21 children's books to look out for in 2021

We've picked 21 highly anticipated children’s books published in the first half of the year, from adventurous stories featuring dragons, supernatural worlds and Victorian London to exciting non-fiction and new books from big names.

Find out how junior bookworms can use their Christmas National Book Tokens.

Which books are your young readers most looking forward to? Tell us in the comments at the bottom of the page.


Amari and the Night Brothers

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston (8+)

This epic middle grade adventure series is about Amari Peters, who's on an adventure to find her missing brother Quinton via an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs whilst an evil magician is threatening the supernatural world. It's soon to be a major movie starring Marsai Martin and is perfect for fans of Percy Jackson, Nevermoor and Men in Black.

We Got Lost in Dreamland

We Got Lost in Dreamland by Ross Welford (10+)

Ross Welford is the much-loved author of The 1000 Year Old Boy, Time Travelling with a Hamster, and more! He's back with We Got Lost in a Dreamland, about 12 year-old Malky and his younger brother Seb who become the owners of a 'Dreaminator' and are thrust into worlds beyond their wildest imagination.

Everyday Magic

Everyday Magic by Jess Kidd (7+)

Welcome to Little Snoddington, where nothing is normal and every day is magic. Last year, with Caboodle Firsts, we gave 100 young readers the chance to read Everyday Magic before it was published. Read the first chapter.

Fantastically Great Women: Scientists and Their Stories

Fantastically Great Women: Scientists and Their Stories by Kate Pankhurst (7+, non-fiction)

We loved Kate Pankhurst’s picture books, including Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World and Fantastically Great Women Who Made History, and now she's back with her first chapter book featuring the true stories of amazing scientists and things that are out of this world.

The Last Bear

The Last Bear written by Hannah Gold and illustrated by Levi Pinfold (8+)

A perfectly illustrated wintry read, The Last Bear will win the hearts of children and show them that no one is too young or insignificant to make a difference. It's a celebration of the love between a child and an animal, a battle cry for our world and an irresistible adventure with a heart as big as a bear's.

Murder on the Safari Star

Murder on the Safari Star written by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman, and illustrated by Elisa Paganelli (9+)

All-aboard for the third amazing journey in the Adventures on Trains series. Harrison Beck and his Uncle Nat are on the journey of a lifetime aboard the Safari Star, but things get mysterious when a passenger is found dead inside a locked compartment. Is it just a terrible accident or is something more suspicious afoot? It's up to train detective Hal and his new friend Winston to find out

We're giving you the chance to win a signed set of books, plus a STAEDTLER art and drawing set!

Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow

Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow written by Benjamin Dean and illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat (9+)

This is a rainbow-filled, joyous book for fans of Onjali Rauf's The Boy at the Back of the Class. Things aren't going great for Archie Albright. His dad's acting weird, his mum too, and all he wants is for everything to go back to normal, to three months before when his parents were happy and still lived together. When Archie sees a colourful, crumpled flyer fall out of Dad's pocket, he thinks he may have found the answer. Only problem? The answer might just lie at the end of the rainbow, an adventure away.

Draw With Rob: Build a Story

Draw With Rob: Build a Story by Rob Biddulph (5+, non-fiction)

Rob Biddulph is the award winning author, official World Book Day illustrator, and creator of the hugely popular #DrawWithRob. Rob returns with Draw with Rob: Build a Story to bring joy to families everywhere with his easy to follow instructions and warm-hearted humour.

Dragon Legend

Dragon Legend by Katie & Kevin Tsang (9+)

Dragon Legend is the second adventure in the ROARsome Dragon Realm series, perfect for readers looking for edge-of-your-seat adventure.

Dylan has been kidnapped by the evil Dragon of Death and it’s up to his friends to travel through time, back to the dangerous Dragon Realm, in order to save him. So begins an epic quest that will take them to the depths of the Frozen Wasteland and the imperial palaces of Ancient China. But can good triumph evil…?

Dragon World

Dragon World by Tamara MacFarlane and illustrated by Alessandra Fusi (7+, non-fiction)

Dragons have breathed fire into our minds since we could first imagine, but why do they exist in stories from every land in the world? In Dragon World, written by Tales On Moon Lane bookshop owner Tamara MacFarlane, young readers can look into their lairs while they make shape-shifting mischief, prowl through the pages to discover rare dragon species, and master how to draw them.

Tamara will be our Book Doctor on World Book Day. Send your questions in and five readers will receive a signed copy.

