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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.
October 2019 Debut of the Month | Sinister secrets and ghoulish goings-on are afoot in the sleepy town of Suds, and this devilishly dark debut reveals Suds’s murky mysteries with notable wit and invention. Suds is a peculiar place beset by unsettling stories of children turning grey and vanishing. When Poppy and Erasmus determine to discover the truth of their town for themselves, their quest takes them to the distinctly disturbing Riddling Woods, where dark, twisting paths mirror the twists and turns of the plot. The writing is rich and lively, with details memorably conjured within a creepily-contained story universe. With something of the elemental scary absurdity of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, this novel similarly serves as an allegory about finding strength to face fears, and fans of unusual adventures (e.g. Beetle Boy, A Place Called Perfect) will most definitely identify with Poppy as she courageously tackles her most terrifying worries.
January 2019 Debut of the Month | The Girls is a glorious and uplifting description of female friendship. It stars four girls and simply but beautifully describes in words and pictures their enduring friendship as they grow from little children into adults. In just 32 pages we get to know the girls really well: adventurous Lottie, practical Sasha, clever Leela and Alice, who can always make them laugh. As a result, we follow the ups and downs of their lives with real interest. The book’s message about the comfort, joy and support friends provide is delivered with real charm and this is a story which will reassure all young readers about what they can achieve and which will inspire them for their futures.
January 2019 Debut of the Month | OK, here’s the plot of this hugely entertaining and very funny book: ogres that sleep under Britain’s standing stones have been awakened by a malignant gnome called Leatherhead Barnstorm. He has the Doomstone Sword and therefore control of all the dwarves and is marching on Perth. Out to stop him are our heroes dwarf Mossbelly MacFearsome and the eleven-year-old he’s appointed as the Destroyer, Roger Paxton. The stage is set for a thoroughly rambunctious fantasy adventure, packed with wonderful characters, unexpected moments, a bevy of fabulous fights and some very nasty little monsters. An ogre-sized helping of fun and adventure, this is one to push into the hands of fans of Danny Wallace, Shane Hegarty and Will Mabbitt.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | January 2019 Debut of the Month | Everyone, children too, knows what it’s like when sadness unexpectedly comes to call, that sense of gloom that is hard to explain, and almost impossible to shake off. The situation is very skilfully depicted in this picture book, which also provides ideas and strategies for ways to cope. A young child is shown opening the door to a doleful, shapeless creature and the two become so close they are almost one. But the invisible narrator has suggestions for ways to help Sadness, so that one day, when the child wakes, it’s gone. The story is very affecting and will be useful to children who have a particular sadness in their lives as well as those who feel it for no reason they can articulate. An important and rather beautiful book.
January 2019 Debut of the Month | It’s not every day that a magical train drives through your hallway but that’s what happens to Suzy at the opening of this terrific adventure story. She discovers it’s the Impossible Postal Express, responsible for making deliveries throughout the Union of Impossible Places. Being something of a scientist, and deeply inquisitive, Suzy can’t let this opportunity pass and climbs aboard. It’s not long before she’s been deputized as a Postal Operative (by the troll in charge), which in turn embroils her in an even bigger adventure, and one of those magical good versus evil power struggles that are central to all the best fantasy adventures. This rattles along at top-speed and features one of the most varied cast of characters since Hogwarts welcomed young Potter. Fans of magical stories mustn’t miss this train! One to recommend to fans of Nevermoor and The Last Chance Hotel.
June 2019 Debut of the Month | Shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize 2019 | Shortlisted for the Waterstone's Childrens Book Prize 2019 | Lots of fun to read, this book cleverly delivers some important messages. The new, young king is frightened of the dark, so on day one of his reign, he decides he’ll ban it. His advisors realise the only way to make that work is if the people think it’s their idea, and start an anti-dark campaign. It works, the dark is banished and, because everyone has got what they thought they wanted, everyone is happy. Until of course, they realise what living in constant light is really like. Emily Haworth-Booth gives her story a fairy-tale feel and fills it full of humour. Little children will identify with the king, but they’ll understand why his scheme is not a good one. Brilliant!
