Faber Publishes Follow-up to Lockdown Sensation, While We Can’t Hug

Everyone’s favourite (socially distanced) characters return this June in a striking, gently humorous and hopeful follow-up to the sensational and bestselling picture book While We Can’t Hug.

After a long hibernation, Hedgehog awakes desperate to be reunited with best friend Tortoise . . . but Tortoise isn’t to be found anywhere! A charming and touching new tale, The Longer the Wait, the Bigger the Hug is a much-needed celebration of friendship and reuniting with loved ones.

Reassuring, timely and a great teaching tool, While We Can’t Hug provided invaluable support in bringing families together during extremely challenging and unprecedented times. The lockdown sensation has since sold over 100,000 copies and continues to reach new readers up and down the country with award nominations for both the An Post Irish Book Awards and CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.

Leah Thaxton, Publisher said: ‘There’s so much comfort in this book. The heart-warming title is a hug in itself. Yes the wait will be worth it; yes we will come out of this; yes there will be hugs galore. I think we all need to hear this message. Thank you, Eoin and Polly, for your grace and wisdom!’

Eoin McLaughlin said: ‘It’s been very special to see Hedgehog and Tortoise help so many children cope with social distancing this year. We never intended to keep them apart, so it’s with extreme joy that Polly and I have brought them back together. A reminder of the people we’ve missed, as well as the happiness waiting for us when we can finally hug them again.’

Polly Dunbar said: ‘I’m so delighted that Hedgehog and Tortoise meet again and they can hug at last – yippee! These characters have become friends to me so to illustrate a third book was an absolute joy, especially a story that is so full of hope and happiness, just what we need . . . and of course is very funny too.’

Leah Thaxton acquired world rights from James Catchpole at The Catchpole Agency. The Longer the Wait, the Bigger the Hug will publish on 29th June 2021 in paperback and 1st July 2021 in a small format hardback.

Preorder now: Waterstones Amazon


‘A touching tale’ – The Sunday Times

‘The tender simplicity of While We Can’t Hug pairs Eoin McLaughlin’s text with Polly Dunbar’s rosy-cheeked images’ – The Guardian

‘An important historical record of the time’ – The Times

‘Delicate watercolour illustrations, full of expression, are teamed with a timely and charming story, making this a real winner’ – Irish Independent

‘A book that ought to carry a ‘tear-jerker’ warning but one that is perfect for your little (and bigger ones) at home’ – The Literacy Tree

‘Gently reassuring’ – New Statesman

‘Timely, topical and utterly charming’ – Irish Examiner

Q&A with Alex Bell

1. How do you build your fantasy worlds? Where do you start?

I usually start with a character and try to imagine what their life might be like and what obstacles might stand in their way. 

2. How is our new hero Ursula different to Stella? 

They have different magical powers as Stella is an ice princess, whereas Ursula is half mermaid. They also have very different upbringings. Stella had a loving father, beautiful home and pets, whereas Ursula grew up alone at the Ocean Squid Explorers’ Club. 

3. How do you come up with the absurd and incredible creatures that the explorers come across such as the colossal sneezing jellyfish, warbling opera crabs and sing-along swordfish?

I love making up strange creatures! I just try to think of the most unusual/funny/amazing thing I can. Or else I consider what I would most like (or dread) to come across during an expedition. 

4. What is your favourite thing about being an author?

Receiving letters from children who’ve enjoyed reading my books. It always makes my day, especially when they include pictures they’ve drawn!

5. If you were stranded on a desert island, which book would you have with you?

I think it would have to be Going Postal by Terry Pratchett. It would always cheer me up to read it. 

The books!

February Books of the Month!

It’s a new month and we have some exciting new releases to share with you! Which one are you going to read first?

Two Terrible Vikings

What if your parents WANTED you to behave badly?

Set in the snowy fjords of a Viking kingdom, the terrible twins, Hack and Whack, are proud to be the best worst Vikings. Nothing stops the marauding pair as they steal boats, loot a birthday party, track a troll and sail off to raid Bad Island with their friends Twisty Pants and Dirty Ulf.

Well, almost nothing . . .

The Ocean Squid Explorers’ Club

Ursula knew the submarine wasn’t designed to go this deep, but what choice did they have? No one wanted to get swallowed up by a colossal sneezing jellyfish!

