Roald Dahl celebrations, Harry Potter on stage, a Winnie the Pooh sequel, Goosebumps on stage, Beatrix Potter at 150: 2016 promises all sorts of opportunities to revisit old favourites and indulge in literary nostalgia. But what are the hot new books of the year? We asked leading children’s books editors to tell us about the books that are making them excited.
At the O’Brien Press Helen Carr says: ‘The book I’m most excited about in 2016 is A Darkness At the End: Book 3 in the Crack in Everything series by Ruth Frances Long. Like its predecessors, this story of Izzy and Jinx and their difficult relationship (given that she’s a normal teenager –albeit with newfound powers – and he’s a fae warrior) deals with ancient powers, sacrifice and treachery. Great characters, a fast-paced storyline and a real sense of the Fae world being just a step away from our own. I love working on a book with a strong contemporary heroine and believable character dynamics, and seeing how elements of Irish myth and legend are used to in such a fresh and compelling way in the world of the Fae.’
Felicity Johnston, at Orion Children’s Books: ‘There are lots of brilliant books I’m looking forward to, but if I can pick one, it would be Caroline Lawrence’s return to Rome with her new series, The Roman Quests. It’s vivid and gripping and full of energy – in short, it’s every bit as good as you’d expect. The first book, Escape from Rome, sees Juba and his siblings fleeing their home and journeying to Roman Britain, a land of wolves and warriors and blue-painted barbarians. We can promise you peril, plot twists and powerful baddies – including the Emperor Domitian, as powerful as they come. (And no spoilers, but there may also be cameos from a few old favourites from the Roman Mysteries – now grown up…)
Janetta Otter-Barry highlights Otter-Barry Books launch title Zim Zam Zoom! Zappy Poems to Read Out Loud by James Carter: ‘This fabulous poetry collection, presented as a picture book, contains sixteen poems for four-to-eight-year-olds, written especially to be read out loud, at home or at school. I was immediately drawn to the range of characters, settings and stories within the poems, from the hilarious Billy Goats Gruff Rap and Let’s Go Once Upon a Time to gentle Teddy Afraid (does a teddy take a teddy up to bed?). I love the warmth of the writing, its careful crafting for a young audience, and that all the poems have been successfully ‘road-tested’ by this hugely popular poet on his school visits, both with Early Years and KS1. This is poetry that is really accessible and fun to perform, whether you’re a child or an adult, and it has deliciously playful colour pictures by the talented young illustrator, Nicola Colton.’
Rachel Williams at Quarto is looking forward to Christmas: ‘For Wide Eyed, we’re particularly excited about the follow up to Lucy Letherland’s first book, Atlas of Adventures. This Christmas Lucy’s much-loved animals take the stage with a tour of nature’s unmissable events, in Atlas of Animal Adventures. The natural history theme continues with the first book in a new series illustrated by Owen Davey, and curated by Amanda Wood and Mike Jolley: Curiositree, Natural World: a visual compendium of maps, cutaways and charts. We also have a stunning new book inspired by the work of Italian duo Carnovsky, llluminature, and our first science title from Tom Clohosy Cole, Destination: Space.’
‘On the Frances Lincoln Children’s Books side, our picture book list has some corkers, many commissioned by star editor Katie Cotton. The Road Home, written by Katie herself and illustrated by Sarah Jacoby, is a look at love and survival in nature. We will also be publishing Victoria Turnbull’s much anticipated Pandora, a heart-warming story of regeneration, as well as the paperback edition of Bear and the Piano. We have practical gifts for parents, with new series of books that deal with real issues for little people, the Life and Soul Library, illustrated by Louis Thomas and written by two child psychologists, and gifts that nurture storytime, with A Year Full of Stories from Chris Corr and Angela McAllister.’
‘It’s an exciting time in the world of QED Publishing!’ says Maxime Boucknooghe of QED with a brand new range of board, cloth and activity books in the Wee Gallery series. ‘Talented Surya Sajnani created fresh illustration with engaging educational content for toddlers and pre-schoolers.’
