about Sila, a young Turkish girl living in America, whose mother has had to return to Turkey to renew her immigration papers. Luckily her dad takes Sila’s mind off things by bringing her with him to work, which is how they meet Gio, an elderly man living on his own in a huge house. And which is also how they meet a circus elephant and decide to reunite the elephant with her mother! Wonderfully engaging with important messages about family and friendship. Emma Matthewson, Executive Publisher

Prestel I Saw A Beautiful Woodpecker is the authentic 80-year-old diary of an eight-year-old boy – Michal Skibinski – who wrote one sentence into his notebook every day during one summer. A long series of laconic sentences tell of peaceful days in the countryside, surrounded by nature ... However, this was the summer of 1939, and school didn’t start again in September, instead the Second World War broke out. An extraordinary and touching book with wonderful illustrations that reflect the mood of this special summer – after which nothing would ever be the same again. Doris Kutschbach, Prestel

Quercus Children’s Books Piers Torday’s The Last Wild trilogy won The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and is now much-loved modern classic. In September comes the prequel, The Wild Before (September), which is a beautiful, captivating animal adventure. One frosty winter’s night, a pure white calf is born by the light of a silver moon. This is the legendary Mooncalf: according to a dream passed down from animal to animal, if the calf dies, a great terribleness will come - rising seas, a plague, skies raining down fire, the end of all things... Little Hare vows to persuade all the animals to protect Mooncalf, whatever the cost… Sarah Lambert, Publishing Director

Red Shed (Egmont) Packed full of super silly pranks, My Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Silly Book of Pranks is the hilarious follow-up to Matt Lucas’s My Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Silly Book of Jokes and the ultimate boredom-busting book for 7+ readers! Join Matt as he introduces silly, safe and brilliantly inventive pranks to play on family and friends. Meet the greatest pranksters of all time, discover the world’s most mind-blowing hoaxes, giggle at epic prank fails… and much, much more. Hours of family-friendly fun, laughter and creativity, perfect for brightening up the home-school day or livening up a dull staycation! Melissa Fairley, Picture Books Publishing Director

Rock the Boat What am I most excited to be publishing in 2021? That’s a tough one, but I’m going to have to go for Firekeeper’s Daughter, the ground-breaking YA thriller by debut author Angeline Boulley. The story centres around Native American teen Daunis. After witnessing a shocking murder in her community, Daunis finds herself going undercover for the FBI. Her journey as she unearths the truth – and learns what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) – will keep you reading well into the early hours… Katie Jennings, Senior Commissioning Editor

Scallywag Press In 1988, as children’s editor at Faber, I met (in New York) and published (in the UK) a brand-new kid on the block. The new kid was Jon Agee, the book The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau.

Now, 33 years later, it is being reissued here by Scallywag Press. In a larger format, and with a masterful cover change, this wonderful book is a triumphant celebration of ‘comic absurdity’. And it has an ending so sublimely illustrative of the brilliance of word-and-picture play that, for me, it is a benchmark of picture book genius. Go, Felix, go – enchant a whole new generation of children, and their grown-ups! Janice Thomson, Editor

Scholastic The Nightsilver Promise by Annaliese Avery (November) is an epic, beautifully written debut fantasy adventure acquired in a break- neck pre-empt by our Commissioning Editor Yasmin Morrissey. It has future children’s classic written all over it: we’re in a world where everyone’s destiny is pre-determined by a track of stars on their wrist. 13-year-old Paisley discovers that her fate is to die before her fourteenth year is out, and when her mother goes missing and is presumed dead, so begins a breath-taking adventure through an alternative London of Floating Boroughs and a vault guarded by Dragon Walkers. It is full of thrills and bravery and has family at its heart: glorious storytelling and a must-read. Lauren Fortune, Editorial Director

The School of Life I am delighted we are continuing to expand our children’s list in 2021, with books designed to encourage emotional literacy for all ages. Nature and Me; what we can learn from the world around us (June), complete with gorgeous illustrations, explores the wonders of the natural world from a different perspective. While asking children how nature makes them feel and helping them to engage with it; this book aims to positively influence their emotional wellbeing, which seems so relevant. Ranging from the wonders of a starry night, to an encounter with a cosy hedgehog; children are encouraged to explore various emotions as they relate to the natural world. Toby Marshall, Head of Publishing


From the author of the Doodle Cat series, Kat Patrick and illustrated by Evie Barrow, Howl (February) is Where the Wild Things Are for girls – highlighting the importance of letting out big feelings, particularly as a young girl, and underscoring the unique bond between mother and daughter. It tells the story of a young girl, Maggie, who has had a very bad day – the sun was the wrong shape, her spaghetti was too long and her shoes wouldn’t go on properly. When she starts to have wolfish thoughts, she heads out into the moonlit garden with her mother to engage in some wolfish behaviour … Sarah Braybrooke, Managing Director

Studio Press (Bonnier) How to Mend a Friend publishes in June 2021. This heartfelt picture book is all about sadness and empathy, and it shows children how they can support each other through life’s more difficult moments. It’s written in a lyrical rhyming style by Karl Newson, and illustrated by the incredibly talented Clara Anganuzzi. Readers will follow a child and a polar bear as they navigate life’s twists and turns, and learn how to help their friends when things aren’t going so well. From a magnificent lion to riotously colourful parrots, there’s something to fall in love with on every page. Stephanie Milton, Publishing Head

8 Books for Keeps No.246 January 2021

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