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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 September 2020 | Beautifully presented, this is a fabulous anthology of poems greatly enhanced by wonderful illustrations and a sumptuous binding – including a very useful marker ribbon! Subtitled “An animal poem for every day of the year”, it includes poems which introduce a huge range of animals from around the world. Some are familiar but most are refreshingly new. Some examples I loved are: May 1st, Song about the Reindeer, Musk Oxen, Women, and Men who want to show off, an Innuit song and September 7th The Manatee by Jack Prelutsky – “I’m partial to the manatee,/ which emanates no vanity./ It swims amidst anemones/ and hasn’t any enemies.” This anthology really does include something for everyone!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2020 | Loveable Elmer is back for a new adventure in the land of the elephants. And, as ever, he keeps one step ahead of his friends! Elmer sets off on a long exploring walk with his cousin Wilbur and three other elephants. Elmer’s exploring leads him to finding an amazing palace hidden in the jungle. It’s full of amazing mosaics and wall paintings, it has a huge hall full, a wealth of statues and several fountains. While Elmer and Wilbur admire it all the other elephants are busy playing some very secret games. What are they up to? And who will find the Lost Treasure?? David McKee’s elephants are as delightful and full of character as ever. Visit our Elmer the Elephant feature to find out more about the Elmer books!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2020 | Everyone is welcome at Spooky School! Everyone who likes to be scared a bit! Open the pages of this fun board book and join the pupils as they learn how to fly like a witch on a broomstick and to howl like a werewolf. Or join in a dance for skeletons. And, don’t forget, spookiness can be caring too. There’s loads of fun on the Halloween theme. But just watch out for spiders….
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2020 | Mission impossible – the terrific Super-Cats are back for another adventure in the mad-cat world! When Tagg and Sugarfoot see their old enemy appear on a TV show to discuss Super Cats they know they will have to take action. Dr Specs, a nasty looking cat with markings that made him look as if he wears human glasses, is bad news. He has only just been released from prison. Now he is an evil scientist who is accusing super cats of doing all kinds of bad things. He even claims to have invented a deadly weapon that can remove super powers. Tagg and Sugarfoot know that something must be done to stop him. And quickly! A fun-filled, wild-cat adventure in which anything – and almost everything – can happen.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2020 | Emotionally rich and full of the kind of questions that need discussing and answering, Britta Teckentrup’s beautiful picture book explores the complicated relationships and emotions that are commonplace for every child in any school. The soft focus illustrations capture the different moods of the characters perfectly and are well- supported by brief stories which provide some background which, in turn, throws up a raft of questions: Why are some children bullied? Why does no one stand up for them? How can it be right that a teacher can put a student off a subject by being mean to them? How can you help someone who is lonely? Why do some children exert power over others? Children will enjoy this on their own but it will work best as a spur for important conversations.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2020 | When Abi’s newly forged family moves to an eccentric new home which is totally covered in ivy, strange things begin to happen to her and to her step-brothers Louis and Max. With their parents either away or too busy to notice, Abi finds herself falling into the books she is reading – she can feel the damp of the sea and taste the salt on her fingers - while Louie tempts an unusual and dangerous animal companion into his bedroom from the ivy. Can Abi and Max help Louie get rid of his dangerous new friend and will things get back to normal when their parents come home? Hilary McKay’s storytelling is vivid; she makes magic seem real while also showing why believing in it is so important.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2020 | Cleverly blending an upbeat story of a girl who loves Superman comics and is determined to be a super sleuth in the style of Lois Lane and a contemporary story of a child being trafficked and held in slavery, The Invisible Boy is a fast-paced read with a strong message. When Nadia’s dog is rescued by a boy she has never seen in the neighbourhood before, she immediately labels him ‘The Invisible Boy’ and is determined to find out who he is. Influenced by the comics she reads Nadia is used to making up dramas, often jumping to the wrong conclusions! How Nadia pieces together the real story of her new friend is a well-crafted drama. Nadia’s shock and horror is powerfully conveyed.
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Julia Eccleshare's Debut of the Month, February 2016 When Vince turns eight years old he discovers he has the most amazing secret. Although he has always hated animals, which is embarrassing because his father is a zoo keeper, Vince suddenly discovers that he can talk to them. And hear what they say back! After getting some fish fingers for a penguin, Vince finds himself with a long list of food requests from all the other animals. And he is enjoying the best birthday of his whole life! ~ Julia Eccleshare
Julia Eccleshare's Pick of the Month, August 2015 Everyone wants a super power but trying to find out what yours is can be tricky! Zippo the Hippo wants to be special but being good at plodding and getting muddy doesn’t seem to be enough. Then Zippo tries flying. Flying would be a great super power! Unfortunately, Zippo can’t fly…but he can land spectacularly on account of his great big bottom! Not Zippo is a super hippo with a very special and unusual talent! ~ Julia Eccleshare
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | | Best friends Molly and Beth have a very special power: they can time travel! When Molly’s dad comes to live nearby, the girls realise that he is very lonely. He doesn’t see his only brother and he flatly refuses to have any kind of pet. How can the girls help him? Going back in time to the 1970s, Molly and Beth try to find out something from the past that can help them to cheer Dad up. Arriving at the time of Dad’s childhood they find that much was very different in the 1970s – cassettes for playing music, unfamiliar groups like The Bay City Rollers, some very weird hairstyles and clothes and no mobile phones! They also find out the misunderstanding when they were little boys that explains why Dad and his brother aren’t friends. A great new adventure for Molly and Beth who previously appeared in Time After Time and Stand By Me.
