Macmillan Picture Books

I can’t wait for young readers to enjoy award-winning Gemma Merino’s The Dragon Who Didn’t Like Fire. We all know that dragons love breathing fire and flying, but hate water. So what’s a young dragon to do when she finds she can swim like a fish, and it feels … amazing! I love this story about difference and acceptance, being true to yourself, and family love. It’s also very funny, and full of gorgeous, witty details to discover. Who wouldn’t fall in love with a small dragon in a crash helmet? It is a big-hearted joy from start to finish. Hannah Ray, Publishing Director, Picture Books

Macmillan Non-Fiction Of all the exciting new voices to arise in 2020, none could be more impactful than that of Marcus Rashford – England International footballer, child food poverty advocate and real-life superhero – who is committed to inspiring real and positive change in children. And Marcus’s debut does just that. You Are a Champion is an empowering guide

for tweens on mental resilience, grit and

positive mindset, showing children everywhere how to be their own champion, and crucially champion others as well. Written with journalist Carl Anka and filled with infographics and illustration, this is the positive, uplifting manual for life that all kids need. Cate Augustin, Editor, Fiction and Non-Fiction

Michael O’Mara

We’re so excited to be publishing the hilarious Does a Bear Poo in the Woods? by debut picture book author Jonny Leighton and bestselling illustrator Mike Byrne. This is the story of Barry the shy bear – all he wants is a private place to poo, but he just can’t find a spot to get away from the prying eyes of the other woodland animals. A laugh-out-loud, rhyming tale filled with side-splitting illustrations and a surprise ending, children and parents alike will love reading about this universally popular topic. Susannah Bailey, Publisher

Nosy Crow Published in collaboration with the British Museum, A History of the World in 25 Cities by Tracey Turner and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Libby VanderPloeg, is a gorgeously illustrated big book of maps that explores how people have shaped cities and how cities have shaped history. From Jericho over 10,000 years ago to the modern-day metropolises of Tokyo and San Francisco, travel the world and city- hop through pivotal moments in history. Featuring vibrant artwork and 25 unique and carefully researched maps, discover what life was really like for the people that lived there. Stunningly original, child- friendly and full of intriguing information, this is an absolute treasure trove of facts and illustration that will inform and delight readers of all ages. Rachel Kellehar, Head of Non-Fiction

Old Barn

Something different from us this year: Paul Jennings’ gentle, humorous, autobiography, Untwisted (June), weaves together the characters and events that formed the author of Round the Twist and our recent Different trio of novellas. From dyslexic child immigrant and high school dropout to award-winning teacher and Concorde-travelling author, Paul looks back and unpicks both his life and his writing, reflecting on moments of hubris as he confronts his glass-fronted collection of classic cars and his marriage failure. Raw and revealing, in Untwisted Jennings has crafted both a quirky, compelling, narrative and a how-to for students of creative writing and of life. Ruth Huddleston, Old Barn

Orion Children’s Books From the New York Times bestselling author Jewell Parker Rhodes we have Black Brother, Black Brother (May), an incredibly powerful coming-of-age story about two brothers – one who presents as white, the other as Black – and the ways they are forced to navigate a world that doesn’t treat them equally. Jewell’s storytelling is poignant and gripping, and tackles the complexities of race and racism in today’s world with heart and empathy. Kate Agar, Editorial Director

Otter-Barry Books YOU CAN! by Alexandra Strick and Steve Antony (October) is a ground-breaking picture book that will inspire children everywhere to believe in themselves. Exceptionally diverse and inclusive, it follows 14 children from birth to young adulthood as they reach out to the future and take charge of their lives. We see the children learning new skills, exploring new worlds, talking about feelings, being kind, being brave and standing up for their own and others’ rights, and most important of all, being themselves. Author Alexandra Strick, co-founder of Inclusive Minds, was inspired by conversations with real children from many different backgrounds and experiences, sharing messages of empathy, reassurance and hope. The astonishing visual narrative is by internationally acclaimed illustrator Steve Antony. Janetta Otter-Barry, Publisher

Penguin Random House Non-Fiction A Different Sort of Normal(July) by Abigail Balfe is an eye-opening true story of one girl’s journey growing up autistic. Through Abigail’s vibrant words and illustrations, we are told about the highs and lows of her childhood as she navigates the ‘normal’ world around her. There are funny stories that include her fear of toilets, and an incident involving her dad and a tub of ice cream at the supermarket. And more serious stories: a very difficult experience at a swimming pool, coping with bullies, and dealing with the overwhelming stimuli of a crowded train. Along the way, Abigail also shares crucial information about autism. Working with an exciting new talent such as Abigail would be an incredible thing in any case, but her very personal blueprint for how to understand and accept yourself – all delivered with her wonderful warmth and humour – is so very important. Tom Rawlinson, Commissioning Editor, Puffin

Puffin Middle Grade It’s rare to read the opening lines of a book and realise instantly that you have in front of you something really special, but this was the case with The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant (February), illus Paola Escobar. This book has completely enchanted me; I haven’t felt as immersed in a magical setting since stepping into Ollivanders. It’s warm-hearted and wise, funny and adventurous, and beautifully written’ Natalie Doherty, Puffin Editorial Director

Penguin YA The Upper World (August) is YA fiction at its absolute best – smart, bold, hilarious and addictive. Debut author Femi Fadugba has skilfully woven together the story of two young teenagers separated by time and fate with his expert knowledge of the physics of literal time-travel. Its ambition and scope is unlike anything else out there: simply put, it’s a triumph. Emma Jones, Acquiring Editor

Piccadilly Press (Bonnier) The Elephant in the Room, from much-loved Counting by 7s author, Holly Goldberg Sloan, is a heart-warming, empathetic story

Books for Keeps No.246 January 2021 7

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