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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.
February 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2019 | Interest Age Teen Reading Age 9 | Cleverly set within a gripping adventure, Lark is a deeply touching story of the special bond between brothers. Older brother Nicky narrates the story of the day he and his younger brother Kenny set out on a simple day out on the moors. Proposed by their father as a way of filling time while they wait nervously for their mum to return from her new life in Canada, it is meant to a fun day out tinged with a bit of nostalgia as they are retracing a walk that he used to enjoy. But the simple walk which begins in a light hearted way soon becomes a deadly dangerous adventure as the weather conditions close in, the boys get completely lost and Kenny has to show exceptional courage and intelligence to make sure he can get Kenny home safely. Anthony McGowan maintains the intensity of the story throughout while also keeping the writing simple.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2019 | | It’s bath time for Baby Bear but he is determined to fit in a quick trip to the moon beforehand. Can he do it? Sure he can. Finding a space rocket under the stairs, a helmet in the kitchen and some boots by the door Baby Bear is soon off and away floating high in the sky, up through the stars and all the way to the moon. A gloriously imaginative story brought to life in Jill Murphy’s wonderful illustrations.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2019 | | Roald Dahl’s dramatic last story is perfectly matched for the first time by Quentin Blake’s new illustrations in a beautifully produced edition. Billy is told by his mum that he must never go out through the garden gate and into the dark wood. But how can he resist the attraction of the wood and what is in it? Billy heads into the wood and meets the Minpins, delightful tiny creatures who live inside the hollow trees. And the Minpins are terrified. The dreadful Gruncher is destroying them and they need Billy’s help to stop him. Soon Billy finds himself at the centre of a thrilling adventure that is literally a matter of life and death. Roald Dahl’s story-telling skills look as bright as ever.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2019 | | This is the 30th anniversary board book edition of this bestselling title which well-deserves its classic status. It has become the staple of pre-school life across the globe. Told in a simple rhythmic text that's full of action and it is matched by Helen Oxenbury’s wonderful illustrations which perfectly capture the fun and the wide range of emotions of the family day out that the story encompasses. Celebrating 30 years of Bear Hunting - visit www.jointhebearhunt.com for everything a bear hunter could need including activities, videos, competitions and tour dates. The book has sold in nearly 30 countries and in over 20 languages.
Winner of the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2019 | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | Award winning Hilary McKay tells a captivating and deeply moving story of three young people growing up in the years before and during World War One. How their lives were totally changed by the War, how what really happened to the soldiers could never be talked about and how a girl like Clarry suddenly had opportunities because of the war are all touched on in a story that is also about universal adolescent relationships and the timeless concerns of being a teenager. Following their mother’s death at her birth, Clarry and her older brother Peter live a joyless life with their gloomy father. The pair live for their summer holidays in Cornwall with their grandparents which they share with their older cousin Rupert. Here, the trio are free to be themselves and to begin to break away from the constraints of family expectations. When war is declared Rupert enlists: his family is horrified and Clarry and Peter are left trying to work out where he might be, how they themselves should react to the war and, above all, whether Rupert is safe. Hilary McKay has a rare gift for novels about families and their interplay. Here, she weaves her story round one of the most powerful backdrops in history. And she does so with the lightest of touch which makes her history come alive.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2018 | Christmas is coming and there is war in the shops! In every supermarket in the town all the Christmas treats are being smashed up as soon as they get into the shops. Beautifully decorated cakes and biscuits have been sent flying and even Christmas puddings have been heaved off the shelves. Who’s the spoilsport who is ruining Christmas? The trusty Mince Spies are sent in to watch the shelves and they soon discover the surprising culprits! It takes the intervention of Santa Claus himself to make everyone feel better and for Christmas to become fun again! A thoroughly ridiculous and hugely enjoyable Christmas adventure.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick for November 2018 | December 2018 Book of the Month | An outstanding book for everyone who has enjoyed We’re Going on a Bear Hunt or any of Helen Oxenbury’s other wonderful books from her board books capturing the smallest details of toddler life to her witty and sophisticated illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Distinguished children’s book critic Leonard S. Marcus takes reader’s behind the scenes of Oxenbury’s life as he recounts the major moments which mark out her career of such exceptional originality and sets it firmly within the publishing context of the period. The wealth of Oxenbury’s exquisite illustrations that have been reproduced in the highest possible quality make it a book that gives hours of enjoyment and inspiration.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick for November 2018 | Award-winning author Nicola Davies has a special talent for writing about the special bonds that can exist between children and animals. She also has a commitment to make sure that children of all kinds can find themselves in a story. In The Dog That Saved Christmas she brings the two strands together beautifully. The touching story tells of how Christmas is made happy for Jake by his friendship with a lost dog. For Jake, Christmas is not a time of fun but a time of huge anxiety as he copes with bright lights, loud noises and the unexpected behaviour of others and the changes in routines. But, when he finds a lost dog on the street, the two forge a very special bond. In the little dog Susan, Jake finds a companion who enables him to stay calm and to cope with the things he finds difficult. A beautiful story which is especially suitable for children finding reading stamina.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2018 | Everyone who has ever had a pet will love this funny and charming story about a little boy and the hamster he gets for Christmas. Leo needs cheering up and, with Christmas coming, he takes the opportunity to ask for the one thing that he thinks will make him happy: a pet hamster. Luckily, Dad has Father Christmas’s number on his phone so Leo can order it direct – and get some help from spell-check! But when the hamster comes Leo can see that his new pet is not altogether happy. Hampstead the Hamster needs a present too!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Based on the true American story from World War One the atmospheric illustrations and simple text of Stubby gives a moving insight into the horrors of the war as seen through the story of the exceptional contribution of a stray dog. When Stubby, a little dog with no home of his own, wanders into an army training camp he quickly becomes a much loved mascot for the young soldiers. Taken overseas to the battlefields, he shows incredible bravery and loyalty, including barking a warning to the soldiers when he can smell the deadly poisonous gas and alerting his soldiers to the presence of enemies. When peace is declared, Stubby is given his very own special coat with medals on it as a reward for his courage. On his return to the US with his soldiers friends Stubby is even taken to the White House to meet the President.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Daddy Penguin, along with all the other daddy Penguins, is looking after the egg with his baby in it while Mama Penguin goes off to find food. When he drifts away from the Dad Huddle he and the egg are swept away on a huge adventure across the snowy waste. Can Daddy Penguin keep the egg safe all that time? And, when the baby is born, can he get the beautiful baby back home before Mama comes home! Debi Gliori unfolds a dramatic and entertaining adventure against a beautifully atmospheric background. a perfect bedtime story.
October 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2018 | Rich in an atmospheric seascape and with a quest at its heart, The Antlered Ship is an engaging and adventurous story that will encourage all children to keep on asking questions about the world they live in. When the beautiful ship with the huge antlers on its prow comes into port Marco the Fox is busy contemplating the mysteries of the world. Marco asks himself questions such as Why do some songs make you happy and others make you sad? Why don’t trees ever talk? and How deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea? None of his fox friends have any answers. So, when he sees the ship he decides to join the curious crew of deer and pigeons in the hope that a sea voyage to far off lands will help him find the answers. After an eventful journey, Marco discovers that questions often have several answers and that sharing and travelling and living with others can be one way of finding answers.
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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