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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.
July 2020 Debut of the Month | Melding the mystery of a parallel prehistoric world with real-life worries that seem too terrible to face, this emotionally-sensitive debut will enthral thoughtful, adventure-loving 8+ year-olds - think Stig of the Dump meets Wolf Brother meets A Monster Calls for younger readers. Right before the birth of his baby brother, Charlie discovers a deer tooth in Mandel Forest. He’s so thrilled, “a little shiver tingles like a breath across my shoulder blades”, and he strangely feels “the weight of someone watching me.” When his brother Dara is born with a heart problem, Charlie is gripped by anxiety. His poorly sibling reminds him of a featherless baby bird. His cry is “a horrible, thin squawk, birdlike too,” and Charlie is too scared to hold him, too scared to stick around in the hospital when the doctor arrives with the results of Dara’s tests. So, Charlie flees to the woods where he comes to the aid of a deerskin-clad boy. A lad named Hartboy who’s seeking his baby sister, just as Charlie fears he might lose his baby brother. It’s not long before Charlie realises that – somehow – he’s been transported back to the Stone Age. As he steps-up to help Hartboy, encountering wild beasts and a mysterious shadow man in woods that are at once familiar and strange to him, Charlie learns valuable life lessons that equip him for his return to the real world: “You can’t just avoid stuff forever, can you? No matter how sad it is.” Suffused in the wonders of nature and a timeless sense of myth, the adventure-spiked plot is perfectly punctuated by emotional breathers that allow Charlie to find courage, and a way home - back to his family, back to his beloved baby brother.
July 2020 Debut of the Month | Warm-hearted and mysterious The Unadoptables is a wonderfully entertaining adventure with a cast of fascinating characters set in a brilliantly evoked old-world Amsterdam and the surrounding countryside. Following the clues from the only possessions she was left with when she was abandoned as a baby and guided by her ‘Book of Theories’, the imaginative Milou leads her four friends – the least adoptable children in the very horrible Little Tulip Orphanage – to her family home where she is sure she will find her parents. Travelling through a freezing night the children arrive at their destination. But there is not the welcome they had expected. Where are Milou’s parents? And what is the mystery they need to solve? The creative ways in which the five children manage first to escape from the evil clutches of their matron and her evil accomplice Rotman and then to make a new life for themselves bamboozling neighbours and unravelling the mystery is vivid and captivating.
Oooh, there’s so much for young fans of adventure stories to enjoy in Alex English’s new book! It stars eleven-year-old Echo, who has grown up in the court of the king of Lockfort. It’s a gloomy and frankly repressive place and the king is very strict with Echo, who was left at the castle gate as a baby. She’s always been told there’s nothing beyond the kingdom’s borders – literally nothing at all – but suddenly, a challenge to that drops out of the sky, and with it the chance for Echo to explore a new world of adventure and to look for her mother. The story is full of fantastic scenes and packed with wonderful characters and English has created the sort of world that envelops young readers from the very first chapter. A glorious summer read! This is one to recommend to fans of Abi Elphinstone, Vashti Hardy and Jamie Littler.
June 2020 Debut of the Month | Telling the affecting story of sixteen-year-old Cal’s battles with homophobic bullies, family upheavals, mental health and heartbreak, this hard-hitting page-turner pulls no punches from the opening coming-out scene that results in Cal’s mum needing medical attention and an almighty clash with his dad. Reeling from strife at home and school, along with a series of ill-advised one-night stands, Cal’s life seems to take an upward turn when he falls for handsome, wealthy Matt. But since the course of passion and romance rarely runs smooth, thank goodness Cal’s best friend Em and her joyous Scotch-drinking, straight-talking nan are there when he needs them. Exploring themes of homophobia, self-harm, complex family dynamics, friendship, and intergenerational bonds with clarity and sensitivity, Fall Out is underpinned by a warm message of hope and the possibilities of starting afresh. As Cal says, “You can’t pave over the faults; you can’t wash away the past but sometimes, when you make mistakes, you get a second chance.”
