What to read in 2018
Going by the bestseller lists, 2017 belonged to David Walliams and Tony Ross. Check out the shortlists for the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, for the Costa Children’s Book Award, the Blue Peter Book Award or the Children’s Book Award and they tell a somewhat different story.
But what are the books to watch in 2018? We asked the UK’s leading children’s books editors to tell us. Here are their choices, in alphabetical order by publisher.
Tamar Brazis, Editorial Director at Abrams
British design team Peskimo is back with the sixth installment in their BLOCK BOOK series Star Wars Block, taking readers on a tour through the Star Wars universe They Say Blue is a playful and philosophical picture book about colour and perspective with captivating paintings full of movement and transformation that follows a young girl through a day. For those fans of Ada Twist, Scientist we have a companion project book full of activities and experiments: Ada Twist’s Big Project Book for Stellar Scientists. Its illustrator, David Roberts, has also illustrated Ying Compestine’s retelling of The Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes out this January. The Faithful Spy a graphic novel by John Hendix tells the gripping story of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a minister who joined a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler.
Charlie Sheppard, Publishing Director, Andersen Press
This year I’m thrilled to be commemorating the centenary of the Representation of the People’s Act with the paperback publication of Sally Nicholl’s Things a Bright Girl Can Do. The hardback of this wonderful suffragette novel had a fantastic critical reaction last year and now in paperback we think it’s the book everyone will be talking about in 2018. I’m also very excited that Julian Clary’s hilarious Bolds will have their own World Book Day book this year followed by the new hardback – The Bolds in Trouble – which is quite possibly their best adventure yet. With new novels from Melvin Burgess, Susin Nielsen and Sharon Dogar, it’s going to be a great year for fiction at Andersen Press.
Libby Hamilton, editorial director picture books, Andersen Press
It’s a struggle to fit in every picture book highlight on the Andersen list in 2018! My hot tip in paperback is Rob Starling’s dragon who struggles to manage his temper, in Fergal is Fuming. Brand new hardbacks include the unmissable and unapologetically ruthless tale of Ten Fat Sausages from Michelle Robinson and Tor Freeman; Looking After William, role reversal that tugs on your heartstrings, from Eve Coy; Linda Bailey’s Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein, illustrated by the matchless Júlia Sardà; and drawing the year to a close, the best grudge-match I’ve ever read, by Fred Blunt: Santa Claus vs the Easter Bunny. The holidays just got serious.
Anna McQuinn, Publisher, Alanna Books
I can’t wait for April when we publish the next in the Lulu & Zeki series. Now he’s a big boy, Zeki can do so much by himself! He’s keen to show his new skills at his check-up where he is also weighed and measured. Once again, Ruth Hearson captures Dad’s tender care for his son in her gorgeous illustrations. August sees the paperback of Lulu Gets a Cat. Readers loved the hardcover;‘So. Stinking. Adorable. Perfect for cat lovers of all ages. Five stars.’ ‘I love this series because she’s part of such a literate family, making regular trips to the library. Here, when she wants a cat, she first reads about what it’ll entail to be a pet owner. ‘Lulu never fails to delight: this new story, endorsed by the National Cats Adoption Centre, ticks all the boxes.’ Jill
Bennett need we say more?
Ailsa Bathgate, Editorial Director, Barrington Stoke
2018 looks set to be a bumper year for Barrington Stoke! We’ve got firm favourites returning with Non Pratt as she delivers another knock-out YA in Second Best Friend in January exploring friendship and flaws, while Alexander McCall Smith offers a much-needed tonic in the form of a joyful, toe-tapping story about young kids chasing big dreams in Hari and His Electric Feet. We’re delighted to welcome new names in Katherine Woodfine and Kate Pankhurst in April, collaborating on stunning Little Gem Rose’s Dress of Dreams, inspired by the life of trailblazer and first credited fashion designer, Rose Bertin. And rounding things off, in May we publish our YA novella The Family Tree by the much-missed Mal Peet, brimming with his trademark poignancy and heartfelt prose, and with colour artwork from rising star Emma Shoard.
Emma Blackburn, Editorial Director Picture Books, Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Fans of the bestselling You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus by Patricia Cleveland-Peck and David Tazzyman will be delighted with the much-anticipated follow-up You Can’t let an Elephant Drive a Digger. Vehicle-crazy kids will also delight in Car, Car, Truck, Jeep by Katrina Charman and Nick Sharratt – jam-packed with things that go, pre-schoolers will love singing along to the tune of Baa, Baa, Black Sheep. For swashbuckling adventures Princess Swashbuckle by Hollie Hughes and Deborah Allwright is a must-have. And everyone should be on the look out for Baby Frank – he’s the world’s most unlikely criminal and he’s about to pull off a daring bank heist in Baby’s First Bank Heist by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins.
