarity when reading this unforgettable title.
The Butterfly Circus by Francesca Armor Chelu.
With a feel of The Greatest Showman this story is based entirely around Circus life and tells of one sisters determination to find the other when she disappears. The author treats the reader to an amazing adventure with strong female characters and a shadow that comes to life!
Myself and my daughter felt honoured to be invited by Francesca to attend her book launch at the public library in Halesworth, Suffolk. As she works for Suffolk Libraries Francesca was keen to include them at the start of her book journey, and the library was beautifully decorated with butterflies throughout. It is always inspiring to hear an author tell of their books journey to the point of print and Francesca’s was no exception, and well worth our adventure by train!
The Velvet Fox by Catherine Fisher.
Following on from her 2018 release The Clockwork Crow, we continue to fear for main female lead Seren and her cousin Tomas as the world of magic comes knocking once more, with bad intentions. This is the perfect recommendation for fans of magic and mystery.
My face lit up when I saw that the next book in the Clockwork Crow series was due for release and reading it did not disappoint at all. Continuing with characters from the first title that we have come to know and love, this book is another huge hit within our school library, continuing from the success of the Clockwork Crow which was our most popular loan for multiple successive weeks this year.
Swimming against the Storm by Jess Butterworth.
Immersing the reader into the swamplands of Louisiana this book has a phenomenally authentic feel as we follow to girls on an adventure that sees them uncover more then they bargained for. With a nod to environmental awareness this book is hugely relevant in the current climate and inspiring for younger generations.
I had the pleasure of taking my daughter to meet Jess at my local Waterstones where she was visiting to sign books for customers. Taking my daughter along to encourage her to indulge in Jess’ titles worked, with her taking great pleasure in owning all of Jess’ titles, dedicated to herself (and even me on one or two!) and given pride of place on the top shelf of her bookcase. Having read all of Jess’ titles released to date I routinely encourage children to search her out in the library too.
Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher.
Debut title treating readers to a different perspective of WW2, that of animals. The animals contribute to the war being fought and provide a gripping read that children will love, especially those that are fans of animal stories, adventures and war.
Anna visited my local Waterstones to sign stock and I went along with my youngest son (10). I was fortunate enough to get to speak with Anna while she was there, and discussed the story behind her story and how the adventure the animals go on needs to continue in future releases – which it will so keep your eyes peeled for Umbrella Mouse #2!
Invisible in a bright light by Sally Gardner.
A truly exceptional read that takes readers back to 1870 and an unbelievable setting within a theatre. The story is based around a game called the reckoning which challenges readers perceptions of time and leaves them speechless.
An absolutely brilliant read that takes your mind and imagination to new levels through the brilliant storytelling and world creating skills of Sally Gardner. I have referenced the book to my youngest son at bedtime, telling him a shortened version when he asked me to tell him of one of my favourite stories, and he was as gripped as I had been reading this book. An awe inspiring title.
Polar Bear Explorers Club – Explorers on Witch Mountain by Alex Bell.
Following on from the first in this series we follow Stella and her friends on a rescue mission to Witch Mountain to try rescuing her dad. There are so many fantastic milestones throughout the journey that make for fantastic content and an adventure to remember.
Following on from previous Polar Bear Explorer titles this latest instalment does not disappoint as we return to the world of Stella and her companions on their latest adventure. The writing style and content are a breath of fresh air to MG fiction, taking readers on a story that flows easily, grips the reader and is hugely enjoyable too.
The Boy Who Flew by Fleur Hitchcock.
A story focused around a flying machine, kept secret and known about only by Athan – a boy who dreams of flying. With a dangerous man snooping around it seems only a matter of time before the machine is discovered. An intense drama that will hook readers in from the offset leaving them wanting more.
A hugely memorable story that I really enjoyed reading, this story is one that stays with you for all the right reasons – stunning cover, brilliant story, amazing adventure. I have enjoyed listening to feedback from students that have also enjoyed this story and then recommended the title to their friends.
