February anticipated children’s book releases

What a fantastic month February promises to be for children’s book releases. I’m looking forward to releases by both favourite, debut and new-to-me authors as well as continuations of series I’ve loved (Like a Curse, Nightspark). I’ve been lucky enough to have early reads of a couple of these (The Song Walker and Wildsmith –both of which I can highly recommend , and have a few others ready to read in time for release (The Time Tider, The Stickleback Catchers and The Rescue of Ravenwood). I’m looking forward to getting copies of all of these to add to my ever-growing class library after I’ve had a read!

I have taken the synopsis for each of these from the Waterstones website.

James loves dancing, poetry, and Mariah Carey (not in that order, though, because Mariah would obviously be first!). His teacher, Mr Hamilton, is getting married to his boyfriend and it seems that James will be part of a surprise choir performance at the wedding.  But James’s father seems uncomfortable about the plan, and a lot of other things – like any mention of Mr Hamilton, and James’s dancing, and how James talks about his new friend Joel. Meanwhile, a different boy has been harassing James at school and calling him gay, and it’s getting worse every day. James can find relief with his beloved Nan, she’s been having worrying falls, and James can’t tell anyone, or she might be sent to a faraway care home.  The secrets are building up, and James is starting to lose his characteristic spark. Can he find the strength to let the truth out? A joyful, raw and timely novel about family, friends, enemies, and being true to who you really are.

“There are three questions that I need to find the answers to: Where am I? What am I doing here? And… Who am I?” When a young girl wakes up in the middle of the desert, she has no idea who she is. She’s wearing one shoe, a silky black dress, and she’s carrying a strange, heavy case. She meets Tarni, who is on a mysterious quest of her own. Together, the two girls trek across the vast and ever-changing Australian Outback in search of answers. Except both are also hiding secrets…

1884. Emma Linden dreams of following in the footsteps of the famous fossil-hunter, Mary Anning on the Jurassic Coast. But Emma’s world begins to spiral when her brother James becomes obsessed with a glassy-eyed tiger at the museum. More than a hundred years later, her descendant Rosie Linden goes missing, her mind full of prowling tigers. With her new friend Jude, Rosie uncovers family secrets buried like layer upon layer of rock. Together they must sift the past to find the truth and heal the present.

Stuck in Loch Ness while Edinburgh falls under the control of a terrifyingly powerful Siren, Ramya Knox is frustrated. She’s supposed to be learning magic from her Aunt Opal, but that isn’t going as smoothly as she’d hoped. As she pushes to rescue her Hidden Folk friends in the city, long-buried secrets come to light and legends come to life.  Ramya knows she’s different; she knows she’s a witch. But now she must learn the true meaning of her powers… before all she loves is lost.

When war threatens her beloved city, Rowan and her mother must flee to the Dark Forest, meeting Grandpa and his white wolf Arto for the first time.  Though she misses her father, Rowan makes new friends – including a trio of powerful witches. When she rescues a baby dragon from poachers, she discovers the secret of her own identity. Could Rowan really be a wildsmith?  Fostering a whole clutch of dragons, the summer speeds by. But when danger threatens, Rowan and Grandpa must call on all their friends for help.

Can one boy with no memories save the world?  In the Earth world, a boy dreams of faraway lands to escape life with his horrible aunt. In the Elf world, he wakes up with a mysterious golden torch but without any clue who he is …except for the compass he pulls from his pocket, engraved with one name: Jayben.  Jayben discovers that many moons ago, a giant put a dark spell on the golden torch, and the elves forgot everything that had come before. Now they hang precious memories in jars on trees, just to try to remember. But a new darkness grows among them.  An evil villain called Null is burning down the forests, hellbent on finding the torch and becoming the most powerful being ever to live. If Jayben can find his own magic and ignite the torch with its fierce violet flame, his power will be unstoppable … Can Jayben save the world before the lights go out forever?

Mimi adores her wild, fun, full-of-life gran. Then Gran starts forgetting things. Suddenly there are cracks appearing all around their home – and a mysterious black crow – both of which only Mimi seems able to see.  Mimi is determined to solve the mystery. Luckily she has new friends to help: Titch and Nusrat. Together, they’re the Stickleback Catchers: solvers of puzzles and seekers of adventure.  Down by the river, where the gang meet and the silvery sticklebacks swim, they discover a mysterious stone, speckled with stars. But this is no ordinary stone: it’s the doorway to another world, a world of talking crows and secrets, magical constellations and memories – and maybe, just maybe, Mimi’s chance to bring back Gran forever.

Mara and her dad have lived in their van for as long as she can remember. Whatever her father does to scrape a living has kept them constantly moving and Mara has never questioned it. That is until she uncovers a collection of notes addressed to ‘the Tider’, an individual responsible for harvesting lost time from people whose lives were cut short.  But before Mara can question her father, he is taken by a dangerous group who want to use his power for evil. With the very fabric of time and space at stake, it’s down to Mara and her new friend Jan to find him before it’s too late…

Being bad has never felt so good!  The first in a villainously funny, highly illustrated young middle-grade series from author-illustrator Ryan Hammond. For fans of Amelia Fang, Dog Man and Grimwood.  Welcome to Villains Academy the most prestigious villain school in the entire land. You will either leave here as a fully-formed villain . . . or in tatters.  It’s werewolf Bram’s first day at Villains Academy. He really doesn’t feel like a villain at all, but the coveted Villain of the Week trophy is up for grabs, and Bram knows he’ll have to dig deep. With the help of new friends Mona the elf-witch, Bryan the lion, Shelia the ghost and Tony the skeleton, can Bram find his inner badness and become the villain he’s always dreamed of being?

