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Julia Eccleshare M.B.E. - Editorial Expert

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 as Editorial contributor and advisor to Lovereading4kids, she is the children’s editor of the Guardian, Head of Policy and Advocacy at the Public Lending Right and most recently she has added the role of Children's Director of the Hay Festival.

She selected and wrote children's book reviews for the Good Book Guide for a number of years, 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. She regularly appears as a judge or Chair of judges on some of the major children’s book prizes including the Whitbread (now called the Costa) and the Nestle among others.

Latest Reviews By Julia Eccleshare M.B.E.

Impossible Creatures
Brimful of ideas, award-winning Katherine Rundell’s epic adventure is set in a world that joyfully and provocatively stretches the imagination as Christopher and Mal, two children with exceptional futures, explore the secret and mysterious world of the Archipelago where mythological creatures, sometimes benign but frequently savage, still live. Mal’s destiny propels the course of their thrilling and desperate sea voyage on which so much of the future of the world depends while Christopher’s special qualities are also a mark of the vital role he is to play in it too. Both have skills ... View Full Review
Poems to Live Your Life By
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 ... View Full Review
Coming to England
Floella Benjamin’s touching, well-observed and generously un-judgemental memoir is a classic which is a pertinent now as when it was first published 25 years ago. In a simple story Floella recounts her own experience of her family moving from Trinidad to London when she was a little girl. She brings to life her experience in the family’s original home in Trinidad; the brightness of the light, the joy of Carnival and, above all, the warmth of her family.  She records the pain of separation as, initially, her parents went on ahead to England leaving her and ... View Full Review
The Boy Who Would Be King
A touching and clever story by award-winning, former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo gives an imaginary insight into the childhood of the future Charles III. Using the true story of Prince Charles’s unhappy years in school, Morpurgo weaves magic into it when the young Charles meets Alfred, a king from history, in the scene where he famously burns the cakes! Alfred has wise words about the role of a prince and future king that help the young Charles to feel happier about his life. Michael Foreman’s beautiful illustrations add exactly the right timeless quality. View Full Review
A Passing On of Shells
A carefully curated selection of very brief but meaningful poems which will amuse, inspire and provoke readers. Chris Riddell’s attractive line illustrations wittily bring out the key points of each adding to the enjoyment of the poems and the book in general. As do the beautiful production values of the book which make it a joy to dip into again and again.  View Full Review
Eccentric Lives
Dipping into the lives of those included in this collection of obituaries which includes familiar kinds of eccentric aristocrats, church men and politicians as well as those who are less well-known, is a bit like going to a hugely enjoyable party and finding all the other guests are almost entirely transparent. Each obituary looks at the idiosyncrasies and foibles of a person in an entertaining way. Much of the pleasure of these obituaries lies in the tone they are written in. Frequently, the account is non judgemental, rather it is just a kind of innocent delight in ‘characters’ ... View Full Review
The Heart and the Bottle
Award winning Oliver Jeffers’s latest book is wholly compelling for the importance of its message and the brilliance of how that is conveyed in words and pictures. To overcome her sadness when her grandfather dies a little girl decides to protect her heart from any further suffering by putting it in a bottle. For a time it works, but living without a heart turns out to be living only part of a life and soon the little girl needs to get it back. Luckily, there is someone who can help her. A book to return to time and ... View Full Review
Friends Like These
Into a brief, hot summer slice of late adolescence, award-winning Meg Rosoff brilliantly unpacks a friendship which leads to a sequence of rollercoaster and heady experiences for eighteen year old Beth. Newly arrived in New York to take up a journalism internship, Beth is immediately swept up by her fellow interns including Eddie, an attractive, talented and rich New Yorker who invites her to move into her parents beautiful and comfortable home. Eager to leave the cockroach infested apartment, her first home on arrival, Beth is entranced by Eddie, whose extraordinary life has already ensured her familiarity with all the ... View Full Review
The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl
For all those who are already fans of Roald’s Dahl’s awesome stories and for newcomers to them, this is a splendid introduction to some of the favourite characters and the most dramatic, hilarious, spinechilling and adventuresome stories that are his storytelling legacy. Following a brief account of Roald Dahl’s childhood and his famous writing shed, 15 of his top titles are cleverly explored through their main characters and the key features of the stories. There is James and his extraordinary crew from the awesome travelling peach in James and the Giant Peach; the delightful Charlie ... View Full Review
Gulliver's Travels A Robert Ingpen Illustrated Classic
When ship’s surgeon Gulliver sets off across the seas in search of adventure he has little idea what he will find. His two greatest discoveries are the countries of Lilliput and Brobdingnag.  In Lilliput he finds a population of tiny people to whom he appears as a giant while in Brobdingnag the roles are reversed: Gulliver is tiny and Brobdingnags are giants.  Swift uses Gulliver’s descriptions of his experiences in these contrasting countries to write a satirical commentary on his own society. His use of Gulliver’s altered relative size gives great scope ... View Full Review
Robinson Crusoe A Robert Ingpen Illustrated Classic
Michael Morpugo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom is just one of the very many stories for adults and children alike that have been inspired by Daniel Defoe’s classic shipwreck story. Written over 300 years ago, the story of Robinson Crusoe, an impulsive young man who runs away to sea against the best efforts of his parents to stop him, is packed full of gripping action as Crusoe survives the worst the elements throw  at him before he is shipwrecked on an apparently uninhabited island. The story of Crusoe’s life on an island is ... View Full Review
Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods
Percy Jackson, hero and demi-god, is the best guide you could have to the Greek gods and goddesses. As he is half-god - his father is Poseidon - and half-mortal – he is also a schoolboy in Manhattan - Percy is perfectly placed to give the inside stories! Percy’s account of the lives of the gods is chatty and informal. They are near to humans as you’ll ever find them – but they still have some awesome powers! A fun and fantastic introduction to an extraordinary world. View Full Review