Lindsey Heaven, Editorial Director, Egmont
The sequel to out-of-the-blocks hit A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, 2019’s no.1 bestselling children’s/YA debut, is as twisty, page-turning and surprising as its predecessor. In Good Girl, Bad Blood, Holly Jackson takes us back to Pip (now the star of her own true-crime podcast) and Ravi as they investigate a new crime – it’s just as close to home, but this time everyone is listening. Holly’s star is firmly in the ascendency and her YA and adult fans are clamouring for this. I’m right there with them.
The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips is a darkly hilarious debut already drawing comparisons to Dahl, and for once they’re justified. The Egmont office went nuts for it and the same is happening internationally, with over 20 deals concluded. 511-year-old Ebeneezer Tweezer keeps a beast in his attic, who he feeds all manner of things, and in return the beast vomits out potions which keep Ebeneezer young and beautiful. But the beast grows greedier, and our story begins with his announcement that he’d like to eat a nice, juicy child next. Enter Bethany…. Exquisitely crafted and massive fun – this is Snicket for a new generation.
Melissa Fairley, Publishing Director, Egmont
Michael Morpurgo has adapted his hugely popular novel War Horse for a picture book audience, with stunning illustrations by Tom Clohosy Cole. The enduring story of friendship between a horse and his boy takes centre stage in this sensitive re-telling that will help younger readers begin to understand the history and deadly chaos of the First World War. This is an important book for generations to come as we continue to strive for peace across the world.
Chloe Sackur, Commissioning Editor fiction, Andersen Press
Alex Wheatle’s Cane Warriors is a short, sharp shock of a novel. Moa, an adolescent boy who was born into slavery, joins an uprising led by the indomitable Tacky against the British plantation owners. Together, the warriors seek to free everyone with the rallying cry ‘De blood remembers’. Alex doesn’t shy away from the brutal reality of 18th-century Jamaica, but also fills the pages with heartening scenes of courage and brotherhood, nerve-shredding tension, and a striking sense of place. No wonder: this true tale comes from the very region Alex’s mother grew up in. We’re thrilled to be publishing it.
Georgia Amson-Bradshaw, publisher, Wide Eyed Editions
I Am Not a Label busts the myths around disability by celebrating the stories of 30 real-life activists, thinkers, artists and athletes. The extraordinary lives of these ordinary people – from Stevie Wonder to Stephen Hawking, Frida Kahlo to Stella Young – show that, far from obstacles to be overcome, mental and physical disabilities are normal parts of life. In her fun and honest biographies, author Cerrie Burnell sets out to give young readers new icons from throughout history and the world, while showing that disabled people are sporty, musical, geeky, talented, happy, sad, outgoing or shy – just like non-disabled people.
Sarah Lambert, Fiction Editorial Director, Hodder Children’s Books
Jamie McFLair vs the Boyband Generator by Luke Franks & Sean Thorne: four best friends, two boybands, and an evil uncle with a monstrous secret – what could possibly go wrong? September sees a huge launch for us with this brilliant author duo and their hilarious new series for 8+ readers. Luke is a presenter on CITV’s Scrambled while Sean is a presenter on the Fun Kids Radio Show and runs a successful YouTube gaming channel. Together they are comedy gold and we can’t wait for kids to fall over themselves for more ridiculous adventures with Jamie McFlair.
Leah Willey, Children’s Development and Commissioning Editor, Laurence King
We’re extremely excited to be publishing Mythopedia: An Encyclopedia of Mythical Beasts and their Magical Tales. From the cute but troublesome Tanuki, a racoon-like creature of Japanese folklore, to Ahuizotle, the scary water dog with a taste for eyeballs, this fantastic guide takes readers on a mythological tour of the world. Featuring maps and in-depth stories, we meet magical beasts from a huge variety of cultures, including Ancient Egyptian legend, Norse mythology and Aztec folklore. Fully illustrated with stunning, hand-painted artwork from the Good Wives and Warriors team, this beautiful book is sure to have both children and adults captivated!
Emma Matthewson, Executive Publisher, Bonnier Children’s Books
The Last Paper Crane by Kerry Drewery is a mix of narrative and verse, set in modern day Japan and Hiroshima where a Japanese teenager, Mizuki, is worried about her grandfather. We move to 1945 and Mizuki’s grandfather as a teenage boy at home with his friend Hiro. Moments later the horrific nuclear bomb is dropped on Hiroshima and a searing account of the devastation follows. The two boys search for Keiko, Hiro’s five-year-old sister, leaving origami paper cranes everywhere a survivor could be, but cannot find her. Despite the harrowing subject matter, this powerful novel has hope at its heart. Kerry has done extensive research to authenticate this unforgettable story, which includes stunning illustrations by Japanese artist Natsko Seki.
Helen Diamond, Editorial Director, Education, Bloomsbury
There are many books I’m excited about publishing in 2020 but if I have to choose just one, then It’s OK to Cry by Molly Potter, illustrated by Sarah Jennings, has to be it. Boy’s mental health is a huge issue in this country backed up by the shocking statistic that suicide is the single biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45 in the UK. This charming picture book helps children (especially boys) identify their feelings and find the words to describe them. And it’s not a book just for boys – girls will enjoy reading it too!