Little Bird Flies by Karen McCombie.
is an incredible adventure story based on a remote scottish island that sees Bridie and her family living amongst the lands of a laird, happy and free. Until the laird passes away and the new one is harsh and controlling and the family find themselves fighting to stay together.
The first book to take us to the world of Bridie and her family – with the follow up Little Bird Lands due for publication on 6th Feb 2020, this book takes you to rural Scotland and completely immerses you within the lifestyle of the locals their, under the control of a Laird. This is a gripping and entertaining read that children that look for shorter reads (256 pages) will enjoy.
The Closest thing to Flying by Gill Lewis.
A story based both in present time and the past through one girl finding a diary that takes us back in time but relates massively to the girl in the present time. This is an empowering read that gives readers context from two different time periods that relate to one another, giving greater to the reading material they are accessing as well as encouraging a love of historical fiction.
I am a huge fan of this title as I enjoyed the modern content that was easy to relate to and imagine, and the throwback in history to significant characters and locations that I soon became familiar with too.
The Maker of Monsters by Lorraine Gregory.
This amazing story combines a frankenstein feel to the familiar world of Beast Quest type stories and rewards readers with a higher depth as they enjoy a dark, monster filled adventure story that sees a determined and inspirational boy fight for survival.
I loved this book, eager to recommend to fans of Beast Quest books that have grown in comprehension and yet to move on to titles with more depth, which this book offers in abundance. The monsters created have a brilliant level of creepy, dangerous and believability that will ensure the reader becomes immersed in the story and is gripped through to the end too.
The Middler by Kirsty Applebaum.
Debut novel that takes readers to a timeless setting that sees the middle child of families dismissed until Maggie proves that every child is important when she goes on a mission to save her brother, taken under false pretences and in danger. The story is gripping, filled with suspense and provides a new and much welcome concept into the world of middle grade.
As a middle child myself I really enjoyed this interpretation of life for a child in that position within a family, and like many other debut titles I read this year found myself stunned that this is Kirsty’s first book to be published given its quality and the theme of the book, which differs to other MG titles in a way that makes it stand out as memorable, enjoyable and offering chapter readers something different. Something welcome to the shelves of our school library.
Extraordinary Birds by Sandy Stark-McGinnis.
Debut novel about one girls journey through the care system, her experiences, challenges and the rollercoaster of emotions involved. This story is insightful and engaging and makes for a fantastic read through the eyes of a strong, determined young girl that refuses to be classed as a victim.
When I saw this title in the Bloomsbury catalogue of upcoming releases I knew I needed to get hold of a copy, and when I did I was not disappointed. I recommended this title to fellow librarians in my area at a meeting we attended shortly after reading this book and have enjoyed sharing the story with children at school. Sandy has a new title coming out in April 2020.
Can you see me? by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott.
A beautiful read that gives readers an insight into life with autism through the telling of Tally’s story. Able to take in everything those around her are thinking as well as doing makes for a heart breaking read while we accompany Tally on her journey within this books pages.
With the second book about life for Tally, a young girl with autism due out in April 2020 we get to continue the insightful journey these books from collaborative authors Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott offer, which undoubtedly educate the readers into an otherwise inaccessible world, and teaching them empathy along the way.
Mary Poppins by Lauren Child.
This beautifully illustrated edition of the classic title is a visual gift as well as physically too. The pictures are stunning and instantly immerse the reader amongst the london scenes originally created by P.L.Travers and bring Mary Poppins to life for a whole new generation to enjoy.
This is a stunning edition of an utterly beautiful story, already adored by so many. This book is illustrated by someone children will be familiar with through titles in the Charlie and Lola series, and provides a gorgeous keepsake for a new generation to enjoy and cherish and with the new film featuring Emily Blunt also released this year children will enjoy continuing to enter the world of the absolutely amazing nanny.
The Snow Dragon by Abi Elphinstone and Fiona Woodcock.