On the day they are born, each Swift is brought before the sacred Family Dictionary. They are given a name and a definition, and it is assumed they will grow up to match. Unfortunately, Shenanigan Swift has other ideas. So what if her relatives all think she’s destined to turn out as a troublemaker, just because of her name? Shenanigan knows she can be whatever she wants – pirate, explorer or even detective. Which is lucky, really, because when one of the Family tries to murder Arch-Aunt Schadenfreude, someone has to work out whodunit. With the help of her sisters and cousin, Shenanigan grudgingly takes on the case, but more murders, a hidden treasure and an awful lot of suspects make thing seriously complicated.  Can Shenanigan catch the killer before the whole household is picked off? And in a Family where definitions are so important, can she learn to define herself?

Gruff and his new friend Matylda live on a small island off the Welsh coast, where legends are beginning to stir. Islanders find themselves irresistibly drawn to the Sleeping Stones, a line of rocks like stepping stones out to sea, and Gruff and Mat soon realise they must risk everything to save each other and their community from a terrifying storm driven by an ancient, magic anger.

Vita longs to write the plays that she steals off to watch – but as the daughter of a high-born Roman, her only future is marriage. When her father is murdered, everything changes. She escapes with her life – only to end up a slave, sharing a cell with a fierce gladiator, Brea, and her wolf. But when Vita and Brea discover they have a common enemy, they know they must stand together for truth and justice …  Vita, nicknamed ‘Little Owl’ by her father, is an unlikely hero – but when her father is murdered, she has to uncover the truth, even if it means finding unlikely friends Themes of deceit, storytelling and fighting justice.

The year is 2425. Centuries after a catastrophic meteor collision, nature has retaken the earth. In a small town in what was once England, young Ocean Mooney and the monkey-owning Duke Smiff have just dug up a 400 year-old tablet computer.  Meanwhile, in the present day, Thomas Reeve and his genius cousin Kylie create the Time Tablet – a device which they hope will allow them to communicate with the future.  But when the Time Tablet malfunctions live on television, Thomas and Kylie are sucked into the year 2425 – and have only 24 hours to return home, and save the future of humanity.

Having escaped from the half-bombed, blackened power station where he was being imprisoned, 12-year-old Luke is finally reunited with his family above ground. But though Luke tries to readjust, he can’t shake the guilt he feels for his friend Ravi, who was left behind, nor the feeling that someone – or something – is watching him from the shadows.  With the help of ghost-girl named Alma and his friend Jess, Luke must journey across the country and sea to find Ravi, the friend who was there for him in his darkest hours. And in doing so, he must face his past and confront his deepest fears…

A desperate village. A child who emerges from the marshes. A falcon that helps her save them all.  When the child emerges from the wilderness, no one in the village knows what to do with her. She is odd – half-wild, without speech and seems to have an unnatural bond with animals – especially the falcon, who is always circling above her. The Wise-Woman takes her in, and names her Rhodd, but the rest of the villagers remain suspicious.  Over the years, as Rhodd grows, the village realises that the river, which is their connection to the wider world, is beginning to die, and eventually a dark sickness begins to spread. Soon, too soon, the villagers turn their suspicion on Rhodd and her falcon.  And so, Rhodd sets out to discover what – or who – is causing the river to dry up . . . to protect her mother, her falcon and herself.

Ravenwood. A place where things happen . . . On the top of the hill, overlooking the sea, that’s where you’ll find a magical place . . . To Bea and Raffy, Ravenwood is home. In its own way, the house rescued them, even if it did have a fallen-down tree taking up most of the kitchen. So the idea that it could be sold. Demolished even. Well, that’s unthinkable. Then again, it’s not like the children get a choice. But the truth is, we can all make our own choices, especially if we care enough . . .

Welcome to Haarville — if you’ve arrived, you’ve survived. Off the grid and not on the maps, it’s a place shrouded in fog and steeped in pungent pongs. Everything here smells fishy, especially the town’s suspicious new arrivals.  Twelve-year-old Manx Fearty is an orphan (his family has a terrible habit of dying, terribly), and now he’s about to lose their perpetual device shop to sinister newcomers claiming to be long-lost relatives. As he sets out to prove them wrong, Manx finds himself on the trail of a murky, mist-muddled mystery — and it’s one he needs to solve fast, otherwise Haarville is doomed.  With the help of his fiercely protective drag-queen guardian Father G (aka the fabulous Gloria in Excelsis), loyal best friend Fantoosh, and oystercatcher-with-attitude Olu, Manx wades through secrets, schemes and some stomach-churning seafood. Can he save both his family’s legacy and his town?

Thirteen-year-old Anna is upset when she is sent to stay with her dad and his new family at Fairy Hill in the west of Ireland. Hearing whispers in the wind, Anna senses she is being watched, but nobody believes her except the mysterious boy down by the lake. When her little half-brother, Jack, nearly gets lost, Anna suspects that someone is trying to steal him away. She wonders if the stories about the old house and the fairies are true. And if they are, could Jack be in real danger?

Do any of these catch your interest? What are your most anticipated books for February? What have I missed that you would recommend?

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