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Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick for November 2018 | Award-winning author Nicola Davies has a special talent for writing about the special bonds that can exist between children and animals. She also has a commitment to make sure that children of all kinds can find themselves in a story. In The Dog That Saved Christmas she brings the two strands together beautifully. The touching story tells of how Christmas is made happy for Jake by his friendship with a lost dog. For Jake, Christmas is not a time of fun but a time of huge anxiety as he copes with bright lights, loud noises and the unexpected behaviour of others and the changes in routines. But, when he finds a lost dog on the street, the two forge a very special bond. In the little dog Susan, Jake finds a companion who enables him to stay calm and to cope with the things he finds difficult. A beautiful story which is especially suitable for children finding reading stamina.
Readers first met Louisiana Elefante in Kate DiCamillo’s unforgettable Raymie Nightingale, now she has her own story, and what a tale it is. Louisiana has always believed that her parents were high wire stars, killed in an accident when she was very young, but driven by terrible toothache and an urge to come to terms with her own past, her granny suddenly reveals that everything Louisiana knows about her life is a lie. Abandoned in a motel miles from her old home in Florida, Louisiana is left to decide who she wants to be. She is befriended by a boy called Burke Allen and his family including his seventeen cake baking mother, and the kindness of strangers helps her to new happiness and security. A story of grief and confusion becomes one of love, hope and resilience. DiCamillo writes with extraordinary sensitivity and perception, and readers of all ages will be touched and moved by Louisiana’s story. Readers who enjoy this book should also read The Road to Ever After by Moira Young.
October 2018 Book of the Month | The Timmy Failure books are works of absolute comic genius and Stephan Pastis succeeds with each new story in making the adventures of Timmy and his sidekick Total the polar bear funnier, even more satisfying, and still more poignant; never more so than this the last in the series. Timmy has decided to retire from detective work but has a new project: he’s writing the script for his form’s Christmas film show, and has decided it will chronicle his own greatness. Meanwhile he is also negotiating a new relationship with his dad, now permanently on the scene, and helping reunite Total with his long lost polar bear family. The gap between what’s real and what’s real in Timmy’s imagination has never been more acute, or more affecting. The story will have readers crying with laughter, while the ending may well bring tears of a different kind. Totally great.
Lively and cannily told, this rollicking adventure mixes sci-fi, fantasy and ancient mythology. Aidan and his mum have a secret, a very unusual one: she is part dragon, able to breathe fire and with sharp, scaly claws for fingers. They’ve managed to keep this hidden, but just after Aidan has started school after years of home-schooling, someone finds out and Mum is kidnapped. With the help of his new friend Charlotte, Aidan sets out to rescue her. It turns out Mum is in real danger, along with some other unusual prisoners… The mix of ordinary life and fantasy is very well handled, and the narrative – mostly handled by Aidan but with interjections from Charlotte, and a mysterious third voice – will keep everyone on tenterhooks.
Manchán is the kind of boy who loves mucking about with his best friend, regularly gets into scrapes, and is horrified at the career path his mum has chosen for him - no way can he become a monk. Yes, a monk, because while Manchán shares all the characteristics of a modern boy, he lives centuries ago when there were wolves and druids in the forests, and Vikings on the seas. His world is presented as something of a dream for today's children, days can be spent picking blackberries or messing about in coracles, and a pig can be your pet. In a series of self-contained adventures, we get to know Manchán, his family, Muck his pig, and best friend Pagan-of-the-Six-Toes very well, and spending time with them is a real treat; John Chambers even wins readers round to the view that 'monking', as Manchán describes it, might not be that bad after all. Charming, quirky, and lots of fun.