Beautifully illustrated picture book that encourages the readers imagination to enjoy the wintery story within of a girl who dreams up a dragon and is visited by one that takes her on an amazing adventure. A compelling story for younger audiences to enjoy.
The most gorgeous of picture books, Fiona explained her technique during a chat orchestrated by Toppsta on Twitter recently saying that she uses blo pens, and how the texture portrayed within the illustrations comes from using this form of medium. The story originates within an anthology of stunning winter themed short stories which Abi curated, and adapted for younger readers within this picture book makes this a book to cherish for generations to come.
Check Mates by Stewart Foster.
This is a fantastic read, especially for reluctant confident readers (think boys!). The story is based around a Felix and his grandad and their inability to connect until they start to play chess together which leads to them bonding, confiding in one another and learning to move on – and given that Felix has ADHD and his grandad is mourning losing his wife they need each other more then ever.
I recommended this book to my eldest son (14) not long after I had read it. He reads regularly, frequently getting through a book series quicker then I can line up the next one for him and had just finished reading the Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve when I made this offering. He took to the book in no time at all, in fact he came home requesting we dust off our chess set more then once, and stayed after school playing chess with friends a few times too. This story speaks to the relevant aged audience as Stewart includes items, hobbies, phrases and behaviours that they can recognise and relate to, which is just one of the reasons his books will always be a huge success in my home, school library and the larger world beyond.
Mythologica by Dr Stephen .P. Kershaw and Victoria Topping.
A non-fiction title choice in this list, this book has vibrant coloured, iconic looking illustrations/artwork that would look amazing on your wall in a retro kind of way. This book has mythical characters, those of legends and gods that readers will be familiar with and those that they won’t, and many hours can be spent enjoying this book.
This being the only NF title that features on my list, my reason for choosing this is because I have thought about the stunning illustrations frequently since, and have found a new interest in Greek Gods, Myths and Mortals since reading through this book. A perfect addition to a school library, the eye catching illustrations will wow children and the content will inspire and educate too.
The Truth Pixie goes to School by Matt Haig and Chris Mould.
The second title in this series sees the Truth Pixie head to school with her human friend, and the impact that has for both of them. Bullying is a major issue that the book tackles, and much like the previous title in the series this book is useful as a reassurance to children in similar situations making this the ideal read during school breaks prior to returning to school and over the summer for children apprehensive about moving up in school – including the transition to high school.
On a personal level these two books in this series have helped my children who irrespective of age have listened to the story and found comfort in the words, for a variety of reasons and with the school themed title my Son found this reassuring when he changed schools, and my daughter felt it helped when she faced bullying.
The Girl, the Cat and the Navigator by Matilda Woods.
An utterly beautiful read that features a magical feel throughout – especially given their are whales that swim through the sky! The story is that of the youngest child in a large family that is written off by her parents the moment they see she is a girl, as they are seen as not worth educating and overall unimportant. Oona has other ideas however, and before long she has snuck onboard her fathers ship for the adventure of a lifetime!
My daughter loved this book as much as I did when I read it having fell in love with Matilda’s writing style via her debut The Boy, The Bird and the Coffin Maker. The magic within this story is brilliantly told of, and makes for an immersive adventure story that maintains readers interests to the end.
The Last Spell Breather by Julie Pike.
Harry Potter and The Worst Witch fans will love this debut title that tells the story of Rayne – a girl that has inherited her mothers ability to breathe spells but has no idea how to control and use her magic. Circumstances change suddenly and her mum has to go away and it becomes Rayne who has to save the world of magic, her home and her family, and to do so she must harness her magic and face many dangers on the way.
A great magic story that has vibes of something a bit different with the abilities of the characters, especially the spell breathers. This story has stayed with me since reading it as it maintained my interest from the very start, eager to know what comes next and disappointed when the story ended. I hope there are more titles relating to this one to come from Julie as I would love to return to the world of Rayne and family.
The House of Light by Julia Green.
