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.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2018 | Christmas is coming and there is war in the shops! In every supermarket in the town all the Christmas treats are being smashed up as soon as they get into the shops. Beautifully decorated cakes and biscuits have been sent flying and even Christmas puddings have been heaved off the shelves. Who’s the spoilsport who is ruining Christmas? The trusty Mince Spies are sent in to watch the shelves and they soon discover the surprising culprits! It takes the intervention of Santa Claus himself to make everyone feel better and for Christmas to become fun again! A thoroughly ridiculous and hugely enjoyable Christmas adventure.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2018 | Everyone who has ever had a pet will love this funny and charming story about a little boy and the hamster he gets for Christmas. Leo needs cheering up and, with Christmas coming, he takes the opportunity to ask for the one thing that he thinks will make him happy: a pet hamster. Luckily, Dad has Father Christmas’s number on his phone so Leo can order it direct – and get some help from spell-check! But when the hamster comes Leo can see that his new pet is not altogether happy. Hampstead the Hamster needs a present too!
October 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2018 | Rich in an atmospheric seascape and with a quest at its heart, The Antlered Ship is an engaging and adventurous story that will encourage all children to keep on asking questions about the world they live in. When the beautiful ship with the huge antlers on its prow comes into port Marco the Fox is busy contemplating the mysteries of the world. Marco asks himself questions such as Why do some songs make you happy and others make you sad? Why don’t trees ever talk? and How deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea? None of his fox friends have any answers. So, when he sees the ship he decides to join the curious crew of deer and pigeons in the hope that a sea voyage to far off lands will help him find the answers. After an eventful journey, Marco discovers that questions often have several answers and that sharing and travelling and living with others can be one way of finding answers.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2018 | Stunning, large scale illustrations capture some of the most thrilling places to visit in the world. Broad in its vision and range, this incredible Atlas includes both natural and man made places. The juxtaposition of the two is an excellent way of celebrating both. Readers can be amazed by Pantanal, the astonishing tropical Brazilian wetland with its vibrant and original wildlife. And they can be equally impressed by the Great Wall of China or Machu Picchu, two man made structures that have survived over hundreds of years. Examples of Wonders of the World are taken from all around the world making this an exceptional journey of exploration and adventure in a visual format that makes it fun to visit and re-visit looking for cleverly illustrated details on every spread.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick for November 2018 | An outstanding book for everyone who has enjoyed We’re Going on a Bear Hunt or any of Helen Oxenbury’s other wonderful books from her board books capturing the smallest details of toddler life to her witty and sophisticated illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Distinguished children’s book critic Leonard S. Marcus takes reader’s behind the scenes of Oxenbury’s life as he recounts the major moments which mark out her career of such exceptional originality and sets it firmly within the publishing context of the period. The wealth of Oxenbury’s exquisite illustrations that have been reproduced in the highest possible quality make it a book that gives hours of enjoyment and inspiration.
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.
October 2018 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | | Tilly loves stories and has firm favourites among their characters. She can so easily imagine conversations with Anne from Anne of Green Gables or Alice from Wonderland. But she never expects to actually meet them! When Tilly finds that she has entered the story herself – and particularly when she takes her friend Oskar with her too – she knows that something very strange indeed is happening. Can a trip to the wonderful Underlibrary sited deep in the British Library itself illuminate just what is happening to Tilly and how her beloved grandparents are involved too? Anna James weaves a richly invented story with great skill and makes every passionate reader’s greatest dream of being able to hang out with their favourite characters come true.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Based on the true American story from World War One the atmospheric illustrations and simple text of Stubby gives a moving insight into the horrors of the war as seen through the story of the exceptional contribution of a stray dog. When Stubby, a little dog with no home of his own, wanders into an army training camp he quickly becomes a much loved mascot for the young soldiers. Taken overseas to the battlefields, he shows incredible bravery and loyalty, including barking a warning to the soldiers when he can smell the deadly poisonous gas and alerting his soldiers to the presence of enemies. When peace is declared, Stubby is given his very own special coat with medals on it as a reward for his courage. On his return to the US with his soldiers friends Stubby is even taken to the White House to meet the President.
