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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.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2020 | February 2020 Debut of the Month | A celebration of the wonder of reading! Mabel HATES books. She gets given loads of them but has no interest at all in reading them. But, one night, the books piled up in her room come alive. The stories jump out of their covers and off the pages so that they can show Mabel their story worlds. She is intrigued by a detective adventure, excited by the chance to board a spaceship and take a trip to the moon, delighted by the thought of accompanying a knight on his quest to seek castles and to duel with dragons. But, there is no way she can find out what happens next in these stories unless she begins the read the books! An entertaining celebration of why reading is such fun.
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.
February 2020 Debut of the Month | Debut novelist Nicola Penfold has talked of inspiration from reading about what author Richard Louv called “nature-deficit disorder”. Her strong belief that humans need a connection with nature to be truly happy shines through this powerful story and the creation of the nightmare world that Juniper and her little brother, Bear inhabit. They live with their grandmother in a walled city from which nature has been banished, following an apocalyptic tick-borne disease released by ReWilders willing to sacrifice humans to save the planet. Fifty years on nature flourishes beyond the walls. Within them humans struggle to artificially create what they need to live. Juniper and Bear have always known they have a resistance to the disease, just as they know that their parents are still living in the wild. Juniper always planned their eventual escape, but they must leave urgently when the authoritarian regime reveals a dangerous scheme to farm their blood. What follows is a thrilling and utterly convincing escape and a perilous journey. The rigours of outdoor living and survival are not glossed over- the reader really fears for these characters and feels every setback. Success is won through bravery and persistence and the sibling relationship is beautifully conveyed. Bear is a very recognisable six-year old boy who both frustrates and astonishes his sister. There are no easy solutions to problems and no miraculous happy ending. This is powerful and believable storytelling which will keep readers gripped and inspire lots of discussion about the vulnerability of nature and what humans are doing to the planet. An outstanding debut, beautifully written and utterly compelling.
February 2020 Debut of the Month | Set in a world that’s become “a walking graveyard”, this edge-of-your-seat thriller teems with cinematic chills and the tender love between two teenage boys. Indeed, author Darren Charlton has hit the nail on the head in describing his debut as The Walking Dead meets Brokeback Mountain. “Clock it. Kill it. Rid the world of it” - this is how encounters with the zombie Restless Ones must be handled, a mantra soon-to-be-sixteen-year-old Peter struggles to follow. Too trusting, and infinitely better with a darning needle than an axe or gun, he’s something of a liability to the community, especially as another winter sets in, for “winter was the one season every Lake Lander feared. Not because Montana was about to get colder than an eagle’s gaze. But because the Dead could make it across the lake’s frozen waters.” When the community comes under serious threat during their annual First Fall party, Peter winds up as zombie bait with his at-one-with-the-wilds boyfriend Connor responsible for wrangling the Restless Ones like a post-apocalyptic cowboy. On the mainland, the young lovers uncover an earth-shattering secret and it’s not long before Connor’s situation is seriously comprised, leading to Peter stepping-up and standing tall. Gripping and graphically gory, this dynamic debut is dystopian horror with a difference, for it pulsates not only with terror and visceral violence, but also with love, affection and emotional atmosphere.
'If you want to invent something nobody has ever thought of before, you need to read the things that others don't read, look in the spaces other people are not in...' Layla believes she was right to stand up for herself against a bully, but it's landed her a suspension - not the way she (or her parents) would have wished to begin her time at her fancy new school! This is just a setback though, and she's determined to prove that she does deserve her scholarship by making new friends and setting her sights on inventing something that could win the big robotics competition. But where to begin? You Must Be Layla introduces Sudanese-born author, broadcaster, social advocate and mechanical engineer Yassmin Abdel-Magied as an exciting new voice in children's writing.
