There’s a whole lot of brilliant books for young readers out this month – here’s our round-up of February 2021’s releases.
Last month we shared this list of that month’s children’s books to watch out for, the new releases in the UK from Middle Grade and Young Adult literature that are total must-reads. Here’s our list for February – and why not check out our list of indie bookshops to buy them from…
This is all part of our commitment to supporting reading for youngsters, and trying to give exposure to authors at a time when publications are cutting back their support of children’s books.
On we go, then, and considering shops are closed physically there’s a lot to look out for with an incredible amount of new releases – here’s just 22 of them!
Middle Grade (Suggested for young people aged 8-12 years old)
The Year I Flew Away by Marie Arnold (02/02/21)
It’s 1985 and ten-year-old Gabrielle is excited to be moving from Haiti to America. Unfortunately, her parents won’t be able to join her yet and she’ll be living in a place called Brooklyn, New York, with relatives she has never met. She promises her parents that she will behave, but life proves to be difficult in the United States, from learning the language to always feeling like she doesn’t fit in to being bullied. So when a witch offers her a chance to speak English perfectly and be “American,” she makes the deal. But soon she realizes how much she has given up by trying to fit in and, along with her two new friends (one of them a talking rat), takes on the witch in an epic battle to try to reverse the spell. (Kindle only until March 15th)
Opie Jones Talks to Animals by Nat Luurtsema (Author), Fay Austin (Illustrator) (04/02/21)
10-year-old Opie Jones is Very Ordinary. In fact nothing remarkable has ever happened to her, if you don’t count the cat that gives her funny looks from next door (which she doesn’t). So she is naturally very surprised when she is recruited to join The Resistance – a team of superheroes who can read minds, and have a dastardly brainwashing villain to defeat. HOWEVER& it turns out Opie can’t read human minds, she can read ANIMAL ones. The other members of the Resistance are very disappointed. And a whole world of animal chat and demands is opening up to her. She’s still a superhero, just one on her hands and knees in the mud, chatting to a pedantic worm. But when the Resistance find themselves captured, it might just be that listening to all the creatures great and small is what makes Opie Jones the right person to save the world.
Vi Spy: Licence to Chill by Maz Evans (04/02/21)
Divorce is tough for any kid. But when – like Violet’s parents – your mum is ex-secret service and your dad is a retired bad guy, ’till death do us part’ takes on a whole new meaning. And with her parents’ focus on each other, the real super-villains are having a field day. To save her family – and the world – from evil domination, Vi must turn spy …
Swan Song by Gill Lewis (04/02/21)
Dylan is struggling. Since he started high school, everything has become too much to handle. Now he’s been expelled and is forced to move to the tiny village in Wales where his grandad lives. But when Grandad invites Dylan out on his boat to watch the Whooper swans return to their winter feeding ground, things begin to change. Grandad doesn’t judge or question; he just lets Dylan be. Out on the water, with no distractions or pressure, Dylan begins to feel like himself again. But when the swans and their home are threatened, and tragedy strikes at home, can Dylan keep going when it feels like everything is slipping out of control again?
Storm by Nicola Skinner (04/02/21)
Frances’s parents were not prepared for her birth: they had a blanket and an easel and some paint, but not anything useful, like a car or a phone. So it’s no wonder Frankie has always had a temper. She was born on a BEACH, in a STORM. What Frances was not prepared for was dying in a freak natural disaster that wiped out her whole town. Waking up 100 years later, Frances finds a whole load of new things to be angry about. And that’s before the visitors start turning up, treating her home like it’s a tourist attraction. Which it is. Only there are worse people out there than tourists… and they’re coming for Frankie. Frankie is about to discover that there are things more important than herself – and that anger has its uses. Because when you have a storm inside you – sometimes the only thing to do is let it out…
A Tangle Of Spells by Michelle Harrison (04/02/21)
It should have been a fresh start for the Widdershins sisters, Betty, Fliss and Charlie, who have left the misty gloom of Crowstone for a new life in the pretty village of Pendlewick. But all is not as it seems and as one of their own begins to slip away from them, the sisters find themselves in a race against time to break a dark magic that has cast a spell over the village.
My name’s Archie Albright, and I know two things for certain: 1. My mum and dad kind of hate each other, and they’re not doing a great job of pretending that they don’t anymore. 2. They’re both keeping a secret from me, but I can’t figure out what. Things aren’t going great for Archie Albright. His dad’s acting weird, his mum too, and all he wants is for everything to go back to normal, to three months before when his parents were happy and still lived together. When Archie sees a colourful, crumpled flyer fall out of Dad’s pocket, he thinks he may have found the answer. Only problem? The answer might just lie at the end of the rainbow, an adventure away. Together with his best friends, Bell and Seb, Archie sets off on a heart-warming and unforgettable journey to try and fix his family, even if he has to break a few rules to do it…
Murder on the Safari Star by M. G. Leonard (Author), Sam Sedgman (Author), Elisa Paganelli (Illustrator) (04/02/21)
All-aboard for the third amazing journey in the bestselling Adventures on Trains series. Harrison Beck and his Uncle Nat are on the journey of a lifetime aboard the Safari Star – a luxurious steam train that will take them from Pretoria to the stunning Victoria Falls. Close encounters with the amazing animals and landscape of Southern Africa are adventure enough, but things get mysterious when a passenger is found dead inside a locked compartment. Is it just a terrible accident or is something more suspicious afoot? It’s up to train detective Hal and his new friend Winston to find out.
