No catches, no fine print just unconditional book loving for your children with their favourites saved to their own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop plus lots lots more...Find out more
These debuts - written by authors we believe are destined to have a great future as children's writers -have struck a real chord with us. We can't guarantee to find authors of this calibre every month but our scouts are out sourcing the best as often as we can. Here are the best first-time authors you need to know about.
December 2021 YA Debut of the Month | Set in a super-elite high school, How We Fall Apart, Katie Zhao's super-suspenseful YA debut, serves insights into race, class and the pressure to perform in gripping style. Shimmering with secrets, love, toxic peer pressure, parental pressure and tested loyalties, the novel delves deep into the world of academic competitiveness to create an edgy fast-paced thriller. Voiced by scholarship student Nancy Luo, “the daughter of two immigrants who’d fought tooth and nail to make it to the States, only to spend years struggling to make ends meet”, the story begins with the disappearance of one of Sinclair Prep’s most tipped-for-the-top pupils, Jamie Ruan. One-time best friend of Nancy, Jamie is the kind of girl who “could get away with anything, do away with anyone”, until someone does away with her. It’s not long before Nancy and her three friends seem to be the prime suspects in her murder, with an anonymous poster on the school’s gossip app incriminating them and threatening to reveal their darkest secrets. Tingling with suspense, and an undercurrent of class division, fans of edgy YA thrillers will be turning the pages at breakneck speed as the mystery twists and turns in unexpected directions.
October 2021 Debut of the Month | Farr is a master storyteller as evidenced by his phenomenally successful screenwriting and directing for the stage. This is evident in the confidence with which he controls all the elements in this complex, engrossing fantasy thriller – his first novel for a child audience. Rachel and Robert live in a dictatorship in Brava that makes life very drab and humdrum – as well as very dangerous. Their father is a librarian – and on Rachel’s birthday he involves them in the theft of an important and forbidden book from the precious books room in the city library. For that theft he is captured – leaving the siblings with their ailing mother. When she dies it is planned that they will be separated into different parts of the grim orphanage that exists. Can they escape that fate, find out the secret of the book they keep hidden and keep it out of evil dictator Malstain’s hands? Meeting a wonderful cast of characters along the way – some good, some bad – they set off on individual journeys across the land to escape Malstain’s reach. This is a rich story, full of adventure, peril, and huge bravery from the children and many of the other characters, as well as awful evil. It will keep readers engaged and probably reading long after bedtime and lights out! Inspired by Farr’s great Aunt and Uncle’s escape from Nazi Germany this adventure is set in a timeless world that could be anywhere so that it will chime with children the world over. I hope Farr goes on to write more for children if this, his debut, is anything to go by.
December 2021 Debut of the Month | Anyone familiar with the works of the book’s author Nick Cave will know this question is one explored extensively in his song-writing, mostly through characters responding to some form of turmoil. In The Little Thing this is also the case as we follow a tiny being who is frustrated and even distressed by the process of trying to understand what it is. Cave’s drawings are simple and vibrant alongside dialogue from those trying to help on this journey of self-discovery. In the end what is discovered is that it’s OK to simply accept yourself for what you are, even if exactly what that is remains a mystery! What is more important is who you are, how that feels, and what a wonderful thing it is to find kindred spirits and simply be. This is a lovely and intelligent book to share with your own little things that is sure to reassure, spark discussion and encourage acceptance and inclusion, written by a man who wouldn’t know how it felt to ‘fit in’. The Little Thing will be available exclusively via Cave Things, Nick Cave’s online shop : cavethings.com/products/the-little-thing
December 2021 Debut of the Month | This thrilling debut is infused with the history, language and mythology of West Africa. Set in the mid 1400’s when the Portuguese first began abducting and then buying West Africans, it pursues an interesting perspective on the terrible human cost of the Slave Trade. The author describes in a note how she came across many stories featuring Yemoja, a Yoruba deity with the tail of a fish. Stories of giving comfort to Africans on the ships, or wrecking slave vessels or escorting home the souls of those who died and were discarded in the sea. From this and her own fascination with the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, the author has created an unforgettable story. Yemoja has created many Mami Wata, mermaids tasked with escorting the souls of enslaved people thrown into the sea. Simindele, a teenage girl, is one of them, but when she instead saves the life of a boy, she unwittingly puts all the Mami Wata in peril and must seek the forgiveness of the supreme deity. The boy she saves also has a dangerous mission to save his family and on their perilous journey they grow dangerously close. Just like The Little Mermaid, if Simi were to act upon her feelings she would dissolve into sea foam and just like Andersen’s creation Simi’s travels in human form on land cause her terrible pain. In the denouement there is also a hint of Persephone and Hades in her dealings with the oceanic equivalent of the Underworld. Throughout this action packed adventure the narrative is enriched with elements of West African language and we learn fascinating detail about their sophisticated societies, mathematical prowess, customs and religion. This is an innovative and refreshing mix of western and African myth wrapped up in a really rewarding read that should find many fans.
