Scottish Sparklers: new kid’s books that have us fizzling with anticipation

The last few weeks of 2019, and the first of 2020, are promising some fantastic new Scottish children’s books. Here’s our pick of what’s coming soon…

In date order…

Black Water 150Black Water
by Barbara Henderson (Cranachan)
October 31

Barbara Henderson has a knack of placing charismatic children at the heart of historic events, and she’s set to do it again in Black Water, the story of a 13-year-old excise apprentice, his struggles to stop the smugglers, and his encounter with Robert Burns. The #BlackWater blog tour starts next week and we’re excited to be part of it – look out for Roaring Reads’ stop on November 6.


McTavish on the Move 150McTavish on the Move
by Meg Rosoff (Barrington Stoke)
November 7

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the witty McTavish stories, with their relatable, endearing characters (especially Ma Peachey and McTavish the Rescue Dog himself) and this one promises more chaos and kindness as Pa Peachey gets a new job and the family prepare to move house.


Island TailAn Island Tail
by Steven Tod (Cranachan)
November 21

When wee Shona the cat loses her home, she needs to find somewhere to go. Luckily, help is on hand from Angus, a boy, and Tam, a gentle sheepdog. Set on the Isle of Lewis, this picture book promises a tantalising insight into Hebridean life, featuring dry stone walls, crofts, black houses and, naturally, some dramatic island weather.


Little Bird Lands 150Little Bird Lands
by Karen McCombie (Nosy Crow)
January 2 2020

Little Bird’s open-hearted approach to her tough life on a 19th century Scottish island captured our imaginations in Little Bird Flies (the first in Karen McCombie’s series) so we’re waiting eagerly to find out how the displaced teenager copes now that she has landed in America. On the run again, Little Bird will travel from the teeming streets of New York to the prairies of the west – with danger never far away.


Whoa I spy a werewolf 150Whoa! I spy a werewolf
by Justin Davies and Kim Geyer (Orchard)
Jan 9

In Help! I Smell a Monster! Justin Davies managed to mix a hilarious, easy-to-read story with a delightful dose of mythology and a fantastic twist. We’re hoping for more of the same from his second book. This time Alice and her monster friends must battle shape-shifters and defend themselves after a crime spree, for which they wrongly get the blame.


The Pure Heart 150The Pure Heart
by Trudi Tweedie
Feb 6

When Iseabail is employed by a wealthy merchant to be his daughter’s companion, her life changes forever. Transported from her remote island home to the Scottish borderlands, Iseabail is unnerved both by her precocious young charge and the house’s secrets. Described as Jane Eyre meets Susan Hill with a YA twist, we received several recommendations for this debut, from The Times/Chicken House 2018 competition winner, and now we can’t wait to get our hands on it.


by Ross MacKenzie
Feb 6

There have been whispers (well, Twispers) for months about how good this new series from Scottish author Ross MacKenzie is going to be. We loved the magical world of the Nowhere Emporium and are excited about stepping into this one.

Here’s the blurb: “Orphan Larabelle Fox stumbles across a mysterious wooden box while treasure-hunting in the city’s sewers. Little does she realise she is about to be catapulted into an adventure, facing wild magic and mortal danger and a man who casts no shadow.”


Tiger Skin Rug 150Tiger Skin Rug
by Joan Haig (Cranachan)
Feb 6

Lal and his brother Dilip miss home. They don’t like drizzle, midges, or the tiger skin rug in their creepy new house. All they want is to go back to India. But that’s before the tiger comes back to life – and promises to take them home in return for their help. Debut author Joan Haig is based in Scotland but has lived all over the world, and we’re anticipating an international outlook in her fiction too. The striking cover, with the subtitle “a magical journey…” is enough to have us intrigued.


Legend of the first unicorn 150The Legend of the First Unicorn
by Lari Don and Nataša Ilinčić
Feb 20

The duo behind the Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster have been creating more picture book enchantment with this story about Scotland’s national animal – a magical beast created by the court magician’s grand-daughter to make a sad young prince smile. Though we haven’t read it yet, we’ve seen some gorgeous illustrations and we know that Lari Don has a particular gift when it comes to weaving new magic into old tales.


Willow the Wildcat 150Willow the Wildcat
by Lynne Rickards and Kirsteen Harris-Jones (Floris)
Feb 20

Willow and Corrie live in a cosy den in the forest with their mum, but disaster strikes when a nosy sheepdog collapses their den. Can the kittens stop bickering long enough to learn how to work together and find a warm, safe new home?

The youngest Roaring Readers loved the characters in Lynne Rickards’ cute and funny Puffling stories and will look forward to more animal antics (and some learning about an iconic Scottish species) in this picture book.

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