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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.
January 2019 Debut of the Month | Shortlisted for the Peoples Book Prize 2019 | All the best adventures start with a map and there’s a corker in Clive Mantle’s new thriller. Freddie’s Uncle Patrick gives him a huge and beautiful antique map of the world as a birthday present, little suspecting – or does he? – that it will magically transport Freddie across the continents and through time, to the Himalayas. He shares the adventures that befall him there with his best friend Connor, who has his own challenges at home with a gang of bullies. The two plotlines connect and this is thoroughly satisfying edge-of-the-seat boys-own stuff. Readers who enjoy this stories should also look out for Josh Lacey’s Island of Thieves, or Tamsin Cooke’s Stunt Double series.
May 2018 Debut of the Month | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | Picture this. You’re an honors student with a top university in your sights. You work hard, and you follow your mother’s advice to always put your best foot forward. So how come, when you help a friend in need, you’re man-handled by the police and arrested? How come the cops tell you that they “know your kind...Just couldn’t resist the pretty white girl who’s locked her keys in her car, could ya?” As Yale-bound African American Justyce knows only too well, “things aren’t as equal as folks say they are”. At every turn he’s caught between worlds: a white classmate attributes his success to positive discrimination, while he’s accused of being a race traitor by some of his black peers. He airs this elemental conundrum with SJ, his debate partner: “white people hold most positions of authority in this country. How do I deal with the fact that I DO need them to get ahead without feeling like I’m turning my back on my own people?” And what’s he supposed to do when he falls for SJ and his mama’s dead against him dating a white girl? As the compelling, gut-wrenching story unfolds, Justyce writes a journal to Dr Martin Luther King Jr. to work through his thoughts, vent his frustrations and to ask what Dr King would do in his situation. Then a tragedy strikes that threatens to disarm Justyce’s pledge to do as Martin would do. Important, timely and unforgettable, this powerful exposé of racism, injustice and the injuriousness of profiling articulates the persistent everyday battles faced by thousands of kids in Justyce’s shoes with scorching lucidity. Quite simply, everyone must read this poignant punch-packer of a debut.
May 2018 Debut of the Month Funky and thoroughly contemporary in feel, though simultaneously acknowledging classic children’s illustration, Cannonball Coralie and the Lion is an exciting story, beautifully told. Coralie is funny and brave and silly and strange. But where she lives in the woods there’s no-one to see her juggling squirrels or standing on her hands, until one day a crowd of acrobats, trumpeters and jugglers come marching through the woods, led by a lion. Coralie and the lion become firm friends, and Coralie joins the troupe, despite the grumpy Man in the Big Hat’s disapproval. It’s his idea that Coralie become a Human Cannonball, but it’s the lion who gives her the confidence to do it. There’s a lovely message about the importance of friendship and of being yourself, and Grace Easton’s stylish, vibrant illustrations are full of life and character.
June 2019 Debut of the Month | Shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize 2019 | Joe’s huge adventure starts with something very small, an apple pip. Though it takes a while, it grows – and grows. Inspired, Joe fills his balcony with plants and flowers grown from seeds, and thrilled with the effect it has on neighbours, decides to share them with people throughout his city. In an explosion of colour, a spectacular fold-out page reveals the extraordinary transformation he effects. A story of imagination and creativity that will brighten anyone’s world, this is a delight to read and share. Sam Boughton mixes watercolour with wax crayon, monoprint and photocollage to create scenes bursting with life and joy. Extraordinary indeed!
May 2018 Debut of the Month | | An unflinching novel about brutally toxic masculinity, male collusion and how justice systems and society at large are still appallingly rigged against women. Life is tough for Ellie and her dad in their decrepit ghost town. Ellie’s mom ran out on them when she was still a baby, she’s cripplingly lonely and her dad never fulfilled his dream of becoming a filmmaker. Convinced – and told by her peers - that she’s ugly, Ellie’s dream is “to be pretty. That’s part of what makes a girl,” she remarks. “Girls who are pretty are likeable. Pretty is power.” So when privileged Caleb tells her she’s pretty, she craves him, even though she also “hated how he made me feel uncomfortable”. His attention legitimises and comforts her, even when he dumps her, even when he’s humiliates her. And then it’s too late. He and his family are monstrous, and Ellie can’t escape. The brotherhood of abuse portrayed here will sicken and shock, while your heart will ache for Ellie, for her dad, and for the love and friendships she deserved to enjoy. Relentlessly raw and unusually framed, this is perhaps best recommended for fans of crime fiction with conscience. Bold in its bleakness, this steers well clear of any kind of happy-ever-after Hollywood ending. In real life baddies don’t always get what they had coming. In real life not everyone has a best friend to turn to. On a positive note, this might just enrage to the point of inspiring readers to take a stand on issues of systemic misogyny, and it makes a strong case for the need to take time to truly get to know people, to find friends you can open up to.
April 2018 Debut of the Month | Space, family relationships, friendships – they’re all cleverly and vividly described in this highly entertaining story. Stan, our nerdy but very likeable hero, wants nothing more than to win a telescope in the science fair so that he can study space, his passion. The main obstacle to this and indeed all Stan’s hopes and wishes, is his little brother Fred, a dinosaur-obsessed five-year-old tornado of destruction and unpredictability. Super-orderly Stan resorts to a range of charts and measuring devices to fill us in on his life – pie-charts, ordinary charts, illustrated diagrams, Venn diagrams – and together with his lugubrious, sometimes agonised delivery, it makes for fast and very funny reading. Readers will be on Stan’s side from the start, and this will speak to anyone who has, is or knows a younger brother or sister.
