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Favourite Books of 2020

The Booksfortopics Best of 2020

2020 has been a year full of twists and turns – but our to-be-read piles have kept us going throughout the year.

We asked our community of teachers, TAs, authors, librarians and book lovers to nominate their favourite children’s books published in 2020.

This is what they told us…

Ross Montgomery
Chapter book

The book is set during the Blitz in World War II and follows an evacuated boy, Col, as he races back to London to save his sister from a bombing raid that may take her life. Col is supported by his guardians – his childhood imaginary friends. The historical element – enhanced by snippets of factual newspaper articles and leaflets from the time – is well written and stands side by side with the fantasy element rather than being a theme of the book

Sophie Kirtley
Chapter book

A wildly heartfelt timeslip adventure that takes readers back to the Stone Age to explore themes of family, courage, loss and what it means to be human.

Charlie lives in modern times, but after hearing very bad news about a new sibling, Charlie flees to the forest and is transported in time to a Stone Age forest. This is an exciting narrative that will be lapped up by mature readers who are ready for a roller coaster of adrenaline and who can handle difficult themes. Most suitable for Upper KS2.

Katherine Rundell (editor)
Short story collection

Nominated for “Favourite Books of 2020” by: Vicky Taithe (Y3 Teacher & English Lead)

Vicky says, “The idea behind The Book of Hopes was inspired and it is testament to the co-operation and joint efforts of so many children’s authors, illustrators and organisations, notably the National Literacy Trust. Making it available online during the lockdown when books were so needed by isolated children was just wonderful. It gives us all some hope.”

Struan Murray
 & Manuel Sumberac
Chapter book

Original and enticing, this is one of the best fantasy stories I have read for a long time. There’s a mix of peril and intrigue in all the right proportions, a strong female lead and a well-constructed fantasy world with its own haunting mythology that really does immerse the reader from the start.

Ellie Lancaster is a feisty young inventor who lives in the last city to survive in a world that has been almost entirely drowned by a fear-inducing god known as the Enemy. The city sits upon a steep mountain that juts out above sea level, and one day washed up on one of its rooftops appears a whale, out of which emerges a mysterious boy whose origins are unknown. It doesn’t take long for rumours to accrue – rumours that suggest the boy is the Enemy himself returning to the city to cause destruction. Only Ellie seems convinced of his innocence and when the boy is caught and sentenced to death by the city’s Inquisitors, Ellie finds herself on a whirlwind of an adventure to keep the boy from being wrongly harmed.

The story is full of edge-of-your-seat danger and has its fair share of scary parts while also tenderly exploring themes of friendship, loyalty, forgiveness and grief. The twists and turns in the plot are delightful, with secrets, surprises and delicious ‘penny drop’ moments that kept me turning pages late into the night.

here’s already a buzz around Orphans of the Tide and it’s easy to see it finding a lot of fans in the coming year, especially readers who have enjoyed Philip Pullman, Suzanne Collins and Vashti Hardy. For me, it’s a gripping middle-grade fantasy that ticks all the right boxes as an exceptionally enjoyable read.

Nominated for “Favourite Books of 2020” by: Alison Leach (founder of BooksForTopics)

Alison says, “Original and enticing, this is one of the best fantasy stories I have read for a long time. There’s a mix of peril and intrigue in all the right proportions, a strong female lead and a well-constructed fantasy world with its own haunting mythology that really does immerse the reader from the start. The twists and turns in the plot are delightful, with secrets, surprises and delicious ‘penny drop’ moments that kept me turning pages late into the night.”

Jonny Marx
 & Chaaya Prabhat
Non-fiction

A novelty information book digging deeper into the topic of Ancient Egypt. With flaps to lift on every page and vibrant illustrations of Egyptian scenes, there’s plenty to keep little hands busy and curious minds at work, as topics include mummification, pharaohs, culture and mythology.

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