Bonnie and her Granda live together in a secluded place patrolled by border guards, and it is these guards that Bonnie tries to hide a boy she finds in a washed up boat. When it looks as though they are out of options Bonnie and her Granda have to decide whether to use the boat and leave or not. Gripping and immersive, this book has all the qualities of a modern day classic.
I fell in love with this story from the offset, totally adoring the bond between Bonnie and her Granda, something lots of readers will relate too. The adventure we are taken on whilst reading this story is incredible, meeting characters along the way that make this interesting throughout and the potential that Bonnie could get caught at any moment makes this a grippingly good read.
The Secret Starling by Judith Eagle.
A fantastic adventure story about a girl called Clara who refuses to leave the family home she has lived in with her Uncle. When he leaves her she goes to the house and is joined by her cousin who helps her to survive in the world without adults, which is vital given that everything Clara has been told is a lie, and uncovering the truth is just the start of the journey she embarks on.
A modern day classic, this story has all the feelings of stories from my childhood – Swallows and Amazons, The Secret Garden, Matilda. The idea of children living alone without parents is always a brilliant concept – look at Home Alone, and this book makes for such enjoyable and entertaining reading as they do just that.
The True Colours of Coral Glen by Juliette Forrest.
A menagerie of colours feature in this phenomenal read that is both dark (but at a child appropriate level) and adventurous in a highly memorable and gripping way. This story is about a girl that regrets not saying goodbye to her nanny before she passed away and seizes the opportunity to try when a ghost gives her the chance to in return for her helping him with an evil spirit intent on ruining things for him.
Since reading this story I have frequently thought of it, recalling the colours that are noted within the story having the sorts of names that you find on colour charts in paint stores and smiling as I fondly recalled little details in the story itself that have stayed with me. The characters and storyline make this a hugely entertaining read.
Clifftoppers by Fleur Hitchcock.
Readers have been treated to two titles in this series this year – The Arrowhead Moor Adventure was published in April and The Firebay Adventure in September. The books have a timeless classic feel from the offset, with a famous five vibe too. The stories follow a group of children who uncover mysteries and criminals in the local area that they are staying in while spending time with their grandparents for the summer. These are heart warming, good overcoming evil types of book that readers will enjoy immensely, especially as the series develops.
I am excited to continue collecting the titles in this series, and seeing where the adventures take the characters we connect with in each of the books. I grew up loving Swallows and Amazons and The Railway Children so for me I feel a nod to that nostalgia but there is an undeniable Famous Five feel to these too, from cover design to content and these are well worth buying, reading and cherishing as they have all the charm od a modern day classic.
The Iron Man by Ted Hughes and Chris Mould.
This all time classic title has a complete makeover in this version of the book which is brimming with stunning illustrations and art work that bring the iron giant to life and lifts the story off the page. This is a keepsake, gift worthy book that readers will cherish.
A brilliant way to introduce new generations to an all time great title, this book has the illustrative talent that will grab young readers interests and maintain them as they embark on the adventure within. Chris Mould has a stand out style that is both iconic and modern which is what he has done to this title, pulled it into the new decade with it’s brilliant design and ensures this story is not lost to new readers.
Potkin and Stubbs by Sophie Green.
With the series debut released in March and the second in the series published in September these books take readers to a gotham city style location where we find Lil Potkin, a young girl that investigates unsolved stories as she is keen to be a journalist. Lil pairs up with a boy called Nedly and the pair come together and work on trying to discover who is responsible for Nedly’s murder and hope to hold them to account. A gripping mystery that will entertain readers and leave them wanting more.
As an author local to me my path has crossed with Sophie many times, and one highlight of my year was attending her book launch for the second book in the series at my local Waterstones where she read from the book, signed and dedicated stock to readers and gave us an insight into the inspiration behind this brilliant book series. These are hugely popular, definitely belonging in school libraries for confident KS2 children to enjoy. I can see this series being beneficial to those children transitioning to high school, with them starting to read them towards the end of primary school and beyond.