In a distant watery corner of the Explorers Kingdom, a submarine engineer, Ursula, is determined to become an explorer. Unfortunately, she hides an extraordinary secret, which makes her the sworn enemy of the Ocean Squid Explorers’ Club were they ever to find out . . . But when The Collector threatens the Club, Ursula throws caution to the wind and leads an expedition through treacherous waters, filled with gremlins, aboard the Blowfish submarine – and joined by her friends Max, Genie and Jai – and even her idol Stella!

Animal Farm

All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.

It’s just an ordinary farm – until the animals revolt. They get rid of the irresponsible farmer. The other animals are sure that life is improving, but as systems are replaced and half-truths are retold, a new hierarchy emerges . . .

Orwell’s tale of propaganda, power and greed has never felt more pertinent.

With an exciting new cover and inside illustrations by superstar Chris Mould.

A message from our Faber Children’s Publisher

Storytelling has always been fundamental to our very existence – sharing stories is what people do. Whether for fun, comfort, community, knowledge or escapism, or all of the above and more! Now, more than ever, it’s so very important that we continue to share stories with each other.

“We have been moved and heartened by the many requests we’ve received from booksellers, teachers, librarians and authors, who are doing their utmost to help children and parents during these difficult times through shared reading. We would like to do everything we can to support these efforts and so are now extending the period during which we grant full permission until the end of March 2021 to allow anyone to film themselves or others reading aloud from our children’s and YA publishing.

If you’d like to get involved, please ensure that you hold the book up at the start of the video and end, and note that you’re reading with permission from Faber Children’s. Please also mention the title, author and illustrator in both the video and the caption – as our authors and illustrators rely on the royalties from sales of our books. As do we, the publishers.

The videos will need to be taken down by 31 March 2021.

Lastly, but importantly: we will need you to notify us that you are posting this material – you ONLY have permission to post the material if you are making it available free of charge. Please notify us via the following email address:

We would also love to see your readings! So please don’t forget to tag our social media handle – @FaberChildrens – when you share them so that we can too.

Meanwhile, every week we will be adding to the activity sheets, video, audio content and other parent/teacher resources we provide free on our website – please do have a forage – we hope you enjoy them!”

Leah Thaxton, Faber Children’s Publisher

To see a selection of some of our most popular reads by age category, click here.

January Books of the Month

We have some exciting new releases to kick this year off with a BANG! Which book is first on your reading list?

Richard Scarry’s The Adventures of Lowly Worm

Lowly Worm is one of Richard Scarry’s best loved characters, and the star of this lively collection of stories, in which he takes an unexpected ride on a hot-air balloon; helps Huckle find just the right gift for Mother Cat; rides the roller coaster at the fair and builds a castle at the beach. With everything from bike crashes to a big birthday surprise, these stories show exactly why Lowly is one special worm, loved the world over. Every page has something to delight over and discuss.

Richard Scarry’s Best Busy Year Ever

Scarry captures all the hustle and bustle of Busytown through a series of delightful, brightly illustrated stories. Flossie, Big Hilda, Mother Cat, Squeaky Mouse and a cast of Scarry’s most popular characters are off to pick spring flowers, watch fireworks at the Pig family picnic, help the postman deliver letters, and celebrate holidays, family and friends. This is the perfect introduction to everyday grown-up life – ever!

Uki and the Swamp Spirit

There, right in the heart of the fen, was his target. It oozed and throbbed and Uki had the sensation of a sickly green light, spreading out through the networks of water. Of tendrils connecting all the creatures of the marsh in a web. Seeking them, joining them . . . changing them. He could feel the life, because the spirit was linking itself to it. Linking itself so it could poison it all and destroy it. 

After defeating Valkus, Uki and his friends still have two more spirits to find and capture. Next up is Charice, who is spreading disease through the swamps. Can Uki and his friends outwit him whilst being chased by the evil Endwatch and Jori’s clan of assassins?

December Books of the Month

We just love this time of year! There is nothing better than snuggling in with our loved ones and diving into a great book. Here are a few of our favourite wintery reads.

Santa’s New Beard

When Santa accidentally shaves off his famous beard, the elves all rally round to help. Can they glue it back on? Maybe the answer is whipped cream or candyfloss. Or perhaps it’s mashed potato . . . Will they be able to sort him out before Christmas Eve?

Things are not looking too good until the littlest elf has a bright idea!
Festive and fun, this is destined to become a seasonal favourite.

Squishy McFluff: Secret Santa

Ava and Squishy are back and this time their adorable chaos hits Christmas preparations for Mum, Dad, baby Roo, the local Christmas fete and much, much more . . . In her letter to Santa, Ava only has one wish. Will she get what her heart desires on Christmas day?