Proud of Me by Sarah Hagger-Holt (04/02/21)
An accessible child-centred story about self-acceptance and the importance of opening up to those closest to you. Becky and Josh are almost-twins, with two mums and the same anonymous donor dad. Josh can’t wait until he’s eighteen, the legal age when he can finally contact his donor, and he’ll do anything to find out more - even if it involves lying. Becky can’t stop thinking about her new friend, Carli. Could her feelings for Carli be a sign of something more? Becky and Josh both want their parents to be proud of them…but right now, they’re struggling to even accept themselves.
Kingston has just moved from the suburbs back to Echo City, Brooklyn–the last place his father was seen alive. Kingston’s father was King Preston, one of the world’s greatest magicians. Until one trick went wrong and he disappeared. Now that Kingston is back in Echo City, he’s determined to find his father. Somehow, though, when his father disappeared, he took all of Echo City’s magic with him. Now Echo City–a ghost of its past–is living up to its name. With no magic left, the magicians have packed up and left town and those who’ve stayed behind don’t look too kindly on any who reminds them of what they once had. When Kingston finds a magic box his father left behind as a clue, Kingston knows there’s more to his father’s disappearance than meets the eye. He’ll have to keep it a secret–that is, until he can restore magic to Echo City. With his cousin Veronica and childhood friend Too Tall Eddie, Kingston works to solve the clues, but one wrong move and his father might not be the only one who goes missing.
The Dragon and Her Boy by Penny Chrimes (18/02/21)
When Stick discovers there is a dragon living underneath the streets of London, he finds himself unintentionally drawn into an epic adventure and a quest — but how can he find a place for a dragon to live in London when dragons aren’t supposed to exist? And with foes at every corner who want to exploit the dragon for themselves, it’s going to take a daring plan for Stick to find a safe place for his dragon — and for himself.
Young Adult (Suggested for young people aged 12+)
This Is Not The Jess Show by Anna Carey (02/02/21)
The year is 1998: Titanic just won 6 Oscars, boy bands are dominating MTV’s airwaves, and like any other teenager Jess Flynn is just trying to survive high school. Between a crush on her childhood best friend, overprotective parents, and her sister’s worsening health, the only constant is her hometown of Swickley, which feels smaller by the day. Jess is resigned to her small-town life, until the day she discovers a mysterious device with an apple logo, causing her to question everything and everyone she’s ever known. As more cracks appear in Jess’s world, she faces a choice: can she live the rest of her life knowing it’s a lie or should she risk everything for the truth?
Smashed by Andy Robb (04/02/21)
When his dad moves out, Jamie tries to fill his shoes. He needs to become head of the household – right? With his mum dealing with the aftermath of toxic masculinity at its finest, and his little sister Bex struggling to understand what’s going on, Jamie has to navigate the choppy waters of what he thinks it means to be a man. Having learned that the best way to deal with feelings is to push them down as far as they’ll go, he finds help from an unlikely source. Drinking makes him feel invincible – Super Jim can take on anything – and anyone… But how long will it be before this particular well of wisdom runs dry? And what will it take for Jamie to realise that help was at hand all along?
Furious Thing by Jenny Downham (04/02/21)
Lexi’s angry. And it’s getting worse. If only she could stop losing her temper, her step-father would accept her, her mum would love her again, and her step-brother would return her feelings. She wants these things so badly, she tries to push her fury down. But it isn’t easy. Her rage is there for a reason. And if she stays quiet – she might just lose herself…
Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson (04/02/21)
When Nala Robertson reluctantly agrees to attend an open mic night for her cousin-sister-friend Imani’s birthday, she finds herself falling in instant love with Tye Brown, the MC. He’s perfect, except . . . Tye is an activist and is spending the summer putting on events for the community when Nala would rather watch movies and try out the new seasonal flavors at the local creamery. In order to impress Tye, Nala tells a few tiny lies to have enough in common with him. As they spend more time together, sharing more of themselves, some of those lies get harder to keep up. As Nala falls deeper into keeping up her lies and into love, she’ll learn all the ways love is hard, and how self-love is revolutionary.
