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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.
Julia Eccleshare's October 2015 Book of the Month The much-loved Eric Carle’s The Nonsense Show more than lives up to its title! Using his trade-mark collage illustrations he has created spread after spread of surprising and unusual events. Humans and animals are all busy doing most unlikely things: there are humans travelling in cars using leg power and not an engine; fish in a bird cage and a bird in a water tank; a horse and its rider who have got each other’s head on. The result is laugh-out-loud fun which invites readers to ask questions about things we take for granted. ~ Julia Eccleshare
One of our Books of the Year 2015 - November 2015 Julia Eccleshare's Book of the Month Beautifully illustrated, this buoyant and cheerful story captures Robin’s delight as the new season arrives! There’s a chill in the air and all of Robin’s friends are flying away to somewhere warmer. They make winter sound scary, greedy and cold. When Bear goes off for his long winter sleep Robin snuggles up with him so as to avoid all the bad things he has heard about. But Robin doesn’t sleep for long and soon is he out enjoying the wonderful new weather with new friends. An excellent introduction to the seasons. ~ Julia Eccleshare
Julia Eccleshare's Pick of the Month, November 2015 Full of sadness but also hope and ultimately happiness this is a heart-warming story for Christmas with a strong Victorian setting. When Pearl makes a snow sister on Christmas Eve to remember her own dead sister Agnes she brings a little cheer into her life. But the moment is fleeting and Pearl is soon caught up in a fast- paced drama after her father receives a mysterious letter which promises to change the family’s fortunes forever. After many twists and turns along the way, what will Pearl’s new happiness be? ~ Julia Eccleshare
Full of sadness but also hope and ultimately happiness this is a heart-warming story for Christmas with a strong Victorian setting. When Pearl makes a snow sister on Christmas Eve to remember her own dead sister Agnes she brings a little cheer into her life. But the moment is fleeting and Pearl is soon caught up in a fast- paced drama after her father receives a mysterious letter which promises to change the family’s fortunes forever. After many twists and turns along the way, what will Pearl’s new happiness be? ~ Julia Eccleshare
Julia Eccleshare's Pick of the Month, October 2015 A charming introduction to some very surprising but most unsuitable pets! Melissa loves her octopus but soon finds that an octopus is a tricky pet to keep – especially at bath-time! Betty has trouble of a different kind with her pet. A chameleon is all very well but it can be vey difficult to find…And it turns out that a worm, a giraffe and an elephant all have their difficulties too. But there is no doubt that Kevin and Bertrand have the very worse pet of all…and that’s all because of his very, very sharp teeth! ~ Julia Eccleshare The author says, "I always wanted an armadillo when I was little – but I don't think it would have been a very happy pet. I now have two cats, four hens, and a small parrot called Gwen... The cats are frightened of the hens and terrified of the parrot! "
Julia Eccleshare's Pick of the Month, October 2015 Sandi Toksvig’s mini-epic is a roller-coaster of a read that races headlong through an important slice of history bringing it vividly to life as it does so. Slim, a young girl growing up in Ireland at the time of the potato famine, tells the sometimes harrowing but nonetheless always hopeful story of her family’s plight at home and flight to a better life. When Slim’s idealistic but unworldly father swaps the family pig for the letters of a printing press because he believes that the power of print will free Ireland from its oppressive landlords, he sets off a chain of troublesome events that lead to the family emigrating to America. Life on the long sea-voyage across the Atlantic including new friendships and terrible tragedies, the hope, disappointment and then renewed hope on arrival are all recounted in a lively manner. Sandi Toksvig brings alive important-to-know radical history by dressing it up in a fine coat of adventure. ~ Julia Eccleshare
Julia Eccleshare's Pick of the Month, October 2015 Six bouncy poems each of which is richly illustrated by award-winning illustrator Nick Sharratt. Burt, Cora, Charlie, Selwin, Ida and Quentin are the six Vikings let loose on a delightful shopping spree in a supermarket in the title poem. More reflective is The Mermaid and the Shoe. What would a mermaid do with a shoe? There are lots of watery ideas from using it as a little sailing boat to wearing it as a hat! The Tidy Pirate gives pirates an entertaining brush up while Fangsalot imagines what would happen if a vampire bat bit a cat, a cat bit a cow, a cow bit a horse – and so on! ~ Julia Eccleshare