October 2018 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | | Tilly loves stories and has firm favourites among their characters. She can so easily imagine conversations with Anne from Anne of Green Gables or Alice from Wonderland. But she never expects to actually meet them! When Tilly finds that she has entered the story herself – and particularly when she takes her friend Oskar with her too – she knows that something very strange indeed is happening. Can a trip to the wonderful Underlibrary sited deep in the British Library itself illuminate just what is happening to Tilly and how her beloved grandparents are involved too? Anna James weaves a richly invented story with great skill and makes every passionate reader’s greatest dream of being able to hang out with their favourite characters come true.
October 2018 Debut of the Month | | Karolina is a living doll who’s been transported from the Land of the Dolls on a “kind wind” following a cruel war with the rats. She wakes “in her new world with a glass heart”, in the workshop of a dollmaker in Krakow, Poland. When Karolina speaks to him, the Dollmaker is certain that he’s lost his mind. He made her, after all, “and I can’t make something that comes to life,” he reasons. But Karolina explains that “gardeners do it all the time with flowers”. Through shimmering, lyrical language, and Karolina’s consummate compassion, we are witness to a transformation in the crotchety widower Dollmaker. He begins to smile, to make friends, to feel light and hope. And then, when darkness descends on their city in the form of the Nazis, together they must use their newfound magic to save their friends, no matter what. The author does not shirk from relating the brutal realities of the Jewish experience in Nazi-occupied Poland, yet the overriding message is one of hope and love, and the wondrousness of acts of kindness. This is a sublimely big-souled book, with an exquisite ambiance of timelessness.
October 2018 Debut of the Month | | What’s the best sound in the world? Ray the little lion is determined to find out, because he thinks that will help him become a famous musician (he plays the violin). He spends hours bottling beautiful sounds – the plip-plop of rain in the forest, the tweeting of birds in the mountains, the chitter-chatter of the market – but just can’t decide. His neighbour little lemur Jemmy tries to help, but Roy is just annoyed when Jemmy dances to his music, or claps in time. Indeed, it takes him the whole book to realise that Jemmy’s friendship helps him make the best sounds ever. It’s a lovely story, beautifully told and Cindy Wume’s illustrations are gorgeous. A charming and original picture book that should become a real favourite.
October 2018 Debut of the Month | Awarded the Amnesty CILIP Honour commendation from the Carnegie shortlist 2018 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | In a Nutshell: Fighting for Justice | Black Lives Matter | | Stunning, vital wake-up call of a novel about racism, social inequality and not giving up told through the eyes of an incredible, unforgettable sixteen-year-old. Starr straddles two very different worlds. She has one foot in Garden Heights, a rough neighbourhood ruled by gangs, guns and dealers, and the other in an exclusive school with an overwhelmingly wealthy white student population. One night she’s at a party when gunshots are fired and Khalil, her friend since childhood, takes her to his car for safety. Khalil is unarmed and poses no threat, but he’s shot dead by an officer right in front of her. It will take a lot of courage to speak to the police, and to face the media who choose to highlight that Khalil was a “suspected drug dealer”, while omitting to mention that he was unarmed. But, with their neighbourhood under curfew and a tank on the streets, Starr risks going public. Danger escalates as the hearing approaches (and beyond), but Starr isn’t about to give up fighting for Khalil, and for what’s right. Alongside the intense struggles and conflicts faced by Starr’s family and community, there are some truly heart-melting moments between Starr and her white boyfriend Chris (their shared love of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air is super cute), and also between Starr and her parents. Complex, gripping, stirring and so, so important – I can’t recommend this remarkable debut enough. ~ Joanne Owen
August 2018 Debut of the Month | What if your favourite YouTuber's life was a lie? What if you were the one to expose it? YouTuber LilyLoves has an amazing life: a rockstar boyfriend, a totally Insta-worthy London flat and a collection of beauty products that seems to grow daily (thanks, PO Box). Sixteen-year-old Melissa's life is way less amazing - LilyLoves is the only thing getting her through it. She's Lily's biggest fan and spends hours each night watching her videos and liking her posts. Melissa wants that life for herself - or at least to look like she has it . . . As Melissa starts to grow in confidence - and followers - she discovers a crushing secret about Lily - the ultimate YouTube lie. Does she share Lily's secret and crush her fame? Or will they both continue to live a lie - both online and off? My [Secret] YouTube Life is the addictive debut novel from Charlotte Seager.
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.