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Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month
Each month Julia Eccleshare, a leading authority in children's literature, chooses a small selection of her favourites from the month. They will be generally new releases but occasionally she may select a new edition of a firm favourite and we will list them here. All are highly recommended with Julia's seal of approval.
October 2019 Book of the Month | A brief guide capturing the courage and creativity of the exceptional African American author, poet, playwright, and civil rights activist. Maya Angelou used her tremendous writing talent to get her voice, and the voice of millions of other African Americans, listened too as she supported many important causes including the Civil Rights Movement.
An inspiring introduction to the life of one of the UKs greatest scientist, Stephen Hawking. When he was still a young man, Hawking was diagnosed with a form of motor neurone disease which he knew would disable him and shorten his life. He was determined to achieve all he could despite this and he did. His research into black holes and the theory of the Big Bang was ground breaking and of the greatest importance to all subsequent scientific study.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | October 2019 Debut of the Month | A warm-hearted picture book about a special friendship in which free spirited Emily tempts anxious and pampered Frederick to brave the outdoors and enjoy some wonderful and unexpected adventures. Emma Chichester Clark’s illustrations capture the magic of the children’s friendship and play perfectly.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | October 2019 Book of the Month | Here's a button. I wonder what happens when you press it? From a singing button to a tickle button, from a rude sound button to a mysterious white button, there's only one way to find out what they do... A remarkable adventure powered purely by imagination, where the sounds, songs and play are completely up to you and whoever you're sharing this wonderful book with. This picture book will take you on a magical journey of colour, imagination, and play with a wind-down bedtime ending (unless you're asked to read it again).
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | October 2019 Book of the Month | A young meerkat travels the world looking for Christmas in this festive card-packed picture book, perfect for fans of The Jolly Christmas Postman and the modern classic, Meerkat Mail. Sunny isn't quite sure if Christmas in the desert with his meerkat family is the right sort of Christmas - there's no snow, no fir trees and no figgy pudding! So he heads off on a journey round the world looking for the picture perfect Christmas . . . before realizing he might have left it at home after all. From the twice winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal and the creator of Tidy, Cyril and Pat and Again!, Meerkat Christmas is a witty and heartwarming celebration of festive fun and family love that shows Christmas can be whatever you want it to be.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | Once a month, Dad takes his son to the barbers, come rain or shine. But when Dad disappears, this little boy's hair grows big, ginormous, out of control - and so do his feelings. A touching and melodic story of family separation from a child's perspective from the author/illustrator duo who brought us the Amnesty International recommended picture book Luna Loves Library Day.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | Emma Carroll brings her own Somerset countryside vividly to life in this enthralling tale and you can even detect the West Country tones of her spirited young heroine, Fortune Spicer, as you read. Fair Maidens Lane, where she lives, is a successful hamlet running well, despite an absence of men. But as the story opens a matriarch is arrested. An atmosphere of suspicion is spreading across the land from King James’ obsession with witches and unscrupulous men are using this as a weapon for financial gain. Sent away by her mother, disguised as a boy for her own protection, Fortune ends up as a servant at Barrow Hall only to find a master even more against witches than the king, but also happy to exploit the opportunity to raise funds for a terrible new trade in human beings. When the natural disaster overtakes them all, Fortune survives, but must fight torture and a trial for witchcraft to prove she is not to blame for the flood. The claustrophobic atmosphere of male oppression, corruption and real menace is wonderfully well done, and Fortune is a redoubtable heroine learning to have faith in herself and to seek her own destiny. As with all her novels this author wears her research lightly but provides a genuine learning experience and a genuine feeling for the period and for the characters she brings so memorably to life. .......................... Emma Carroll brings her own Somerset countryside vividly to life in this enthralling tale and you can even detect the West Country tones of her spirited young heroine, Fortune Spicer, as you read. Fair Maidens Lane, where she lives, is a successful hamlet running well, despite an absence of men. But as the story opens a matriarch is arrested. An atmosphere of suspicion is spreading across the land from King James’ obsession with witches and unscrupulous men are using this as a weapon for financial gain. Sent away by her mother, disguised as a boy for her own protection, Fortune ends up as a servant at Barrow Hall only to find a master even more against witches than the king, but also happy to exploit the opportunity to raise funds for a terrible new trade in human beings. When the natural disaster overtakes them all, Fortune survives, but must fight torture and a trial for witchcraft to prove she is not to blame for the flood. The claustrophobic atmosphere of male oppression, corruption and real menace is wonderfully well done, and Fortune is a redoubtable heroine learning to have faith in herself and to seek her own destiny. As with all her novels this author wears her research lightly but provides a genuine learning experience and a genuine feeling for the period and for the characters she brings so memorably to life. Joy Court
October 2019 Book of the Month | P.G. Bell’s debut The Train to Impossible Places established him as a writer of hugely exciting, inventive and satisfying adventure, and its sequel, The Great Brain Robbery, is just as good, if not even better. Once again 11-year-old Suzy is aboard the Impossible Postal Express tearing through the fantastical realms that make up the Union of Impossible Places, and this time it’s a do or die mission to save Trollville from a thoroughly nasty villain. Suzy is much more at home now with fuzzics, the strange mix of science and magic that lies at the heart of troll technology, though there are still some fabulous surprises in store for her and readers. Adventure doesn’t come more exciting or entertaining, and this is one train young readers really mustn’t miss.
