Helen Carr, editor, the O’Brien Press I’m particularly excited about We’re Going to the Zoo! a brilliant picture book by Sarah Bowie; sisters, Kitty and Clara are immortalising zoo animals different ways – Kitty is drawing them and Clara’s snapping photos. This is a warm story about two competitive but loving sisters, jam-packed with fun animal facts. I loved seeing Sarah Bowie’s witty portraits of different species take shape and I can’t wait to see the book on the shelves. I’m also looking forward to the publication of Rugby Heroes by Gerard Siggins, the sixth book in a ‘spooks and sport’ series; star player Eoin is facing a busy year of schools’ rugby and has to sort out a potential disaster in Irish rugby – with the help of all the rugby-playing ghosts he’s met in the course of the series. Eoin is a really appealing hero and the series’ mix of mystery and high-octane sport has won it many fans.

Helen Thomas, Editorial Director, Orion Children’s Books Following one of the hottest debuts of 2017, which has been met with overwhelming support and enthusiasm, I can’t wait for readers to experience Jessica Townsend’s second book set in the wundrous world of Nevermoor – Wundersmith. Morrigan Crow may have defeated her deadly curse, passed near-impossible trials and joined the mystical Wundrous Society, but her journey into Nevermoor and all its secrets has only just begun. And it’s important to remember that not all magic is used for good… Morrigan Crow is a heroine we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the coming years, and her creator, Jessica, is so talented it takes my breath away, with a depth of imagination that seems to know no end.

Janetta Otter-Barry, Publisher, Otter-Barry Books I love the mischievous humour in Riding a Donkey Backwards, Wise and Foolish Tales of Mulla Nasruddin, by Sean Taylor and Khayaal Theatre, illustrated by Shirin Adl (April). Mulla Nasruddin is a favourite character in many Muslim cultures and it’s a privilege to introduce these funny, vibrant and wise stories, perfectly complemented by Shirin’s humorous and richly decorative artwork, to a new young audience. I can’t wait to publish Rachel Rooney’s new poetry collection, A Kid in My Class, illustrated by Chris Riddell (August). There’s a poem for every child in the class, from the dreamer and the tough kid to the poet and the kid who runs in his wheelchair, plus the class hamster. Witty, perceptive and full of empathy, with powerful yet sensitive blue- wash and pencil drawings, this is an amazing book!

Liz Cross, Head of Children’s Publishing, Oxford Bee Boy by Tony De Saulles has a gloriously light touch to the telling, a gripping story, and incredible two-colour spreads throughout. I think it will win many fans. Emma Fischel’s first stand-alone novel, Walls, is also a real treat, with a distinctive narrator, a lovely bittersweet tone, and just a hint of magic. I found it unforgettable. And finally, Speed Birds by Alan Snow is a picture book like no other. It’s an uplifting story about the power of perseverance – it’s a book about how cars really work – and it’s truly beautiful, too. A perfect gift.

Adam Freudenheim, Publisher and Managing Director, Pushkin Children’s Books I was in love with The Goat by Anne Fleming virtually from the first page, and I read most of it aloud to my 10-year-old daughter until she took it from me to finish on her own as she was impatient to keep reading. It all takes place in New York City, now, and mostly in and on one ordinary apartment building on which a mountain goat just happens to be living. It’s funny and moving and full of a memorable cast of characters, including a girl called Kid and an older man who mostly can’t speak, yet is the only one to actually see the elusive goat living on the window ledges. I found it irresistible and imagine most readers will too.

Sarah Odedina, Editor-at-Large, Pushkin Press Boy 87 by Ele Fountain – a debut novel – is exciting because of the quality of the writing, the powerful creation of character, the brilliantly realised setting and the importance of its story in humanising and dignifying the life and journey of a young teen as he takes on the tough and dangerous journey from Eritrea to Europe. It is a book that gives humanity to a vast number of people by its wonderful portrayal of one person… it is a gem. Ele Fountain lived in Ethiopia and it was during that time that she wrote this thoughtful, kind and ultimately hopeful book that will offer young readers an important insight into the lives of people who make up the headlines of the news.

Lauren Fortune, Editorial Director, Scholastic We are publishing a hugely timely and powerful book in May 2018 – The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill, a feminist reimagining of The Little Mermaid. The best fantasy writing holds a mirror up to the times we live in: a retelling of this beloved story, with the problematic elements of Hans Christian Andersen’s original questioned and subverted, feels like a very necessary spin for young readers today. What Louise has done with this story is extraordinary – she is a wonderful writer who has a scalpel-sharp ability to get to the heart of what matters to teenagers. It is a tale with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries: storytelling at its most spellbinding.

Helen Mackenzie Smith, Editorial Director for Picture Books, Simon and Schuster I’m too excited about all the books we’re publishing this year to be able to choose just one… But if I have to narrow it down, then there are three I’d love to highlight. First up: a new author- illustrator pairing for S&S of debut author Francis Martin and fabulous illustrator Claire Powell with the hilarious and hair-raising Daddy Hairdo in September. Then we’ve got a gorgeous and heart-warming new story from the world of The Storm Whale by Benji Davies in October, as well as the very funny and utterly charming Dave the Lonely Monster by the super-talented duo of Anna Kemp & Sara Ogilvie. So many treats in store!

Books for Keeps No.228 January 2018 7

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