Rising star Pip Jones continues to give her quirky twist to everyday experiences in this warm and humorous series. The jaunty rhyming text is perfect for reading aloud, and Ella Okstad’s gorgeous, distinctive illustrations will help more confident readers learn to read by themselves for the first time.

The Great Reindeer Disaster

Jingle bells, Jingle bells, smelly poo and bum!
You can wait for Christmas but it’s never going to come!

When a miniature reindeer named Percy falls down the chimney of the Trubshaws’ holiday cottage, the last thing they expect is to be whisked away to the distant planet of Yule-1 – the REAL home of Father Christmas, the elves, and his intrepid reindeer delivery teams. And what an amazing place it is – nobody minds being stuck there until the computer system has been mended.

But the festive season is in danger! One rogue reindeer has teamed up with the evil Krampus to sabotage everything. Unless Percy and his new friends can track them down, there will be no Christmas this year – or EVER AGAIN!

Illustrated in black and white by Neal Layton, this is destined to become a holiday favourite.

Trouble on Planet Christmas

There’s trouble on the planet of Yule-1, the real home of Father Christmas. The Trubshaw family are flown back from Earth to help out! 

Once again Jake and Sadie are transported to a place where elves and reindeer are their friends and everything is about getting ready for Christmas, the best holiday of the year. 

Hysterically funny, wonderfully bonkers, it’s Christmas like you’ve never seen it before. 

With knock-out illustrations throughout from Super Star, Neal Layton.

Christmas Dinner of Souls

It’s a dark and lonely Christmas Eve in the dining room of ancient Soul’s College. The kitchen boy, 11-year-old Lewis, has helped prepare a highly unusual meal, made with unrecognisable ingredients, cooked by a mysterious chef. And then the guests arrive … and carnage ensues. They are ex-students of Soul’s College, and they are all completely demented. They demand bottle after bottle of wine, flinging their cutlery and howling like banshees until . . . silence. The Dean of Soul’s College has arrived, and the evening’s ceremonies must begin.

For this is the annual meeting of a secret club for those who despise children, warmth, happiness, and above all Christmas. Each member must try to outdo the others by telling the most terrible, disgusting story they know.

November Books of the Month

What are your children reading this month? Whether you’re looking for a fresh take on a classic story or something a little more contemporary, we have an exciting range of new releases for November.

What’s in the Truck?

‘…Out glides a limo, as sleek as a plane, With big gleaming hubcaps as bright as champagne’

Children will delight in this silly tale of a dog prince in his truck with a very special delivery . . . With each page turn, a new vehicle pops out of the last. This book has all the ingredients to charm and enthral first readers and parents alike.

The Iron Man

The Iron Man came to the top of the cliff.
Where had he come from? Nobody knows.
How was he made? Nobody knows.

Mankind must put a stop to the dreadful destruction by the Iron Man and set a trap for him, but he cannot be kept down. Then, when a terrible monster from outer space threatens to lay waste to the planet, it is the Iron Man who finds a way to save the world.

Magnificent Machines

The longest ship ever built, the heaviest digger and the largest aeroplane, the world’s first working motorcar, and its most expensive one. What machines like these have in common is that they all say a lot about the inventiveness and imagination of the people who conceived and created them. Some of them are useful, others are just a bit of fun, but the best ones are truly magnificent, and fascinating to discover.

Long Way Down Graphic Novel

Jason Reynolds is the New York Times bestselling author of Long Way Down and The Boy in the Black Suit. Long Way Down is a powerful verse novel about Will who, after his brother is shot in a gang crime, knows he must get revenge. The Boy in the Black Suit tells the story of Matt who works at the local funeral home. 

FAB Prize 2020 Winners Announced

Mariesa Dulak and Ngadi Smart are this year’s first place winners of the Faber and Andlyn (FAB) Prize for new writers and illustrators from underrepresented backgrounds.

Mariesa Dulak, Janelle McCurdy (©Dujonna Gift-Simms), Ngadi Smart, Akhran Girmay

Dulak won the writing prize with her picture book, There’s a Tiger on the Train!, described by the judges as ‘polished, funny, visual, current and clever. There is a visual energy and pace to the writing that put us in mind of the very best picture book writers in the business’. Janelle McCurdy was awarded second place for her thrilling middle-grade fantasy adventure, Umbra Tales: The Lightcasters.

Faber have pre-empted world rights for three picture books by Mariesa Dulak from Gill McLay at Bath Literary Agency. Janelle McCurdy’s debut novel was also secured at auction by Faber for UK, Commonwealth and translation rights from Rachel Mann at Jo Unwin Literary Agency.