April 2018 Debut of the Month | An ambitious and atmospheric fantasy adventure in which an eleven-year-old girl discovers an uncanny world following the disappearance of her dad. Kay’s curious quest begins one Christmas Eve when she, her sister and mum go to collect her dad from working late at his Cambridge college. Eerily, no one knows who he is - not the porters who see him every day, and not the academic now occupying his office. Stranger still is the calling card Kay discovers on her pillow. Who are Will O. de Wisp and Phillip R. T. Gibbet? And how did this card for their removals business find its way into her room? Kay meets these strangers that very same night, and learns that they have “removed” her father. What this means, why, and where to is a mystery, but Kay is determined to discover the truth, along with the truth as to why she can see these wraiths, when humans are not generally able to. This lyrical debut boasts something of the fantastical dreaminess and classic adventuring conjured by the likes of Michael Ende and Cornelia Funke, yet the plot here unfolds in an all together more ethereal manner, with feelings and atmospheres evoked in painterly detail, and the plot progressing at an unhurried pace. Indeed, this not a book to race through. The poetic style invites utter absorption, a suspension of time, and, for that reason it comes recommended for readers who like to savour language, and suspend belief.
April 2018 Debut of the Month Sarah Jacoby’s beautiful book is proof that picture books can cover the most profound subjects in ways that speak to readers of all ages. Nothing less than the passage of time is the subject of Forever or a Day, how it can go at different speeds, and what’s important for us all to understand. The story is delivered through the eyes of a young child, short, lyrical lines of text beneath elegant watercolour illustrations of family life, first in the city, then in the countryside on a trip to see the grandparents. Images of the daily commute, and holiday train journeys illustrate time’s different speeds, alongside beautiful scenes of sunrises, sunsets and night skies. Time can be a drum beat, a whisker twitch, lost or found, and the answer to the question ‘Can we stay longer?’ is ‘I love the time I have with you.’ A rich, moving meditation on an eternally absorbing question, this is a book to keep forever.
April 2018 Book of the Month | In a Nutshell: Falling Angels | Rising Hope | Falling in Love Compelling magic realist debut in which a fallen angel named Teacake helps heal a teen girl’s grief. Across the world angel-like Beings are falling from the sky. Their winged bodies seep golden blood on impact with the earth, and then they die. In the aftermath of the first sightings, the world exploded in an apocalyptic frenzy, yielding religious cults and angel-exploiting money-makers. Alongside this, Jaya is also dealing with a personal apocalypse – the sudden death of her mother. While Jaya struggles with her guilt-ridden grief, and with losing contact with Leah, the best friend who might also have been her girlfriend, she’s also irritated by her dad’s fanatical angel-chasing. But, as things turn out, it’s Jaya who’s there when an angel falls, and, for the first time, this angel survives. Angels don’t exist in Jaya’s mum’s Hindi religion so she pushes aside any thoughts that this is somehow a sign. But amidst the frenzy of the Edinburgh festival and the aggressive fanaticism of the Standing Fallen cult, Jaya does everything she can to protect this shimmering rose-gold Being from harm. The angels are never explained, or fully understood, but that isn’t necessary, for this isn’t about hard scientific facts, this is about matters of the soul. It’s a charming debut, radiant with humanity and heart. ~ Joanne Owen
April 2018 Debut of the Month | In a nutshell: in his own words, quirky, super-readable saga of a ten-year-old ‘detective’ Ten-year-old Rory is pretty satisfied with his life. He lives happily with his mum and brother, and has friends, best being Wilkins Welkin, his next-door neighbour’s sausage dog. But there are two big problems in his life: no-one ever tells him anything, and his dad disappeared when Rory was three. To find out why, he decides to become a detective – despite the derision of his big brother. In a timely bit of luck, new neighbour Cassidy Callaghan – aka ‘The Cat’ – offers to help. The two, of course, get into all sorts of trouble, and to the surprise of everyone, unearth some real villains in the process. Words and illustrations are both very funny and surprisingly touching. This will sit happily next to the Wimpy Kids, Dork Diaries and Barry Losers, but for its idiosyncratic and convincing voice and real sense of family dynamics, is probably closest to Lauren Child’s Clarice Bean books. A great new series for young readers. ~ Andrea Reece
March 2018 Debut of the Month A lovely story about cake, fair-play and making friends. Meet Quentin, a wolf with an unusual talent - he loves to bake. Cinammon buns, shortbread biscuits, fondant fancies, and especially chocolate cake, he loves making them all. There’s just one problem. He has no-one to share them with. All that changes when he receives an invitation to take part in a Bunny Bake-Off. Cleverly disguising himself with homemade bunny ears and nose, Quentin enters the tent. Despite an unsporting bit of sabotage, he’s on course to receive the trophy until a stray banana skin puts everything in jeopardy … Fortunately all ends happily, and Quentin makes lots of new friends. Ellie Snowdon’s gorgeous illustrations are full of humour and character, and catch all the tension of the bake-off too. Delicious! ~ Andrea Reece
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.