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The Best Books to Look Out For in 2020: Children's and Young Adult

Posted on 19th December 2019 by Mark Skinner

Old friends and new favourites alike make many appearances in 2020. From epic fantasy to chilling gothic, real-life drama to gripping murder mystery, zany comedic caper to beautiful pairings of word and image; children's publishing in the forthcoming year really is something to shout about. Here is our run-down of the most exciting new books on the horizon. 

Older Fiction

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Approaching issues of gender and sexuality with a fresh, vibrant slant, Nothing Ever Happens Here focuses on the fallout from Izzy’s father coming out as a trans woman. Handled with sensitivity and refreshing humour, Hagger-Holt’s debut children’s novel is a tribute to inclusivity and acceptance that speaks brilliantly effectively to a vitally important topic.
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It takes real skill to combine thrilling adventure, affecting pathos and wacky humour, but Ross Welford has consistently pulled the trick off with modern classics like Time Travelling with a Hamster and The 1,000 Year Old Boy. The Kid Who Came from Space is another master-class in children’s storytelling, featuring a mysterious disappearance, formidable chickens and a spaceship called Philip.
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£7.99 £5.99
Paperback
Coming soon - 06/02/2020
Awaiting publication
The enchanting sequel to former Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month, A Pinch of Magic, A Sprinkle of Sorcery sees the Widdershins sisters depart Crowstone for more magical adventures. Channelling folklore and myth in distinctive, consistently imaginative prose, Harrison’s masterful series continues with great heart and excitement.
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£12.99
Hardback
Coming soon - 18/08/2020
Awaiting publication
Jessica Townsend’s Morrigan Crow series has really captured the imaginations of children throughout the country, and, with Hollowpox, she ups the ante on excitement, magic and humour. Meticulous world-building, memorable characters and pulsating plotlines abound in this thrilling tale of a sinister pandemic.
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£12.99
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Coming soon - 02/04/2020
Awaiting publication
With a splendidly quirky main character and a richly imagined fantasy landscape, Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day became a word-of-mouth sensation in 2019. Now, Willow Moss is back with her powers run amok and her best friend kidnapped and in great peril. Packed with bewitching humour and absorbing adventure, Willow Moss and the Forgotten Tale is one of the children's books of the year.
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£12.99
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Coming soon - 02/04/2020
Awaiting publication
Alex Rider, legendary teen spy, returns in another high-octane, blockbuster adventure from the pen of storytelling maestro Anthony Horowitz. Going deep undercover to investigate the shadowy Nightshade organisation, Alex has never faced a more formidable foe nor had such responsibility for the fate of nations resting so squarely on his young shoulders.
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£12.99
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Coming soon - 14/05/2020
Awaiting publication
Effortlessly merging the gothic and ghastly with the eccentric and absurd, Hana Tooke’s mesmerising debut sends a quintet of abandoned orphans off on a caper across nineteenth-century Amsterdam, complete with sinister supervillains, heart-in-mouth cliff-hangers and lashings of evocative period flavour.
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£6.99
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Coming soon - 02/04/2020
Awaiting publication
Concluding the riotously entertaining series in spectacular style, Kid Normal and the Final Five pits the Heroes Alliance against the machinations of their nemesis, oily Nicholas Knox. Fizzing with wit and silliness, as well as a genuinely gripping plot, Kid Normal’s swansong is everything his legion of fans are hoping for – and much more.
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A brilliantly original spin on the detective genre, the Double Detectives – aka twins Ali and Tulip – must use all the hospital-based knowledge they have acquired from their surgeon mother to crack an intriguing medical mystery. With a winning central duo and a gripping puzzle at its heart, Cure for a Crime heralds a wonderfully involving new series.
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Teen & YA