Ngadi Smart, who was awarded first place for the illustration prize, is motivated by the representation of minorities, cultural identity and gender roles within her art. Judges described her submission as ‘wonderfully arresting portraits with an astonishing degree of dynamism and energy to both the figures themselves and the vibrant spaces they inhabit. We love the effervescent colour palette and know Ngadi has a big future ahead of her’.

Akhran Girmay, a Bristol-based illustrator who uses a mixture of fantasy and folktales within his illustrations, was awarded second place for the illustration prize. Both illustration winners have been signed for upcoming publications with Faber. Smart will illustrate the hotly anticipated Musical Truth: A Musical History of Modern Black Britain in 25 Songs by author and educator Jeffrey Boakye. Akhran is set to illustrate a new edition of Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely‘s bestselling YA novel, All American Boys.

Leah Thaxton, Publisher said: ‘This has been a phenomenal fourth year for the FAB Prize and the calibre and number of entries has been higher than ever. My belief is that over time the FAB Prize will be identified first and foremost with excellence, not diversity – it will have identified writers with exceptional voices who will go on to advocate and influence the politics of publishing. And illustrators who will themselves influence publishing decisions, because they are every bit as powerful as the authors they illustrate. This is a prize that identifies the creatives who will go on to change the way the world sees itself.’

‘We are over the moon to have secured publishing deals for all four winners – the first time in our history that we have done so. They have exceptional careers ahead of them: Mariesa Dulak, Janelle McCurdy, Ngadi Smart, Akhran Girmay. Look out for these names, get used to them, they are going to be big!’

The FAB Prize is run in association with the Andlyn Literary Agency, and is also supported by BookTrust and The AOI who both offer incredible opportunities to FAB Prize entrants and winners. Davinia Andrew-Lynch, founder of the Andlyn Literary Agency and judge of the FAB Prize has also signed Adam Douglas-Bagley, who was commended for illustration in this year’s prize.

This year saw the prize receive its highest intake yet, and the introduction of an additional Publisher’s Prize. John Seaton has been a champion of the FAB Prize and Creative Access internships at Faber for a number of years. In honour of his late wife, Mo Siewcharran, the Publisher’s Prize has been set up to highlight those entrants whose work stood out for mention alongside the winners.

A full list of winners, highly commended, commended and Publisher’s Prize recipients is below.

You can download the FAB Prize Booklet, with samples of the illustrations and text from all shortlistees here.

Watch the FAB Prize Ceremony:

Text Winners

First Prize
Mariesa Dulak

Second Prize
Janelle McCurdy

Highly Commended:
Farhana Islam, Rachel Faturoti, Ravena Guron, Sumana Seeboruth, Tiffany Chan, Tola Okogwu and Varsha Shah

Afroze Zaidi, Beatrice Anobah, Devyani Erica Jo Kingsley, Joanna Brown, Kothari, Olivia Carla Mejias, Shivanthi Sathanandan and Zain Dada

Mo Siewcharran Publisher’s Prize:
Amanda Carey, Aryah Bukhari, Carmen Morris-Coulson, Habon Jama, Nilesha Chauvet, Olive Ahmed,  Pam Aculey, Pamela Kandekore, Rebecca Ngakane, Rae Levine,  Sarah Shantikumar, Sophia Wilson, Seema McArdle and Tomi Oyemakinde

Illustration Winners

First Prize
Ngadi Smart

Second Prize: 
Akhran Girmay

Highly Commended:
Joanna GhoshJulied MustardLucia PicernoOlivia DuchessShirley HottierSojung Kim-McCarthy, Su Jang JangYijing Li and Zhi Ling Lee

Abeeha TariqAdam Douglas-BagleyAneesa CassimjeeChi HeIndia JosephJisun Lee and Yabaewah Scott

Mo Siewcharran Publisher’s Prize:
Adeola AvomoloAn Chi ChangJanet TamJayna MatharuLijie ZhangNino FerraoSonia Aguera GonzalezSoumya BasnetSubeeh BaigSubi BosaSumi Senthi and Yve Muller

Website launch!

Hello everyone, welcome to our brand new Faber Children’s website! This will be a hub of our favourite books, author and illustrator video content, activity sheets and teaching resources. So have a look around, we really hope that you enjoy our new website! Please do let us know what you think on social media @faberchildrens or

Best wishes,
The Faber Children’s Team

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