April 2015 Book of the Month - Julia Eccleshare's Pick of the Month There’s lots of laughs here! An elephant on a bus, a whale on a bike, a hippo in a hot air balloon – none of these is a good idea as soon becomes clear in the attractive and bouncy rhyme of this witty picture book. The catastrophes that lie in store in each case such as the bus toppling over when nudged by the elephant, the enormous whale teetering on a tiny bike and hippo on a collision course with a chimney pot are wittily illustrated by David Tazzyman, much loved for his illustrations for Andy Stanton’s delightfully disgusting Mr Gum. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month April 15 Slug Needs a Hug by Jeanne Willis You Can't Take an Elephant on the Bus by Patricia Cleveland-Peck Where's the Elephant? by Barroux Migloo's Day by William Bee
Table tennis champion Matthew Syed offers his very best advice on how all children can help themselves to become better at anything they put their hand to. Divided up into stories, visuals, charts and brief inspirational messages Matthew Syed is inspiring and uplifting as he address his readers. He stresses the importance of creating a confident mindset and argues that, armed with self-belief, anyone can achieve amazing things both mentally and physically. A book to browse and revisit again and again for the useful ways it exhorts and coaxes all readers to make the best of themselves.
One of our special picks for Valentine's Day | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2018 Beautifully produced, words and your heart is a charming book with a touching message about the importance of the heart and the many ways in which words can affect it. The message is a simple exhortation: use words carefully to make the world a happier place. ~ Julia Eccleshare Our Special Valentine's Day Picks Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal Love from the Moomins by Tove Jansson I Love You, Stick Insect by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros The Poesy Ring by Bob Graham Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for February 2018 Kevin by Rob Biddulph Eliza Rose by Lucy Worsley Lots: The Diversity of Life by Nicola Davies A Busy Day for Birds by Lucy Cousins Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2018 | Award-winning illustrator Michael Foreman’s own love of football suffuses this story which perfectly captures the thrill all footballers have of scoring the winning goal. As the new boy in a small local team a young boy dreams that one day he will be out on the pitch and will the strike the winning goal at the World Goal. Full of action and detail, Michael Foreman’s illustrations capture how his youthful dreams and reality merge to create a classic football story. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for May 2018 Square by Mac Barnett A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge A Perfect Day by Lane Smith Gaspard the Fox by Zeb Soanes & James Mayhew Wonder Goal! by Michael Foreman The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell Plantopedia by Adrienne Barman
December 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2019 | Winner of the 2018 Caldecott Medal | A stunning near wordless picture book which will inspire the story teller in all of its readers. While Matthew Cordell draws on some themes familiar from the traditional Red Riding Hood story he has created a quite different and hugely heart-warming drama about trust and friendship. Dressed in a bright red coat a little girl sets off to walk home from school. Snow is beginning to fall. At the same time, a pack of wolfs, including a young wolf cub, set out into the same falling snow. The snow turns into a blizzard and soon both the little girl and the wolf cub are lost. How can either of them survive? Luckily, they come together so that bth can get home safely.
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 November 2016 Winnie and Wilbur are so excited to be getting ready for Christmas! There’s a lot to do. Putting up the decorations, baking biscuits, making the Christmas pudding and, most importantly of all, sending their letters to the North Pole. At last it is Christmas Eve and Santa’s arrival goes very horribly wrong. Luckily, Winnie has just the right magic trick to solve the problem and soon Winnie and Wilbur are on the most wonderful adventure of their lives. There’s magic and excitement on every page of this festive book including a delightful pop-up surprise. ~ Julia Eccleshare ****Winnie fans will be delighted to hear that the Winnie the Witch stories have been transformed into a children’s TV show, which will premiere on Christmas Eve. Winnie and Wilbur will be airing on Channel 5’s pre-school strand Milkshake in 2017, with Katy Brand as Winnie and Bill Bailey playing the lovable cat Wilbur in this brand new animation series. Bill Bailey says: "Winnie the Witch is already a huge hit with kids all over the world so I’m delighted to bring Wilbur to life. I’ve got a lot in common with this cat: we’re both extremely agile, we both love cheesecake, and given half a chance, we like to fall asleep in a cosy basket." The UK premiere will be broadcast on Saturday 24 December at 7.50am, when we will be treated to a Wintry Special featuring the episodes Wilbur’s Big Clean and Winnie’s Tricky Tights. ------------------------------------------- Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for November 2016 The Song from Somewhere Else by A. F. Harrold and Levi Pinfold Murder in Midwinter by Fleur Hitchcock Winnie and Wilbur Meet Santa by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul Rover and the Big Fat Baby by Roddy Doyle and Chris Judge Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith The Giant's Necklace by Michael Morpurgo and Briony May Smith
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2017 Irresistible for anyone mad about trucks! There’s so much to learn about the extraordinary world of trucks and truck-mad William Bee is the man to explain it all. There are steam trucks, amphibious trucks, rescue trucks, snow plough trucks, fire engine trucks and much, much more. Gloriously bold illustrations celebrate the wonders of trucks while the texts adds some useful details. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for March 2017 Jellicle Cats by T.S. Eliot and Arthur Robins William Bee's Wonderful World of Trucks by William Bee The Story of the Dancing Frog by Quentin Blake George's Marvellous Experiments inspired by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley Many Moons by Remi Courgeon Freddie Mole, Lion Tamer by Alexanda McCall Smith Black Cats and Butlers by Janine Beacham Triangle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
April 2019 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2019 | Take an inspiring journey into sixteen very special and important landscapes each of which is brought to life in glorious large-scale illustrations. These set the scene for amazing dramas of nature that are taking place within them. From tropical rainforest to scorching deserts, these protected environments are home to rare and beautiful animals and plants which are shown here in glorious illustrations that display their finest details. While the illustrations will draw the readers in, there is also a wealth of information included in the fact file at the end making this a book that is full of value as well as beauty.
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.