A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby.
This debut is an emotional story about a mother and daughter who don’t get along, and then something happens that means Safiya’s mum is in hospital and that when she goes to see her she is transported into a video game world that has more significance then she first realises. This is a fantastic read that confident readers will enjoy immensely.
The only book to make me really cry within the entirety of 2019, this book is an emotional read but with a fun adventure and modern child relevant content too. Part of the story relates to gaming, of which many children will relate to, and part of it diverts off to an adventure away from technology, enjoying traditional aspects of cultures and daily living like food and clothing. Aisha balances the story so well that right to the end you are uncertain how it will conclude, gripped as you read on.
The Boy with the Butterfly Mind by Victoria Williamson.
Giving readers an insight into life with ADHD this book maintains the readers interest from the start as you read about Jamie Lee’s life moving to live with his dad, starting a new school and generally trying to fit in while coping with his condition – and all with a potential step sister sabotaging his every move! Brilliant story with fantastic characters that readers will relate to and emphasise with.
This was an insightful read that helped give an understanding of life with ADHD, not just for the person with the condition but for the family around them, how it impacts even the little things. The story is set out with chapters dedicated in the narrative of two seperate main characters – a girl and a boy, which encourages all readers to pick this book up and find it relatable.
The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay.
An awesome read that celebrates the power of reading and children’s imaginations. When Abi, Max and Louis become a new family in a new home after Abi’s dad looks to marry the boys mum there are strange things happening to each of the children. These strange things all relate to content in books the trio have read. This is a great read for young readers starting out on chapter books, and the adventure within is a definite modern day classic.
As a huge fan of Hilary’s work I was delighted to see this title come up for release, and especially enjoyed creating questions to put to her for a Q&A on the FCBG Blog which I took over running as the Federation’s website coordinator since this summer. The Skylark’s War is one of my favourite reads and Hilary continues to offer high quality content in this latest title which is an ideal length and comprehension for those readers moving on to chapter books, and I totally love how it promotes books and reading.
Girl.Boy.Sea by Chris Vick.
This sea based adventure tells of how a young boy called Bill finds himself lost at sea on a small craft and happens upon a girl also stranded on the ocean Aya and the pair try to survive the elements until rescue arrives. They have quite the experience dealing with the weather, lack of food and drinking water, and the nothingness too. A fantastic read for fans of adventure stories and the ocean itself.
This story reminded me of the film Castaway (Tom Hanks) and I loved every moment reading it, especially as the adventure takes place entirely at sea which is something of a rarity for me personally. I loved hearing about sea based animals, the oceans currents and the elements that impact being at sea, and I would love to read more like this in the future.
Evie and the Animals by Matt Haig.
Ideal for those moving on to chapter books, this is the story of Evie who can talk to animals in her mind. Not only does that make things interesting when she is small in her neighbourhood but it gets more interesting as she gets older which concerns her dad enough to ask her to stop. But when things get weird around her and its the animals that are in danger Evie does the right thing and steps in to save the day.
I gifted my copy of this to a colleague who intends to share the story with a student prior to the 2020 WBD titles being published where we get access to another Evie related title. The idea is appealing and children will love that she can connect to animals of all shapes and sizes, including those we are familiar with and perhaps introducing us to some new ones too.
And then I turned into a Mermaid by Laura Kirkpatrick.
A really quite hilarious story of a family that live in a lighthouse, with the focus of the adventure being on Molly who finds out she can turn into a mermaid whenever she comes into contact with water, and the antics that follow given that there appears to be water waiting wherever she goes!
I shared this story with my Son (10) and Daughter (13) at bedtime and they asked after it night after night, enjoying what they heard and delighted by the prospect of more titles related to this story coming in the future. The mermaid aspect makes this a fun, upbeat story to enjoy.
The Lifters by Dave Eggers.
