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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.
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 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?
Winner of the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 |One of our 2018 Books of the Year | 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. The Costa Judges said: ‘Chime, resonance and sparkle – a truly great read.’
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.
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 | 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.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | 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.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.