February 2020 Debut of the Month | The Bigwoof Conspiracy is a monstrously amusing mash-up of Scooby Doo and The Twilight Zone - think Louis Sachar’s Fuzzy Mud with added farcical fun.Quirky UFO-obsessed Lucy is an inspirational, one-of-a-kind heroine who unapologetically follows her own path and won’t stop until the truth is exposed. And Lucy’s search for the truth behind the hairy beast she spies in the woods lies at the heart of this madcap adventure. On this same night Lucy meets Milo, a smartly-dressed boy from the city whose dad is the new owner of the Sticky Sweet factory her own dad works at.When a teacher disappears and she and Milo step-up their quest to secure photographic evidence of hairy Bigwoof, Lucy winds up in big trouble, while pondering even bigger questions. Why did Milo’s dad delete his photo of the hairy beast? Why are folk disappearing from Sticky Pines? And what’s the deal with the factory’s creepy clown henchmen? There’s definitely something fishy going on and Lucy won’t rest until she’s found the source of the stink! I loved Lucy’s tenacious commitment to truth (“I require that the world not run on lies”), her ingenious curse vocabulary (including “Crudberries!” and “Oh, for the love of Björk!”), and the book’s “do the right thing” theme. Bursting with comic capers, this comes especially recommended for reluctant readers who’ve lost their reading mojo.
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Julia Eccleshare's Debut of the Month, February 2016 When Vince turns eight years old he discovers he has the most amazing secret. Although he has always hated animals, which is embarrassing because his father is a zoo keeper, Vince suddenly discovers that he can talk to them. And hear what they say back! After getting some fish fingers for a penguin, Vince finds himself with a long list of food requests from all the other animals. And he is enjoying the best birthday of his whole life! ~ Julia Eccleshare
Join the fantastical flying carpet race in this magical adventure novel from a debut author. Pacy, exciting and full of humour, it’s a timeless story combining good versus evil, a breathless race against time and two protagonists who must overcome their differences to succeed. The colourful, vivid setting of the mythical Arabian city of Azamed captures the true spirit of the classic One Thousand and One Arabian Nights.
Addictive, scandalous and glamorous fiction from a brand new author writing for sophisticated teens! As its title implies this is not for the faint-hearted. If you're up for a wild read where clubbing or holidaying in St Tropez is the order of the day when not at school, where meeting up off school grounds with the biggest heart-throb from the nearby boys school is seriously cool and where girls get together and 'B' about others particularly when an American beauty arrives at the school and threatens to ruin everything. It's page-turning stuff.
October 2014 Debut of the Month A simple and witty rhyming text tells how Woozy the Wizard sets about trying to make the villagers of Snottington Sneeze better after they have all gone down with a very severe kind of sneezing sickness! There are lots of jokes which are easily spotted in the illustrations too!
Winner of the 'Best of the Best' children's category at the Independent Bookshop Week Awards 2016. Chosen by Stylist magazine as one of the Cult Books of 2012. Frank, powerful, warm and often heart-breaking, Wonder is a book you'll read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page. This is a wonderful debut from a storyteller with a great future if this book is anything to go by and her characters are intensely likeable. You can discuss what you think of this book on Twitter - #thewonderofwonder.
July 2017 Debut of the Month Wolfie is no ordinary wolf, he has a secret: Wolfie likes baking. Because everyone knows wolves are meant to be growly, fierce and mean, he keeps his baking a secret, or tries to. But when his new neighbours, a trio of pigs, spot what’s going on they let the world know. Wolfie thinks everyone will laugh at him, or worse, but instead he becomes something of a celebrity, and everyone wants more of his recipes. Sweetly told, and full of good things, this is a gentle story about daring to accept who you are, and has a lovely positive message for all. Wolfie’s scone recipe is pretty yummy too! ~ Andrea Reece
Refreshingly free of vampires and werewolves this is a stunning dystopian debut novel written for teenage readers. Genetic engineering gone wrong has lead to a radically different population structure and teenage girls are forced to breed to keep the human race alive. The first in a trilogy and this edition contains a sneak preview of the sequel, Fever, and a brand new short story by Lauren DeStefano: The First Bride. Click here for the Chemical Garden fan site.
