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The Best Books of 2020: Children's Fiction

Posted on 30th November 2020 by Mark Skinner

Rowling, Walliams, Fletcher - and many more; this year has seen the big hitters of children's fiction really deliver. Bestselling series upped the ante on excitement and adventure with fresh instalments of Nevermoor, The Wizards of Once and Starfell, whilst we enjoyed another gritty mystery with NSquared in Sharna Jackson's Mic Drop and chuckled along to more hilarious Wimpy Kid high jinks. With terrific debuts from Elle McNicoll, Simon Farnaby and Nizrana Farook amongst many others, the future for children's fiction is looking very bright indeed. 


Fantastical Worlds

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A fabulously imagined fairytale about scary monsters, wicked courtiers and resourceful children, J.K. Rowling’s standalone fable is adorned with illustrations submitted by young readers.
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From the author of The Christmasaurus, The Danger Gang is a thrilling, funny tale of cursed lightning strikes and transformed children.
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Nevermoor is under threat from a terrifying new illness and only Morrigan Crow can save the day, in the continuation of Jessica Townsend’s immersive fantasy series.
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The perfect send-off for the marvellous Wizards of Once series, Never and Forever finds Xar and Wish close to fulfilling their quest and defeating the Kingwitch.
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The former Waterstones Children’s Book Prize winner spins a richly evocative Italian adventure filled with talking crows, underground passageways and the terrifying onset of plague.

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Utterly irresistible and hugely imaginative, the first instalment of a thrilling, funny fantasy series finds two misbehaving sisters plunged into a magical kingdom to face a deadly threat.
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From the author of the enchanting The House With Chicken Legs comes another inspired twist on traditional fairy tales, as thirteen year old Olia steps through a magical doorway into a land tangled by an evil wizard.
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Perfect for fans of P.G. Bell or Anna James, Lapinski’s fantastical adventure yarn features Flick Hudson, a twelve year old girl on a desperately dangerous mission for the Strangeworlds magical travel society.
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Boasting delightfully creepy artwork from Chris Mould, Jenni Spangler’s outstanding gothic chiller features a manipulative medium and a gang of plucky orphan children.
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The first in an exciting new series from the creators of Sam Wu, Dragon Mountain sets a group of children on an epic quest to free a quartet of fire-breathing beasts.
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Channelling the devilishly entertaining spirit of Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket, The Beast and the Bethany unfurls a gothic tale of child-gobbling monsters and an orphan who just refuses to be eaten.
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A hugely exciting and playful mash-up of video game and history, Bell’s time-hopping adventure flings a trio of resourceful kids into a far future contest involving famous figures from the past.
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Channelling folklore and myth with great heart and excitement, A Sprinkle of Sorcery sees the Widdershins sisters depart Crowstone for more magical adventures.
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Packed with bewitching humour and absorbing adventure, Willow Moss returns with her powers run amok and her best friend kidnapped and in great peril.
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Another glorious romp through the magic of literature from Anna James's Pages & Co. series, as Tilly and Oskar head to America to track down the mysterious archivists.
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Intergalactic intrigue on a spaceship careering off course in Alastair Chisholm's pulsating sci-fi thriller, as space pirates, mysterious aliens and shadowy AI conspire to prevent our heroes reaching home.
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A bewitching adventure set in the wilds of post-war Dartmoor, Orton’s tale of powerful magic and sinister folklore is perfect reading for fans of Catherine Doyle and Abi Elphinstone.
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Real-World Adventure

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Blessed with the combination of page turning excitement and thoughtful compassion that made her Waterstones Children’s Book Prize-winning The Boy at the Back of the Class so unforgettable, The Night Bus Hero is a compelling fable of bullying and homelessness.
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The Beetle Boy author and co-writer Sam Sedgman propel a high-speed, rip-roaring yarn of mystery and adventure set on the last journey of the royal train, The Highland Falcon.
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When Addie decides to memorialise the victims of the historic witch trials that took place in her hometown, she hopes to change the way her neighbours see her, in this beautifully judged and compassionate novel.
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From the author of the acclaimed The Children of Castle Rock comes another rollicking period adventure, as two children and their young teacher set sail for France in the aftermath of World War I.
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Embark on another compelling whodunit from the author of High Rise Mystery, as a pop star meets a suspicious end and NSquared take the case.
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From the author of the acclaimed Asha and the Spirit Bird comes another richly evocative tale of hidden identity set in the heart of the spectacular Himalayas.
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Bursting with compassion and gentle comedy, this adorable tale from the author of former Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month I, Cosmo relates how a three hundred year old alien accidentally ended up in the body of a cat – and what happened afterward.
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When Cole’s painting brings worldwide acclaim and instant fame, he discovers that white lies and fine art lead to all manner of mysteries and mishaps in this page-turning tale from the author of The Goldfish Boy.
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Pitching readers into the heart of a vibrantly evoked landscape that lives and breathes from the page, The Girl Who Stole an Elephant is an adventure full of heart and courage from a dazzling new voice.
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Fabulously Funny

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David Walliams and Tony Ross strike gold again with a wildly entertaining wartime romp featuring Nazi plots, escaped gorillas and a quick-thinking boy and his zookeeper uncle.
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The fifteenth fantastically funny Wimpy Kid book sees the hapless Heffleys attempt a cross-country camping trip, but end up getting stuck in a caravan park in a torrential downpour.
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The writer of Paddington 2 unleashes a deliriously daft fish-out-of-water comedy, as a Dark Ages warlock finds himself stranded in a suburban shed in 21st century Britain.
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The bestselling author of The Parent Agency and AniMalcolm tackles the time-slip tale of a lonely girl from 3020 and a boy inventor from the present day in typically hilarious and endearing fashion.
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The creator of the side-splitting children’s icon Tom Gates embarks on an anarchic standalone story fizzing with madcap inventions, power-crazed villains and lots and lots of spectacular shoes.
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The mighty Dog Man returns for his ninth zany adventure, battling baddies whilst spreading a little kindness and cheer.
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Another thirteen storeys of storytelling fun get added to Andy and Terry’s ever-growing treehouse in the tenth hilarious book in the phenomenally popular series.

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