£18.99 £14.99
Hardback
Coming soon - 19/05/2020
Awaiting publication
So stunningly realised was the world of The Hunger Games that readers were left desperate to know more about the Dark Days that followed Panem’s failed rebellion. Now, those pivotal times have been fleshed out into a compelling new saga that both informs the original trilogy and stands alone as a powerful, breathlessly exciting fantasy thriller. Utterly unmissable.
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£7.99 £5.99
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The reigning queen of YA mystery novels, Karen McManus rewrote the rulebook with One of Us is Lying and Two Can Keep a Secret. The eagerly anticipated One of Us is Next does not disappoint her army of devoted fans, as sinister events once more bedevil the teens of Bayview. Constructed with clockwork precision, this is an absolutely enthralling whodunit.
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£14.99 £12.99
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With its merging of text and haunting photography to create a gloriously gothic atmosphere like no other, Ransom Riggs’ Peculiar Children series has become a truly original twenty-first century phenomenon. This fifth instalment continues Jacob Portman’s eerie journey as an ominous prophecy threatens to destroy the whole of Peculiardom forever.
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£12.99
Hardback
Coming soon - 16/04/2020
Awaiting publication
The peerless Jacqueline Wilson serves up another pitch-perfect slice of compassionate, compelling fiction with this beautifully handled tale of first love and burgeoning sexuality. Creating yet another eminently relatable female protagonist and a plot of authenticity and warmth, Love Frankie finds the former Waterstones Children’s Laureate on superlative form.
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£16.99
Hardback
Coming soon - 03/03/2020
Awaiting publication
The opening chapter in an electrifying new Shadowhunters cycle, Chain of Gold once more mines the fantasy Edwardiana of Clare’s earlier work to utterly absorbing effect. A sweeping saga of romance, magic, mermaids and warlocks, this exclusive edition boasts stunning foil cover design, beautiful salmon endpapers and tantalising bonus content.
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£12.99
Hardback
Coming soon - 16/04/2020
Awaiting publication
Rapper, poet and author Akala turns his hand to YA with the first in a magical realist series set in Shakespearean London. Written with the kind of lyrical dexterity and power that one would expect from Akala, The Dark Lady references the Bard’s sonnets as well as crafting an uncompromising picture of street life in Renaissance England.
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A thrilling new direction for Adam Silvera, Infinity Son is a kinetic tale of celestial warfare, brotherly love and superhero angst set against the pulsating backdrop of a futuristic New York City. Told with pace, drama and a keen eye for memorable characterisation, this is a magnificent addition to the ranks of Young Adult fantasy.
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£7.99
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Coming soon - 03/03/2020
Awaiting publication
A bewitching new series from the author of Everless, Havenfall envisions a sprawling Colorado mansion as a fragile portal between worlds, and its guardian, Maddie, locked in a life-threatening battle against unknown foes. Intensely evocative and exquisitely written, Holland’s intoxicating novel is a supremely immersive page-turner.
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£7.99 £5.99
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Coming soon - 04/02/2020
Awaiting publication
Albertalli and Saeed weave a quirky love story of awkward teens and cultural difference with this bittersweet gem set in the vexed world of local activism. Heartwarming, poignant and very, very funny, Yes No Maybe So is wise-cracking romantic comedy with intelligence and nuance and a wonderfully uplifting read.
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£7.99
Paperback
Coming soon - 30/04/2020
Awaiting publication
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder was one of the breakout hits of 2019 and now Holly Jackson returns with a similarly taut, blisteringly paced sequel. Boasting incredibly assured plotting and an involving, credible cast of characters Good Girl, Bad Blood is a terrifically engaging addition to the burgeoning YA mystery novel genre.
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Children's Reference