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna (04/02/21)
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in Otera, a deeply patriarchal ancient kingdom, where a woman’s worth is tied to her purity, and she must bleed to prove it. But when Deka bleeds gold – the colour of impurity, of a demon – she faces a consequence worse than death. She is saved by a mysterious woman who tells Deka of her true nature: she is an Alaki, a near-immortal with exceptional gifts. The stranger offers her a choice: fight for the Emperor, with others just like her, or be destroyed…
The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe (04/02/21)
Meet Nora. Also known as Rebecca, Samantha, Haley, Katie and Ashley – the girls she’s been. Nora didn’t choose a life of deception – she was born into it. As the daughter of a con artist who targeted criminal men, Nora always had to play a part. But when her mother fell for one of the men instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con herself: escape. For five years Nora’s been playing at normal – but things are far from it when she finds herself held at gunpoint in the middle of a bank heist, along with Wes (her ex-boyfriend) and Iris (her secret new girlfriend and mutual friend of Wes … awkward). Now it will take all of Nora’s con artistry skills to get them out alive. Because the gunmen have no idea who she really is – that girl has been in hiding for far too long …
Game Changer by Neal Shusterman (11/02/21)
As a star player on his high school American football team, Ash is used to taking some hard hits. But that one run in his last game must have knocked him a little loose, because suddenly his life doesn’t look quite the way he remembers it. As Ash bounces into worlds that are almost-but-not-really his own, he starts to question everything, including his own perceptions and place in his own reality. But can he even work out how to get back there?
Eighteen-year-old Amelia Griffin is obsessed with the famous Orman Chronicles, written by the young and reclusive prodigy N. E. Endsley. They’re the books that brought her and her best friend Jenna together after Amelia’s father left and her family imploded. So when Amelia and Jenna get the opportunity to attend a book festival with Endsley in attendance, Amelia is ecstatic. It’s the perfect way to start off their last summer before college. In a heartbeat, everything goes horribly wrong. When Jenna gets a chance to meet the author and Amelia doesn’t, the two have a blowout fight like they’ve never experienced. And before Amelia has a chance to mend things, Jenna is killed in a freak car accident. Grief-stricken, and without her best friend to guide her, Amelia questions everything she had planned for the future. When a mysterious, rare edition of the Orman Chronicles arrives, Amelia is convinced that it somehow came from Jenna. Tracking the book to an obscure but enchanting bookstore in Michigan, Amelia is shocked to find herself face-to-face with the enigmatic and handsome N. E. Endsley himself, the reason for Amelia’s and Jenna’s fight and perhaps the clue to what Jenna wanted to tell her all along
Forever Ends On Friday by Justin A. Reynolds (21/02/21)
What if you could bring your best friend back to life – but only for a short time? Jamal’s best friend, Q, doesn’t know that he died, and that he’s about to die … again. He doesn’t know that Jamal tried to save him. And that the reason they haven’t been friends for two years is because Jamal blames Q for the accident that killed his parents. But what if Jamal could have a second chance? A new technology allows Q to be reanimated for a few weeks before he dies … permanently. And Q’s mom is not about to let anyone ruin this miracle by telling Q about his impending death. So how can Jamal fix everything if he can’t tell Q the truth?
Some Other Now by Sarah Everett (23/02/21)
Before she kissed one of the Cohen boys, seventeen-year-old Jessi Rumfield knew what it was like to have a family—even if, technically, that family didn’t belong to her. She’d spent her childhood in the house next door, challenging Rowan Cohen to tennis matches while his older brother, Luke, studied in the background and Mel watched over the three like the mother Jessi always wished she had. But then everything changed. It’s been almost a year since Jessi last visited the Cohen house. Rowan is gone. Mel is in remission and Luke hates Jessi for the role she played in breaking his family apart. Now Jessi spends her days at a dead-end summer job avoiding her real mother, who suddenly wants to play a role in Jessi’s life after being absent for so long. But when Luke comes home from college, it’s hard to ignore the past. And when he asks Jessi to pretend to be his girlfriend for the final months of Mel’s life, Jessi finds herself drawn back into the world of the Cohens. Everything’s changed, but Jessi can’t help wanting to be a Cohen, even if it means playing pretend for one final summer.
Prepped by Bethany Mangle (23/02/21)
This is the mantra that Becca Aldaine has grown up with. Her family is part of a community of doomsday preppers, a neighborhood that prioritizes survivalist training over class trips or senior prom. They’re even arranging Becca’s marriage with Roy Kang, the only eligible boy in their community. Roy is a nice guy, but he’s so enthusiastic about prepping that Becca doesn’t have the heart to tell him she’s planning to leave as soon as she can earn a full ride to a college far, far away. Then a devastating accident rocks Becca’s family and pushes the entire community, including Becca’s usually cynical little sister, deeper into the doomsday ideology. With her getaway plans thrown into jeopardy, the only person Becca can turn to is Roy, who reveals that he’s not nearly as clueless as he’s been pretending to be. When Roy proposes they run away together, Becca will have to risk everything—including her heart—for a chance to hope for the best instead of planning for the worst.
Lead image: BigStock
Thank you for visiting! If you’d like to support our attempts to make a non-clickbaity movie website:
Buy our Film Stories and Film Stories Junior print magazines here.
Become a Patron here.