The Runaway Girls

The Runaway Girls written by Jacqueline Wilson and illustrated by Nick Sharratt (7+)

The Runaway Girls is Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt’s last book together, set in 1851’s Victorian London. When Lucy Lockett runs away from home, Kitty Fisher shows her how to survive - where to find the best picnic leftovers in the park, and which trees makes the best beds. Lucy learns quickly and shows Kitty her own skills. But the streets of Victorian London are dangerous and soon the girls find themselves under threat from thieves – and even worse, the Workhouse!

The Ash House

The Ash House by Angharad Walker (9+)

100 children got to read The Ash House last year with Caboodle Firsts, described as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children meets Lord of the Flies. A new boy arrives at the Ash House. He can't remember his name – or why he's been sent there. Given the name Sol, and troubled by a mystery pain that no medicine can cure, he joins the gang of children living in the shadows of the secretive house. Soon, however, there's more for him to face: the darkness that descends with the arrival of the Doctor… Read the first chapter.

The Storm Keepers' Battle

The Storm Keepers' Battle by Catherine Doyle (9+)

The highly-anticipated epic finale to the bestselling Storm Keeper trilogy, packed with adventure, atmosphere and heart. Inspired by her family history on the real island on Arranmore, Catherine Doyle weaves the Irish myths and legends of her childhood into a modern day setting, perfect for young readers who adore The Dark is Rising and Percy Jackson.

The first book, The Storm Keeper’s Island, was a big hit with booksellers and readers in the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards and the Independent Bookshop Week Book Awards.

The Accidental Diary of B.U.G. 

The Accidental Diary of B.U.G.
 by Jen Carney (7+)

The Accidental Diary of B.U.G. is our children’s Caboodle Firsts title and is a masterpiece of funny fiction, and the start of an exciting new series full of Billie Upton Green’s laugh-out-loud observations and doodles! Be in with a chance of getting a copy for a young reader – plus check out the first chapter!

What Happened to You?

What Happened to You? by James Catchpole and illustrated by Karen George (3+)

This beautifully illustrated picture book tells a story aimed at challenging behaviour towards disability. Constantly seen first for his disability, Joe is fed up of only ever being asked about his leg. All he wants to do is play Pirates. But as usual, one after the other, all the children ask him the same question they always ask, "What happened to you?"

The Boys

The Boys written by Lauren Ace and illustrated by Jenny Løvlie (3+)

From creators of The Girls, follow the adventures of four boys as they grow up, forming bonds of friendship to last a lifetime – even if they are occasionally put to the test…

Rainbow Grey and the Weather Magic

Rainbow Grey and the Weather Magic
by Laura Ellen Anderson (7+)

Laura Ellen Anderson is the brilliant creator of Amelia Fang, and she's back with a new series! Ten-year-old Ray Grey lives in the magical kingdom of Celestia, high in the sky! She is surrounded by Weatherlings with astounding weather power at their fingertips... but poor Ray doesn't have ANY magic! Then, after a trip to Earth, Ray’s life changes FOREVER. She is transformed from plain old Ray Grey intro RAINBOW GREY. With the help of her best friends (and exploding cloud cat, Nim) she needs to master her magic AND save the world from the ultimate storm...

The Time-Thief

The Time-Thief by Patience Agbabi (8+)

We adored Patience Agbabi's The Infinite, and The Time Thief is an equally awesome tale. Thirteen-year-old Elle and her Leapling classmates are visiting the Museum of the Past, the Present and the Future. But on the day of the school trip, disaster strikes, and the most unique and valuable piece in the museum, the Infinity-Glass, is stolen! And worse still, Elle's friend and fellow Infinite, is arrested for the crime!

Children of the Quicksands

Children of the Quicksands by Efua Traoré (9+)

In a remote Nigerian village, twelve-year-old Simi is desperate to uncover a family secret. But it’s when she’s caught in the red quicksand of a forbidden lake that her adventure truly begins. Can she bring her family back together and restore peace to the village? Efua Traoré won the 2019 Times/Children House Fiction Competition with this richly imagined magical realist adventure exploring themes of grief and belonging.

Ace of Spades

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (12+)

A compelling, incendiary, and unputdownable thriller with a shocking twist, Faridah Abike-Iyimide delves deep into the heart of institutionalised racism with this compulsive story for teenagers and adult readers alike.

A Different Sort of Normal

A Different Sort of Normal by Abigail Balfe (9+, non-fiction)

This is the beautiful true story of one girl’s journey growing up autistic – and the challenges she faced. Told through the author's remarkable words, and just as remarkable illustrations, A Different Sort of Normal is a very important, very funny, and very informative book for those who've never felt quite right in the 'normal' world.


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