March 2015 Debut of the Month Witch Wars is the first in a charming new series: with the help of a fairy called Fran, nine year old Tiga Whicabim discovers there’s a world of witches, down below the sink pipes. Even more surprising is the news that Tiga is a witch herself (the clue is in her name for those good at anagrams), and lined up to take part in the nine-yearly Witch Wars to find the next Top Witch who will rule over all Sinkville. With crazy situations, a cast of irresistible characters, jokes, wordplay and just the right amount of dress and shopping detail this is an original and hugely enjoyable read. Laura Ellen Anderson’s illustrations match the text perfectly for flair and panache. ~ Andrea Reece
September 2014 Debut of the Month This is such a gloriously different and delightful read. The storyline sucks you in whole and clamours to be read as quickly as possible, while the beautifully bewitching writing encourages you to savour every word. Emmeline and her people rely on their fortified settlement and the virtues of honesty, bravery and discovery for survival. Every fibre in Emmeline longs for for the wilderness of the woods, her dreams hold knowledge, a promise, a future; can Emmeline walk her dreams in reality? Boorman has the wonderful ability to spirit you away to an imaginative creation that feels so very real; you experience the pain of Emmeline’s crushed foot and can literally taste the fear of the settlement when the warning alarm sounds. There may be a wait ahead for the second book in the trilogy but that gives you plenty of time to re-read this wonderful book again and again. ~ Liz Robinson
A wonderful story, both for animal lovers and young adventurers. It’s the story of a little girl who finds an abandoned wolf cub and how they become inseparable as they grow up together. Slowly the fear that the local village people have of wolves begins to dissipate, until one day Maria awakes to find Shadow has disappeared... It’s a story of happiness, sadness and an appreciation of the wonders of the world around her, but in the end it’s a little 12 year old girl’s realisation that life must go on and that there’s a reason for his departure. As with all Barefoot Books it is absolutely beautifully packaged. Winter Shadow is 80 pages of integrated text and beautiful thought-provoking illustrations – it’s the perfect gift for any child or adult for that matter of 8+.
January 2017 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: Losing your way | Running for your life | Finding your feet | 12+ A beautifully bittersweet debut in which a teenage girl discovers a latent talent that shines light on the darkest of times. Fifteen-year-old Wing Jones lives with her mom, her big brother Marcus (a high school sports hero), and her brilliantly portrayed, bickering grandmothers, Chinese LaoLao and Ghanaian Granny Dee. “I can’t blend in but I don't stand out” is how Wing sums up her place in the world, and her insecurities are cruelly exacerbated by the racist prejudice of peers who mock her appearance and mixed race heritage. The family are doing their best to get on with their lives (Wing lost her cop father in a shooting) when a second tragedy strikes. But, in the midst of this agony (“I didn’t know it was possible for a heart to break in so many ways”), Wing is struck by an overwhelming urge to run and discovers that she’s an incredibly talented athlete. It turns out that nurturing this gift - and not blending in - might just be the very thing that gets her family back on track. Set in the run-up to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, this is an expansive, heartfelt tale of loss, first love and self-discovery, and readers will truly root for Wing. Highly recommended for fans of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell. ~ Joanne Owen
April 2017 Debut of the Month | In a nutshell: cybernetic adventure galore as boffin boy hero takes on the bad guys | There’s something special about William Wenton: he can crack any code, solve any puzzle faster than you can say Bletchley Park. His grandfather was the same, until he disappeared in mysterious circumstances. When the bad guys turn up for William he’s rescued by his grandfather’s friends who take him to an extraordinary secret laboratory full of amazing mechanical creatures, and then the adventures really starts. Alex Rider-level thrills and a host of amazing gadgets, many of them animate, give this the page-turner prize and it’s definitely a case of brains over brawn. ~ 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.