‘For those who want to combine reading for pleasure, phonics and uncontrollable giggling, then try our new series Monsters’ Nonsense! written by the expertly humorous Peter Bently. Encourage children to grunt along with Pem Pem, Gop, Nid and San in four magical adventures.’
‘Our What on Earth? series takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery. With stunning illustrations by Pau Morgan, the natural elements of Wind and Water are explored through experiments, investigations and hands-on tasks.’
‘The Tudors are next in line adding to our successful 50 Things you should know about… series. Older readers will love learning about this tumultuous but intriguing period in British history.’
‘Words & Pictures, an imprint of Quarto Publishing, brings an eclectic offering of books to delight, inspire and amuse young minds. The charming Don’t Wake the Tiger and Meet Happy Bear by Carles Ballesteros help young children to explore emotions and expressions through cleverly moving panels, while Clayton Junior’s boldly graphic wordless picture book Cutting the Lines takes book-lovers of all ages on a thought-provoking journey out to sea. For those with a love of nature, It Starts With a Seed employs etchings and a gentle rhyme to chart the growth of a tiny sycamore seed into mighty tree, home to a host of delightful woodland animals.’
‘I’m incredibly excited about Dave Rudden’s brilliant Knights of the Borrowed Dark’ says Random House Children’s Books Editor Ben Horslen. ‘It’s the story of Denizen Hardwick, a geeky, bookish orphan who’s well aware that for boys like him, there’s no mysterious prophecy or unexpected inheritance that will transform his fortunes. Except for Denizen, there is. Whisked away from the orphanage and reunited with an aunt he never knew he had, Denizen finds himself on the front line of a war between our world and a race of shadowy monsters called the Tenebrous. Oh, and now he can do magic too…
It’s a super debut novel, with echoes of Neil Gaiman and Derek Landy in the spooky atmosphere and black humour, and Rick Riordan in the edge-of-your-seat action sequences.’
David Salariya MD Salariya Book Company: ‘This coming September, we are delighted to be publishing Happy Birthday Old Bear, a brand new story written and illustrated by the talented Jane Hissey. Featuring the return of the soft-toys characters belonging to Jane and her family, this new title marks the 30th anniversary of the publication of the first Old Bear book. Not only is it exciting to reach this milestone but Jane and I are also hugely looking forward to introducing Old Bear to a new generation of readers and bringing him right up-to-date.’
Simon & Schuster Books, Jane Griffiths, ‘Three authors return with sequels to their hit debut children’s books: The Shadow Keeper is Abi Elphinstone’s second adventure in the series that began with The Dreamsnatcher, Potion Diaries: Royal Tour from Amy Alward returns to the magical world of Nova, and Danny Wallace is back with Hamish and the Neverpeople, which is every bit as funny (if not more so!) as his first book. Plus we have the much-anticipated second novels from Clare Furniss and C.J. Flood: How Not to Disappear from Clare in January and Nightwanderers from Chelsey in June. Big launches come in the form of The Misadventures of Max Crumbly, a new series from the bestselling author of Dork Diaries, and I couldn’t talk about 2016 without mentioning Lady Midnight from Cassandra Clare! The first book in her new series set in the Shadowhunters world is full of the romance and page-turning action that Cassie’s fans love – and it’s going to be BIG! We have some great debuts too: Waiting for Callback by Honor and Perdita Cargill – a terrific mother/daughter writing duo – perfect for fans of Holly Smale and Katy Birchall, and The Bubble Boy by Stewart Foster, a poignant and uplifting story from a great new talent (think Wonder meets Mark Haddon). And, if all that wasn’t enough, I’m just about to sign-up something very exciting from a pairing of best-selling adult authors which should publish at the end of the year, so watch this space…
‘Stripes will be celebrating its tenth birthday in 2016 ‘and we have plenty of treats lined up!’ says Publisher Jane Harris. ‘Vlad: The World’s Worst Vampire (Beth Chambers & Kathryn Durst) is a fiendishly fun book for young readers and Guy Bass reaches new heights of bonkers with Spynosaur – a dinosaur super-spy on a mission to make crime extinct. Fans of Tom Gates will love Beaky Malone, the toe-curlingly funny tale of a boy who can’t tell lies. For YA readers, Australian author Melissa Keil’s The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl is an offbeat tale about how to keep on being yourself when everything around you is changing. And from the much-loved Holly Webb, The Snow Cat is a perfect Christmas gift for young animal lovers.’
