Our weekly children’s book recommendation spot returns – and this time we’ve got 16 incoming new books for young readers to tell you about.
Neil Gaiman once referred to a book as being ‘a dream that you can hold in your hand’. In these times we have found – and continue to find – ourselves in, books are more important and more valuable than ever.
Like all good dreams they bring escape, catharsis, love and hope; a beloved book can do much to top up our depleting levels of all the above. That is especially true and especially vital when it comes to young people.
Over the coming months there will be countless books being released that will mean something to a young person out there, but lockdown may have a huge impact on them finding and acquiring these new titles. We want to help those titles find the beloved home they so deserve. So, what follows is a list of just some of the new releases that we’re excited about, books that we think you really need to keep an eye out for…
Middle Grade (Suggested for young people aged 8-12 years old)
The Valley of Lost Secrets by Lesley Parr (01/01/21)
September 1939. When Jimmy is evacuated to a small village in Wales, it couldn’t be more different from London. Green, quiet and full of strangers, he instantly feels out of place. But then he finds a skull hidden in a tree, and suddenly the valley is more frightening than the war. Who can Jimmy trust? His brother is too little; his best friend has changed. Finding an ally in someone he never expects, they set out together to uncover the secrets that lie with the skull. What they discover will change Jimmy – and the village – forever.
Darwin’s Dragons by Lindsay Galvin (07/01/21)
Syms Covington has landed the job of a lifetime – cabin boy and fiddler on Charles Darwin’s Beagle. But when he is separated from the crew during a storm, his life takes a truly extraordinary turn. Shipwrecked on a Galapagos island, he makes a discovery that could change the world – and make his fortune. But should he share his find, or will it lead to the extinction of a legendary species? There’s one person who could help, but he’s busy writing a book …
Front Desk by Kelly Yang (07/01/21)
Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests. Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?
Space Oddity by Christopher Edge (07/01/21)
Science and laughs combine in this out-of-this-world adventure, featuring illustrations by Ben Mantle! You might think that this story is going to be an intergalactic adventure filled with UFOs, black holes, killer robots and some very foul-smelling aliens. And you’d be right. But it’s mostly about a boy called Jake, his embarrassing dad, and the mind-boggling question . . . are we really alone in the universe?
Kit, Josh and Alita are heading back to school – and they’re excited to discover that they’re getting a brand new library, which also means getting their own wizard librarian… and a dragon! But when something VERY BAD happens at the new library, it’s up to Kit and her friends to save the world one more time.
The Boy Who Met a Whale by Nizrana Farook (14/01/21)
Razi, a local fisherboy, is watching turtle eggs hatch when he sees a boat bobbing into view. With a chill, he notices a small, still hand hanging over the side… Inside is Zheng, who’s escaped a shipwreck and is full of tales of sea monsters and missing treasure. But the villains who are after Zheng are soon after Razi and his sister, Shifa, too. And so begins an exhilarating adventure in the shadow of the biggest sea monster of them all…
A Case of Grave Danger by Sophie Cleverly (Author) and Hannah Peck (Illustrator) (21/01/21)
Violet Veil wants nothing more than to prove her worth and become her father’s apprentice at Veil & Sons Undertakers. And one rain-soaked night she gets her chance when she meets a boy, Oliver, who is wandering around the graveyard. Only, the last time Violet saw Oliver, he was indoors and very much dead, waiting to be buried. Violet has just found her first case, and it doesn’t get bigger than this: can she, with the help of her dog, Bones, help Oliver solve his own ‘murder’?
Amari and the Night Brothers by BB Alston (21/01/21)
Amari Peters knows three things. Her big brother Quinton has gone missing. No one will talk about it. His mysterious job holds the secret …So when Amari gets an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain this is her chance to find Quinton. But first she has to get her head around the new world of the Bureau, where mermaids, aliens and magicians are real, and her roommate is a weredragon. Amari must compete against kids who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives, and when each trainee is awarded a special supernatural talent, Amari is given an illegal talent – one that the Bureau views as dangerous. With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is the enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton…
Young Adult (Suggested for young people aged 12+)
Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala (05/01/21)
Raffy has a passion for bedazzling. Not just bedazzling, but sewing, stitching, draping, pattern making—for creation. He’s always chosen his art over everything—and everyone—else and is determined to make his mark at this year’s biggest cosplay competition. If he can wow there, it could lead to sponsorship, then art school, and finally earning real respect for his work. There’s only one small problem… Raffy’s ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition. Raffy tried to make it work with Luca. They almost made the perfect team last year after serendipitously meeting in the rhinestone aisle at the local craft store—or at least Raffy thought they did. But Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s insistence on crafting perfection caused their relationship to crash and burn. Now, Raffy is after the perfect comeback, one that Luca can’t ruin. But when Raffy is forced to partner with Luca on his most ambitious build yet, he’ll have to juggle unresolved feelings for the boy who broke his heart, and his own intense self-doubt, to get everything he’s ever wanted: choosing his art, his way.