October 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | Follow in Greta Thunberg's footsteps and join the global mission to save our planet from climate change. With in-depth text and data, this necessary and timely book will answer readers' questions on what climate change means, what its consequences will be, and what must be done to protect our world.
Award-winning author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers’s simple but unforgettable fable of one man’s greed to possess everything is beautifully told in an exquisitely designed book of only a few words complimented by some striking lithographic print images. As ever, Jeffers knows how to use both words and pictures in a way that allows readers to enjoy his story as well as making it their own.
Interest Age 5-8 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2019 | A wonderful adventure for a little girl who overcomes all her fears and gets an unexpected flight in a hot air balloon. Nick-named Scaredy Cat -Sophie by her sister, Sophie seems to be frightened of almost everything and so gets left out of a family trip to the fair to see a famous balloonist show off the tricks of his trade. Alone after the family have gone, Sophie’s great longing to see the amazing balloonist go up, up in the sky inspires her to overcome her fear and bravely set off for the fair alone. Soon Sophie finds that she too has an unexpected and very exciting trip ahead of her! Based on a story of Sophie Blanchard one of the first female astronauts this is a charming story that will encourage all readers to be brave. High quality cream paper and a special easy to read font ensure a smooth read for all.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2019 | | Sally Nicholls has a rare ability to tell a story from the past by making it both of its time and also accessible for today’s readers. Her characters are always credible people facing up to the great challenges of the day while her details of the period make her settings authentic too. Here, she takes a moment in history when the world was completely changed because of the number of people who died: 1349, the year of the Black Death. Thirteen year old Isobel tells her story, shying away from no details as she describes what she sees as the Plague strikes her family and the whole tight knit community of the Yorkshire village where she lives. Sally Nicholls pulls no punches in her telling of this dramatic story.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2019 | | Elmer the patchwork elephant has been delighting readers of all ages for more than 30 years. This bumper collection includes the very first story about Elmer, an elephant who celebrates difference and teaches all the other elephants to do the same. Other stories in this collection include Elmer and The Rainbow, Elmer and the Lost Teddy, Elmer in the Snow and Elmer’s Special Day. Full of humour and kindness, each story shows how difference can be celebrated by elephants – and by all of us!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2019 | | Award winning Elizabeth Laird brilliantly brings to life thirteen year old Safiya’s new world as a refugee after her family flee from their comfortable home in Damascus because of the war in Syria. Safiya, her brother and father arrive in Jordan with nothing and must turn to relatives for help. Safiya has to adjust to living in a tent without running water. Suddenly, she is cleaning and washing and finding clever ways of making do on very little rather than going to school. But resourceful Safiya never gives up hope of going back to a better way for life or of finding her missing twin sister. A House without Walls is a vivid picture of a family facing an extreme experience with courage and imagination.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2019 | Temper tantrums are brilliantly visualised in this witty story about how Ravi deals with his. Poor Ravi! The youngest and smallest in the family he is always the slowest and the shortest and the last one to get what he wants. It makes him feel terrible! And when Ravi feels terrible he ROARS. His face goes red, he grows two furry ears, sharp teeth and a stripey tail. Now he can get what he wants but there is a price to pay: will anyone want to play with him? Tom Percival’s illustrations keep the message light hearted without trivialising it.