Barry Timms, Editorial Director at Little Tiger: ‘It’s always a treat to have a story from Jeanne Willis, and There’s No Such Thing As A Snappenpoop is an uncompromising cautionary tale in the tradition of Not Now Bernard. Goodnight Tiger contains a sprinkling of Narnia magic. Mess is inexorably part of family life, and The Messy Book sidesteps lectures to explore tidiness in a funny, creative way. The Great Aaa-Ooo! is a gloriously rambunctious, rhyming tale about spooky noises at night, and it’s impossible not to fall madly love with Jonny Lambert’s illustrations. But Nibbles – The Book Monsterlooks set to steal the show with its inventive blending of die-cuts, flaps and literary mayhem!
Thomas Truong, Publisher at new Stripes imprint 360 Degrees says: ‘From our new non-fiction imprint, 360 Degrees comes Hello World. It’s a celebration of languages and greetings from across the globe in a unique and highly engaging lift-the-flap format.
When we decided to create In Focus, a book of cross sections, close-ups and cutaways, the subject matter was so diverse that we felt the only way to do it justice was to handpick ten different illustrators to depict each topic.
I’m a big fan of illustrator Hanako Clulow’s accessible and tactile depiction of the natural world. So I’m excited to be publishing two eye-catching books from her in 2016. In The River she depicts the journey of a fish downstream from the mountains to the sea and in Above and Below she explores the World’s habitats in an innovative split-page book.
From Caterpillar Books comes Feelings, beautifully illustrated by Richard Jones and with a wonderful lyrical text by Libby Walden, perfectly capturing the nature of a child’s emotions while Britta Teckentrup brings nature to life with her beautiful vibrant artwork. In Bee we are taken on a journey from flower to flower as the miracle of pollination unfolds. Ingenious die-cuts add to the fun.
Templar Publishing Director Lisa Edwards: ‘Spring heralds the return of the inimitable ‘Maps’ Mizielinskis with their new title for Big Picture Press. Under Earth, Under Water dives below the surface of our world revealing hundreds of surprising facts in the duo’s uniquely visual way. Jonny Duddle’s Scurvy Sands picture book is set to appeal to all little landlubbers with the return of Mathilda and the Jolley-Rogers, while the glorious Botanicum, the stunning new title in our Welcome to the Museum series, will be this autumn’s must-have gift book. Author Professor Katherine J Willis, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, presents her curated selection of the most fascinating plant life, beautifully illustrated by Katie Scott.’
Founder of new publisher Tiny Owl Delaram Ghanimifard says: ‘In 2016, we are going to publish two Persian classics. The Jackal Who Thought He Was a Peacock is one of Rumi’s fables retold for children. Rumi, the thirteenth century poet, tells us the story of a grey and brown jackal that envies the colourful appearance of the peacocks. He colours himself as a peacock and believes he has changed into one, but can he fly like birds too? A beautiful story about identity. Our other classic this year is Bijan & Manijeh, from Shahnameh or the Book of Kings and retold for children. A love story that changes the fate of a war. The original author of Bijan & Manijeh is Ferdowsi, (Persian 9th century poet), who gathered old Persian myths and legends in the Book of Kings.