The Broken Raven by Joseph Elliot (07/01/21)
The extraordinary second book in the epic Shadow Skye trilogy. Agatha and Jaime have rescued their clan and returned home to Skye as heroes. But when Agatha uncovers a threat to their people, she unwittingly releases a terrible power that could kill every living thing on the island. Jaime must race to Scotia to hunt an ancient blood magic, which may be their only chance of survival. Meanwhile, Sigrid, a Norvegian girl with an unusual gift, journeys to the court of Ingland where a dangerous alliance is forming – one that will soon turn its vengeful eyes to Skye. Sigrid will have to risk everything if she and the people of Skye are to survive the gathering shadows…
First Day Of My Life by Lisa Williamson (07/01/21)
There are three sides to every story… It’s GCSE results day. Frankie’s best friend, Jojo, is missing. A baby has been stolen. And more than one person has been lying. Frankie’s determined to find out the truth and her ex-boyfriend Ram is the only person who can help her. But they’re both in for a shock… EVERYTHING is about to change.
For centuries, Zeus has punished the gods with a game called the Agon, which turns them mortal for one week, and at the mercy of being hunted by those with godly ambitions. Only a handful of the original Greek gods remain, the rest replaced by the mortals who killed them and ascended. After her family’s sadistic murder by a rival bloodline, Lore escapes and vows to repay her parents’ sacrifice by doing one thing – surviving. For seven years, she has pushed back dark thoughts of revenge against the man responsible for their murder, a man by the name of Wrath who has attained unimaginable power. Except for one week, every seven years. A week that is fast approaching … When Lore comes home on the first night of the Agon to find Athena gravely wounded on her doorstep, the goddess offers her an alliance; they have a mutual enemy, after all. But as the world trembles under the force of Wrath – a god with the power to destroy all of humanity – will Lore’s decision to bind her fate with Athena’s come back to haunt her?
Last One To Die by Cynthia Murphy (07/01/21)
Young, brunette women are being attacked in the city of London. 16-year-old, Irish-born Niamh has just arrived for the summer, and quickly discovers that the girls being attacked look frighteningly similar to her. Determined to make it through her Drama Course, Niamh is placed at the Victorian Museum to put her drama skills to the test, and there she meets Tommy: he’s kind, fun, attentive, and really hot! . . . Nonetheless, there’s something eerie about the museum. As the two strands of present-day serial attacker and sinister Victorian history start to collide, Niamh realises that things are not as they seem. Will she be next?
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas (12/01/21)
With his King Lord dad in prison and his mom working two jobs, seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter helps the only way he knows how: slinging drugs. Life’s not perfect, but he’s got everything under control. Until he finds out he’s a father… Suddenly it’s not so easy to deal drugs and finish school with a baby dependent on him for everything. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. But when King Lord blood runs through your veins, you don’t get to just walk away.
Love is for Losers by Wibke Brueggemann (21/02/21)
As far as Phoebe Davis is concerned, love is to be avoided at all costs. Why would you spend your life worrying about something that turns you into a complete moron? If her best friend Polly is anything to go by, the first sniff of a relationship makes you forget about your friends (like, hello?), get completely obsessed with sex (yawn) and bang on constantly about a person who definitely isn’t as great as you think they are. So Phoebe isn’t going to fall in love, ever. But then she meets Emma . . .
What We’re Scared Of by Keren David (21/02/21)
Evie and Lottie are twin sisters, but they couldn’t be more different. Evie’s sharp and funny. Lottie’s a day-dreamer. Evie’s the fighter, Lottie’s the peace-maker. What they do have in common is their Jewishness – even though the family isn’t religious. When their mother gets a high-profile job and is targeted by antisemitic trolls on social media, the girls brush it off at first – but then the threats start getting uglier. . . What We’re Scared Of is a taut thriller, a tale of sibling friendship and rivalry – and a searing look at what happens when you scratch beneath the surface.
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