Spring Preview: the Scottish children’s books we’re raring to read next

Spring 2021 looks set to be a bumper season for children’s books, with scheduled stories heading out on to shelves alongside launches that were paused by the pandemic. Our ‘to be read’ pile is already teetering with treats – and there’s much more on the way.

As usual, this preview is shaped around a wee challenge for the compiler – often, that’s a theme or a word limit, but as everything has been homeschool-tastic in our house, we’re going to acrostic it, to (we hope) show the kids how that’s done (if it works at all)!

So, welcome to our ‘Spring Spectacular‘ all about the books we’re raring to read next.

The Spellbinding Secret of Avery Buckle, by Hannah Foley (Kelpies, March 18): Part-girl, part-cat, Avery Buckle faces scarier problems than her remarkable identity. This middle grade debut from a Kelpies Prize-winner promises airborne adventure, witches, crannogs and more…

Pinkie and Boo, by Chae Strathie and Francis Martin (Little Door, May 21): a feisty little girl and her toy monkey adapt to the arrival of a new baby. We’re big fans of Strathie’s Gorilla Loves Vanilla and can’t wait for more of his pre-schooler-friendly fun.

Rebel Animals at Risk, by Kimberlie Hamilton (Scholastic, March 4): We spotted a gorgeous video preview of this non-fiction picture book last week and now can’t wait to meet the incredible creatures whose stories are told inside.

Illustrator/author Helen Kellock’s debut picture book The Star of the Forest was simply magical, and her new book Out to Sea (Thames and Hudson, May 6) looks an enchanting match. It follows little Lara who – after the death of her grandmother – is carried out to sea on a flood of her own tears.

There’s a New protagonist for David MacPhail’s funny Viking-themed chapter books. Thorfinn politely steps back and feisty Velda takes the helm in Velda the Awesomest Viking and the Voyage of Deadly Doom (Kelpies, May 6).

The Girl with her Head in the Clouds, by Karen McCombie (Barrington Stoke, March 4th): the hair-raising real-life story of young aeronaut Dolly Shepherd, a tale that’s bound to encourage young readers to reach for the skies.


So You Think You’ve Got it Bad – a Kids Life in the Aztec Age (Nosy Crow, February) is the latest in a series from Chae Strathie and Morisa Morea. Their hilarious Ancient Egypt book was our cheat sheet for a whole home-school topic this winter, now we’re all set to enter a new (old) civilisation.     

Uncle Pete and the Boy who Couldn’t Sleep is the first chapter book from Little Door, a small press with a reputation for excellent picture books. Author David C Flanagan and illustrator Will Hughes tell the story of Harry, a boy who has never slept in his life – then his eccentric uncle comes along.

Elle McNicoll’s debut, A Kind of Spark, just won the Blue Peter Book Award, and praise for Show Us Who You Are (March 4, Knights Of) has been glowing already. Two children whose differences draw them together, team up to take on a sinister corporation.     

The Chessmen Thief (Cranachan, April 29) Barbara Henderson has a gift for breathing life into distant episodes in Scottish history, and she can’t wait to see what she does with the beguiling topic of Lewis’ 12th century chess pieces.

Tamsin Mori’s much-anticipated debut, the Weather Weaver (UCLAN, March 4) is set in Shetland, where 11-year-old Stella is sent to stay with her grandpa. The prospect becomes less bleak when she meets a woman who can spin rainbows and call hurricanes.

Allan Grant, Judge Dredd comic-book writer, and his grand-daughter Abby Gray, are the team behind Princess Dangerous (Curly Tale, April). We’re excited to see this new take on a family fairytale.

Danny Chung does not do Maths, by Maisie Chan (Piccadilly, June) sees eleven-year-old Danny faced with big changes when his grandmother arrives from China – and moves into his bedroom.

Uh Oh! This is the one letter we couldn’t find a book match for…so we’ll just cheat and mention Lorraine Johnston’s MacMoley Moves Home, a cute and Upbeat (see what we did) picture book from the author of Later Tartan Gator, which is fundraising for the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Louise Greig’s lyrical style makes truly charming picture books. Home of the Wild (Kelpies, April 15) sees her team up with the talented Júlia Moscardó to create a piece so lovely that you may want to frame it.

Aboard the Bulger by Ann Scott Moncrieff (Scotland Street) was first published in 1940 and is newly available as an audiobook. The story of five children who escape from an orphanage to sail around the Hebrides, its huge initial print-run was lost when the warehouses it was stored in were bombed.

Ross Mackenzie’s Feast of the Evernight (Andersen, May 6) is the second in the spellbinding series from the Nowhere Emporium author. Expect adventure, dark undercurrents and a banquet for the imagination.

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