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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.
June 2022 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2022 | Into a brief, hot summer slice of late adolescence, award-winning Meg Rosoff brilliantly unpacks a friendship which leads to a sequence of rollercoaster and heady experiences for eighteen year old Beth. Newly arrived in New York to take up a journalism internship, Beth is immediately swept up by her fellow interns including Eddie, an attractive, talented and rich New Yorker who invites her to move into her parents beautiful and comfortable home. Eager to leave the cockroach infested apartment, her first home on arrival, Beth is entranced by Eddie, whose extraordinary life has already ensured her familiarity with all the experiences - sex, drugs, drink - that are new to Beth. Their heady days together appear to be a reflection of the best friendship in the world. But is it? As the summer gets hotter, the drinks get stronger and her sense of what she should be doing gets more confused, Beth begins to realise that Eddie is not the friend she seems to be. No one captures the importance of friendship and the turmoil of coming of age better than Meg Rosoff.
June 2022 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2022 | The magic which fuels this thrilling adventure will keep readers spell bound from start to finish! Set in a far off time and in a far off land the story tells of two children, Tempest and Peter. Both have one green eye and one blue eye. Both have lost their parents. And both are in great danger because they are MagicBorn which means that the Royal Sorcerer is determined to track them down…There is much wickedness in this world which Tempest and Peter must survive but also much kindness which helps to keep them safe. And throughout it all there’s thrumming magic which means that anything can happen.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2022 | A joyful celebration of the great Roald Dahl’s playful spirit and his belief that childhood with all its marvellousness and mischievousness is a time to relish. Quentin Blake’s fabulous illustrations join Dahl’s encouraging phases into a book that abound with appeal to young and old.
June 2022 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2022 | Frank loves stories and he especially loves the stories that his Grandpa Jazz tells him. Some of them are true – like the story of how Grandpa came to the UK on a huge boat because he had been invited to come and work. And some of them are made up, like how Grandpa Jazz fell to the very bottom of a volcano and saw the heart of the earth. Frank loves them all and know that, even though he and Grandpa Jazz do not look the same they are very alike when it comes to stories!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2022 | Discover the joy of dancing and the importance of family, whatever your culture, ability or style with Luna! When Luna dances, she feels like the world's volume turns up, like all colours brighten, like sunlight sparkles behind every cloud. But when she takes her dance exam she ducks, dives, spins and... falls. Luna thinks she can't be a real dancer now. Can Luna's family convince her otherwise? From the team that brought us Luna Loves Library Day, Luna Loves Art, and Luna Loves World Book Day, celebrate every culture and every style of dance with Luna, featuring a glorious fold out carnival page.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2022 | Tautly written and full of jeopardy, this is a fast-paced adventure with a cast of characters who's intersecting lives propel the drama excellently. Set in a crumbling society that is ruled by fear, Colony is heading towards complete destruction. But there is one girl, living secretly in the woods under the fiercely protective watch of the guardian who has cared for her since her parents died, who has an extraordinary power that may be able to change the destiny of Colony. If she summons all her mental powers, Cora can change the course of an action. Its a terrifying power that can be easily abused so it is no surprise that everyone in hunting done Cora. When she sets out on a dangerous journey how can she stay safe and who can she trust?.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2022 | When Noah’s father goes off to fight in the war Noah promises that he will look after their dog Winn. But how can he do that if he is evacuated to the country? Noah, like all his friends, are told their pets will have to be put down when they go away. There is no way that Noah will let that happen to Winn! Instead, Noah and his friends and their pets – including a pretty terrifying Python – take off on a leaky old boat travelling up the Thames to find the animals a place of safety. Can Noah keep his promise to his dad? It’s a journey of a lifetime and only the children’s resilience and passion for their animals and the right for them to stay alive can make it come true!
Neon Gallop is trying to be a normal as possible when her family move to a new home. But her best plans all go wrong when, using a green lipstick he had found in goo, she opens a portal to the UNIverse. It’s a secret real where real unicorns live…All those horses with horns and rainbow hair are just fake unicorns who were invented to put humans off the scent. .. Prepare to be challenged on everything you have ever known about unicorns in this hugely enjoyable fantasy extravaganza.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2022 | Armed with a torch, Rosie Raccoon sets off with her huge swag bag and takes a few sparkling gems from the homes of Bear, Flamingo and Snake and then from all the other houses she passes. The cops are soon after her with their sirens blaring…But, when they catch up with her what do they find? Rosie’s bag is full of junk. She’s been stealing all kinds of shiny old stuff to recycle and turn into new! There’s a good eco message at the heart of this story about the wrongs of taking what is not yours!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2022 | Award-winning Ross MacKenzie’s The Colour of Hope is a tour de force! It’s an adventure which is as warm-hearted as it is exciting, and as imaginative as it is full of meaning. Set in a cruel world from which all the colour has been stolen by the wicked Emperor and his Necromancer, it tells how a few brave people fight to bring back the colour which they know is rightfully theirs. At the heart of the story is Hope, a miracle baby girl who cannot disguise her natural colour. Hope’s parents are killed trying to get her to a place of safety. Can her adoptive father keep her safe by staying hidden deep in the forest? And what part can she play in bringing colour back to everyone?