A gripping story about how a duo uncover tunnels underneath their town and enter, not knowing what they will face. It seems Gran and his new friend Catalina will need to be very brave if they are to save not just their town but the world itself.
I was always curious about this book having seen the cover on display in our school library and it made me curious about the content, and having read the blurb I was eager to get my hands on a copy of my own and see what this was like. I was not disappointed and totally loved this story’s plot. Many children will enjoy this adventure, and this is ideal for confident chapter book readers.
Skeleton Keys : The Unimaginary Friend by Guy Bass and illustrated by Pete Williamson.
The amazing pair that gave us Stitch Head are back with this new series that sees a Skeleton with keys for fingers questioning young boy Ben, who is the central character of this story, about his newly created imaginary friend the Gorblimey. Skeleton Keys is concerned that the Gorblimey is bad and will prove dangerous but a case of mistaken identity would seem to be the case and Ben should be wary.
Guy Bass does not disappoint with this first in a new series that is both hilarious and scary in equal measures ensuring children will love this story and be longing for more titles too. I love the illustrative contribution to this book which made me fondly think of the Stitch Head series which I recall from my library volunteering days, when children would routinely request these titles.
Fire Girl, Forest Boy by Chloe Daykin.
A book that promotes reaching your own potential, this is the story of Maya and Raul who meet when their paths cross as they both run away from situations that they find themselves struggling in. The pair hit it off and unite to support one another through to the conclusion and closure each of them needs in order to believe in themselves and move on too.
There is so much to gain from reading this book which combines city life with that of living in a more rural setting, and showing what happens when they come together. This story is both beautiful and heart warming and children will love the adventure that awaits them should they read this book.
The Ghouls of Howlfair by Nick Tomlinson.
Whilst it is undoubtedly the perfect read around halloween this debut can also be enjoyed throughout the year by those that like their stories to be scary, spooky, dark and gorey! Molly and her friend Lowry unite to work on some local legends that her home town of Howlfair is notorious for, something Molly is consequently unwelcome by many of the locals through previous experience of her delving into their secrets. Consequently banned from nosing about by her mum she does this latest investigatory work on the QT but when local legends look to be coming true it seems things wont stay quiet for long!
I cannot express how excited I am for the next instalment in this series which I was gripped from the very start reading and literally could not put this book down. The book has a scary side that will definitely leave children with goosebumps (in a good way) and ensure they are eager to read on, but it also has deeper, more impactive content that will touch readers too. An ideal series for transitioning to high school as these are brilliant for confident KS2 readers, this is a series not to be missed out on as it offers children access to a style and genre that is rarely written about.
The Runaways by Holly Webb.
A brilliant World War Two story that tells of how Molly runs away from home with her dog and joins forces with two other children that have left home along the way. The trio think they have escaped their pasts but it soon becomes apparent that it will take more then an escape to the country to do so, and that the war has a far reaching impact.
A fantastic adventure story that takes children right into the thick of the action during the days that it became clear WW2 was imminent and then began. With a starting city based story flowing into the countryside giving children an all round view of how the war impacted on people depending on where they lived, and what their role within the war was too. This is ideal reading material for those learning about WW2 as a topic.
The Space we’re in by Katya Balen. Frank has an autistic younger brother Max that he makes allowances for and learns coping techniques for from their mum, but when their mum becomes unwell and things aren’t how they would normally be it starts to seem strange, and then things change forever and it is down to Frank to be there for his brother.
Quite the emotional rollercoaster of a read, this book stays with you long after you have finished it as the bond between the children and their mum will remind readers of their own, and make them appreciative of what they have in all likelihood too. This story is quite heartwarming in places too, especially when the father realises he has to step up, and confident readers will find deciphering the chapter names most interesting (possibly a quirk of hardback copies only).
Somerset Tsunami by Emma Carroll.
A hugely immersive read that takes you to the world of Fortune Sharpe, a girl that loves to have fun but doesn’t realise the serious implications of drawing attention to herself as female during a time in the county when Witch trials were becoming popular.