After the success of Yoga Babies, the best-selling duo Fearne Cotton and Sheena Dempsey are back and this time the babies are hungry! Mealtime is a joyous and often messy occasion and these babies are shown thoroughly enjoying their food. From picnics to birthday parties, cooking and shopping the book carries a positive message about being relaxed and having fun with food. Written in rhyming text and accompanied by detailed and brightly coloured artwork this is a perfect book to share at bedtime, and might help soothe a worried fussy eater!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Uncle Gobb is back for a third utterly ridiculous, absolutely hilarious and totally originally told adventure. Michael Rosen and Neal Layton use a brilliant integration of words and pictures to tell this meandering and many-layered story which engages readers with the complexity and creativity of storytelling.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | | Best friends Molly and Beth have a very special power: they can time travel! When Molly’s dad comes to live nearby, the girls realise that he is very lonely. He doesn’t see his only brother and he flatly refuses to have any kind of pet. How can the girls help him? Going back in time to the 1970s, Molly and Beth try to find out something from the past that can help them to cheer Dad up. Arriving at the time of Dad’s childhood they find that much was very different in the 1970s – cassettes for playing music, unfamiliar groups like The Bay City Rollers, some very weird hairstyles and clothes and no mobile phones! They also find out the misunderstanding when they were little boys that explains why Dad and his brother aren’t friends. A great new adventure for Molly and Beth who previously appeared in Time After Time and Stand By Me.
August 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2018 | Oscar the talking dog is back for a wittily entertaining third adventure with his friend and owner Sam. Oscar’s problem is the very big white cat who suddenly arrives to live next door; Oscar hates all cats but he hates Carmen especially because she sits in all his favourite places. Sam is more worried that there’s a thief on the loose and his mother’s ring has gone missing. Is there a connection between Oscar and Sam’s worries? And can they help the police solve the mystery? With lots of twists and turns along the way Oscar and Sam play a key role in this fun adventure. - Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for August 2018 Once Upon A Wild Wood by Chris Riddell Oscar and the CATastrophe by Sarah Horne Run Wild by Gill Lewis Peril in Paris (Taylor & Rose: Secret Agents) by Katherine Woodfine The Garden of Hope by Isabel Otter
August 2018 Debut of the Month | What if your favourite YouTuber's life was a lie? What if you were the one to expose it? YouTuber LilyLoves has an amazing life: a rockstar boyfriend, a totally Insta-worthy London flat and a collection of beauty products that seems to grow daily (thanks, PO Box). Sixteen-year-old Melissa's life is way less amazing - LilyLoves is the only thing getting her through it. She's Lily's biggest fan and spends hours each night watching her videos and liking her posts. Melissa wants that life for herself - or at least to look like she has it . . . As Melissa starts to grow in confidence - and followers - she discovers a crushing secret about Lily - the ultimate YouTube lie. Does she share Lily's secret and crush her fame? Or will they both continue to live a lie - both online and off? My [Secret] YouTube Life is the addictive debut novel from Charlotte Seager.
September 2018 Book of the Month | In a Nutshell: love, trust, truth, and being true to yourself | This engaging and refreshingly candid sequel to the bestselling The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things tackles big issues (body shaming, date rape, parental pressure) with big-hearted verve, sincerity and charm. Vibrant, witty, purple-and-green-haired Virginia attends a prestigious private Manhattan school but despite this privileged background, her life’s not exactly a bowlful of cherries. On good days Virginia considers herself to be curvy. On bad days she’s “plain old fat”. She comes from “a family of fat-shamers” and is constantly undermined by her high-achieving older siblings. Virginia has a boyfriend, though, Froggy. Except she’s no longer into him, which is another source of tension – she is, after all, the girl who wrote: “if you’re a chunky chick and you managed to get a nice boyfriend, don’t ever let him go”, so it’s quite a struggle for Virginia to decide whether she should let him go. Then, while you’re 110% rooting for her to make the right decision, fate intervenes in the form of a chance encounter with cute artist Sebastian. He’s attentive, complimentary and makes her feel pretty. As they become closer (and cuter), complicated connections emerge when Virginia’s big brother Byron is arrested for a serious offence, leaving the lovebirds with a whole lot of conflicts you’ll be desperate for them to resolve. The story is a real edge-of-your-seat page-turner, but Virginia is the true star of this well-plotted piece. At once ambitious and insecure, she zings from the page as a firecracker of relatable, true-to-life contradictions, while Byron’s appalling actions – and their painful repercussions – expose male privilege with thought-provoking poignancy. Highly recommended for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Holly Bourne. ~ Joanne Owen
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