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A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2019 | Harry Stevenson may look like an ordinary guinea pig and he may behave like an ordinary guinea pig in that he spends his time eating and sleeping. But Harry Stevenson is not your average creature in a cage. Although he has no special powers he seems to get caught up in some amazing adventures. This volume contains two wild and wacky adventures in which Harry does all kinds of unexpected and crazy things. They are fun to read and perfect for readers who are just starting out.
In a Nutshell: comedy – chaos – pug cooking! A perfect piece of comic writing for children, Pugly Bakes a Cake is certain to be a huge favourite with young readers. Pugly is a pug with great ideas and when he decides to make a cake he’s determined it will be the best ever. What he lacks in skill he makes up for in enthusiasm, but his big mistake is to listen to Clem the cat who, as readers will quickly realise, is out to get him into trouble. The story unfolds at a breathy, pug-snuffly pace as Pugly causes more and more chaos, ending up trapped in the cat-flap and weeing helplessly. Smart design adds to the fun and Gemma Cowell is a pug illustrator par excellence! ~ Andrea Reece The Editor at Nosy Crow says: “Everyone knows that pugs are the best dogs around and Pugly is the best pug ever! He thinks way beyond the back garden and while this can get him into trouble, he has a lot of fun too!”
Magic! There’s a new adventure for Elsie Pickles and her friend and sometime employer witch Magenta Sharp. Bored, Magenta has decided to open a magic shop in Elsie’s village, Smallbridge. Attention to detail has never been one of Magenta’s strengths, and she relies on new gadget the Spellatron 3000 to set it up, ignoring the first rules of witchcraft - read the instructions, follow the recipe, know how to stop it if things go wrong. Things do go wrong of course, but not before the shop has provoked protest from some village residents who want to keep Smallbridge ‘witch-free’, to quote one of their unfriendly placards. Thanks to Elsie – and some magic tickle dust - all is resolved happily in the end. Kaye Umansky is one of our best writers for children and here she subtly and seemingly effortlessly mixes social comment into a very funny comic adventure.
November 2018 Book of the Month | Fizzing with style, energy and charm here’s a new adventure for little witches Tiga and Fluffanora and it proves to be their most testing yet! Idabelle Bat has invited them to join The Points, here super-cool and exclusive gang – but why? The one thing they know about Idabelle is that she is NOT to be trusted … As ever the story zips along as though on fairy wings, sprinkled with fashion and fun, and these gorgeous little books are hard to beat for style and substance. Readers who like Tiga and Fluffanora will also enjoy the Amelia Fang stories by illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson, and Sibeal Pounder’s Bad Mermaids series.
June 2019 Book of the Month | Cleverly and playfully-formed, this is a sophisticated, thought-provoking novel of love, heartbreak and second chances. Eugene and Tatiana are 27 and 24. They’re both unsettled by a fortuitous encounter on the Paris Metro ten years after they last met, and the significance of the moment is made potently clear when the omniscient narrator interjects, “Look how shaken they are to see each other again. Look at their eyes”. Throughout, the all-knowing narrator directs readers’ responses in this way, introducing episodes with foreshadowing commentaries that tell us what to watch out for. It’s the narrator who announces “it’s time to go back about ten years into the past, back where it all began.” And so we’re presented with the origin of their connection, when Tatiana was a self-conscious bookish fourteen-year-old, and Eugene was the enigmatic, pessimistic seventeen-year-old friend of her older sister’s boyfriend. The narrative slips between the frisson of their re-acquaintance and the tragedy that struck their teenage years. In some ways, reading this is like observing an intense play. In others, it’s like being granted access to Eugene and Tatiana’s innermost thoughts, anxieties and desires through their impassioned soliloquies. In every way, it’s a unique and emotionally honest portrait of the grip and ache of young love.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013 | The Weight of Water is a startlingly original piece of fiction written in verse; most simply a brilliant coming of age story. First love, friendship and quiet courage combine in this spare and beautiful story that will leave you sad, happy and wanting more from this fantastic new voice in children's fiction. It tackles the alienation experienced by many young immigrants. Moving, unsentimental and utterly page-turning, we meet and share the experiences of a remarkable 12 year old girl who shows us how quiet courage prevails. A truly special and remarkable read that should not be missed and, Bloomsbury the publisher has done a wonderful job on the book itself - the best things come in small packages - and this is abslutely no exception, so buy the physical book and not the ebook.