Ellen Holgate, Editorial Director for Fiction, Bloomsbury Children’s Books
In January we publish Katherine Rundell’s extraordinary novel The Explorer in paperback following her Costa Children’s Book Award win. March sees the launch of Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes – the hilarious sequel to the bestselling debut middle grade story of 2017 by Radio 1 duo Greg James and Chris Smith. In July Catherine Doyle’s middle grade debut The Storm Keeper’s Island is the first in a big, classic fantasy series – a story with enormous heart and the kind of magic I loved in the writing of Susan Cooper. And in September Jessie Burton’s first children’s book The Restless Girls, sumptuously illustrated by Angela Barrett, is the unmissable highlight of the year.
Sharon Hutton, Publishing Director Non Fiction, Bloomsbury Children’s Books
The Silk Roads An Illustrated New History of the World is a brand new book full of wonder and fascination for children. Peter Frankopan, bestselling author and historian explores the connections made by people, trade, disease, war, religion, adventure, science and technology in this extraordinary book about how the east married the west with a remarkable voyage at its heart – the journey along the Silk Roads.
Fantastically Great Women Who Made History is another extraordinary book from the pen and brush of the hugely talented, fantastically great, Kate Pankhurst. Following the phenomenally successful, Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, the best-selling children’s non-fiction title in the UK market in 2017, it inspires with the stories, accomplishments and adventures of more great women such as Mary Shelley, Harriet Tubman, Qui Jin, Boudicca, Flora Drummond and more.
Leilani Sparrow, Managing Editor, Boxer Books
We are thrilled to be publishing Lisa Stickley’s Dress Like Mummy on 1st February. This gorgeous picture book explores life through the eyes of a child who loves dressing up. Her most favourite thing is when the colours of her clothes completely match mummy’s – whether it’s orange cycle shorts, purple hats or blue tops with lots and lots of beads. It’s told with humour and affection and stands out with its fabric cover and stunning design. Lisa Stickley has sold product to Paul Smith, Harrods, Boots and Selfridges. She is currently working on some bespoke cushions for Liberty, and has also been nominated for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2018. She’s amazingly talented and we’re very proud to be publishing her.
Sam Hutchinson, b small publishing
How Does a Lighthouse Work? written and illustrated by Roman Belyaev is my book to watch. This beautiful, atmospheric non-fiction book is a celebration of lighthouses, their coastal history and the engineering that goes into making them work. It’s particularly exciting since we acquired the rights from a Russian publisher so it’s the first Russian translation that we are publishing.
Jane Harris, Executive Director – Children’s Publishing, Bonnier Zaffre
Mafalda is a nine year old girl who knows one thing; sometime in the next six months her sight will fail completely. Can Mafalda find a way through a seemingly dark future? The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree is a novel for all ages inspired by the author’s own experience. It is a moving, empowering tale of courage and determination to inspire young and old, a universal and richly-textured debut which I am immensely proud to be publishing.
Barry Cunningham, Managing Director, Chicken House
TIN is an arrestingly original middle-grade story by Irish debut Pádraig Kenny, set in an alternative England of the 1930s. Christopher is ‘Proper’: a real boy with a real soul, orphaned in a fire. He works for an engineer, maker of the eccentric, loyal and totally individual mechanicals who are Christopher’s best friends. But after an accident, a secret is revealed and his world changes for ever. What follows is a remarkable adventure in which Christopher discovers the truth about his past – and what it really means to be human. This ambitious and incredibly exciting story already reads like a classic. You’ll love the humour, warmth and fantastic ensemble cast – a wonderful beginning for a major new voice in middle-grade.
Sue Baker, Editor, Child’s Play (International) Ltd.
Continuing their tradition, Child’s Play is delighted to be publishing a number of first time author/illustrators. Nipper and the Lunchbox, a heart-warming picture book about loyalty and friendship, with illustrations that show all manner of human interaction by Lucy Dillamore.
Recycling and repurposing are the only options for the king in King Leonard’s Teddy, when he realises that nobody can repair his broken teddy. Strong illustrations and a thoughtful message from Phoebe Swan remind us that change can be a good thing.
Seen through the eyes of a small boy, The Last Child on St Kilda is the story of one child’s experience of living in a small community on a remote Scottish island. Illustrated with original prints, Beth Waters’s research and attention to detail makes this a book for all ages.
The Things by Petronela Dostalova examines the relationship between two Things who are both under the illusion that each presents a threat to the other. Only when they get close-up, do they realise that they are both the same. A funny book about how misconceptions can diminish our lives and how easy it is to learn a thing or two.