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Compiled by YA author and broadcaster Juno Dawson, this inspiring anthology of illustrated short stories by LGBTQ+ writers shines a light on a kaleidoscopic array of experiences through an equally kaleidoscopic breadth of genres, themes and styles. From Chinese lesbian fairytale The Phoenix’s Fault by Cynthia So, to Simon James Green’s hilarious, heart-warming Penguins (who would’ve thought a pair of penguins could steal a person’s coming out thunder?!), this is a powerfully diverse collection. Alongside more established names, among them authors David Levithan and Jess Vallance, and illustrator David Roberts, special mention must go to the four new voices whose stories grace these pages – be sure to seek out what Karen Lawler, Michael Lee Richardson, Cynthia So and Kay Staples do next. These are stories of struggle and trouble, passion and promise, with much wit, warmth, wisdom and support shared along the way. And so it seems fitting to leave the last loud, proud, celebratory words to Dan from David Levithan’s queer youth choir story: “You hold your ground. You sing out loud and proud in defiance of all the people who want you to be quiet”.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Award-winning illustrator Shirley Hughes is regarded as a national treasure for her touching and realistic picture books of contemporary pre-school life. This delightful anthology is full of Christmassy and wintery poems and stories all brought to life by her familiar illustrations of families enjoying seasonal delights. The perfect for book for the season.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | Illustrator and author Chris Riddell has created a rich anthology of poems from the past to the present all of which have a special meaning for him. Grouping them under headings including ‘Musings’, ‘Youth’, ‘Imaginings’, ‘Nature’ and ‘Endings’ he has added an illustration to each often giving an insight into his own reading of it. Passages from Shakespeare and classic poems such as John Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale and Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky sit comfortably alongside contemporary poems such as Rachel Rooney’s The Language of Cat and Jackie Kay’s Something Rhymed while the inclusion of the words of Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne and Nick Cave’s Love Letter adds a refreshing fresh touch.
Via simple but elegant illustrations, and a gentle sometimes playful rhyming text, this picture book passes on all sorts of information about water and its importance, while never losing the sense of the beauty of this essential element. Words and illustrations take us back in time to the beginning of life on Earth, up hills and deep below the surface to explain that “clouds, rain, river, sea, water cycles endlessly”. Carefully placed splashes of colour underscore pages of different blues, the tinkling rhythm of the text bringing a sense of calm. It all concludes with five fascinating facts about the “world wide wet” and this is a book to savour on lots of different levels.
Shortlisted for the CLPE Children’s Poetry Award (CLiPPA) 2017 A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | | Michael Rosen is the bestselling author of We're Going on a Bear Hunt, along with many other picture books and collections of poetry. Packed with silly rhymes, witty wordplay and thought-provoking story poems, this new collection of poems will delight children of all ages.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | National Poetry Day is a chance for everyone everywhere to read, share and enjoy poetry. This special anthology features poems by the National Poetry Day Ambassadors, a top team of fantastic poets who bring poetry alive all year round.
Featuring a selection of rhymes for the very young adapted from Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell’s award-winning A Great Big Cuddle, Wiggly Wiggly is a tour de force of catchy rhythms and bouncy beats, cheerful pictures and cheeky characters. Each of the nine rhymes are made to be read aloud, made to encourage the very littlest to join in with the sounds, the words, the actions (wriggling, bouncing, sloshing, finger walking). The verses will hold their appeal no matter how many times you have to read them (hundreds), while the draughtsmanship and vitality of Chris Riddell’s illustrations takes the breath away with each turn of the page. They’re never too young for poetry and this is an absolute nursery must-have.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | These poignant, punch-packing poems explore the varied emotional lives of secondary school pupils facing the giddy transition from being “the biggest to the smallest...in the secondary school jungle” like “gazelles in a field full of lions”. Complex tangles of feelings are laid bare with heart-rending authenticity, from the headiness of he-said-she-said gossip, to the bewildering “who the hell do you sit with?” loneliness that strikes when your best friend’s off school (Thanks a lot, Belinda). Vending Machine is an incredible piece of writing, encapsulating the anguish and anger of betrayal, of having your heart trampled on, and then the bliss of recovery when your heart feels “a little lighter”. Another personal favourite is the sublime Dear Mum, BTEC about a student “drawing different plans” after realising they are ill-suited to exams - plans they hope will make Mum proud. There are jubilant themes too, such as the breathless, time-stopping “WHAM!” of instant attraction, the jangling joy of being at the bottom of a celebratory pile-on after you’ve scored, and the magic of those inspirational, unforgettable teachers who take time to share a book they think you “should try”. A chorus of entertaining, emotionally-charged insights and observations sing and dance through these tender, playful pages, with each short verse alive with empathetic, true-to-life experiences.
July 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2018 | A brilliant celebration and evocation of everything to do with the sea. The many, brief poems cover favourite holiday experiences including the excitement of being the first to see the sea, paddling, seagulls and building sandcastles; specific sea creatures such as sharks, limpets and the special fish which live on coral reefs; the drama of the seas in terms of shipwrecks and, more recently, terrible risk the sea is under from human waste. Both the poems and Emily Sutton’s illustrations to them will bring the very special qualities of the sea closer to everyone. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for July 2018: A First Book of the Sea by Nicola Davies Junkyard Jack and the Horse That Talks by Adrian Edmondson All About Families by Felicity Brooks A Stone for Sascha by Aaron Becker Sleep by Kate Prendergast The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle The Cook and the King by Julia Donaldson
April 2018 Book of the Month Beautifully illustrated by Jo Riddell, this collection of poems and stories is a perfect gift book. It’s ideal for dipping into, for quiet reading and for reading aloud; indeed, unusually amongst the stories, haikus and poems, there are a couple of rhyming plays too, great fun for the family or a group of friends. Single collections of poems are relatively rare these days, and it’s lovely to find one that gives the poet the space and time to explore ideas and return to themes. Poetry speaks to children directly, and this should become a real favourite, a book, to quote Rachel Rooney’s review, ‘to spark the imagination’. Other recommended anthologies for children include A Poem for Every Day of the Year edited by Allie Esiri, and Kate Wakeling’s CLiPPA winner Moon Juice.
Poetry is possibly the best way to convey the wonder of space and our own place in it, and James Carter’s text for this picture book is both precise and inspiring: ‘A sea of stars at last were born/gradually they fired and formed/out of clouds of dust and gas/each a mighty sparky mass’. The artwork by Mar Hernandez is equally beautiful, illustrating the development of life from the big bang to the world as we know it. The last image is of a jumping child – ‘You’re a Star’ – and there’s a page of science facts to end, taking us five billion years into the future. ~ Andrea Reece