Courageous Captain Caledonia has lost pretty much everything. Her family have been killed by atrocious Aric Athair and his brutal Bullet crew and she’s now set on avenging their deaths. With vibrant world-building and crisply compelling characterisation from the off, Caledonia is soon confronted by a crippling choice: should she offer to help to the Bullet boy who saves her best friend, or would that put her entire crew in jeopardy? “She didn’t think she’d done a good thing. Keeping a Bullet on board was the most foolish thing she could think of...Maybe they’d all end up dead.” The boy’s behaviour confuses Caledonia - it’s impossible to tell whether his “attempt to appear small and non-threatening...was genuine or deceitful”, and then he claims he can help her... Swirling with sisterly solidarity, buzzing with intrigue and action, and tingling with tension, this is great for readers who love female-fronted fantasy, such as the novels of Melinda Salisbury, Sarah J Maas and Cassandra Clare.
Shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2013 Sarah J Maas's novels have been an online sensation with bloggers the world over hearing about her. Her protagonist is 18 year old Celaena; beautiful but deadly and destined for greatness but only if she can free herself from the life sentence she's serving... Fast-paced and epic in stature this is not to be missed. Click here to read the an online extract. Definitely a 14+ read in our opinion.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2019 | A fun way of looking at prejudice that quickly makes it clear that even if someone is different to you the two of you can still be friends. Here, the Reds, who are round and eat red apples, are happy to be red. And the Yellows, who are square and eat bananas, love being yellow. How can the two groups ever get to like each other? And then there are the Blues who wear blue bow ties and are shaped like triangles and love being blue. They are different again and no one likes them at all. The arguments between the groups get sillier and sillier as they squabble over everything and make a lot of daft rules. Will they ever get to like one another? Then A Different comes along. Where will he fit in? Suddenly difference seems fine and what colour you are doesn’t seem to matter so much. Lots to think about as the expressive colour block characters work out how to live together.
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2017 Inspired by the birth of his son, award-winning Oliver Jeffers has created a deeply touching introduction to the world as a physical space and also as a place that needs to be treated with great care and respect. Subtitled ‘Notes for Living on Planet Earth’ Jeffers uses richly coloured double page spreads and only a few words of commentary to describe the obvious features of land, sea, night and day but also how time can move both slow and fast and should never be wasted! The perfect gift for all parents to share with their new babies – and each other.
June 2019 Book of the Month | This beautifully observed story will resonate with children and adults alike and will repay reading over and over. Mia and Ben are best friends – the joy of their relationship perfectly depicted in Richard Jones’s illustrations which are full of the details of children’s lives but with a richness of colour and texture and composition that heightens the emotions. Everything changes when the sort of domestic tragedy familiar to lots of children happens – Ben’s family move away. At first the two are lonely and sad, but the story shows that their friendship still connects them and always will. Powerful feelings are expressed delicately and poignantly through words and pictures and this is an outstanding picture book.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2018 Award-winning Benji Davies has created a delightful night-time classic starring his light-fingered creation, the Grotlyn. When Ruby goes to bed the night after she has heard the scary rhyme about a Grotlyn slipping through the house unseen she hears some spooky night noises. Could it be a Grotlyn and what would it be doing? Bravely, Ruby decides to find out and, in doing so, she allays her fears and discovers something joyfully adventurous. Beautiful illustrations by the creator of The Storm Whale bring the story to life. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for April 2018 The Grotlyn by Benji Davies The Book Case: An Emily Lime Mystery by Adam Stower Lady Mary by Lucy Worsley The Wardrobe Monster by Bryony Thomson The Tale of Angelino Brown by David Almond You Are Awesome by Matthew Syed
This authentic YA page-turner about making sense of the whirlwind that is growing-up fizzes with heart, humanity and honest true-to-life experiences.For the past few years Vetty, her dad and little sister Ariel have been living with her aunt, trying to get themselves back on track after the death of her mum. Now they’re moving home to Camden, Vetty is hopeful that “soon I’ll be back to me”, not least because she’ll be reunited with best-friend-since-childhood Pez. But on her return, things are agonizingly strained between them. “It’s like we’ve skipped from kids to something else but it’s not at all clear which steps we’ve missed”. On top of this painful gulf, Vetty is struggling with her sexuality, trying to make sense of the fact that she’s attracted to boys and girls, while Pez is consumed by a struggle of his own that’s effecting all his relationships. Sexuality, love and friendship are explored in all their giddy complexity as Vetty, Pez and their wider circle of friends try to make sense of the world and their place within it. Every bit as life-affirmingly authentic as the author’s debut, No Filter, this comes thoroughly recommended for fans of Holly Bourne, Sara Barnard and Non Pratt.
