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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 | 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.
Fans of Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engine sequence will love this debut novel, Haywired – a ‘steampunk fairytale’ as described by the publisher. It's packed with murderous inventions, two desperate runaways and one mad dad. Published by a smallish publisher this compelling tale of unearthed family secrets as well as some diabolical plans to turn the world inside out, it’s up to 11 year old Ludwig to rescue the world before any of the ghoulish machines hunt him down. With a plot that’s full of twists and turns on every page, it’s not to be missed. If you love Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines sequence you should also read Haywired by Alex Keller. Also, click here to read Alex Keller's interview with Philip Reeve in The Solitary Bee.
March 2014 Debut of the Month A fun-filled new picture book about the power of good with quirky illustrations from award-winning Alex T. Smith. Boys in particular will love the story of Hector, a tiny little boy with a big, brave heart who goes on an adventure to rescue his granny's wand from a big bad knight.
March 2016 Debut of the Month Twelve year old Suzy’s confusion following the death of her best friend fuels this roller-coaster debut novel. When Franny drowns in a freak accident during the school holiday Suzy finds herself dealing not with the death of her best friend as her mother thinks but with the far more devastating loss of their friendship sometime earlier. Suzy copes by becoming electively mute and by constructing a story to explain what happened to Franny. Moving back and forth between Suzy’s obsessive behaviour after Franny’s death as she finds out everything she can about the lethal jellyfish who is, she is sure, responsible for it and, the last few months before Franny’s death when the friendship unravelled is clever as she loses Franny to the cool set.
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award and October 2016 Debut of the Month Twelve year old Suzy’s confusion following the death of her best friend fuels this roller-coaster debut novel. When Franny drowns in a freak accident during the school holiday Suzy finds herself dealing not with the death of her best friend as her mother thinks but with the far more devastating loss of their friendship sometime earlier. Suzy copes by becoming electively mute and by constructing a story to explain what happened to Franny. Moving back and forth between Suzy’s obsessive behaviour after Franny’s death as she finds out everything she can about the lethal jellyfish who is, she is sure, responsible for it and, the last few months before Franny’s death when the friendship unravelled is clever as she loses Franny to the cool set.
July 2017 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: Loss, love, and the struggle to survive the most savage of storms A compelling coming-of-age story, an exploration of loss, and a gripping, multi-layered mystery, this had me hooked from the opening lines, and will surely be loved by fans of Wonder, and Louis Sachar. Ethan Truitt (twelve years and four months old) has moved from his beloved Boston to Palm Knot, a “drooping and faded” backwater. His parents say it's because Grandpa Ike needs their help, but Ethan knows they’re lying. He knows they moved “because of what I did to Kacey”, his best friend. Being the new kid in class is hard for anyone, but especially so for Ethan, who doesn’t think he deserves friends, not after the accident he blames himself for. Then Coralee blasts into his life. She’s a whirlwind of a girl, a teller of big tales, a keeper of big secrets. Several mysteries are smoothly interwoven with the path of their relationship, and their personal struggles. What’s with the jewels they find in abandoned Blackwood House? Why does Kacey’s dad keep calling Ethan’s parents? And why won’t Grandpa Ike let anyone in his room? Poignant, tender, and budding with shoots of hope, this is a mighty fine debut about guilt, grief, friendship and healing. ~ Joanne Owen
March 2020 Debut of the Month | Newton is excited: he’s just read a sign that tells him dogs have nine lives. That’s carte blanche for Newton to do all his favourite things and be much more daring. Without a second thought he’s off to explore the nature reserve and do some incredibly risky things. He’s pursued by his friend, a much more sensible cat, who realises - as we do - that Newton has been misled. The adventure that follows is full of wonderfully reckless behaviour and narrow escapes for Newton, all the more delightful because he is totally oblivious to the danger he’s in. Newton’s joy is infectious and it’s impossible to read this without smiling at his enthusiasm. Alice McKinley depicts Newton as a plump puppy, with constantly wagging tail and beautifully expressive ears, and he’s set to become a favourite with readers young and old.
