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The Lipstick, How Do You Make a Rainbow? and Johnny Ball: Undercover Football Genius among the children's books to look out for in 2021




Bishop's Stortford College Prep School librarian Lizzie Hall writes about the magic of storytelling...

Dear Reader. Lockdowns have fuelled a love of literature and there's a flurry of new children's and young adult (YA) fiction to look out for in the new year.

Here are some titles tipped to be top sellers in 2021...

For younger readers

The Lipstick by Laura Dockrill and Maria Karipidou

Exploring his mother's dressing table, a little boy discovers the lipstick. It begins on his lips, where it looks very good – mwah! But then it goes for a little walk … squiggle, squiggle … on the mirror … scribble scribble … on the shiny floorboards … smudge smudge. And even on the fluffy cat. Uh-oh!

The Lipstick by Laura Dockrill and Maria Karipidou (43776196)
The Lipstick by Laura Dockrill and Maria Karipidou (43776196)

What will happen when mum, dad and big sister see all this mess? From the team behind Angry Cookie comes a hilarious and joyous story all about artistic expression, self-confidence and supportive, accepting parenting.

How Do You Make a Rainbow? by Caroline Crowe and Cally Johnson-Isaacs

This joyful story shows how to find colour and hope when days seem dim and grey.

Stuck inside on a cloudy day, a little girl asks her grandad to help her paint a rainbow on the sky.

How Do You Make a Rainbow? by Caroline Crowe and Cally Johnson-Isaacs (43776194)
How Do You Make a Rainbow? by Caroline Crowe and Cally Johnson-Isaacs (43776194)

But as Grandad tells her, rainbows aren't painted on the sky, they grow out of kindness, hope, and helping other people.

The Invisible by Tom Percival

The Invisible is the story of a young girl called Isabel and her family. They don't have much, but they have what they need to get by.

Until, one day, there isn't enough money to pay their rent and bills and they have to leave their home full of happy memories and move to the other side of the city.

This is the story of a girl who goes on to make one of the hardest things anyone can ever make - a difference.

The Invisible by Tom Percival (43776192)
The Invisible by Tom Percival (43776192)

5-8 years

Kitty and the Twilight Trouble by Paula Harrison and Jenny Lovlie

Kitty is excited about visiting the funfair with her cat crew. But Pixie has made a new friend and doesn't want to play with Kitty anymore. She wants to play superheroes with Hazel instead.

The problem is, Pixie and Hazel aren't acting like superheroes, they are acting like supervillains!

Before long they both find themselves in trouble at the top of the Big Wheel, and only a true hero like Kitty can save the day.

Kitty and the Twilight Trouble by Paula Harrison and Jenny Lovlie (43776174)
Kitty and the Twilight Trouble by Paula Harrison and Jenny Lovlie (43776174)

Johnny Ball: Undercover Football Genius by Matt Oldfield and Tim Wesson

Johnny Ball's got a super exciting new job: assistant manager for the Tissbury Tigers!

But there's a catch. Johnny's brother, Daniel, is the Tigers' star player and he doesn't want his younger brother cramping his style. Daniel tells Johnny that no one on the team is ever allowed to know who he is.

Can Johnny use his football genius to go undercover and lead the Tigers to victory in the league?

Johnny Ball: Undercover Football Genius by Matt Oldfield and Tim Wesson (43776190)
Johnny Ball: Undercover Football Genius by Matt Oldfield and Tim Wesson (43776190)

Monster Max and the Bobble Hat of Forgetting by Robin Bennett

Max is just an ordinary, slightly scruffy boy, until he burps, when he turns into a huge monster with teeth like swords, who can jump over buildings, roar and eat whole dustbins.

It's great being a monster whose aim is to 'protect and do good stuff' until Max sneezes, when he turns back into a boy again, sometimes far from home and dressed only in his pants.

But something starts causing a lot of damage in his quiet suburb and it isn't Max. Trailed by his nemesis Peregrine, a boy his age who has invented a POOP (portable operating omni prison) machine to catch the monster, Max has to find the real culprit before Peregrine catches him.