December 2021 Debut of the Month | There’s something special about Eddie Albert and that is he can understand and talk to animals. He keeps it a secret of course, but even so it’s got him into scrapes at school (he was rescuing a trapped seagull) plus the other kids think there’s something not quite right about him. When he’s sent to stay with his wealthy Aunt Budge in Amsterdam then, imagine his surprise to discover that she can do it too. His holiday gets even more exciting when he spots a kidnapped orangutan that desperately needs help. With his new friend, Flo, plus his pets Butch the dog and Bunty the hamster, Eddie sets out to rescue the creature. The adventures that follow are funny, lively and feature a fabulous cast of characters including one of the best villainesses since Cruella de Vil. The author’s love for animals shines through and Butch and Bunty provide many of the best moments. There are black and white illustrations by Sue Hellard throughout, an extra treat, lovely sketches of the setting and our heroes, the two and the four-legged ones.
Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2021 | Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Awards 2022 Best Story | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2021 | Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | February 2021 Debut of the Month | Both touching and funny this is a brilliant story about being brave, being different and learning that being you is what really matters. Billy likes nothing more than making and performing jokes and dreams that one day he will be a famous stand-up comedian. But Billy has a stammer and it can be hard for him even to get a joke out quickly enough. Just now, Billy has a problem which will strike a chord with many: he is about to start secondary school and knows that it will be all too easy for him to become a target for bullies. Especially because of his stammer. Billy thinks of all kinds of schemes to avoiding speaking while also knowing that staying silent goes right against who he really is. How can Billy show his tremendous inner strength and especially his great sense of humour if he never dares to speak? Luckily Billy makes some good friends, meets a great teacher and, drawing on the support of his family and the work of his speech and language therapist, manages not only to survive but also to succeed! Find more books with Positive Images of Disability.
Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2021 | October 2021 Debut of the Month | A debut author is always a new experience to read – and this new fantasy-type novel aimed at middle grade readers does not disappoint. Maggie is a child, isolated from her family (Dad left, Mum recovering from a breakdown of some sort) whilst she is nominally looked after by her somewhat odd Aunt Esme. She befriends a rather battered old cat with torn ears and one eye – whom she is convinced hums tunes to her. But that is only the start of rather strange occurrences – Maggie sees her enemy from school apparently disappeared into a parallel reality by the new, odd, threatening careers mistress. What can she do – no one will believe her if she tells the truth… So, Maggie is left with only one course of action – she must rescue Ida from whatever has made her disappear. The characters are so well drawn and delightfully eccentric that one can become totally engaged in this well-developed story. Hoagy, the cat, proves to be a firm friend, and courageous – helping Maggie not only rescue her enemy Ida, but by doing so rediscover some of the happiness she has lost in her oddly disconnected life. An author worth watching – and a good read for fans of fantasy-based adventures.
Seventeen-year-old Aisha hasn't seen her sister June for two years. And now that a calamity is about to end the world in nine months' time, she and her mother decide that it's time to track her down and mend the hurts of the past. Along with Aisha's boyfriend, Walter and his parents (and Fleabag the stray cat), the group take a roadtrip through Malaysia in a wildly decorated campervan - to put the past to rest, to come to terms with the present, and to hope for the future.
If you like books in which ordinary children suddenly have wonderful magical adventures and, in the process, realise just how much adults don’t know, or choose to pretend isn’t real, then you will love The Silver Arrow. Eleven-year-old Kate and her younger brother Tom are gifted an adventure by their rich and totally irresponsible Uncle Herbert. It’s Kate’s mum who labels him irresponsible, Kate and Tom have never even met him until he turns up on Kate’s birthday with an amazing present – a steam locomotive. That night the children climb on board, staying on even as the train starts to move and Uncle Herbert advises them they really should think about jumping off – and there begins the best adventure you could ever hope to have, in which the train turns out to be able to communicate, the passengers are wild animals who climb on and off at the stops, except for a small band including a porcupine, black mamba, fishing cat and a white-bellied heron, who become the children’s special friends. There’s so much that Kate and Tom learn, not just about driving steam trains but about our world, its animals, and humans too. It all makes for the journey of a lifetime, and this is one train adventure-loving readers mustn’t miss. There’s an important environmental message for all youngsters reading the book too, and it’s even better for that.