£14.99
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Gathering together the facts, stats and data that formed the background to Stephen and Lucy Hawking’s beloved George’s Secret Key to the Universe books, this handsome volume forms a perfect introduction to time, space and the cosmos for young readers. Making complex concepts accessible and fun, Unlocking the Universe is a wonderful, absorbing resource.
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£9.99
Hardback
Coming soon - 04/02/2020
Awaiting publication
Bringing the life and work of pioneers and activists to life for young children, Little People, Big Dreams has proven a consistently informative and beautiful series. In this volume, David Attenborough is rendered in bold, endearing illustrations whilst simple text highlights the many events and achievements that have made the iconic naturalist so universally revered.
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£9.99
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Coming soon - 04/02/2020
Awaiting publication
The life of the legendary Civil Rights activist is celebrated in this exquisite addition to the Little People, Big Dreams range. Making King’s inspiring work accessible to younger readers, whilst not eliminating the struggles and ultimate tragedy of his death, this is a sensitively handled and beautifully illustrated volume.
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£6.99 £4.99
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From bestselling author and illustrator Kate Pankhurst, descendent of Emmeline Pankhurst, comes another 'smart, informative, inclusive and accessible' book about trail-blazing women (Fiona Noble, The Bookseller). This time, it's women who have been making decisions that have helped protect our natural world from way before it was on a political...
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£16.99
Hardback
Coming soon - 05/05/2020
Awaiting publication
Everything you could possibly want to know about the beautiful game brought to you with vivid artwork and clear, concise text. With tips and tricks from the great players as well as sections on footballing jargon and top teams, The Big Book of Football is a treasure trove of soccer stimulation.
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Picture Books

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A sumptuous, stunningly illustrated picture book about an exclusive establishment that always runs like clockwork, The Incredible Hotel evokes Belle Époque glamour and old-fashioned charm. Follath’s intricate artwork packs so many small details onto the page that every read reveals something new, whilst Davies’ text is warm and witty. A feast for the imagination.
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£12.99
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Adorned with sweeping, immersive illustrations from Hatem Aly, The Proudest Blue is a ground-breaking picture book about religion, sisterhood and identity. When her older sister starts wearing hijab, Faizah faces some cruel taunts and bullying but, as Muhammad’s story sensitively unfurls, she is able to take pride in who she is and what her sister is doing.
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£12.99
Hardback
Coming soon - 02/04/2020
Awaiting publication
Another rhyming master-class from the matchless Julia Donaldson as everybody’s favourite brainy bug returns to do battle with those no-good criminals Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len. Featuring a wildly funny story and typically striking artwork from Lydia Monks, What the Ladybird Heard at the Seaside is another gem from the former Waterstones Children’s Laureate.
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£14.99
Hardback
Coming soon - 05/03/2020
Awaiting publication
Coralie Bickford-Smith’s phenomenal design work and superb storytelling won her the 2015 Waterstones Book of the Year for The Fox and the Star, and now she returns with another mesmerising story of the beauty of the natural world. Recounting the passing of the seasons and the exoticism of jungle life, this is one of the most beautifully produced picture books of 2020.
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£6.99
Paperback
Coming soon - 06/02/2020
Awaiting publication
A hilarious, piratical spin on the story of the boy who cried wolf, Condon and Hunt’s freewheeling picture book conveys a serious message about truth-telling amidst the knockabout comedy and zippy action. Witty, wise and wonderfully silly, The Pirates are Coming is a delight.
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£6.99
Paperback
Coming soon - 14/05/2020
Awaiting publication
Irrepressibly charming and delightfully funny, I’m Sticking With You is a tender-hearted tale of close – sometimes too close – friendship and how constant companionship can occasionally be a bit of a trial. Bold, warm illustrations from Steve Small add real heart and humour to Smriti Halls’ playful text.
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Younger Readers

£6.99 £4.99
Paperback
Coming soon - 06/02/2020
Awaiting publication
From the anarchic comedy brain of Jim Smith comes a deliriously dotty detective series set in the mysterious island of Donut. Donut has always been spectacularly boring in the past but as soon as Melvin arrives weirdness – and hilarity – ensue. A side-splitting new book from the bestselling author of Barry Loser and Future Ratboy.
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£5.99
Paperback
Coming soon - 01/03/2020
Awaiting publication
It’s another vibrant pink and black adventure for endearing Isadora, part-fairy, part-vampire, all fun. A trip to the seaside turns into an exciting mission to save a baby turtle in the latest instalment of Harriet Muncaster’s wildly popular series for younger readers.
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£6.99 £4.99
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Coming soon - 06/02/2020
Awaiting publication
As if changing into a chicken and turning into a T-Rex wasn’t bad enough, Charlie’s latest unexpected adventure could see him losing control over his bizarre transformational abilities for good! Riotously daft yet blessed with heart and charm, Charlie Morphs into a Mammoth is sublimely silly fun.
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