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.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Daddy Penguin, along with all the other daddy Penguins, is looking after the egg with his baby in it while Mama Penguin goes off to find food. When he drifts away from the Dad Huddle he and the egg are swept away on a huge adventure across the snowy waste. Can Daddy Penguin keep the egg safe all that time? And, when the baby is born, can he get the beautiful baby back home before Mama comes home! Debi Gliori unfolds a dramatic and entertaining adventure against a beautifully atmospheric background. a perfect bedtime story.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Festive cheer fuels this bouncy rhyming text as it celebrates the excitement of getting and decorating the tree for Christmas. From choosing the right pine tree, decorating it with lights and baubles in an atmosphere of friendship and sharing and finally transforming it a Christmas tree for all to enjoy, all the magic of Christmas is gathered in these words and pictures.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Award-winning illustrator Shirley Hughes is regarded as a national treasure for her touching and realistic picture books of contemporary pre-school life. This delightful anthology is full of Christmassy and wintery poems and stories all brought to life by her familiar illustrations of families enjoying seasonal delights. The perfect for book for the season.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 Former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman tells a gripping adventure story of a school trip that goes horribly wrong. Sam longs to go on the school trip to the Highlands but he is sure his parents will say no as he has a long term sickness - sickle cell disease – which means he needs to be looked after carefully. When they surprisingly say yes, Sam is thrilled. But his delight soon turn to fear as he realises that the class bullies are planning something that is designed to humiliate him but which will end up putting them all at risk. How Sam deals with the bullies, including showing incredible courage in rescuing one from real danger, and how he deals with his own illness with another kind of bravery is all brilliantly captured in Malorie Blackman’s vivid drama.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Award winning Hilary McKay tells a captivating and deeply moving story of three young people growing up in the years before and during World War One. How their lives were totally changed by the War, how what really happened to the soldiers could never be talked about and how a girl like Clarry suddenly had opportunities because of the war are all touched on in a story that is also about universal adolescent relationships and the timeless concerns of being a teenager. Following their mother’s death at her birth, Clarry and her older brother Peter live a joyless life with their gloomy father. The pair live for their summer holidays in Cornwall with their grandparents which they share with their older cousin Rupert. Here, the trio are free to be themselves and to begin to break away from the constraints of family expectations. When war is declared Rupert enlists: his family is horrified and Clarry and Peter are left trying to work out where he might be, how they themselves should react to the war and, above all, whether Rupert is safe. Hilary McKay has a rare gift for novels about families and their interplay. Here, she weaves her story round one of the most powerful backdrops in history. And she does so with the lightest of touch which makes her history come alive.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Catherine Johnson celebrates a hero of Arctic discovery whose story had been forgotten for many years largely because of the colour of his skin in this exciting telling of an important true story. Matthew Henson’s life at home was so hard that at eleven years old he ran away to make a new life for himself in New York. Always attracted by the sea he finds himself drawn into the world of the seafarers who are determined to find a route to the North Pole. Matt joins an expedition and, through a combination of his hard work, his commitment and some lucky breaks he travels across the frozen wastes. His sensitive building of relationships with the Inuit community plays a strong part in his success and in his ultimate and extraordinary achievement: to be the first man to reach the North Pole.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | Illustrator and author Chris Riddell has created a rich anthology of poems from the past to the present all of which have a special meaning for him. Grouping them under headings including ‘Musings’, ‘Youth’, ‘Imaginings’, ‘Nature’ and ‘Endings’ he has added an illustration to each often giving an insight into his own reading of it. Passages from Shakespeare and classic poems such as John Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale and Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky sit comfortably alongside contemporary poems such as Rachel Rooney’s The Language of Cat and Jackie Kay’s Something Rhymed while the inclusion of the words of Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne and Nick Cave’s Love Letter adds a refreshing fresh touch.
