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  • Writer's pictureAndy Shepherd

My Top 20 for 2020

This year I’ve turned to books like I did when I was a kid. Running to them as a place of comfort and escape and a reminder that the world is bigger than my four walls.

So here's my Top 20 for 2020. All new to me, and most of them new this year.

I don’t like putting them in any particular order, though I suppose the first ten did spring to my mind immediately I started compiling this list, so it shows how standout they are – because I’ve read A LOT this year.

If I absolutely had to choose my book of the year it would be Rain Before Rainbows, closely followed by The Book of Hopes. The first is luminous both in its words and the illustrations and sits by my desk and lights up even the greyest day. The second is full to the brim with an outpouring of hope and joyful imaginings.

All these books have inspired me, comforted me, made me laugh till I snorted my cereal, (Sam, Serena and Zanib you need a health warning on your books!) and brought warmth and delight and wonder into my days.

The world of children’s books and the people who write, illustrate, publish, read, share and love them is a rather special place to be. So thank you to everyone who makes it this way.

Here’s to a hopeful New Year, full of wonder and magic and more extraordinary books!

If you’re looking for gifts for Christmas or just books to curl up with over the holidays I hope these recommendations will give you a few ideas. Please consider buying from your local Indie or Waterstones or online at or

  • Rain Before Rainbows written by Smriti Halls & illustrated by David Litchfield

  • The Midnight Guardians Ross Montgomery

  • The Ghost of Gosswater Lucy Strange

  • A Kind of Spark Elle McNicoll

  • October October Katya Balen illustrated by Angela Harding

  • Planet Omar Zanib Mian & illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik

  • The Book of Hopes Katherine Rundell

  • Where Snow Angels Go written by Maggie O’Farrell & illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini

  • Annie Lumsden The Girl From the Sea written by David Almond illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna

  • Tamarind and the Star of Ishta Jasbinder Bilan

  • Anisha Accidental Detective written by Serena Patel illustrated by Emma McCann

  • The Strangeworlds Travel Agency LD Lapinski

  • Boy, Everywhere A M Dassu

  • Zombierella Joseph Coehlo

  • A Sprinkle of Sorcery Michelle Harrison

  • Charlie Morphs into a Mammoth Sam Copeland illustrated by Sarah Horne

  • Death Sets Sail Robin Stevens

  • The Griffin Gate written by Vashti Hardy illustrated by Natalie Smillie

  • Julian at the Wedding Jessica Love

  • The House of One Hundred Clocks A.M Howell

And because it’s going to be 2021 (I need an excuse so I can add just one more) here’s my 21st recommendation: Bookworm by Lucy Mangan. Not a children’s book as such but a celebration of them and their importance.

And here are five that I cannot wait to get my hands on next year.

Darwin’s Dragons by Lindsay Galvin. I’ve already listened to this and LOVED it, but still want my physical copy when it comes out in January.

The Valley of Lost Secrets Lesley Parr

Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow Benjamin Dean

The Exploding Life of Scarlett Fife Maz Evans

Show Us Who You Are Elle McNicoll

And lastly I am rather excited that the fifth and final dragon in The Boy Who Grew Dragons series will be flying out on 7 January.

My rainbow of dragons is finally complete!

With huge thanks as always to the incredible Sara Ogilvie and Nick Stearn

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