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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.
April 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2019 | Award-winning author Frank Cottrell Boyce has created a wonderful illustrated version of Richard Adams’s classic story by drawing on the scripts from the BBC/Netflix mini-series. His simple story telling style, perfectly matched by the vivid illustrations captures the essence of the original with all its excitement, warmth and insight of this animal saga of survival. You might also like the Watership Down Colouring Book, which accompanies the series.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2019 | Full of fun, this is a charming story about friendship and how we find it. All birds find their friends, and their mates, by singing their own special song of spring. But one bird can’t remember the song he should be singing! When he tries, all kinds of unexpected sounds come out. First it’s a woof, then it’s a moo and an oink and a hee-haw and a meow! The little bird has lots of new friends but not the special one that he really wants. Luckily, there’s another little bird out there who can’t remember her song either. When all is resolved the little birds have each other and their lovely new friends too! Witty illustrations capture the little bird’s predicament and journey to happiness.
Winner of the 2004 CILIP Carnegie Medal | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2019 | When a bag stuffed full of money falls out of a train and into their camp, Damian and Anthony are suddenly rich. Very, very rich, to be precise. But, there is a problem. They only have a few days in which to spend the money. When the Euro arrives, it’ll be worthless. A thrilling story about the real value of money but Millions is more than an adventure as the boys have recently lost their mother and their search for happiness is tinged with the sadness that, however much money they have, they’ll never be able bring her back
February 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2019 | Charmingly produced, this is a beautifully illustrated and designed book which makes the very best use of its stylish illustrations and layout to tell an important story about friendship and its complications. Lula and Lenka enjoy and acknowledge their many differences while also remaining steadfastly good friends. It doesn’t matter that Lula loves talking and Lenka loves drawing. Or that Lenka loves cats and Lula loves dogs. But then they have an argument and words are said which hurt. Now they don’t want to play together or even speak to each other. But that feels all wrong too. How can the two girls make things better. Friends everywhere and of all ages will recognise the intensity of these two little girls’ friendship and will be willing them on to make it up!.
February 2019 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2019 | What better present can a princess receive than a pudding making machine! Soon puddings and cakes of all sorts are spilling out of the machine as the young Princess Hannah takes control of her fabulous birthday present. But the present has an unfortunate impact on the princess; it reveals that she has never had to share. Luckily, her friends take matters into their own hands and soon they too are pulling the levels and turning the wheels and together they all make the most fabulous puddingly treats – including a giant meringue. The moral is well mixed into this bubbly tale which is vibrantly told in verse by Sally Duran.
February 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2019 | With a fabulous heroine at its heart and propelled by a fast-paced adventure in not just one world but others too, The Star-Spun Web is a spell-binding fantasy adventure. As a little baby, Tess de Sousa is left on a doorstep by her father in an effort to keep her safe. To be safe, he knows he has to get her out of one world and into another. Apparently orphaned, Tess, with her pet tarantula for company, grows up in Ackerbee’s Home for Lost and Foundlings where she is encouraged to use her brain to do difficult scientific research and is very much loved by all. But her life changes suddenly when a stranger, claiming to be family, arrives at Ackerbee’s Home, and takes her away with him to Roedeer Lodge. Mr Cleat is not family and Tess needs all her intelligence and persistence to keep safe and, above all, to find out why he is interested in her and what his terrible plan for the future might be. The plot hurtles along and Tess remains a resourceful and delightful character throughout.
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.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2019 | The best-selling author of The Gruffalo deploys a story-telling device equally full of cunning in this witty story about the way a King is tricked into doing some work. The King demands his favourite meal – fish and chips. The Cook is frightened of all things he needs to do to cook fish and chips; he’s too frightened to fish because he might get his apron wet, or dig potatoes because he hates worms or to chop up the potatoes because he might cut himself with a very sharp knife. But is that just a ruse? Soon the King is cooking his very own fish and chips – and loving every moment of it! David Robert’s blustering King and wimpy Cook are a delight.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2019 | Winner of the UKLA 2018 Book Award 3-6 | An EmpathyLab Read for Empathy book 2018 | Simplicity is the charm of this picture book story of the unlikely friendship between very different vegetables. Lee is a very green pea and so are all of his friends except for Colin who is a very orange carrot. Colin can’t do all the things that the pea-friends can do such as roll or bounce. Nonetheless, it turns out that they can all be very good friends. Julia Eccleshare's Picks for January 2019: Lark by Anthony McGowan Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood Dear Zoo Snuggle Book by Rod Campbell Whatever Next! by Jill Murphy Billly and the Minpins by Roald Dahl Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen The Skylarks' War by Hilary McKay
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2019 | | What is the perfect pet? The zoo keeps sending all kinds of animals but, lift the flap and readers will see they are too big, too tall, too jumpy, too grumpy or too scary. Sadly, each of them is returned. Finally, the zoo sends the perfect pet and everyone is happy! With bright, bold artwork, a catchy refrain and a whole host of favourite animals, Dear Zoo is a must for every child's bookshelf.
February 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2019 | Interest Age Teen Reading Age 9 | Cleverly set within a gripping adventure, Lark is a deeply touching story of the special bond between brothers. Older brother Nicky narrates the story of the day he and his younger brother Kenny set out on a simple day out on the moors. Proposed by their father as a way of filling time while they wait nervously for their mum to return from her new life in Canada, it is meant to a fun day out tinged with a bit of nostalgia as they are retracing a walk that he used to enjoy. But the simple walk which begins in a light hearted way soon becomes a deadly dangerous adventure as the weather conditions close in, the boys get completely lost and Kenny has to show exceptional courage and intelligence to make sure he can get Kenny home safely. Anthony McGowan maintains the intensity of the story throughout while also keeping the writing simple.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2019 | | Roald Dahl’s dramatic last story is perfectly matched for the first time by Quentin Blake’s new illustrations in a beautifully produced edition. Billy is told by his mum that he must never go out through the garden gate and into the dark wood. But how can he resist the attraction of the wood and what is in it? Billy heads into the wood and meets the Minpins, delightful tiny creatures who live inside the hollow trees. And the Minpins are terrified. The dreadful Gruncher is destroying them and they need Billy’s help to stop him. Soon Billy finds himself at the centre of a thrilling adventure that is literally a matter of life and death. Roald Dahl’s story-telling skills look as bright as ever.
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.