September 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | Best-selling duo Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks’ new picture book is a charming adventure full of magic and friendship. When Josephine buys a new pair of running shoes she is told that they are magic. And it is lucky that they are! While Josephine loves the pit-a-pat sound her new shoes make as she hurries down the road from the shop she is very frightened by the Bear with a rucksack who is following her. Helped by her magic talking shoes which very splendidly adapt to any situation including climbing up a mountain and ski-ing down it, squelching through mud and swimming a river, Josephine keeps just ahead. And when the pair finally do meet up, Josephine discovers that she had never had anything to fear after all! Wonderful glittery and embossed illustrations add extra magic to the story. Julia Eccleshare's Picks for September: The Legend of Kevin: A Roly-Poly Flying Pony Adventure by Philip Reeve The Girl, the Bear and the Magic Shoes by Julia Donaldson Happy: A Children's Book of Mindfulness by Nicola Edwards Jelly Boots, Smelly Boots by Michael Rosen You've Got a Friend by Judi Curtin Tilly and the Bookwanderers (Pages & Co., Book 1) by Anna James Wish for a Witch by Kaye Umansky Poems to Live Your Life By by Chris Riddell Once Upon a Wild Wood by Chris Riddell
September 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | A deliciously dotty fantasy in which almost anything becomes believable. Max longs for a pet but even in his wildest dreams he had never thought that the pet might be a flying pony. But, one stormy night and with a loud Doof!, Kevin turns up on Max’s balcony. Kevin is a flying horse who can also talk. He has few demands except that he needs a constant supply of biscuits – especially custard creams. Soon Max and Kevin are an unstoppable duo putting right all the things that are going wrong in a town surrounded by storm water and besieged by naughty sea-monkeys. It’s all pell-mell action and madcap fun. Julia Eccleshare's Picks for September: The Legend of Kevin: A Roly-Poly Flying Pony Adventure by Philip Reeve The Girl, the Bear and the Magic Shoes by Julia Donaldson Happy: A Children's Book of Mindfulness by Nicola Edwards Jelly Boots, Smelly Boots by Michael Rosen You've Got a Friend by Judi Curtin Tilly and the Bookwanderers (Pages & Co., Book 1) by Anna James Wish for a Witch by Kaye Umansky Poems to Live Your Life By by Chris Riddell Once Upon a Wild Wood by Chris Riddell
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | Kaye Umansky, the creator of the much-loved Pongwiffy stories follows up Witch for a Week with a new adventure about Magenta Sharp, a rather muddled local witch, and Elsie Pickles, the little girl she gets to help her. In this new adventure Elsie is invited back to the wandering tower that is Magenta’s home to help the witch to sort out the terrible chaos of her magic-selling business. Magenta has been ignoring the paperwork and she is now attracting so many complaints that she is threatened with the loss of her magical licence! Can Elsie save Magenta’s business? And can she also help her to keep an unruly genie under control while she is about it? as ever, Kaye Umansky’s magic is deliciously frothy and ridiculously good fun. Julia Eccleshare's Picks for September: The Legend of Kevin: A Roly-Poly Flying Pony Adventure by Philip Reeve The Girl, the Bear and the Magic Shoes by Julia Donaldson Happy: A Children's Book of Mindfulness by Nicola Edwards Jelly Boots, Smelly Boots by Michael Rosen You've Got a Friend by Judi Curtin Tilly and the Bookwanderers (Pages & Co., Book 1) by Anna James Wish for a Witch by Kaye Umansky Poems to Live Your Life By by Chris Riddell Once Upon a Wild Wood by Chris Riddell
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.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | Julia Donaldson and Helen Oxenbury bring the very best of their award-winning The Gruffalo and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt respectively to this glorious new picture book which will remind readers of both. When Rabbit hears a loud voice coming from right inside his burrow he is terrified. What terrible kind of creature could the Giant Jumperee who is hiding in there possibly be? Rabbit’s friends Cat, Bear and Elephant all come to help but are they brave enough or clever enough to discover just who the Giant Jumperee is?
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | As befits its subtitle ‘A Children’s Book of Mindfulness’, Happy is a sensitive and calming introduction for young readers on how to engage with the beauty of the world to help them to deal with the big emotions of life. Through its poetic text matched with warmly domestic illustrations it takes readers on a journey from ‘Mindfulness’ to ‘Happiness’ allowing space to reflex on topics such as ‘Listening’, ‘Relaxing, ‘Feeling’, ‘Loving’ and ‘Smelling’
Shortlisted for the CLPE Children’s Poetry Award (CLiPPA) 2017 A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | | Michael Rosen is the bestselling author of We're Going on a Bear Hunt, along with many other picture books and collections of poetry. Packed with silly rhymes, witty wordplay and thought-provoking story poems, this new collection of poems will delight children 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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