November 2021 Debut of the Month | A dark, gothic adventure set deep in a Bavarian forest, with angels and owls and magic and a boy who isn't all that he seems to be... A cherub is blown into Cassie Engel's bedroom during a thunderstorm, triggering a series of terrifying events. Cassie must discover if its arrival was an accident or part of something more sinister. With a self-obsessed opera singer for a mother, a strange taxidermist father, and a best friend who isn't quite what he seems, Cassie is forced to unearth the secrets of her family's past. As the dark forces gather around them, can Cassie protect all that she holds dear? The fantastic debut novel from Lucy Hope, with cover illustration by Anna Shepeta.
November 2021 Debut of the Month | Fairies Verity and her best friend Celeste live in Fairy Tale Kingdom, where all your favourite fairytale adventures take place. In this story, Tatiana, the Queen of the Fairies, puts Verity in charge of the party the human king and queen are throwing for their new baby daughter. When Verity accidentally on purpose leaves out Nissa, the grumpy fairy places that curse on the baby. Fortunately, with Celeste’s help, Verity can put things right, not just for the royal family, but with Nissa too. As with other titles in this series, this puts a sweet new twist on a much-loved story and little children will be very taken by Verity and Celeste. With lots of illustrations and short chapters, it’s good for newly independent readers and a useful glossary will help them understand and remember new vocabulary.
November 2021 Debut of the Month | A raw and lyrical power surges through Lisa Fuller’s Ghost Bird debut as it tells the gripping story of a First Nations teenager who’s gone missing from her rural Queensland town. This is YA fiction at its most thrilling and enthralling. Stacey and Laney might be mirror twins, but they have vastly different personalities. While Stacey is keen to get her head down at school, Laney skips lessons and sneaks out to see her boyfriend, until the night she doesn’t come home. While the white townsfolk and white authorities assume this is just another of her rebellions (as Stacey remarks, “all the positions of power are held by property owners, all white, and all with memories of when they ‘owned’ us”), Stacey knows different. She can see and feel this is different too, through the vivid dreams that haunt her. If only her Nan were still alive. She’d know what to do, she could guide Stacey to harness her dreams: “I’d spent the most time with her listening to the old stories, learning the things that Nan always said would keep me safe. There were things she’d promised to tell me when I was older that I’d never get to hear now.” The sense of kinship, community, spirituality and ancestral bonds is tremendously powerful, and the writing uniquely beautiful. “I’ve always seen the golden core of her”, Stacey says of her twin. “The soft melting heart that the hard shell protects.” Driven by desperate love for Laney, and by the terrifying urgency of her dreams, Stacey seeks advice from “Mad May Miller”, the elder of a family her own family has long feuded with, but a woman who can help Stacey use her dreams to find her sister. At once brutal and rivetingly lyrical, this is a multi-layered contemporary YA masterwork.
October 2021 Debut of the Month | From the window of a cosy house in a seaside town, a little candle looks out onto the world. As the seasons roll by, she observes families celebrating, lighting up dark nights with love for Chinese New Year, Diwali, Hannukah, Ramadan and Christmas. It makes Little Glow wish to be bigger, until the realisation comes that small moments and the smallest lights are just as important as big ones. Revelling in comfort and light, this story was made to be shared in the winter nights while its message of hope and togetherness will warm hearts all year round.
November 2021 Debut of the Month | From the window of a cosy house in a seaside town, a little candle looks out onto the world. As the seasons roll by, she observes families celebrating, lighting up dark nights with love for Chinese New Year, Diwali, Hannukah, Ramadan and Christmas. It makes Little Glow wish to be bigger, until the realisation comes that small moments and the smallest lights are just as important as big ones. Revelling in comfort and light, this story was made to be shared in the winter nights while its message of hope and togetherness will warm hearts all year round.
October 2021 Debut of the Month | Shortlisted for the 2021 Branford Boase Award | A gobble-it-up fiery and intense yet thoughtful debut novel about family, betrayal, and witchcraft. Opening the pathway to a fabulous historical fantasy series this calls out as a must-read for young adults. Set during the civil war in 17th century England, 15 year old Evey has to flee with her little sister Dill when her mother is murdered. As with all good young adult novels, it is perfectly easy to slide into and really enjoy as an adult too, particularly with the wonderful cover drawing you in. Touching history, it flies into fantasy, as author Finbar Hawkins examines the meaning of witch. Evey is a complex character and as she tells her own story she has the ability of self-reflection, even if she doesn’t always like what she sees. Witch is a read that fair on crackles with energy, it also encourages thoughts to both consider and soar and deservedly sits as one of our LoveReading debuts of the month.