November 2019 Debut of the Month | Mr Moose and Mr Brown first meet on an aeroplane flying from America to London. Mr Moose should be with his brother Monty, but absent-minded Monty has got on the wrong plane. Mr Brown, who is a famous fashion designer (as is the book’s author Paul Smith), offers to help his new friend find his missing brother. As they travel the world, Mr Moose helps Mr Brown with his fashion range, suggesting some very interesting garments – parkas for penguins, sneakers for cheetahs, scarves for giraffes. As they fit out an Alaskan bear for snow-shoes Mr Brown has an idea … It all ends with a happy reunion at a big catwalk (moosewalk?) show. It’s an engaging story and very strong on the fun and satisfaction that comes from designing things and from creative partnerships. Sam Usher paints some wonderful scenes, including a witty reimagining of Hopper’s Nighthawks, 1942.
This is a brilliantly observed wake-up call for teenagers about life and love and the pitfalls of choosing the bad boy as your man. A story of self-discovery, broken hearts but more than anything any girl who reads this book will come out inspired not to make the same mistakes. The story revolves around three very different sort of girls; one super-confident, another whoâ€™s called a slut but doesnâ€™t care and the third whoâ€™s popular but not very smart, and how they interconnect and befriend each other all because of having the misfortune to meet the same bad boy.
March 2015 Debut of the Month An astonishingly different and chillingly striking tale that envelops the pages in a cloak of darkness and mystery. The author hurls the reader straight into the middle of the story, waiting before making introductions and explaining friendships, which effectively ensures you feel Ayla’s shock at the unknown world she finds herself in. The friendship and bravery of the children on their quest holds a torch of light to the fear, the author leaves you on the brink of doubt as you literally will the light to stay true and strong. The scarily real illustrations reach out as pages are turned, knowing that they come directly from the authors mind, as he is the illustrator, connects them even more strongly to the story. This has the feeling of a modern fairy tale about it, full of the scarily weird and vibrantly wonderful, as you turn the last page you are left standing on the edge of wanting more! ~ Liz Robinson A Piece of Passion from the editor Susan Houlden Every once in a while a first chapter lands on your desk that is simply compelling. Matt Griffin’s A Cage of Roots opens with orphan Ayla discovering herself trapped deep beneath the ground, in total darkness, with no idea of how she came to be there. We are instantly drawn into this epic fantasy adventure, and soon we meet Ayla’s mysterious giant uncles and her closest friends, Sean, Finny and Benvy, who set out together to rescue Ayla.What follows is a magical blend of this world and an ancient past. Old Irish figures rise up as the magic that lies beneath our feet and in our landscape stirs into life. Ayla and her friends face pure evil in a life-and-death quest. Matt creates some truly demonic and terrifying creatures, and he plays on our fears and hopes as he spins his tale of deep, dark secrets, awakening powers, betrayal, tests of true character and friendship, and ultimate destinies.As a graphic illustrator, Matt has added rich atmospheric images to each chapter. His storytelling style is fast-paced, hugely imaginative and, at times, humourous. A book to read well beyond midnight.
May 2012 Debut of the Month. How a young girl finds hope and a way forward after the death of her mother and the collapse of her familiar life is a deeply touching story. Cally stops talking when no one believes her that she can see her mother even though she’s dead. No one seems able to get through to Cally until she meets Sam who is blind and almost deaf. Becoming friends, Cally and Sam meet Homeless, a dog who follows them everywhere. How can Cally get to keep Homeless and how can he help her get her life back on track? The Lovereading comment: This is an outstandingly assured debut novel from a sparkling new talent. When Cally Fisher sees her dead mother, real as anything, no one believes her. So Cally stops talking - what's the point if no one is listening? The only other living soul who sees Cally's mum is a mysterious wolfhound who always seems to be there when her mum appears. But without a voice, how will Cally convince anyone that her mum is still with them, and how will she ever persuade her Dad that the huge silver-grey dog is their last link with her ? This tender and at times heart-rending story is very special and is by an author with a bright future.
April 2020 Debut of the Month | Margaret Sturton announces herself as a major picture book talent with her debut. Little rabbit Herbert loves foxes. Indeed, he loves them so much he wants to be one, making himself a pair of fox ears and a tail. At first his mummy is amused, then angry when he messes up the living room with red paint and cuts up her dress to make a tail. When she sees him out playing as a fox, despite her instruction to be a ‘good little rabbit’, she is cross again, until she suddenly realises how important it is to Herbert to be a fox. The story is full of comic moments and the little rabbit family will be recognisable to all readers. It’s also a wonderful story about identity and love, delivered lightly but most effectively. Highly recommended.