Monster Max and the Bobble Hat of Forgetting by Robin Bennett (43776188)
Monster Max and the Bobble Hat of Forgetting by Robin Bennett (43776188)

9-12 years

The Queen's Fool by Ally Sherrick

Cat Sparrow is on the road. She's following her sister, Meg, who was torn from their convent home and sent to London.

But Cat isn't like other people - she thinks differently. And for a girl like her the world holds many perils. Luckily she befriends a young actor, Jacques, and together they follow Meg's trail to a wondrous place called the Field of Cloth of Gold.

But here they discover that the kingdoms of England and France are both in terrible danger.

The Queen’s Fool by Ally Sherrick(43776186)
The Queen’s Fool by Ally Sherrick(43776186)

The Dragon and Her Boy by Penny Chrimes

When Stick discovers there is a dragon living underneath the streets of London, he finds himself unintentionally drawn into an epic adventure and a quest.

But how can he find a place for a dragon to live in London when dragons aren't supposed to exist?

And with foes at every corner who want to exploit the dragon for themselves, it's going to take a daring plan for Stick to find a safe place for his dragon - and for himself.

The Dragon and Her Boy by Penny Chrimes (43776184)
The Dragon and Her Boy by Penny Chrimes (43776184)

Everyday Magic by Jess Kidd

Welcome to Little Snoddington, where nothing is normal and every day is magic.

Nine-year-old Alfie Blackstack's parents have met a very unfortunate end. Now he's living in the super creepy Switherbroom Hall with his mad-haired Aunt Gertie and warty Aunt Zita.

The thing is, Alfie's aunts aren't just weird - they're witches!

When the circus arrives in town, Alfie makes his first ever friend, the fearless Calypso Fagan.

But when Calypso's little sister Nova disappears, they must face the terrifying Head Witch in a race to find Nova and stop the next Witch War.

Everyday Magic by Jess Kidd (43776182)
Everyday Magic by Jess Kidd (43776182)

Teens and YA

Bad Habits by Flynn Meaney

Alex is a rebel with a purple fauxhawk and biker boots.

St Mary's Catholic School is a strict boarding school where she's currently trapped.

Despite trying everything she can to get expelled, she's still stuck with the nuns, the prudish attitude and the sexism.

Fed up with life inside the hallowed halls of St Mary's, Alex decides to take matters into her own hands. She's going to stage the school's first ever production of The Vagina Monologues.

Which may be a challenge, as no one else at St Mary's can even bear to say the word 'vagina' out loud.

Bad Habits by Flynn Meaney (43776180)
Bad Habits by Flynn Meaney (43776180)

Love is a Revolution by Renee Watson

When Nala Robertson reluctantly agrees to attend an open mic night for her cousin-sister-friend Imani's birthday, she finds herself falling in instant love with Tye Brown, the MC.

He's perfect, except... Tye is an activist and is spending the summer putting on events for the community when Nala would rather watch movies and try out the new seasonal flavours at the local creamery.

In order to impress Tye, Nala tells a few tiny lies to have enough in common with him. As they spend more time together, sharing more of themselves, some of those lies get harder to keep up.

As Nala falls deeper into keeping up her lies and into love, she'll learn all the ways love is hard, and how self-love is revolutionary.

Love is a Revolution by Renee Watson (43776178)
Love is a Revolution by Renee Watson (43776178)

Lock the Doors by Vincent Ralph

Tom's family have moved into their dream home. But pretty soon he starts to notice that something is very wrong - there are strange messages written on the wall and locks on the bedroom doors. On the OUTSIDE.

The previous owners have moved just across the road and they seem like the perfect family. Their daughter Amy is beautiful and enigmatic, but Tom is sure she's got something to hide. And he isn't going to stop until he finds the truth behind those locked doors.

Will their dream home become a nightmare?

Lock the Doors by Vincent Ralph (43776176)
Lock the Doors by Vincent Ralph (43776176)


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