Any title by Emma Carroll is guaranteed to have historical relevance to it’s content, and this book relating to witch trials makes it an interesting read as that particular topic is rarely written about for MG I believe. The quality of this text is unquestionable, and readers will delight in being able to follow Fortune on the journey she embarks on when her mother wakes her in the middle of the night to leave home. It is an unforgettable story, and one I will continue to recommend for a long time to come.
The Girl and the Dinosaur by Hollie Hughes and Sarah Massini.
Marianne spends every possible opportunity at the beach digging for dinosaur fossils, much to the dismay of the locals. After finding some bones she goes to bed that night and dreams that the dinosaur fossil she uncovered comes to life and an amazing adventure follows.
I truly fell in love with this picture book as soon as I saw the stunning cover, and to read the content and enjoy a female lead character in a book about Dinosaurs is a breath of fresh air for me both as a parent and a librarian. Both my boys had a love of dinosaurs when they were preschool age and we consequently bought, borrowed and read so many relevant storybooks together and yet until now I had not come across one with a female main character, a real pity given my daughter would have related better to hearing that as she grew up. I now take great pleasure reading this title to reception classes, have recommend the book to little girls that are fans of dinosaurs, and will cherish my copy too.
The Suitcase by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros.
A hugely relevant and poignant picture book that portrays an animals travel to a new country and how he is treated by the locals when he arrives. The animals are concerned by the arrival of this new and unfamiliar animal and treat him badly, but soon realise they are in the wrong and look to make amends.
Hugely relevant to today’s climate itself and also beneficial in teaching young children empathy and appropriate ways to look out for one another, this book is an absolute must read to younger audiences and should be a required purchase within all primary school libraries to encourage audience awareness. When I have read the book to little children the story has resonated well with them, and they have been able to establish the correct behaviour that characters should have displayed as well as the emotions the various individuals in the book would be feeling. This story has stayed in my memory since reading it, proof of how powerful the content is.
The International Yeti Collective by Paul Mason and Katy Riddell.
Ella heads to the Himalayas with her uncle to search for proof of Yeti’s but as time passes she comes to the conclusion if they do exist they don’t want humans to find them, that is until one inquisitive Yeti goes from watching humans on the mountain from a distance to triggering a sequence of events that threaten his entire species.
The illustrations that accompany this story ensure the audience enjoy reading it all the more, and the story itself is an absolute must read that I highly recommend to confident KS2 readers that are looking
to find themselves immersed in an incredible adventure story involving the mysterious Yeti species. I struggled to put this book down once I had started reading it, and have recommended it to my junior librarians that are looking to expand their knowledge of children’s literature through different genres and writing styles, with this particular book offering maximum quality content and depth to the story.
Undeniably 2019 has been a great year when it comes to titles released in the world of children’s literature and I hope my list has shown that whilst sticking with the authors you are familiar with and that are popular to the majority can often prove fruitful, there is so much to be gained from trying an author new to the scene, debuting an incredible read onto the shelves of book shops and libraries. All 52 of these books are books I have purchased at home or at work for respective children to access, and in many cases the books on my list are available in both places. Authors like Damaris Young publishing The Switching Hour through Scholastic has given me unbelievable content for my blog, inspiring me along the way and giving me hope as a librarian that these good quality titles will inspire the young readers they are intended for even more. This year has definitely been the year of the debut author and they have hit gold so far as the quality of what they have to offer goes. My final note on this 2019 related blog is that my most memorable, special, and meaningful moments within my many book related roles this year have all involved being in the presence of an author and I cannot state it enough – meeting the right author is inspirational, so do make plans in 2020 to host an author visit in your school for the children to enjoy, do head to your local Waterstones when they have an author you like visiting, and do look at events such as the FCBG Annual Conference. Here’s to 2020, if the books are as good as this years then we will be off on some great adventures and likely to make some amazing friends along the way, whilst remembering fondly those we embarked on this year and taking those friends along the way.