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 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.
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.
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 | Sarah Epstein’s well-crafted psychological thriller will keep readers on their toes, and nervously checking over their shoulders too. Aged just 8, Tash witnessed her imaginary friend the sinister Sparrow kidnap a little girl from a fair. Nine years and lots of therapy later, Tash has learned to keep quiet about what happened, convinced along with her parents that what she saw was just the imagination of a little girl desperate for attention. But when circumstances draw her back to the area, back to the fairground, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. Can she believe her eyes? Can we believe her? Dark and twisty, this is hard to put down and good, creepy fun.
July 2018 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.
July 2018 Debut of the Month | A feisty thriller that fizzes with intrigue, paranoia and a cast of fascinatingly flawed characters. For Jess “every waking moment is a flashbulb moment. I recall everything from the age of eleven like a never-ending motion picture,” which is why she became part of Professor Coleman’s intensive memory study Programme. Following a family tragedy and sick of Coleman’s invasive methods, Jess fled the study and assumed a new identity. She’s an engaging, refreshingly straight-talking narrator, not always likeable, but consistently clever and ten steps ahead of everyone around her. But further tragedy follows at her new school when Hanna, her roommate, falls to her death. While Jess tries to figure out who’s behind the mysterious postcards she finds in the wake of Hanna’s death, she falls for new boy Dan and confides in him as it emerges that Professor Coleman wants her back. A tangle of questions arise as Jess tries to keep herself safe, and the answers are revealed with terrific tension as a series of damning discoveries set the stage for an explosive showdown. Recommended for YA readers who like their fiction fast-paced and full of psychological thrills and chills.
July 2018 Debut of the Month |Historian Janina Ramirez’s TV programmes are as inspiring as they are informative. Her passion for Viking history comes through loud and clear in this story for young readers, which is also inspiring, and a great crime mystery too. Young Alva lives with her mother, uncle, baby brother and pet wolf Fenrir in the Viking settlement Kilsgard. Her father is away ‘a-Viking’ and much missed. The peace of their community is disturbed by the arrival of an English monk. He says he’s on the trail of treasure – certain to catch Viking attention – but has been attacked, a companion kidnapped. Alva is determined to investigate and soon on the trail, at first independently, then as semi-official assistant to her investigator uncle. The mystery comes closer to home still when the two discover secret messages from Alva’s father amongst the clues. Readers will pick up a real sense of Viking life as they compulsively turn the pages of this gripping adventure and Alva is a great new character in children’s books. Readers who can’t wait for the next book in the series will enjoy Caroline Lawrence’s historical crime series The Pinkerton Mysteries or the Artie Conan Doyle series by Robert J. Harris.
July 2018 Debut of the Month | Based on the author's own unconventional upbringing on a Thames Barge, Mud is an unusual and touching roman a clef. Lydia tells her father he is ruining her life when he announces that the family - she has one sister, two brothers and a much loved cat - will be going to live on a boat, and that his girlfriend Kate and her three children will be moving in too. His casual reference to Swallows and Amazons makes her shudder and it's hard to imagine any teenager would enjoy their new life - the boat is leaky and uncomfortable, adults and children alike squabble, and the atmosphere is far from happy. At least Lydia makes a new friend - the fabulous, straight-talking Kay - while other bright spots of life away from home include teenage parties and a burgeoning romance. Events are recounted by Lydia via diary entries, and she is a wonderful storyteller - funny, honest, with a wry self-deprecatory tone that endears her to readers. It's a story that could be very sad - Lydia's father's drinking becomes a real problem and eventually Kate leaves him; but Lydia's quirky stoicism, and descriptions of the love and support of her friends and siblings keep it an uplifting read. This is a great story for teenagers, but would be enjoyed by readers of any age. ~ Andrea Reece ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As the 1980s dawn, Lydia finds herself caught in a maelstrom of monumental change herself, which she recounts in her unassumingly witty diary. Her mum died three years ago and her dad has remarried Kate, which means she now has a new stepmum, new stepsiblings, and then - horror of horrors – her dad announces that they’re all moving to a new home. On a boat. Cue much conflict and upset courtesy of two families trying to get on in ramshackle surroundings, her dad’s increasingly worrying behaviour and her big sister flying the nest for Cambridge University. Lydia’s articulation of her grief is deeply moving; those moments that leave her “overwhelmed suddenly by the strangeness of my mother just not existing anymore.” Throughout Lydia is a loveable bundle of self-effacing honesty and contemplation, and her astute observations cut to the core: “Everyone has to grow up, don’t they? Everyone has to go away one day.” As Lydia navigates these swirling new waters, she practices the art of getting on with things and discovers the delights of genuine friendship. Funny, poignant and perfectly-formed, this is a triumph of true-to-life storytelling. ~ Joanne Owen
July 2018 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2018 Swept along by the wind and sea and suffused with magic and mystery this is an ebullient adventure story that compels its readers to believe just as the young hero Fionn begins to do. Sent to stay on the wild Arranmore Island with his reclusive grandfather, Fionn enters a world dominated by the forces of magic – and by water which has always terrified Fionn. Gradually, Fionn begins to understand his grandfather’s now fading power as to accept and embrace his own new destiny. Catherine Doyle has a lightness of touch as a story-teller that makes the impossible convincing. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for July 2018: A First Book of the Sea by Nicola Davies Junkyard Jack and the Horse That Talks by Adrian Edmondson All About Families by Felicity Brooks A Stone for Sascha by Aaron Becker Sleep by Kate Prendergast The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle The Cook and the King by Julia Donaldson Catherine was inspired to write The Storm Keeper’s Island by her real-life ancestral home of Arranmore Island (where her grandparents grew up) and the adventures of her many sea-faring ancestors, particularly her grandfather. “When my grandfather, Captain Charles Boyle, left Arranmore as a young man, he took a piece of it with him. I remember peering over his ship’s railings into sapphire seas in Galway Bay, getting a red-and-white fishing rod from him on my fourth birthday and spending long afternoons tying sailor’s knots on his blue ropes, listening to stories of his wild and restless island. Not too long ago, my grandfather developed Alzheimer’s disease. I have spent the past couple of years trying to navigate the difficult long goodbye, learning to reconcile the person I love with the version of him that is slowly fading away. Fionn faces the same challenge: the struggle to view his grandfather as a man who lives with Alzheimer’s disease but is not diminished by it. A man who is still the sum of all of his experiences, despite his inability to recall them. If Malachy Boyle cannot remember his own adventures, then Fionn must remember them for him. He learns, as I am learning, that for all the transiency of memories, love is not so easily erased by the winds of time.”
July 2018 Debut of the Month | An unusual friendship, a chance to live as a princess, mystery, romance and intrigue, all set in the luxurious surroundings of a top boarding school – every summer holiday calls out for a book like this! Lottie has always longed to attend Rosewood Hall, which offers an escape from her nasty step-mother, and worked hard for her scholarship. Ellie has always wanted to go there too, but for very different reasons. She’s a princess and the school allows her a last chance for anonymity and freedom. The two become unlikely friends, and Lottie agrees to pretend to be Ellie, both of them undercover princesses. But it seems someone is out to get Ellie, could Lottie be in danger? Cinderella stories don’t come sparklier than this, and it will be dream holiday reading for many. If you like your romance tinged with a hint of royalty, look out too for Rachel Hickman’s One Silver Summer.
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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