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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 July 2021 | A giant baby is on the loose and everything in the Kingdom is about to be destroyed! He tramples the forest and flattens houses and bridges, he sits on the train station and shakes the passengers out of a double decker bus. Neither the soldiers or the airforce can stop him. As he approaches the castle, the King and Queen shake in terror and call a meeting of all their best advisors. What is to be done to save the kingdom? Only the Princess has an answer. As she keeps saying, he is only a baby…Young readers will love this playful and imaginary realisation of a familiar family drama which is vividly captured in Bruce Ingman’s large scale illustration which blend real and imaginary worlds perfectly.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2021 | A new hilarious adventure for the ever- engaging Anisha and her family. Life in Anisha’s family is never straightforward…This time, the whole lot of them are off to Leicester for a special festival. Luckily, Leicester is also the home of the National Space Centre which Anisha and Milo have always wanted to visit. The Mistry family journey would be a drama in itself but things get much, much more exciting when they get to Leicester and find that the famous, hugely valuable diamond that should be on display as the centre piece of the festival has gone missing. Can Anisha’s granny really be the person who stole it as the police think? Anisha needs her best detective skills to free her granny from suspicion and find the real thieves. Our Kids Reader Review Panel reviewed the second in this series, School's Cancelled - find out what they thought!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2021 | Cat has a favourite yellow mat in which he takes great delight. But then Rat comes along with a very desirable favourite very pink hat. Suddenly Cat wants Rat’s hat, too, and when Bat comes along with a fabulously fancy cravat both Cat and Rat snatch for it eagerly…How will the cat, rat, hat, mat, bat and cravat all end up? Matt Hunt’s vivid illustrations capture the playfulness of this simple and wholly enjoyable rhyming story that makes great play of repeated sounds.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2021 | Award-winning David McKee’s highly original character Mr Benn enters a fancy dress shop on a whim and chooses a black and grey costume with the numbers 123456789 on it. No sooner has he tried it on than he finds himself in…a prison! Everything in the prison is grey and gloomy and everyone in the prison is sad. They are so sad that they spend most of their time crying! Mr Benn can understand that being locked up makes people sad but he finds it hard to know why the men all cry so much until he meets Smasher Lagru, the self-proclaimed boss of the prison, who explains that it is the greyness that gets everyone down so much. What can be done? Mr Benn comes up with an audacious plan and soon the prison is transformed into a place full of all colours of the rainbow. And everyone is very much happier. David McKee’s early work on the power of colour to transform life is perfect for all those who now love Elmer the patchwork elephant.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2021 | A welcome addition to the stories about Hope Jones, a feisty 10 year old campaigner who has a mission to save the world! Written as a blog, in previous titles Hope has campaigned against the use of plastics and eating meat. This time, especially after her friend Selma collapses with an asthma attack, she is determined to get everyone to cut the use of their cars. Hope’s campaign doesn’t always go smoothy, even her parents are not completely supportive. But Hope is a great fighter and she finds friends, like Harry, who help her in all kinds of ways. Following Hope’s activism through her blog and the excellent illustrations that accompany it, is an inspiring journey for all. Fun to read this is also a book that can change minds and attitudes.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2021 | Thoughtful and inspiring, Protest! covers the theory of protest – how it works, why people take part, why it is so important in bringing about change – and, above all, the tactics to bring about change that were used in any particular protest. The individual protests are grouped together under headings including: Independence and Resistance which contains ‘Resisting the Nazis’; Rights for Women from ‘Suffragettes’ to ‘Women’s Lib’ and, bringing the subject up to date, Global Uprising including ‘Arab Spring’, ‘Hong Kong’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ and New Grassroots including ‘Extinction Rebellion’ and ‘School Strikes’. In the text and illustrations, Alice and Emily Haworth-Booth make these campaigns from the past vivid. Through their telling of these stories – which they acknowledge are the campaigns that they themselves are committed to -they inspire all those with a cause to support to get involved.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2021 | Too much grumpy Gupper Fog is swirling around Rubbish Island. The moon has disappeared into the sea and everything has turned topsy turvey…How can the Tindims put things right and make Rubbish Island a safe and pleasant place to live again? There’s great charm to Sally Gardner’s zany story which is amplified in Lydia Corry’s illustrations.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2021 | When the Honey Bees from the orphanage take on the smart kids from the Brathelthwaite Boarding School at the Spindrift sports tournament, everyone knows there will be trouble! The two sides have always hated each other. But, when the children begin to disappear and the Whispering Wars break out, both side know they must put aside their differences and work together. Madcap and headlong, Jaclyn Moriarty’s deftly-told adventure is a roller-coaster ride for all those who have loved The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone.
A hugely original story which imaginatively captures the complexity of migration for a child. Having suddenly inherited a house from a relative, Meixing Liam and her family are newly arrived in the New Land to begin a New Life. Everything is confusing. Everything is different and everything seems to be going wrong. Cleverly using a third person voice to tell a first person story, Meixing narrates the practical and emotional swirl of her life in a way that enables readers readily to understand just how baffling a new life is. It also allows Meixing to escape into a magical greenhouse where she can escape into an extraordinary dream world. When the dream world collapses, Meixing finds unexpected help and support which show her the power and importance of friendship even in this strange New Life.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2021 | No wonder he is angry! Bombs are raining down on the city that Joseph is sent to as an evacuee. And anyway, who came up with the stupid idea that he should live with Mrs F. who doesn’t even like children! He knows he should just run away but where would he go? Instead, he finds himself inexorably drawn into Mrs F‘s life and the zoo and the animals she is fighting to keep safe – in particular, Adonis, the powerful silverback gorilla. Every night when the bombs fall, Mrs F rushes to the zoo. She risks her life to be with her animals safe knowing that, if the very worst happens and the zoo is bombed she will have to take exceptional and radical action. Will she be brave enough? And would Joseph be? In this deeply moving story of Joseph’s journey of self-discovery Phil Earle not only tells a brilliant story of a child’s emotional development but also added an important and true dimension to World War 2 stories.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2021 | In a spare, poetic text, Nicola Davies shows how easy it is to label someone as ‘different’ and how easy it is to treat them badly once that has been done. But she also shows how a new child can turn that hostility round by introducing the special things from her own life. Cathy Fisher’s illustrations capture the powerful but understated point of the story perfectly making this apparently quiet book speak volumes.
May 2021 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2021 | Wick lives in Harklights Match Factory and Orphanage. Run by the cruel and wicked Old Ma Bogey it is a terrible place of suffering for all the children who live there. When Wick escapes to the dangerous ‘outside’ he is adopted by the Hobs, tiny people who live a green life and devote themselves to looking after the forest and everything that lives in it. But Wick soon discovers that there are great dangers in the forest, too. And Old Ma Bogey has a hand in them. Guided by the Hobs, Wick discovers that he has a special role to play in saving the environment and all who live in it from the forces of evil.
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.