Louise Jordan, Queen Bee, Wacky Bee
For Wacky Bee 2018 is all about publishing outstanding middle-grade fiction from outside the UK. The incredible Elise & the Second-hand Dog by Danish author, Bjarne Reuter, was one of four honour titles from BookTrust’s inaugural In Other Words initiative and deservedly so. Sharply written and acutely observed this Copenhagen-based story about loneliness and separation is both laugh-out-loud funny and heart wrenching. Then it’s across to the other side of the world to explore the world of Felix Twain in Double Felix by Australian author, Sally Harris. Dealing, as it does, with the serious issue of autism this story also has the feel-good factor of the recent BBC TV series, The A Word. Oh, and I should add, that both books are beautifully illustrated throughout.
Jane Winterbotham, Publishing Director, Walker Books
In September, we bring together David Almond and Levi Pinfold in a stunning picture book, The Dam. David’s spare and poignant text, together with Levi’s dramatic paintings, evokes a landscape flooded by a reservoir, submerging the lives and community that came before, but kept alive by the music and dance of a girl and her father as they visit each house before they are lost to the water.
This is our first picture book by David Almond who has contributed so many lovely illustrated fiction titles to the Walker list, and a wonderful opportunity to pair him with the artistic genius of Levi Pinfold, to create a gorgeous gift book that is a celebration of music, landscape and community.
Denise Johnstone-Burt, Editorial Director, Walker Books
Walker has a powerful list for 2018. In May, Angie Thomas’s new YA novel On The Come Up, prequel to the bestselling The Hate U Give which took the world by storm last year, will again stop readers in their tracks. Also, in May to celebrate the World Cup, Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton’s Football School Quiz Book followed by Football School Season 3 in September show that this informative and fun non-fiction brand is growing fast. Our big new Walker Studio title is Endangered Animals by Martin Jenkins, exquisitely illustrated by Tom Frost. Each animal sends a stamp from its threatened habitat to tell of its plight. No year would be complete without a new Patrick Ness and his fabulous reimagining of the story of Moby Dick And The Ocean Was Our Sky illustrated by newcomer Rovina Cai will thrill fans.
Deirdre McDermott, Picture Book Publisher and Creative Director, Walker Books
We are thrilled to celebrate Helen Oxenbury’s 80th birthday and her exceptional contribution to children’s books with a beautiful, definitive account of her life and work, Helen Oxenbury: A Life in Illustration (September), alongside a tenth anniversary edition of Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes (January).
We’re also looking forward to hosting Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett here in May when we publish Square, the second instalment in their Shape trilogy, and Jarvis (Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth, the V&A Best Illustrated Book 2017) is ready to make readers roar with laughter once again with an underwater comedy, Tropical Terry (June).
We round up the year with Jory John and Lane Smith’s hilarious Giraffe Problems (October, the follow-up to Penguin Problems) and the wild Angry Cookie (October), the debut picture book from YA literary star, Laura Dockrill, illustrated by Maria Karipidou.
Caroline Royds, publisher, Specials and Non-Fiction, Walker Books
I loved every minute spent working on A First Book of The Sea. Coming in July this year, it’s a big colourful anthology for young children, and a symphony of a book. Two thirds of our planet is ocean so it’s odd we don’t celebrate it more, but luckily Nicola Davies, who is never happier than when she’s on the sea or in it, can evoke all its moods and write beautifully and knowledgeably about harbours and seashores, journeys, deep sea creatures, the weather, birds, fish and people. And every time a piece of artwork came in from Emily Sutton I marvelled at how much such a talented artist was enjoying herself and experimenting with technique in breathtaking ways. The sort of book that makes you glad to be in publishing!
Jenny Broom, Publisher, Wide Eyed Editions
My pick for Wide Eyed Edition’s book of the year is the uplifting Young, Gifted and Black, publishing this February. Written by the self-styled ‘movement builder, storyteller, and feminist activist’ Jamia Wilson, and illustrated by the exuberant Andrea Pippins, the book is crammed with joy, energy and dynamism. Created in answer to the prophetic maxim, ‘if you can’t see it, you can’t be it’, the book journeys across borders, through time and even through space to tell the empowering stories of 52 icons of colour from the past and present in a celebration of their achievements, helping the next generation to chase their own dream . . . whatever it may be.
Laura Knowles, Editorial Director, words&pictures
I’m most excited to be publishing the captivating concertina book The Skies Above My Eyes by Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer. It’s a follow-up to The Street Beneath My Feet, this time looking up at the busy goings-on above us. We’ll zoom through clouds and lightning storms, past birds and butterflies, helicopters and weather balloons, astronauts and asteroids, all the way to the edges of our galaxy and back down to Earth. Guillain has once again managed to distil a universe of facts into bite-sized nuggets of wonder, while Zommer brings so much life and joy to all his illustrations that I find childlike joy in seeing them laid out in a continuous artwork, stretching across the living room floor.
Fiona Kennedy, Publisher, Zephyr (Head of Zeus)
Zephyr’s spring is about launching diverse debuts with stories to tell and memorable, empathetic new voices. A paperback edition of Yaba Badoe’s Jigsaw of Fire and Stars, ‘ambitious and original’, and first outings for Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. by Geordie author Malcolm Duffy, and Ewa Josefkowicz’s The Mystery of the Colour Thief – both tap into themes of family, friendship, nature, mental health. Dr Ben Garrod dazzles with the most up to date pocket-sized six book dinosaur non-fiction series in 66 million years. Our Autumn harvest is rich with well-established names including Marcus Sedgwick, Sally Gardner, Lauren St John, Steve Cole and Tony Ross. Tricky to choose a favourite – we’re excited about them all!
And from Australia:
Angela Naomi for Allen & Unwin Children’s and Young Adult Books:
We are especially excited about I Just Ate My Friend, a debut picture book by Heidi McKinnon, very much in the vein of Jon Klassen. It’s a hilarious story about the search for friendship and belonging… and maybe a little bit about the importance of impulse control! Also the gorgeous Swan Lake picture book by the multi-award-winning Anne Spudvilas. The iconic ballet Swan Lake, the tragic story of a princess transformed into a swan by an evil sorcerer, has been revered for more than a century. Spudvailas’s atmospheric adaption and sumptuous art, with a darkly gothic twist, makes this is a perfect gift for all ballet lovers, especially those hoping to catch this summer’s production at the Royal Albert Hall.