February 2020 Debut of the Month | There’s a lovely ‘what if’ challenge in this quirky and inspiring picture book. Little Nara is an expert hat maker, creating beautiful hats for the animals in her forest studio. One day she receives a letter from a new customer – can she make a hat for Mr Mountain no less? She rises to the challenge, trying out various different materials before finding exactly the right way to make a hat for a mountain. The story unfolds beautifully, and it makes a great tale of friendship, creativity and ingenuity. There’s lots to discuss while reading and this could prompt interesting STEM conversations or projects too. This is Soojin Kwak’s debut and she is definitely an illustrator to watch.
One of our Books of the Year 2014 - One of the Lovereading4kids Readers' Choice Books of the Year 2014 - October 2014 MEGA Debut of the Month Eponine tells the heart wrenching story of her own life of suffering and cruelty in this emotional roller coaster taken from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Brought up in poverty, from the youngest age possible Eponine has been sent out to steal and to lie and to cheat. But somehow, deep inside her, she knows there are better ways of living a life and higher human values to hold onto. Eponine’s encounters with Cosette and Marius unlock the best emotions in her. Can she change despite the great cost to herself? A spell-binding story about one girl’s search for inner peace. A Piece of Passion from Publisher, Barry Cunningham Les Misérables literally takes your breath away. The passion and the peril in this massive story has inspired plays, TV shows, films and songs through the years. But sometimes it’s good to find the simple heart in the greatest works, which is exactly what Susan Fletcher does here with shy tragedy and hauntingly romantic beauty. It’s a simple, moving and brilliant retelling, showing what Victor Hugo himself said of his original novel – a progress from evil to good. A Note from the Author, Susan Fletcher ‘A Little in Love is my first novel aiming to appeal to both adults and young adults. But Eponine's story contains many themes I've always been interested in as an adult fiction writer – identity, survival, solitude, the natural world, different forms of love and the brevity of life – all told by a feisty protagonist. To write of these themes – and of Eponine herself – for a wider readership was a sheer delight.'
February 2013 Debut of the Month All the travails of being a teenager seem to be heaped on the shoulders of the unfortunately named, April-May February. A scholarship girl at the exclusive local school, April-May seems to have a knack of getting everything just a little bit wrong. She blames her parents – of course – and takes refuge in the Twilight stories – whenever her teachers let her! The hectic pace of the dramas and April-May’s own largely benign view of them make this is a fresh and entertaining novel which reveals that teen trouble is the same the whole world over. A Piece of Passion from the Editor, Sara O'Connor A MONTH OF APRIL MAY: I couldn't resist April-May. She's the kind of whip-smart girl I wish I could have been when I was growing up. She loves books (like I did), but she doesn't let anyone push her around. As a South African sensation, Edyth Bulbring deserves her distinctive voice to be heard around the world. It's impossible not to fall in love with this utterly delightful book - with April-May February, stuck with the craziest name ever, her dad Fluffy and her mouth-breather friend Melly. A perfect book for young teens.
April 2012 Debut of the Month. A Tiger Too Many is enchanting from the word go and very readable. The sentences are short and concise with no waffle and therefore the story goes forward quite briskly and the reader’s attention is held. Although a work of fiction it is so interwoven in historical fact that you feel the senses of sight, sound, hearing, smell and touch within the narrative giving the story a three dimensional feel to it and it’s brought to life in a very realistic way. The story is set during the first year of the Second World War and the author’s research included close consultation with a zoological historian who also lived through the War, to ensure its authenticity. Jill is the main protagonist and her story is an inspiring one for when war breaks out her courage, determination and inability to accept what might appear inevitable comes to the fore. Even when she’s evacuated to the country, leaving her mother and a tiger she has befriended at London Zoo behind, and treated cruelly by the family who takes her in, she doesn’t give up. Eventually she runs away back to London. With no sign of her mother and scenes of devastation in and around the zoo she decides to find and rescue Ronny the tiger. There’s a tear-jerking happy ending to leave readers on a high note. A Tiger Too Many is a dramatic and powerful page-turner and perfect to read aloud to a child or for a child aged 9+ to enjoy alone.
March 2015 Debut of the Month Rich in atmosphere, this is a powerful story set in a timeless world. Alice has a gift; she is a Whisperer with a special understanding of the wild and therefore a duty to protect everything that lives in it. Alice and her faithful wolf companion Storm can sense threats to their kingdom Medina that no one else believe in. They know there is something evil deep in the forest – they can feel it’s presence. Will they have the power to see off the threat to nature and to save everything they care about?
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.
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