‘Usborne fiction is coming of age’ says Publisher Anne Finnis. ‘For younger readers, we’re building the Knitbone Pepper, Ghost Dog series with two gorgeous new hardbacks. Written by Claire Barker and illustrated by Ross Collins these tales are full of hilarity, warmth and undefeated love. We are delighted to introduce the wacky and Pythonesque humour of Simon Cherry in Eddy Stone and the Epic Holiday Mash-up which Sir Lenny Henry calls “charming, surreal and batty”. Ann M Martin’s heart-warming How to Look for a Lost Dog is narrated by autistic Rose whose dog is her anchor in a confusing world. (Ann is author of the stellar Babysitter’s Club.)
Lara Williamson’s The Boy Who Was Ace introduces us to Adam Butters who is adopted. In her inimitable style Lara will have readers laughing out loud then crying – all on the same page.
Lee Weatherly is back with the brave and bold Broken trilogy an exhilarating epic of deception, heartbreak and rebellion. Holly Bourne is set to have a triumphant year. Am I Normal Yet? is included in World Book Night and for Valentine’s Day we have How Hard Can Love Be? the most gorgeous exploration of love in its many forms. Debut author Kathryn Evans’ More of Me is based on the most amazing concept you’ll read all year, while Faye Bird’s mesmerizing second novel is told by a narrator who is selectively mute, and has a heart-wrenching twist.’
Rebecca Hill adds: ‘Cogheart, by the incredibly talented Peter Bunzl, is a heart-pounding middle-grade adventure that we can’t wait to introduce to the world. A future classic in the making, it is the perfect bedtime read.’
Jane Winterbotham, Publishing Director, Walker Books says: ‘The stars of the Walker list are on top form, with the 30th anniversary edition of Jill Murphy’s Five Minutes’ Peace, the first ever Where’s Wally? Colouring Book, and Chris Haughton’s bedtime book with a difference, Goodnight, Everyone. Jon Klassen returns to a favourite theme in We Found a Hat, while Sam Winston and Oliver Jeffers’ A Child of Books combines beautiful typography and illustration in celebration of storytelling.
Raymie Nightingale, Kate DiCamillo’s poignant tale of unlikely friendship is guaranteed to make you laugh and cry. Teens and YAs will love Moonlight Dreamers, Siobhan Curham’s feel-good story about a club for misfit girls, and Alison Goodman’s supernatural Regency underworld in The Dark Days Club. For non-fiction fans there’s A First Book of Animals by Nicola Davies and Petr Horacek for the very young, while Young Rewired State will inspire everyone to Get Coding. The excitement at the end of the year is the film of Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls, starring Liam Neeson!’
Debbie Foy, Editorial Director of Wayland Books:‘We’re thrilled to publish The Great Fire of London 350th Anniversary Edition by Emma Adams hauntingly beautiful retelling of one of the most famous disasters in London’s history to commemorate the 350th anniversary in September. James Weston Lewis’ powerful, sumptuous illustrations perfectly evoke the atmosphere and destructive power of the fire that engulfed the city. This gorgeous rose-gold gift book edition follows the day-by-day progress of the fire and how it was eventually controlled. Littered with quotes from Pepys’ diary, the book features a stunning portrait of the Monument to the Great Fire today, as well as a glorious illustrated map of old East London.’
And from Australia, Jodie Webster Associate Publisher Allen and Unwin says: ‘Three highlights on our terrific YA list are: Pandora Jones: Admission by Barry Jonsberg – book one in a brilliant new series set in a near-future post-pandemic world. It’s hugely compelling and chock full of action, danger and deceit. The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex by Gabrielle Williams is a fresh, surprising and thoroughly enjoyable caper-comedy with wonderful laugh-out loud moments and an incredibly satisfying conclusion. And The Truth About Peacock Blue by Roseanne Hawke is a timely and powerful novel about one girl’s fight against injustice in Pakistan – shocking, inspiring and ultimately uplifting.
For younger readers The Anti-Princess Club by Samantha Turnbull celebrates fun and friendship and being your best. And my picture book pick is Hattie Helps Out by Jane Godwin & Davina Bell, illustrated by Freya Blackwood Any parent of a pre-schooler will relate to Hattie’s insistence that she simply must help prepare for her dad’s party… Gorgeous and adorable, Hattie is a hit!’