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Well, here’s a book that ticks some absolute favourite first reader boxes: Vikings – tick; bare bottoms – tick; knickers – tick; a bouncy rhyming text just right for reading aloud – tick; lively, action-packed illustrations – tick, tick, tick! The plot concerns some chilly Vikings and their quest to obtain yeti hair with which to knit cosy new knickers, and while it all builds to a tremendous and satisfying climax, most readers will be totally won over on page one, with the lines: “Well, they’d got into a fight, had their undies set alight,/ Now their pants were all in pieces and their bums were turning blue!” Just great fun!
Winner of the UKLA Shortlist Book Awards 2019 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | This must be one of the brightest and best picture books of the year. With minimalist illustrations – simple shapes against blocks of Day-Glo colour – and short lines of text, Morag Hood tells a story that will dazzle and entertain all readers. Cherries, Bat tells us, ‘are my favourite things’, following this up with a fiercely delivered threat: ‘Do not take my cherries.’ In later pages though we see the cherries being stolen. Bat is inconsolable until one of the thieves leaves a pear in their place. Bat’s emotions – joy, anger, confusion, despair, surprise and joy again – are rendered brilliantly in the tilt of an eyebrow and the angle of the head while the intensity of those emotions will be hilarious yet recognisable to child and parent alike. Superb!
The Bolds, for those who don’t know, are a family of hyenas living disguised as humans in a quiet street in Teddington. They wear clothes and hats to cover their hyena features, so the neighbours have no idea what they really are, though they notice they laugh a lot, as will readers of these hugely entertaining stories. In this adventure the Bolds run into trouble. A couple of foxes are disturbing the human residents of Fairfield Street putting themselves in danger of being captured. But when the Bolds try to help the foxes they get a very rude response. The story is full of incident, packed with humour (including masses of very good jokes) and the Bolds continue to demonstrate that kindness, tolerance, and a good sense of humour are the elements for a happy life. Required reading.
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.
Book band: Gold Quizzed for Accelerated Reader Ideal for ages: 5+ | This new series from Bloomsbury Education is geared at turning children into independent readers. Not only will the books give youngsters a boost into solo reading, they’ll also make it easier and more enjoyable for the adults helping children as they come with useful tips and notes. The books are short and divided into chapters thereby breaking the story into manageable chunks. The adventures are lively and fast-moving though told via short sentences and carefully chosen vocabulary: some words are highlighted in the Tips for Grown Ups section on the inside cover, so that children can learn them and their meanings. Full colour illustrations amplify the action and make the books really attractive to look at too. Written by favourite authors, these are well worth collecting and are just the thing for children ready for reading.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | Former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell weaves a wonderful fantasy adventure around some of the best loved fairy story characters in this hugely attractive and thoroughly entertaining picture story book. Little Green Cape sets out with a handful of useful things including a strong straight stick, comfortable clumpy boots and an invitation to a party. Once in the wild woods she is in a magical world where even the trees have faces, full of surprising characters. There’s a Beast looking for his Beauty, three Bears who are mistrustful of strangers, a talking harp, three little pigs, seven dwarves and many more. Young readers will love both feeling they know the stories being surprised by some of the turns of events.
The higher Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s treehouse grows, the better. There are few books that reach such levels of absurd comedy and adventure, and the authors’ ability to weave the craziest adventures into satisfying plots is phenomenal. As the treehouse reaches 104 storeys, new additions include a stupid-hat level, and a money-making machine that also makes honey. They still have their books to write for Mr Big though, and as always are up against the delivery deadline. But Andy’s got toothache and can’t laugh because of the pain. Could a Joke Writer 2000™ pencil be the answer to their problems? 104 Storeys and 300+ pages of brilliant, ingenious cartoon adventure.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | Tolerance and friendship are at the heart of this picturebook which is written and illustrated by newcomer Maisie Paradise Shearing with charm and panache. Anna and Otis are best of friends: Anna is a little girl, a real character with her inky black bob, red shorts and yellow lace up boots; just as distinctive, Otis is a snake, sunshine yellow with bright red markings. Delightfully, despite their very different forms, they seem to mirror one another as they move, a lovely emphasis on their closeness. Otis is worried when Anna decides on a trip into town – he’s noticed that other people find him alarming, but Anna’s determination and his own efforts win him lots of friends. This is great fun to read while the illustrations, original, idiosyncratic and full of vitality, make Anna and Otis unforgettable.
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
Fast-paced and very funny, Eddy Stone’s new adventure involves wizards, emperors, talking (dancing) camels and lots more that is very silly indeed. It all begins when Eddy buys a parcel of stuff in the house clearance at the town’s old manor. It turns out to contain a wizard with no body and a curse. He has to give everyone a wish, but they never work out as the wisher wanted. For example, when Eddy’s dad wishes he could sit around in front of the TV all day, he turns into a sofa. The only way Eddy can put things right is by heading to the wizard’s home in another magical land. The adventure that follows is consistently inventive, packed with cracking one-liners and lots of very funny set ups. There are two other Eddy Stone adventures, and I’d recommend you buy the lot.
Tom McLaughlin creates some of the best, and funniest adventures for young readers and this is another hilarious, cleverly structured story. Nine year old Pete just wanted a quiet day watching the snooker on the telly, so how on earth did he end up committing armed robbery (sort of), impersonating a policeman, and driving a tank across his own lawn, before breaking up a gang of admittedly incompetent criminals? Read the book to see how it all begins with his mum’s parsnip bake… It’s part of the joy of the book that even as the plot gets more and more convoluted, and as yet more accidental disasters heap on Pete and his new friend Sammy, there’s a logic to everything that happens. Irresistible page-turning fun, and McLaughlin’s cartoony illustrations are an added bonus.
In a nice twist on the Pied Piper story, the children of Whiffington wake up one morning to discover that all the grown-ups have disappeared, stolen away in the night by – what? Amidst the chaos of unmade beds, unbrushed teeth and unwashed dishes, Lucy Dungston is determined to rescue her mum, even when she realises that the revolting Creakers are the kidnappers. There isn’t a child in the land who hasn’t imagined something lurking under the bed, and the idea of the bumbling, muttering, smelly Creakers will give them a delicious thrill. It’s a fun adventure with a great set of lively young characters and some very exciting scenes. One to recommend to fans of Hamish and the World Stoppers by Danny Wallace and The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt.