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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.
January 2022 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2022 | With a strong Welsh setting and a deep sense of community When the War Came Home sensitively explores the impact of World War One on some of the survivors – both soldiers and civilians. Furious that she has to move home when her mother loses her job, Natty is sure that she is going to hate living with her cousins in a different Welsh valley. Everything, especially school, is very different. But Natty’s view of her new home is changed because she meets two young men who have come back from fighting in the First World War. The war may be over but her cousin Huw still suffers great grief from losing his best friend as well as terrible flashbacks when there are loud bangs while Johnny, a young boy from the local hospital for ex-soldiers, doesn’t even know who he is. Natty is determined to help both the boys and to solve a mystery. It is an excellent story which gives a thoughtful insight into the long term effects of war.
January 2022 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2022 | Season of Secrets weaves the tale of a heartbroken child and an age-old legend into beautiful story of love, healing and strange magic. Resonant of classics such as The Owl Service by Alan Garner, Whistle Down the Wind by Mary Hayley Bell and Skellig by David Almond, the protagonist’s story is told in the pure, clear voice we have come to expect from this astonishingly accomplished and powerful young writer. Sally Nicholls is simply an exceptionally talented writer, who writes beautifully. Her intelligent, warm fiction is honest and profound, complex yet accessible
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2022 | A hungry monster opens the fridge but there is nothing there! Luckily, he has a phone and the number to ring for a pizza so he knows he won’t be hungry for long. But it takes several miss-placed calls answered by a range of unlikely pizza providers before he finds just what he is looking for. And even when the pizza does arrive the Monster doesn’t get what he is expecting! Just a few words and spreads of highly dramatic illustrations ensure this book will be highly entertaining for young readers.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2022 | Told frankly in a direct and convincing first person narrative, Me, In Between is a powerful and moving story of the very many complex emotions and situations for the narrator, Madina and also for all children like her who are displaced from their home by war. Madina is an ordinary girl living through an extraordinarily difficult situation. Everything in her life has been turned upside down – her family has no home, her father has no work and her parents dont speak the language of the new country. And then there is everything new to learn about the country she has arrived in. Madina’s ambition is to fit in: to learn the language and customs of her hosts, to do well at school and, above all, to make friends. Can Madina pull all the disparate strands of her life together? Set in Austria and translated from German, this award-winning novel tells a universal story which will affect readers of ages. Translated by Claire Storey
Lyrical and thoughtful, this is a beautiful book to return to time and time again as the answers to the question posed by a child are so wide-ranging. The boy asks his grandma, "What is love?" thinking that, because she is old, she would be able to answer. But Grandma has no answer for him and sends him out into the world to find one. Everyone the boy asks has a different answer. For the fisherman it is fish that you can kiss and return to the sea, for an actor it is the applause of a crowd that makes you feel alive, for the farmer it is a seed. None of the answers are fully satisfying for the boy and it is only when he returns home that he finds out what love is for him.
November 2021 Book of the Month | Christmas is coming! First there is the wonder of snow and then there is all the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas. Finally, it is Christmas eve and Mouse and Mole have to wait patiently for Father Christmas to arrive…Three charming short stories all matched with beautiful and warm hearted illustrations make this a perfect book to share at any time and especially in the run up to Christmas!
October 2021 Book of the Month | When ship’s surgeon Gulliver sets off across the seas in search of adventure he has little idea what he will find. His two greatest discoveries are the countries of Lilliput and Brobdingnag. In Lilliput he finds a population of tiny people to whom he appears as a giant while in Brobdingnag the roles are reversed: Gulliver is tiny and Brobdingnags are giants. Swift uses Gulliver’s descriptions of his experiences in these contrasting countries to write a satirical commentary on his own society. His use of Gulliver’s altered relative size gives great scope for studying everyday events in a new way and makes a fine vantage point for telling the contrasting stories. Gulliver is an iconic figure in literature. Read aloud, this abridged edition with its impressionistic yet detailed illustrations by Robert Ingpen will make an excellent way to introduce the story about him to young readers.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2021 | October 2021 Book of the Month | Michael Morpugo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom is just one of the very many stories for adults and children alike that have been inspired by Daniel Defoe’s classic shipwreck story. Written over 300 years ago, the story of Robinson Crusoe, an impulsive young man who runs away to sea against the best efforts of his parents to stop him, is packed full of gripping action as Crusoe survives the worst the elements throw at him before he is shipwrecked on an apparently uninhabited island. The story of Crusoe’s life on an island is a lyrical study of a place as well as an inspiring story of one man’s resourcefulness. In this adapted edition award-winning illustrator Robert Ingpen’s illustrations bring Daniel Defoe’s classic story to life in timeless images.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2021 | Another fascinating addition to this fabulous series about the major mass extinctions that have shaped the story of life on earth. Lisowicia is the remarkable story of a creature which has only recently been identified and named! Living from 201 million years ago and named for the place it was found in Poland, the story of the Lisowicia is fascinating. Packed full of information written by experts and matched by amazing illustrations that bring unimaginable landscapes and the animals in them to life.