One of our Books of the Year 2015 - Julia Eccleshare's Pick of the Month, October 2015 Bestselling John Boyne returns to the Second World War for The Boy at the Top of the Mountain, the story of the transformation of Pierrot. Pierrot lives in France. His mother is French and his father is German; he can speak both languages but French is the language he prefers. He has a dog and a best-friend, Anshel. When Pierrot is left an orphan he is claimed by his only relative: his father’s aunt Beatrix. Beatrix lives in an isolated house high up in the mountains. It is the Berghof, the mountain retreat of Hitler. Pierrot’s life is now dominated by Hitler himself and everything from his name onwards is about to change. In a story which echoes the form and voice of The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas John Boyne tells a sad and moving story about how gradually and stealthily a young child is changed by his contact with power and a false narrative. ~ Julia Eccleshare
One of our Books of the Year 2015 - September 2015 Julia Eccleshare's Mega Book of the Month The much-loved author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea has written and illustrated a delightful new story that is perfect for all the family. When lonely Mr Cleghorn adopts Charlie, an orphaned seal, after a visit to the seaside he has no idea quite how difficult it will be to look after him! Luckily, his neighbour Miss Craig loves animals too and is more than willing to help him! Together, the pair do everything they can to keep the little seal pup happy. And keeping the little seal pup happy makes them very happy too in this touching and funny story. A new gem and a classic in the making from Judith Kerr to delight readers young and old. ~ Julia Eccleshare A Piece of Passion from Ann-Janine Murtagh, Executive Publisher “Judith delivered Mister Cleghorn's Seal to my delight and surprise earlier this year. From my first glimpse of her exquisite pencil drawings and on reading the very first few pages of the story I knew we had something extraordinarily special and simply had to publish right away. In a recording studio in London this week Judith and I both listened to Bill Nighy reading the story aloud - it was pure magic! Mister Cleghorn's Seal is a small masterpiece of words and pictures by the inimitable, irrepressible and most wonderful Judith Kerr - and I am deeply proud to be publishing it on the HarperCollins Children’s list this Autumn”.
One of our Books of the Year 2015 - Julia Eccleshare's Book of the Month, September 2015 Best-selling duo Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks have gone back to the farmyard for a second adventure featuring the clever and resourceful ladybird! This time thieves Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len are out to steal the fat red hen. Luckily the little ladybird overhears them discussing their dastardly plan and comes up with a clever trick of her own! The addition of glitter makes the book fun to feel as well as a delight to listen and to follow through its glorious illustrations. ~ Julia Eccleshare
One of our Books of the Year 2015 - A Staff Pick of the Year 2015 - chosen by Louise Weir - December 2015 Book of the Month - Julia Eccleshare's Pick of the Month, October 2015 Chris Judge’s delightful Beast is back for a fresh adventure and this time he has a new friend! The Beast loves snow but, when he climbs down from his hilltop to the village on a snowy day, he finds everything is topsy turvy. All the villagers’ tools have been stolen! How will they set up the festival they had planned. Following giant tracks in the snow, the Beast is soon in pursuit of the unlikely criminal! Chris Judge’s shaggy, gentle natured Beast continues to delight. ~ Julia Eccleshare
Julia Eccleshare's Pick of the Month, October 2015 Award-winning Michael Morpurgo tells a poignant short story drawing on his own experience about a boy’s search for his missing father. Andrew knows that he has two fathers; the one he lives with and the secret one who is never talked about. When his brother shows him a picture of a polar bear in the Snow Queen and says it is his father he is more confused than ever. But Andrew’s father is an actor. He is the polar bear! Gradually the boys find their way back to their missing father and he becomes part of their lives. Recalling his own childhood as he tells of Andrew’s, Michael Morpurgo sensitively captures a little boy’s sense of loss and confusion as well as his healing acceptance of the situation. ~ Julia Eccleshare
Julia Eccleshare's Pick of the Month, September 2015 Best-selling Janet and Allan Ahlberg tell a deliciously spooky and ultimately joyful story about all the things skeletons get up in a dark dark night. The Big Skeleton, the Little Skeleton and the Dog Skeleton live in a dark dark cellar at the bottom of a dark dark house. One night they decide to go out and do a bit of frightening ….In fact, the Skeletons can’t frighten anyone! Instead, they visit some other skeletons and have a lot of fun playing in the park. Skeletons have never been better playmates than in this vividly illustrated laugh-out-loud picture book. ~ Julia Eccleshare
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.