May 2022 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2022 | Within a heart-warming story revolving around the love between a grandchild and her granny, award-winning author Patrice Lawrence has cleverly found a new way of telling a beautiful story of one young woman’s arrival in England on the Empire Windrush while also touching on the amazing achievements of some of the best-known black women from previous generations. When Ava asks her Granny to help her dress up as someone she admires for a school assembly, Granny goes straight to the dressing up trunk. Should Ava go as Mary Secole or Rosa Parks? Both are women that she admires but she knows her school friends will go as them too. But then Ava discovers Granny’s suitcase. In it, there are just a few precious things that she was given when she left home. Each is a reminder of Granny’s family at home. Ava listens to Granny’s story about leaving home and about staying on – even though there were some dark days along the way. Inspired, Rosa knows that her own Granny is the person she most admires!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2022 | The classic story of Mole, Ratty and Mr Toad’s bucolic adventures on the river bank, on the river and, above all, in Mr Toad’s car are joyfully captured in this re-telling for younger readers. Picking out the strands of Kenneth Grahame’s great story that celebrate the warmth between the three friends, the beauty of the English countryside and the recklessness of Mr Toad which leads to him having to be rescued from prison!, Rashmi Sirdeshpande gives the flavour of the plot in simple, easy to understand language. Jojo Clinch’s striking illustrations capture the story perfectly.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2022 | Award-winning Sharon Creech has an exceptional gift that enables her to tell her stories lightly and with humour. Gina Filomena has always been different from her classmates. She sees things when others can’t, she wears amazing, vividly coloured clothes sent by her grandmother, she plays wildly inventive games with her father. Teachers have always told her that she has an overactive imagination but then Miss Lightstone, a teacher who encourages creative thinking and writing, arrives and, coincidentally Antonio a boy with an imagination that is equal to her own joins the class and Gina finds that imagination can be a wonderful, transformative new power. In a story that takes the same imaginative leaps in its telling as Gina, Antonio and their classmates take under Miss Lightstone’s inspirational teaching this is an inspirational novel that sings to its readers while also encouraging them to us their imaginations and to have the courage to be free.
April 2022 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2022 | No two children could be more different than Zofia and Tom. Noisy Zofia lives happily with her dad as her Mum died when she was born. She buzzes with a wild energy that makes her irresistible but also something of a handful. Quiet, anxious Tom lives with his mum. He is full of fears largely caused by his scarily violent father who is now in prison. He longs to be more outgoing but doesn’t know how to manage it. They are about to start living together and also to become half siblings to a new baby in a blended family that neither of them wants to be part of. Each tells their story in a series of contrasting short episodes that brilliantly capture their contrasting characters and their journey towards this enormous change in their lives. Kayta Balen has a rare gift for understanding what it feels like to be a child and creating characters that reflect that that vividly.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2022 | Award-winning poet Rachel Rooney and illustrator Zehra Hicks have already tacked Problems and Worries. Now they look at Fear using the same winning combination of Rooney’s simple and highly effective text which names and looks at several different kinds of fear and where you might find it without ever making them seem too alarming and Hicks’ bold illustrations which show that though fear may be all around us it can quite easily be seen off. An excellent book for parents and children to share and return to often.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2022 | Inventive story teller Nizrana Farook weaves a terrific adventure which cleverly weaves real and imaginary scenes around the saving of a magnificent leopard from the hands of the cruel hunters who are after it. Spirited Selvi has a natural affinity with the beautiful and rich natural world of the mountains of Serendib where she lives. As she spends her life outdoors exploring she comes across Lokka, a beautiful and proud wild leopard with whom she forges a strong bond. While it might seem that Selvi is at risk from Lokka, it is really Lokka who is in danger. There are many people who want to make money from the magnificent creature who will fetch a very big price if he is killed. How Selvi outwits the game hunters, escapes from her wicked uncle and teaches her school friends about the value of conservation is a fast-paced roller coaster that will holder readers spellbound.
April 2022 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2022 | Full of hope and joy, this is an inspiring picture book with beautiful illustrations that will encourage all children to believe that their biggest and boldest dreams can come true. Small is a small child living in a small house, sleeping on a small bed. But being small has never stopped her from having BIG dreams…Small knows that the world is huge and exciting and full of opportunities. In her dreams she believes that she can be part of that world but she also knows that everyone will try to stop her so she sits on them, stamps on them and swallows them. But one day the dreams get too big…They escape and soon Small is the amazing explorer she has always hoped to be.
April 2022 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2022 | Best-selling Sophie Anderson weaves magic into this vivid and richly imagined story that also carries a powerful message about the importance of overcoming prejudice and learning to love everyone – even if they seem different. Linnet’s life is turned upside down when the community she lives in suddenly becomes divided. Following a terrible tragedy, the magical alkonosts who have the unique distinction of being able to sing magic and the humans with whom they share the island suddenly go from living in harmony to becoming deadly enemies. Linnet and her father are banished from the beauty of their island and forced to live in an ugly swamp. Here they scratch out a living while also living with the constant fear of being caught and killed by the humans. Linnet has yet to develop her magical singing voice. Can she find another way to bring the two sides of her world together and make a new whole? Vividly imagined and rich in detail, this is also a thoughtful and beautiful way of encouraging tolerance.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2022 | A sweet and gentle story capturing a very special friendship that develops between a panda and a little boy who are brought together by a captivating tune. Chi is a shy panda who lives a quiet life listening to all the sounds of the beautiful forest around her home. One day as she listens she hears the sound of lyrical music weaving its way through the mist. Following the sound takes her to its source: a small boy blowing on a bamboo. How Chi and the little boy become friends and help each other is a touching story set in an evocatively created, soft focused forest of bamboo. You can find more books with this theme in our Collection of Brilliant Books about Friendship
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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