August 2014 Debut of the Month A coming-of-age novel with a compelling narrative voice and strong, assured writing, making it hard to believe that Alice was just 17 years old when she wrote the book. It tells the story of sixteen-year old Tori Spring, who feels increasingly disconnected from her friends, intensified by a distressing, complex home life. To make matters worse, the irrepressible Michael Holden arrives in her life, representing everything she hates; enthusiastic, geeky and upbeat, he won’t let up on trying to befriend her. And when their school is targeted by Solitaire, an online community of anarchists, Tori is dragged into the fray…
This debut novel, published back in 2004 has only just hit our radar screen at Lovereading4kids with the publication of her second novel Lifegame. We've been so blown away by the brilliance of Unique that we just had to tell everyone about it. It's an adventure thriller first and foremost; it has a beautifully constructed plot, well written with powerful characterization. Dominic at 15 discovers he had a brother he never knew. Curiosity gets the better of him and he sets off to find out why his parents have kept this from him. His discovery is terrifying - that he is nothing more than a replacement, a replica, a clone of his brother. A brother who it turns out was much cleverer in the eyes of his family. It's a novel that's impossible to put down and one that is so relevant to read now as it tackles the frightening and real issues of cloning and the consequences should scientific advances in this area be allowed to continue. Every teenager should read this novel. Then go on to the author's long-awaited second novel, Lifegame.
January 2016 Debut of the Month This first novel in a trilogy of deliciously dark, supernatural page-turners set in Regency England is packed with passion, period detail and devastating demons. London, 1812, and sharp-minded, strong-spirited Lady Helen Wrexhall is about to be presented to Queen Charlotte. Her parents deceased, Helen lives with her authoritarian uncle and aunt, whose principle purpose is to see their niece secured in a seemly matrimonial match. But when Helen encounters the enigmatic, scandalous Earl of Carlson, she finds herself drawn from the dazzling lights of Vauxhall Gardens into the darkness of a parallel world of demons, whose deadly influence has penetrated the very core of political power. And she also discovers disturbing truths about her supposedly disreputable mother, and herself… Under the full moon of her presentation ball, Helen faces an excruciating decision. Will she accept a proposal from the thoroughly decent Duke of Selborn and become a high society Duchess? Or will she use her newfound powers and join smouldering Lord Carlston in the Dark Days Club as a Demon Slayer? Alongside Helen’s absorbing personal conflict, the contrasts between the tightly corseted constraints of Regency England and the wildness of the dark, demonic underworld are brilliantly evoked. This is a consummately satisfying, un-put-down-able epic that will be devoured by fans of Cassandra Clare. ~ Joanne Owen
February 2015 Debut of the Month Ghost story and psychological thriller, The Dogs will keep readers nervous and guessing to the very end. Cameron and his mum have been on the run from his violent father nearly all his life, moving from town to town, trying to leave no trace of themselves when they go. In Wolf Hollow, the run-down old farm house they move into has secrets of its own. Is Cameron seeing the ghosts of previous occupants, or is he going mad? Which is scarier: things that happened long ago, or the shadowy presence of his father? Stratton ups the tension as events head towards a terrifying climax. A truly eerie and unsettling story. ~ Andrea Reece
Introducing a rare new talent and almost certainly one of the biggest Young Adult debuts of the year this is the first in an utterly compelling, visionary and imaginative series that is set to be a sensation. The book is already an international phenomenon with rights being sold in a fierce bidding war at auction in over twenty eight languages. Film rights have been snapped up by Disney. Set against the backdrop of a near-future society that prompts difficult questions about our own, it cleverly combines a completely page-turning plot with a devastating romance and it will leave you desperate to learn the fate of the star-crossed lovers. In a nutshell, Matched marks a new trend in teen publishing for dystopian fiction. Think Never Let Me Go meets The Handmaid's Tale for the iPod generation. Here’s a special message from Ally: "As a high-school English teacher, I once chaperoned high-school dances to make a little extra cash. One of the experiences I will never forget is the time I chaperoned Prom. Held at the city’s courthouse, a beautiful old building full of stone columns and smooth marble, the dance was the most anticipated event of the school year for many. It was a glittering, promise-filled night. You could almost hear them thinking, what happens next? Later, when I had the idea for Matched, this scene came back to me. All the lovely girls, all the handsome boys, everyone poised on the edge of the steps waiting for their names to be called, right on the brink of their adult lives. In Matched, Cassia also attends a similar event – her Match Banquet – but the stakes are even higher. In her world, the Society chooses who she marries, where she lives, and when she dies. And it all begins at the Banquet. I hope you will join Cassia on her journey as she discovers what happens next."
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.