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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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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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£12.99 £10.99
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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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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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Going deep undercover to investigate the shadowy Nightshade organisation, Alex Rider, legendary teen spy, returns in another high-octane, blockbuster adventure from the pen of storytelling maestro Anthony Horowitz. This book contains content suitable for middle grade readers looking for a more challenging reading level.
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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.
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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 £15.99
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Return to the world of The Hunger Games in a compelling prequel that both informs the original trilogy and stands alone as a powerful, breathlessly exciting science fiction thriller.
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£7.99 £6.49
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The eagerly anticipated sequel to One of Us Is Lying does not disappoint McManus's army of devoted fans, as sinister events once more bedevil the teens of Bayview.
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The fifth instalment of Riggs's gloriously gothic series continues Jacob Portman’s eerie journey, as an ominous prophecy threatens to destroy the whole of Peculiardom forever.
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The peerless Jacqueline Wilson serves up another pitch-perfect slice of fiction with this tender tale of first love and blossoming sexuality. This book contains content suitable for middle grade readers looking for a more challenging reading level.
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£16.99
Hardback
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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 - 22/04/2021
Awaiting publication
The first in a magical realist series set in Shakespearean London and 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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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.
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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.
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Boasting incredibly assured plotting and an involving, credible cast of characters, Good Girl, Bad Blood is a terrifically engaging sequel to the bestselling A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder.
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Children's Reference

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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.
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£9.99 £7.99
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The life and work of our greatest living naturalist is given the exquisite Little People, Big Dreams treatment with simple text and bold illustration highlighting David Attenborough’s incredible story for younger readers.
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£9.99 £7.99
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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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From Jane Goodall to Wangari Maathai, Kate Pankhurst introduces more groundbreaking women from history, in this accessible and informative book with an emphasis on ecology and the environment.
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£16.99
Hardback
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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

£11.99
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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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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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Reuniting one very clever bug with two serially stupid criminals, the latest installment of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks’s bestselling series finds Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len attempting to snaffle some mermaid hair in a misguided get-rich-quick scheme.
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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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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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Very funny and utterly endearing, I’m Sticking with You is a heart-warming rhyming tale of friendship and attachment from the beloved author of Elephant in My Kitchen.
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Younger Readers

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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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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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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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