Alice Curry, Commissioning Editor, Lantana The book I’m most excited to publish in 2020 brings a bright ray of sunshine to these cold winter months. I Am Brown by Ashok Banker and Sandhya Prabhat is a fun and fearless celebration of being brown, of being amazing, of being you! Written by ‘India’s epic storyteller’, whose previous titles have sold over 3.2 million copies across 21 countries and 61 languages, this debut picture book is a stunningly-illustrated celebration of brown skin and of a child’s right to be creative and free. Out in shops in March!

Ailsa Bathgate, Editorial Director, Barrington Stoke I was profoundly moved by Gill Lewis’s Swan Song (July) when I first read it. When Dylan is expelled from school for violent behaviour, his mother takes him to live with his grandfather in the Welsh village where she grew up. Relieved of the pressure to achieve at school, and immersed in the beauty of the natural world around him, Dylan starts to heal and reconnect with his family. Gill asks important questions about the stress that children face in the modern world as well as celebrating the valuable role of grandparents and the importance of our connection with nature.

Rosemarie Hudson, MD, HopeRoad A King’s Armour, set in the 16th century, against thrilling backdrops including the roofs of the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, the canals of Venice and the court of Queen Elizabeth I, is a rich, satisfying and thrilling read. A mysterious manuscript arrives at the court of Sultan Murad III, apparently revealing the location of the fabled armour of King David. Murad summons the elite Ruzgär unit to tract the lost treasure. The unit is made up many nationalities: warrior girl Awa of Songhai nobility; Will, the English boy; and the unit leader Polish Commander Konjic. A fantastic fast-paced historical adventure, with lots of excitement!

Lou John, Head of Reading at Home, Oxford Children’s Books In 2020 Pippi Longstocking turns 75. Or to be correct, the first book about Pippi turns 75 – she herself will always be nine years old. Oxford Children’s Books and the Astrid Lindgren Company will celebrate 75 years of the strongest girl in the world with a wealth of exciting new publishing, including a flagship gift edition of the children’s classic Pippi Longstocking Goes Aboard, illustrated with flair and humour by Lauren Child. We are delighted and excited to be publishing this title to celebrate the strong, kind, curious, anti-authoritarian and playful girl who makes extraordinary things happen.

Helen Carr, Senior Editor, The O’Brien Press I’m so excited about our forthcoming YA fantasy novel Queen of Coin and Whispers by debut author Helen Corcoran. It centres on strong female characters and looks at class, loyalty and duty within the stylised court of Edar. I loved the vivid world-building and complex political scheming, but most of all, I loved getting to know Lia – the new queen trying to reform the corrupt kingdom she’s inherited – and Xania – her spymaster with her own axe to grind. They are both women who know their own minds; as they work together their mutual respect – and attraction – grows. If you like books that blend beautiful writing, intrigue and romance, you’ll love Queen of Coin and Whispers.

Hannah Dove, Editor, Ivy Kids We are very excited to publish Let’s Save Our Planet: Forests. This is the first title in a new series that will explore one of the most important

issues for kids today – the environment. In the book,

zoologist, CBBC presenter and writer Dr Jess French reveals how we can all work together to tackle the growing problem of deforestation. From showcasing different forest types and explaining the causes and effects of deforestation, to exploring innovative solutions (including robot tree-planters!) and inspiring readers to make a difference – this beautifully illustrated book does it all. It’s both a love letter to trees, and an empowering call to action. We can’t wait for readers to experience it.

Suzanne Carnell, Publisher, Two Hoots, Macmillan Children’s Books

Amid all the brilliant books from Two Hoots in 2020, the funniest is without doubt Spaghetti Hunters by the award-winning Morag Hood. Each of Morag’s books is a perfect pocket of comedy, and this time she has surpassed herself. Spaghetti, Tiny Horse declares, is the trickiest of pastas, but armed with a fishing net and peanut butter, the hunt is on. When Duck turns to a recipe book instead, Tiny Horse is appalled: you can’t just make spaghetti! I know it will have its young (and adult) readers in stitches.

6 Books for Keeps No.240 January 2020

Stephanie Barton, Publisher 0-6, Macmillan Children’s Books In 1980, Jill Murphy wrote and illustrated Peace at Last, followed by Whatever Next in 1984, both published by Macmillan. Jill’s books feature the gently stoical Bear family and map the delights of their family life; the books are rightly considered classics. Forty years later, on the anniversary of the first book, Jill has written and illustrated a third book in the series: One of Those Days. We are stunned by what Jill has achieved in her new book; the text is assured, light and touching. Jill writes with joy and poignancy in equal measure; and the pictures are a rare thing indeed; unsurpassed and a showcase to her genius. Thanks must go to Justine Smith and Chris Inns at Macmillan who have worked with Jill on this book; truly, this is a new classic in the making.

Emma Jones, Editor at Penguin Harrow Lake (August) is the most addictive, nerve-shredding book you’ll read this year – it’s pacey and smart with a killer twist. It’s the creepiest book I’ve ever read, with all the hallmarks of the perfect compulsive thriller, and the villain Mister Jitters could genuinely rival Pennywise the clown for jump-scares. It’s one of those books that unites people no matter their taste, because the minute you reach the end you’re dying to talk to someone about it! A totally fresh and bold voice in YA, Kat Ellis has weaved a truly spectacular thriller, the perfect summer page-turner.

Shannon Cullen, Ladybird Publishing Director Sometimes a book comes along that speaks simultaneously to your heart and mind, and Mabel and the Mountain: a story about believing in yourself by Kim Hillyard is such a story. Kim is an entirely self-taught author-illustrator, and when I saw and read about the loveable Mabel – a determined fly who wants to climb to the top of a mountain, much to the disdain of her friends who think she should just fly – I immediately saw a story that would speak to children about their self-confidence. Believing in your ideas, however big or small and no matter what those around you say, is an important theme that Kim explores with warmth, humour and rich illustrations. I’m very excited to encourage our young readers to ‘be more Mabel’ in 2020!

Felicity Alexander, Senior Commissioning Editor, Piccadilly Press We have some wonderful fiction coming from Piccadilly Press this year. One title we’re particularly excited about is Cloudburst – Wilbur Smith’s first book for children, written with co-author Chris Wakling. Cloudburst takes many of the themes that Wilbur’s adult novels are best known for – rivalry, betrayal, fathers and sons – and weaves them into a gripping adventure story for 10+. Chris Wakling’s background is in thrillers and travel writing, so he was the perfect fit to collaborate with Wilbur on this series, and we’re really proud of the sharp pace and unpredictable plotting that’s the result of these two different authors coming together.

Katie Haworth, Editorial Director, Templar I’m incredibly excited by Julia Patton’s new picture book Number Seven Evergreen Street. It’s about (spoiler alert!) a little girl called Pea who saves her home from developers with help from her community and nature. I live in South London, and this story speaks to so many things I see happening in the city around me. What is especially special for me is that Julia has made each member of Pea’s diverse, close-knit community an individual. This really feels like a story that will help children make sense of today’s world with warmth and wit.

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