Alice Curry, Commissioning Editor, Lantana
The book I’m most excited to publish in 2020 brings a bright ray of sunshine to these cold winter months. I Am Brown by Ashok Banker and Sandhya Prabhat is a fun and fearless celebration of being brown, of being amazing, of being you! Written by ‘India’s epic storyteller’, whose previous titles have sold over 3.2 million copies across 21 countries and 61 languages, this debut picture book is a stunningly-illustrated celebration of brown skin and of a child’s right to be creative and free. Out in shops in March!
Ailsa Bathgate, Editorial Director, Barrington Stoke
I was profoundly moved by Gill Lewis’s Swan Song (July) when I first read it. When Dylan is expelled from school for violent behaviour, his mother takes him to live with his grandfather in the Welsh village where she grew up. Relieved of the pressure to achieve at school, and immersed in the beauty of the natural world around him, Dylan starts to heal and reconnect with his family. Gill asks important questions about the stress that children face in the modern world as well as celebrating the valuable role of grandparents and the importance of our connection with nature.
Rosemarie Hudson, MD HopeRoad
A King’s Armour, set in the 16th century, against thrilling backdrops including the roofs of the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, the canals of Venice and the court of Queen Elizabeth I, is a rich, satisfying and thrilling read. A mysterious manuscript arrives at the court of Sultan Murad III, apparently revealing the location of the fabled armour of King David. Murad summons the elite Ruzgär unit to tract the lost treasure. The unit is made up many nationalities: warrior girl Awa of Songhai nobility; Will, the English boy; and the unit leader Polish Commander Konjic. A fantastic fast-paced historical adventure, with lots of excitement!
Lou John, Head of Reading at Home, Oxford Children’s Books
In 2020 Pippi Longstocking turns 75. Or to be correct, the first book about Pippi turns 75 – she herself will always be nine years old. Oxford Children’s Books and the Astrid Lindgren Company will celebrate 75 years of the strongest girl in the world with a wealth of exciting new publishing, including a flagship gift edition of the children’s classic Pippi Longstocking Goes Aboard, illustrated with flair and humour by Lauren Child. We are delighted and excited to be publishing this title to celebrate the strong, kind, curious, anti-authoritarian and playful girl who makes extraordinary things happen.
Helen Carr, Senior Editor, The O’Brien Press
I’m so excited about our forthcoming YA fantasy novel Queen of Coin and Whispers by debut author Helen Corcoran. It centres on strong female characters and looks at class, loyalty and duty within the stylised court of Edar. I loved the vivid world-building and complex political scheming, but most of all, I loved getting to know Lia – the new queen trying to reform the corrupt kingdom she’s inherited – and Xania – her spymaster with her own axe to grind. They are both women who know their own minds; as they work together their mutual respect – and attraction – grows. If you like books that blend beautiful writing, intrigue and romance, you’ll love Queen of Coin and Whispers.
Hannah Dove, Editor, Ivy Kids
We are very excited to publish Let’s Save Our Planet: Forests. This is the first title in a new series that will explore one of the most important issues for kids today – the environment. In the book, zoologist, CBBC presenter and writer Dr Jess French reveals how we can all work together to tackle the growing problem of deforestation. From showcasing different forest types and explaining the causes and effects of deforestation, to exploring innovative solutions (including robot tree-planters!) and inspiring readers to make a difference – this beautifully illustrated book does it all. It’s both a love letter to trees, and an empowering call to action. We can’t wait for readers to experience it.
Suzanne Carnell, Publisher, Two Hoots, Macmillan Children’s Books
Amid all the brilliant books from Two Hoots in 2020, the funniest is without doubt Spaghetti Hunters by the award-winning Morag Hood. Each of Morag’s books is a perfect pocket of comedy, and this time she has surpassed herself. Spaghetti, Tiny Horse declares, is the trickiest of pastas, but armed with a fishing net and peanut butter, the hunt is on. When Duck turns to a recipe book instead, Tiny Horse is appalled: you can’t just make spaghetti! I know it will have its young (and adult) readers in stitches.
Stephanie Barton, Publisher, 0-6, Macmillan Children’s Books
In 1980, Jill Murphy wrote and illustrated Peace at Last,followed by Whatever Next in 1984, both published by Macmillan. Jill’s books feature the gently stoical Bear family and map the delights of their family life; the books are rightly considered classics. Forty years later, on the anniversary of the first book, Jill has written and illustrated a third book in the series One of Those Days. We are stunned by what Jill has achieved in her new book; the text is assured, light and touching. Jill writes with joy and poignancy in equal measure; and the pictures are a rare thing indeed; unsurpassed and a showcase to her genius. Thanks must go to Justine Smith and Chris Inns at Macmillan who have worked with Jill on this book; truly, this is a new classic in the making.