2019 has been a wonderful year for the choice of newly published children’s books and I feel very privileged to be able to read so many of them in order to make suitable recommendations to children at school. Unlike the dark ages when I was a child, there is such a variety of incredible fiction and non-fiction available, that there really is a book out there for every child to fall in love with. It is almost impossible for me to narrow down a list, and I am sure that I will kick myself after posting for missing something out…but here are the 20 books I have enjoyed reading the most in 2019.
The Somerset Tsunami by Emma Carroll: the Queen of Historical Fiction strikes gold again with a tale woven from a local natural disaster.
Scoop McLaren, Detective Editor by Helen Castles: debut detective mystery which combines small-town nostalgia with modern technology.
The Lost Tide Warriors by Catherine Doyle: lyrical and magical writing which had me in tears of joy and sorrow.
Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone: the most incredible world-building from an author who sets new standards with every book.
Check Mates by Stewart Foster: chess, buried secrets and ADHD combined in this fast-paced, emotional story.
The Cosmic Atlas of Alfie Fleet by Martin Howard: zany travel adventure through undiscovered corners of the universe on the back of an overloaded moped; an absolute hoot!
Pages & Co. Tilly and the Lost Fairytales by Anna James: leave your cardigan on the back of your chair and join Tilly’s as she travels through more magical library adventures.
Girl 38, Finding a Friend by Ewa Josefkowicz: three interwoven stories of friendship in a beautifully written book.
Battle of the Beetles by M.G. Leonard: the final part of this amazing trilogy which made me look at insects with renewed respect.
Peril en Pointe by Helen Lipscombe: An exciting twist on the child-spy genre, this time set in the fascinating surroundings of a London ballet school.
A Witch Come True by James Nicol: the final instalment of Arianwyn Gribble’s heartwarming story in which our accident-prone heroine fulfils her destiny.
On the Origin of Species by Sabina Radeva: a perfect example of children’s non-fiction, as Charles Darwin’s theory is illustrated and updated by this creative molecular biologist turned illustrator.
The Star Outside My Window by Onjali Q Rauf: Masterful and moving storytelling opening the readers’ eyes to the terrible scourge of domestic violence with utmost sensitivity.
The Good Thieves and Why You Should Read Children’s Books Even Though You Are So Old and Wise by Katherine Rundell: yes two books from an author who is wise beyond her years. A fast-paced adventure set in prohibition-era New York and an essay, copies of which has become my gift of choice this year!
Bloom by Nicola Skinner: another debut of astonishing imagination with a magical, ecological theme.
Kat Wolfe Takes the Case by Lauren St John: the second case for the Wolfe and Lamb Detective Agency which seamlessly weaves environmental themes into a complex mystery plot.
Our Castle By the Sea by Lucy Strange: a gripping tale of loyalty, family secrets and legend set in a Kent lighthouse at the outbreak of World War II.
The Boy With the Butterfly Mind by Victoria Williamson: wonderfully empathetic writing takes the reader into the heart of a blended family dealing with emotional issues and living with ADHD.
…and one book which I’m sure would have been on my list, if a certain member of my family had not lent it to a friend before I had a chance to read it (now returned and sitting on top of my TBR stack)…Top Marks for Murder by Robin Stevens!
Please let me know what you think of my selection, and tell me what I should be adding to my TBR stack for 2020.