The Editor at Nosy Crow says: "This stunning book is packed full of inspirational activities that any family can enjoy. A seasonal structure means that there’s always something to do – from recipes to crafts to gardening – at every time of year, while beautiful illustrations and a vibrant text make this is a book to be treasured for years to come.”
October 2021 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2021 | When Boastful Brandon brags that he can count to 10 Million no-one believes him. It sounds absolutely impossible. But once Brandon has started, nothing is going to stop him! He counts all through school – and gets into trouble for doing so. Even when he is sent to the furious head teacher who has never seen such disobedience, he doesn’t stop counting. He counts at home, through meals and all through the night. Soon, his extraordinary feat becomes a money making sensation…Award-winning author Melvin Burgess creates a vivid adventure out of an absurd situation and pokes gentle fun at all kinds of rules as he does so.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2021 | Sumptuously produced and overflowing with wonderful illustrations, this book focuses on the amazing landscapes that have shaped some of the best-loved traditional tales. Lucille Clerc’s illustrations are incredibly detailed. She captures the watery depths of an underground kingdom, the dangers of a tropical island, the tempting sweets on the witch’s gingerbread house and much more. Each of these richly imagined environments enhances the best loved stories and their characters that are included in this collection including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, The Wizard of Oz and many more.
October 2021 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2021 | A whirlwind adventure unfolds from the moment that lonely Penny Black helps a mysterious furry creature escape from a mouse trap in her uncle’s post office. But the creature isn’t a mouse…nor is it a rat – as it is quick to tell Penny when it introduces itself as Wishyouwas as a Sorter. Second Class. Soon Penny finds herself swept off on a wild underground adventure following the mystery of missing letters and helping the army of Sorters, Deliverers and the rest return them to their rightful owners. Rich in word play, including the wonderful names of the hidden Post Office team, this is a magical and cleverly created world of make-believe.
October 2021 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2021 | For all those who are already fans of Roald’s Dahl’s awesome stories and for newcomers to them, this is a splendid introduction to some of the favourite characters and the most dramatic, hilarious, spinechilling and adventuresome stories that are his storytelling legacy. Following a brief account of Roald Dahl’s childhood and his famous writing shed, 15 of his top titles are cleverly explored through their main characters and the key features of the stories. There is James and his extraordinary crew from the awesome travelling peach in James and the Giant Peach; the delightful Charlie Bucket whose winning ticket takes him to Mr Wonka’s astonishing chocolate factory and a heap of adventures with some less lovely children including Veruca Salt and Augustus Gloop; the delightful Danny and his father and some fabulous pheasant poaching plots and the truly horrible Mr and Mrs Twit who have a whole book to themselves. The battle between Matilda and the awful Miss Trunchbull, the BFG’s encounter with the Queen and the utterly terrifying Witches – all of these and more are brought to life in these brief retellings which make clever use of letters, recipes and newspaper clippings. As in the originals, all are fabulously illustrated by Quentin Blake. The inclusion of an activity pack adds an interactive element to the book and enhances enjoyment of it.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2021 | Scientifically detailed and packed full of information, this is a high-level introduction to the exceptionally complex demands of the building of bridges, tunnels and high rise city sky scrapers and how they have been solved. Structural engineer Roma Agrawal has chosen some iconic structures as case studies ranging historically from the Pantheon in Rome and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico which was built on a sucken Aztec pyramid to the great engineering feats of the nineteenth century including the Brooklyn Bridge and the London sewers. Bringing the story of development up to date she has a detailed account of the building of the Shard in London which she worked on! In addition the case studies, there is a mass of technical detail about how to make buildings watertight, stable and strong. From the humble brick to the latest methods of computer modelling everything that has helped man make buildings is included. A book to explore again and again this is also a celebration of great engineers and especially great women engineers!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2021 | September 2021 Book of the Month | Billy is desperate to make things change at home. Her father disappeared before he was born: he and mum had been ok when they had been alone together but now his mother’s new partner has spoilt everything. Billy is frightened for himself and he is frighted for his mum. To make a point he runs away for a few days hiding in a semi-ruined pill-box in a local graveyard. Cleverly telling the story in two narratives, from Billy’s perspective and his mum’s and interweaving other characters and their experience from whom they can learn, Pam Smy explores a range of complex emotions thrown up by a difficult situation.
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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