October 2021 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2021 | A whirlwind adventure unfolds from the moment that lonely Penny Black helps a mysterious furry creature escape from a mouse trap in her uncle’s post office. But the creature isn’t a mouse…nor is it a rat – as it is quick to tell Penny when it introduces itself as Wishyouwas as a Sorter. Second Class. Soon Penny finds herself swept off on a wild underground adventure following the mystery of missing letters and helping the army of Sorters, Deliverers and the rest return them to their rightful owners. Rich in word play, including the wonderful names of the hidden Post Office team, this is a magical and cleverly created world of make-believe.
October 2021 Debut of the Month | Twelve is a Huntling, in training to become a Hunter and pledged to serve the seven clans as a warrior. Full of rage and guilt following the massacre of her family and neighbours, she is determined to remain friendless and dedicate herself to revenge. But when the Hunting Lodge is attacked by goblins, and other creatures even worse, and Seven, the only person she has any connection with, is kidnapped, Twelve sets out to rescue the little girl. She’s joined on the quest by Dog, the Lodge’s huge, living stone guardian, and by the two boys she likes least. Together they face multiple dangers and an array of terrifying and tricky monsters. As in the best of these sorts of adventures – and this is definitely an example of the best of these kind of adventures – throughout their trials they learn more about each other and themselves. Aisling Fowling’s debut is a thrilling fantasy full of battles and creatures the like of which you’ve never seen before, and stars characters you’ll regard as friends by the book’s end. There will be more adventures for Twelve and co to come, and readers will be counting down the days to the next. One to recommend to fans of A Clock of Stars by Francesca Gibbons and Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray. ----------------------------------------- The LoveReading LitFest invited Aishling to the festival to talk about her debut novel and the start of a thrilling fantasy series. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, and watch this superb event chaired by Frankie Dumville, one of our star, young Reading Ambassadors Check out a preview of the event here.
October 2021 Debut of the Month | Vibrant world-building, hilarious horror happenings, and splendidly quirky characters - Alex Foulkes’ debut, Rules for Vampires (the first in a series), has plenty for adventure-loving 9+ year-olds to sink their teeth into, a devour-in-one-bloodthirsty-sitting story that’s made even more engaging by Sara Ogilvie’s cleverly comic illustrations. “Slow as creeping nuns, stealthy as a stalking cat, the girl slunk closer to the door.” Thus we’re introduced to Leo on the eve of her one hundred and eleventh birthnight, as she must embark on her first solo mission as a vampire - The Hunt of the Waxing Moon, no less. Trouble is, following Vampiric Laws and negotiating that ghoulish line between the Living and the Undead sure ain’t no stroll in the cemetery, and all this while feeling the pressure to live up to the high and spiky expectations of the Great and Terrible Sieglinde. The writing is slick as blood, with smart turns of phrase that Lemony Snicket aficionados will adore, and cracking whip-smart dialogue that drives the story at bat-out-of-hell pace. Oh, and it’s divinely packed with a cast of top quality, quirky characters readers will want to get under the skin of (though not literally, of course…)
October 2021 Debut of the Month | Refreshing, funny and packed with essential feminist themes, not to mention an authentic, engaging protagonist in Eliza Quan (a no-nonsense teenager who doesn’t give two hoots about what people think of her), Michelle Quach’s Not Here To Be Liked is at once deliciously entertaining and empowering. With pithy observations like “Girls get judged for their past; guys get judged for their potential”, it’s also a thought-provoking reminder (if one were needed) that there’s some way to go before patriarchal structures are disassembled - thanks goodness, then, that Eliza is on hand to speed up the process. Oh, and the novel features a whole lot of cute kissing to boot. Eliza is set to be the new editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper. Firstly, she’s the most qualified candidate. Secondly, she’s the only candidate…until former baseball player Len joins the paper for want of something better to do and winds up winning the vote. Justifiably angry that he - male, handsome, popular and utterly inexperienced - was picked over her - Eliza’s venting inspires a feminist movement that exposes the gulf between those who want - and recognise the need for - gender equality, and those who think she’s just annoyed about being overlooked. Alongside exploring such pertinent themes in slick style, the novel also sees Eliza face the ultimate conflict when she finds herself falling for Len. Fast and furious, Not Here To Be Liked flies in the face of anyone dumb enough to think that books about feminism (and feminists themselves) can’t be smart and funny.
LoveReading's debuts are titles that have struck a real chord with us here by a debut author who we believe has a real future as a children's writer.
We can't guarantee to find authors of this calibre every month but our scouts are out sourcing the best as often as we can.
Check out the latest activities in our KidsZone.