August 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2019 | Former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman makes a brilliant return to her best-selling Noughts and Crosses series with an all-guns-blazing story of prejudice, love, ambition, politics and violence. In the series launch title, Sephy, a Cross, and Callum, a Nought, challenged the divisions in their society. They paid a heavy price for doing so but they did make changes; racial and class barriers were brought down and the future would be brighter. Or so they thought. But a generation on, while superficially things look better, the prejudices are never far away and where they are, violence follows. When the first Nought Prime Minister is framed for murder he turns to his old friend Callie Rose, daughter of Sephy and Callum to defend him. But crossing the racial divide is still unpopular and both have ruthless enemies. As corruption spills into violence the next generation, Troy and Liberty, are terrifyingly caught up in the conflict. Malorie Blackman’s scope is huge in terms of characters and time- frames in this hard hitting socio-political commentary which has obvious resonance for today.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2019 | Award winning author Katherine Rundell is as passionate about reading children’s books as she is about writing them. In this brief but and perfectly structured handbook she encourages all readers to think about the particular qualities of children’s books and about the special experience of reading as a child – which she remembers clearly. Drawing on her deep knowledge of children’s stories and supporting her arguments with endorsing quotes from writers of all kinds she sets out her defence of the book’s title in brief sections. She is as much at home in the factual – ‘On how children’s fiction came to be’ and ‘On children’s fiction today’ as the more personal which reflect her own views including ‘On wild hunger and heroic optimism’ and ‘The galvanic kick of children’s books’.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2019 | Rebecca Cobb’s warm and uncluttered illustrations capture the importance of friendships and how they can best be made. Here, an eager little girl expresses her delightful enthusiasm for sharing everything including indoor and outdoor play, packed lunch and more while in pleasing contrast the boy who is the focus of her attentions shows that friendship can also take longer to develop. A sweet story which also provides a lot of scope for thoughtful conversation and reflection.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2019 | Interest Age 5-8 | Pirates ahoy! This is a lively, swashbuckling story with great characters and a pacey story – all vibrantly illustrated in an attractive and easy-to-read, small size book. Barbarous Bertha is a fearsome pirate as well as the guardian of a wide stretch of emerald green sea and the Purple Shell Islands which are home to both people and special animals and birds. It is no surprise therefore that her daughter Molly Rogers is never going to stand for anyone who threatens to invade the islands or destroy their inhabitants. When reports come of Captain Firebird doing damage to Monkey Skull Island, Molly Rogers enlists all of her best animal and bird friends – including Kracken the octopus – to chase down Captain Firebird and to make sure he never does anything so dastardly again.
July 2019 Book of the Month | Winner of the BAMB Reader's Award for Middle Grade Fiction | Shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2019 | A fabulous new adventure for Fionn Boyle, the new Storm Keeper of the windswept and magical island of Arranmore. Fionn has only recently inherited his role and title from his grandfather. He knows his powers are still only fledgling and certainly not strong enough to resist the powerful magic of Morrigan the terrible sorceress who longs to take control. When Fionn sees thousands of the terrifying Soulstalkers arriving on the island by ferry he knows that an almighty battle for control of the island is about to take place. Can he find the lost army? And can he and the islanders hold strong against Morrigan and her power? Catherine Doyle has added a thrilling new chapter to The Storm Keeper's Island, her first story about Fionn and the amazing island of Arranmore.
August 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2019 | Best-selling author and illustrator Judith Kerr tells a wonderfully warm and funny story about the very many things that go wrong when Tommy’s little sister Angie brings home the school rabbit. Snowflake is the star attraction in Angie’s class: he is at the centre of every subject in the curriculum and Angie adores him. But Tommy does not. (And he doesn’t adore Angie very much either…) Tommy recounts the terrible things that go wrong when Snowflake is in the house starting with him peeing on the trouser leg of a visiting famous actor. As far as Tommy is concerned it would be much better if Snowflake went back to school. But luckily for all Snowflake accidently brings Angie and Thomas’s family huge and unexpected good luck! A new family story full of all Judith Kerr’s hallmark good cheer, this will delight readers of all ages.
Julia Eccleshare has spent her working life to date within children’s books as a critic, an editor, an author and a commentator. Apart from her current role with Lovereading4kids as Editor-at-Large and as one of our editorial expert reviewers, she is the children’s editor of the Guardian and Head of Policy at the Public Lending Right.
She has co-edited and is the author of a number of books including the Rough Guide to Teenage Literature, the fascinating and insightful Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter: Portraits of Children’s Writers, which is a celebration of a century of children’s literature, as well as Treasure Islands: the Woman’s Hour Guide to Children’s Books. She also spent some considerable time as a children’s fiction editor in UK publishing.
She has been a selector to the Children’s Books of the Year, a guide to the best books published annually, a member of the advisory board of a children’s book club and for some while was children’s books editor of The Bookseller. In addition, she regularly appears as a judge or Chair of judges on some of the major children’s book prizes.
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