August 2015 Book of the Month Evie is starting sixth form college and like any normal young person wants to fit in and make friends, and she’d like a boyfriend too. It’s challenging for Evie though because she’s also coping with anxiety disorder, something she’s determined to keep secret from even her closest new friends, Amber and Lottie. Teenage girls, as anyone who lives with or indeed is one will know, are some of the funniest and brightest people around and this is a wonderfully vivid story of female friendship in all its glory. The descriptions of Evie’s condition leave the reader in no doubt as to the depth of her suffering, but this is a positive, often very funny, and life-affirming read. ~ Andrea Reece
September 2019 Debut of the Month | Ten-year-old Frank loves code and numbers; they’re a way to make sense of the world, as well as providing secret languages to share with his friends and his mum. Frank’s five-year-old brother Max is autistic and for him the world is often a scary place, when anything unexpected, too loud or too bright can cause him to have a meltdown. The story is narrated by Frank and every reader will understand his frustration at the unfairness of life. We know that he loves Max, but we know too how hard Max makes life for all the family. Frank is then faced with something even more terrible when tragedy strikes. With the help of those around him we watch Frank find a way to make sense of what has happened and the bravery to cope with the different world. Katya Balen has worked with neuro-divergent children and there’s a powerful sense of truth and understanding in her beautifully told story. If they like Wonder by R. J. Palacio they'll love The Space We're In.
Winner of the 'Best of the Best' children's category at the Independent Bookshop Week Awards 2016. Chosen by Stylist magazine as one of the Cult Books of 2012. Frank, powerful, warm and often heart-breaking, Wonder is a book you'll read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page. This is a wonderful debut from a storyteller with a great future if this book is anything to go by and her characters are intensely likeable. You can discuss what you think of this book on Twitter - #thewonderofwonder.
In a nutshell: very funny cartoony alien invasion story The imminent destruction of Earth is the subject of Tom McLaughlin’s typically hilarious new book, though he manages to slip in a few comments on our world and those who run it too. Freddy just wants to watch the wrestling, not start a space war! How could he know his DIY satellite dish would transmit signals to aliens from the Planet Twang and encourage them to start an invasion? Freddy and his friend Sal manage to get hold of Nasa and the White House and before long the world’s leaders have assembled in Freddy’s living room, much to his mum’s annoyance – she has to tell them off more than once. Despite his threats, alien Alan is a lot less terrifying than first thought, but it’s funny too how an invading force makes everyone suddenly get along; after all, ‘Nobody’s perfect’, says Freddy, ‘We’re all just human.’ Clever, ingenious and irresistible fun! ~ Andrea Reece
Here are three more very funny stories of primary school life perfectly pitched for young readers. Wigglesbottom Primary year twos find excitement in all sorts of things – things that adults wouldn’t regard as out of the ordinary at all. When a dog appears in the playground, they decide it has superpowers and are soon finding all sorts of proof; there’s definitely something wrong with the school mashed potatoes though, they’re right about that. As for Susie Keys’s special egg and spoon race egg, keeping a distance is probably wise … Pamela Butchart catches all the joy and possibilities open in a young child’s imagination and her readers will completely understand her characters. Short chapters, lively illustrations and lots of humour make them even more irresistible reading. ~ Andrea Reece The Editor at Nosy Crow says: “These stories are a hoot from start to finish, and Becka Moor’s illustrations bring out the brilliance brilliantly. A joy for anyone who’s ever sat on an itchy story-time carpet. And who hasn’t?”
