Guppy Books The first new title Guppy Books is publishing in February 2021 is an extraordinary middle-grade novel, Maggie Blue and the Dark World – a dark, funny, gripping tale of Maggie and talking cat Hoagy, who find themselves entering a parallel world where happiness is being used as a commodity. Thrilling, thought-provoking and incredibly timely, this novel is an astonishing debut which explores the concepts of identity and mental health from a unique perspective. Anna Goodall is a hugely talented new voice in children’s fiction and the friendship between irascible Hoagy and fiercely courageous Maggie is a joy to read. Bella Pearson, Publisher

Hodder Children’s Books We’re so excited to welcome superstar author Maz Evans. The Exploding Life of Scarlett Fife (May) is heartfelt and hilarious, perfect for fans of Roald Dahl’s Matilda. Scarlett Fife is logical, mathematical - but when it comes to her BIG FEELINGS, completely out of control... Scarlett’s in big trouble after a BIG FEELINGS episode leads to a runaway hamster getting into the vicar’s trousers at her aunty’s engagement party. Scarlett notices that every time she pushes her feelings down, something explodes. Like ... really, properly explodes. We love this book, start of a new series – it’s comedy gold, with a timely, important message at its heart, and brilliantly illustrated by rising star Chris Jevons. Rachel Wade, Senior Commissioning Editor

Hot Key (Bonnier) The House of Hollow (April) by the incredibly talented Krystal Sutherland, is one of the most extraordinary YA horror novels I have read in years. The Hollow sisters are as glamorous as they are seductive, and they are more dangerous than even they themselves know. The darkly twisting narrative literally grips you from the first page and doesn’t let go until you are thrown out, gasping at the other end. We have received advance praise already from Louise O’Neill and Kiran Millwood Hargrave and I cannot wait to share this deliciously serpentine novel more widely. Emma Matthewson, Executive Publisher

Knights Of

I’m excited to be kicking off 2021 with the second middle-grade novel from Elle McNicoll, author of A Kind of Spark. Set in the near future, Show Us Who You Are is beautifully written and so absorbing, with twists and turns that will keep readers gripped. The themes of grief, resilience and true friendship will definitely pull on everyone’s heartstrings. Elle is so committed to accurately representing Neurodivergent characters in her books; once again she’s written a captivating story – this time about a mysterious company that’s creating holograms with AI technology – that all children can see themselves in. Eishar Brar, Editorial Director


After a year like 2020, we all need a bit of cheering up. SuperJoe Does NOT Do Cuddles (September) by Michael Catchpool and Emma Proctor follows SuperJoe – superhero in the making – who is convinced he doesn’t need cuddles from his mum. He flies around the neighbourhood rescuing people from escaped tigers, runaway trains and raging rivers, all while battling his nemesis the Grey Shadow. Naturally, he refuses all cuddles. Until one night, when he can’t sleep… Michael and Emma’s brilliantly funny SuperJoe is bound to get children smiling again, while adding some much-needed diversity to the superhero pantheon. Alice Curry, Publisher

6 Books for Keeps No.246 January 2021

Levine Querido

Willow the rabbit is SO shy that she’d rather not leave the abandoned mailbox she calls home. But then a little boy drops a letter into the box, addressed to the moon. Willow is faced with a dilemma; should she try to deliver the letter, even though she’s scared? Which is stronger – her very real fears, or her powerful empathy for another? Shy Willow (February) is the debut of Cat Min, a writer and artist with the incredible visual talent to match her storytelling ability. Cat Min’s lush, expressive watercolours create a welcoming world for all, no matter how shy they are. Arthur Levine, Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Little Island Books

When we are considering a manuscript at Little Island, we ask ourselves: is there a chance that a child who reads this book will, in 20 or 30 years, want to buy it for their own child? Few books clear that bar, but Wolfstongue (May) by Sam Thompson feels like a future classic. It has everything we look for in a book like this: absolutely superb writing, thoughtful ideas interwoven with gripping storytelling, and a sensitive treatment of a child protagonist with depth. We can’t wait for the world to read this brilliant, beautiful book. Matthew Parkinson-Bennett, Publisher

Macmillan Preschool

If there’s a book on my desk to distract me from doing my job, it has to be Ben Newman’s brilliant Snip Snap. Helping to launch Macmillan’s exciting new Preschool list, the story begins with a crocodile and a nasty nip on the tail. Crab is the culprit – loveable for his naughtiness – and chaos soon ensues, brought to life by transforming die-cut pages and non-stop noisy wordplay. But amid all the slapstick humour, true relationships are slowly forming. Ben juggles all of this, yet creates a book that delights in simplicity. I keep coming back for more, and don’t doubt that a host of preschoolers will too. Barry Timms, Publishing Director of Preschool

Macmillan Fiction Peanut Jones and the Illustrated City is award-winning,

record-breaker Rob Biddulph’s first middle-grade novel and, oh boy, it’s a stunner! It is one of those dream books – fresh and funny, exciting and tender. It’s packed with exceptional integrated illustrations throughout and offers perfect escapism for readers of 8+ – don’t we all need a bit of that at the moment. The first in a three-book series, Peanut Jones has creativity in all its forms (art, science, mystery solving) at its heart in this story about a girl who is determined to find her missing dad and bring him home. Sarah Hughes, Associate Publisher

Macmillan Poetry Wild Child is multi-award winner Dara McAnulty’s first book for children and is illustrated in full colour by Barry Falls. Dara is one of the most exciting nature writers of the moment and in this astonishingly beautiful book he guides us on a multi-sensory walk showing us just how extraordinary and precious the natural world is. It begins in Dara’s own back garden and he takes us on to hills, woods and ponds – pointing out his favourite animals, birds and plants – and all the while explaining migration, life cycles and giving us projects to make at home. Bliss! Gaby Morgan, Editorial Director, Non-fiction and Poetry

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