This companion to Beautiful Broken Things is a vital, powerful portrayal of the complexities of mental health, friendship and love. Now a legal adult, Suzanne, the self-declared “queen of fresh starts”, leaves her foster parents, acutely aware that “this time, I’m on my own”. She’s moving back to Brighton, the only place she’s ever felt a sense of belonging. “I’m overdue some goodness”, Suzanne muses as she moves into a basic bedsit, with Auntie Sarah and dear friends Rosie and Caddy on hand to help her settle in. But Rosie and Caddy soon head off to their respective universities, leaving Suzanne feeling abandoned. Lonely and struggling to make ends meet on the wages from her café job, she forms a friendship with her 79 year-old neighbour, a storyline that swells with raw, life-affirming beauty. Alongside this, painful mental health setbacks are triggered, and further rollercoaster rides come courtesy of a confusing, overwhelming romance with musician Matt. Honest, authentic, moving and entertaining, this all-consuming story is sensitive and wise on the complexities of growing up, and offers a guiding hand to young adults facing mental health struggles.
In a Nutshell: Race against time unites two brave, beautiful hearts How far will a person dare to go? What does it take to face the hardest truths? This gripping, heartfelt novel explores emotional depths and oh-so many vital themes with a dazzling lightness of touch that gets to the beating heart of the characters’ journeys. It has all the feels, as they say, and then some. Kam Malik was set for a bright future until an accident left him with severe neurological disabilities. Claire goes to Kam’s school, but it’s not until she starts volunteering at his clinic that she gets to know him and, later, his brother, Sef. Sef is on a mission to raise the £60k needed to keep Kam in the specialist clinic, which is where tech-and-media-savvy Claire comes in. She has the idea of starting a YouTube campaign in which they adopt superhero personas (‘Truth Girl’ and ‘Dare Boy’), and invite subscribers to donate cash to watch their Truth or Dare? challenges. It’s an ace idea but, while they pick up fans, they’re not generating nearly enough cash, so they ramp-up their online dares, while their offline relationship develops into something very real, and very special. But higher-stakes dares bring higher risks, with repercussions that threaten to tear them apart. It takes a special kind of writer to tackle as many big emotions and themes as this (love, trust, guilt, bravery, friendship, sexual assault, trolling, and prejudices around disability, race and sexual orientation) without ever slipping into Issues Book Mode. The writing brims and bristles with authenticity, the dual narrative is cleverly executed, and this is YA at its smartest. A true tonic for the heart and soul. ~ Joanne Owen
Rob and Maegan both have a whole lot on their plates. Rob’s rich dad attempted suicide after he was caught embezzling their community and he’s now severely disabled, unable to speak or do anything for himself. Until eight months ago, “Everyone wanted to be me,” but now Rob’s an outcast, tainted by his father’s fraud, which is something Maegan also knows a thing or two about. Previously an academic overachiever, pressures led her to cheat in last year’s exams, which in turn led to hundreds of her peers’ marks being invalidated. Connected by a Calculus project and their dads (Maegan’s cop father was first on the scene when Rob’s dad shot himself), the two outcasts strike up an unlikely friendship, and more. Alongside their romance and the gripping twists, I loved the moving camaraderie between Rob and Owen, whose single mom was thrown into crippling financial hardship by Rob’s dad. For a book that packs-in plenty of big issues, it’s also an entertaining page-turner - the perfect YA package with the overriding messages that “one mistake doesn’t define you”, and “one choice doesn’t determine your whole future.”
A special edition slipcase edition of John Green's Paper Towns, with pop-up paper town. Award winning author John Green’s fresh-voiced novel is an utterly gripping story that gives a roller-coaster, unputdownable read. Strongly set with all the details of life in high school, at its heart is the powerful relationship between Quentin and Margo, two kids who first met at 2 years old. Quentin, or Q as he is known, tells the story of how, after being driven in different directions by their reactions to a shocking experience when they are nine, the two operate in adjacent but separate spheres at school. Q never loses his obsession for Margo and so, when she goes missing, it is no surprise that he has to follow and find her.
If They Like...They'll Love
It's great when our children find an author or genre they love reading - but what to do when they've exhausted the series? In this category we will carefully match a selection of books or authors every month - not by a computer as they are on other online bookshops but in the traditional way by human hand and thought!