Friday, January 30, 2015

DVD fun with Shaun the Sheep and the Doozers, new from Studio Canal

Shaun the Sheep - Flock to the Floor from Aardman Studios

With Shaun the Sheep currently making his big screen debut in cinemas, we were lucky enough to be sent a couple of DVDs recently by Studio Canal - including one featuring our favourite woolly-navelled hero himself.

"Shaun the Sheep - Flock to the Floor" from Aardman Animation Studios is the latest home DVD release of Shaun's adventures. Get on your best disco gear and hit the dance floor as Shaun and pals get their groove on.

The DVD features 10 episodes from Shaun's recent TV run: The Looney Tic • Men at Work • The dog Show • Missing Piece •Wildlife Catch •The Pelican •Bad Boy • Remote Control • Phoney Farmer •Ground Dog Day

And if, like me, you still remember Morph from the days when he used to pop up on Take Hart, you'll be tickled to know that you also get 5 exclusive new Morph episodes to watch as well! YAROO!

Doozers - From Jim Henson Studios

Sticking with nostalgia for a moment, remember those cute little busy folk The Doozers from Fraggle Rock? They're now stars of their own animation series, specially for younger viewers. Join the Doozers in a whole stack of adventures, solving problems through teamwork, engineering and having tons of fun doing it (We really love all the crazy little vehicles the Doozers trawl around in!) Meet the Pod Squad: Spike, Molly Bolt, Flex, and Daisy Wheel as they design, create and innovate - and inspire your little 3-6 year olds to get busy building their own crazy contraptions too.

"Shaun the Sheep - Flock to the Floor" and "Doozers Volume 1" are out now from all good retailers.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Studio Canal)

Chapter Book Roundup - January 2015 kicks off with squirrels and gladiators!"Squirrel

"Squirrel Boy vs the Bogeyman" by Dave Lowe  (Phoenix Yard Books)
So what's occuring in children's chapter books this month? We all love a good superhero tale - particularly when it's a squidgy squishy squirrel-based hoot. "Squirrel Boy vs the Bogeyman" by Dave Lowe follows in the comic footsteps of awesome authors like Roald Dahl and David Walliams to conjure up a new breed of superhero. He might not be able to fly, he doesn't have a cape, and his outfit leaves a lot to be desired but Walter Kettle AKA Squirrel Boy is our last best hope against the most nefarious menace known to mankind. Bogeymen!

Thanks to a visit from a radioactive squirrel, Walter can become Squirrel Boy every time he eats a nut. But his arch nemesis, Jeremy Winkleman-Grubb has radioactive talents of his own. 

What's going to happen when the two engage in a climactic battle? Can squirrel overcome snot? We're not going to spoil the story for you, but track down a copy of "Squirrel Boy vs the Bogeyman from Phoenix Yard Books and watch out for more from this series very soon! 

Now we're off to Ancient Rome...

"Gladiator School - Blood Oath" by Dan Scott (Scribo Publishing)

Dan Scott's awesome "Gladiator School" series is now up to book six, and the series goes from strength to strength. Chock full of atmosphere and history, Gladiator School brings together Lucius and Quintus, two brothers enrolled in the toughest school in Rome. Training for the arena, for combat  and for strength, Lucius and Quintus struggle to survive under the watchful eye of the harsh Crassus, a combat-hardened gladiator trainer as grizzled as a pit-bull. 

Dan's stories are superbly immersive and chock full of action as well as a ton of facts and figures for your own little Rome fans. We took a look at Blood Oath and Blood Justice (book 6) but you can find out a lot more about the books on the Scribo website. 

Don't forget to check out the awesome Gladiator School book trailer at

(Books kindly sent to us for our review roundup by Scribo and Phoenix Yard Books)

ReadItdaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 30th January 2015 - "Rebel Science" by Dan Green and David Lyttleton (Templar Publishing)

Rebel Science

Written by Dan Green

Illustrated by David Lyttleton

Published by Templar Books

Science is magic by any other name to children, and for some kids the scientists behind some of the most astonishing theories and discoveries of the last two centuries are like magicians. Most will learn a good dose of science early on in school but others (like Charlotte) will have their curiosity piqued enough to demand gorgeous books like these, that celebrate scientists in a language kids can understand, with dazzling visuals to knock their socks off too.

"Rebel Science" by Dan Green and David Lyttleton celebrates scientists who may be more renowned for being a bit maverick, a bit more "out there" with their ideas but true scientific pioneers in their particular fields.

We instantly fell in love with the presentation of "Rebel Science" that dishes up gorgeous double-page-spread after double-page-spread of facts and figures, mad experiments, crazy theories and of course most importantly the personalities behind some of the world's greatest scientific discoveries. It does so in a slightly cheeky and irreverent way, but I think the likes of Einstein, Newton and Curie would probably quite like it that way!

We couldn't resist a bit more research into some of the awesome scientists detailed in this book, but I think Charlotte was genuinely disappointed in a couple of cases, to find out (in her own words) that "most of them look old fashioned and ordinary! Not like in the book!"

Out of the mouths of babes!

"Rebel Science" is out soon from Templar Publishing. Whack on your lab coat, grab a couple of test tubes and DO SOME SCIENCE!

Charlotte's best bit: Rather too much grisly enjoyment of passages detailing pioneers who chopped up poor folk to discover more about the human body!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A rocktastic rap-battling celebration of cool science deliciously presented and wonderfully illustrated. It's blinding us - WITH SCIENCE!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Templar Publishing)

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Dog Detectives in An American Adventure by Zoa and Monika Suska (Maverick Publishing)

The Dog Detectives in An American Adventure

Written by Zoa Gypsy

Illustrated by Monika Suska

Published by Maverick Publishing

Those snooping snafflehounds are back for another globetrotting adventure, this time finding themselves not lost in London, but at large in the U S of A!

Jack and Deputy Poco Loco return for a fourth outing and this time they have a new friend in tow. A wonderful little Opossum called Penelope who literally drops in on the pair, lost and a long way from home.

But never fear, the dog detectives are on the case - with Jack absolutely sure he knows a short cut back to Penelope's New York home.

Thus begins a caper across a continent as Jack and Poco Loco's navigational skills and local knowledge of short cuts is put to the test. It's a jolly good job Penelope doesn't have to be home in time for tea!

It's a fantastic excuse to get to know more of America and the amazing cities and landmarks you can find across the pond. Huge fun for kids who love exploring and finding out about other cultures and countries. Just never ever stop to ask Jack or Poco Loco for directions if you're lost!

Charlotte's best bit: Vegas, baby! Vegas!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A continent-spanning caper that cracks along at a fair old pace!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Maverick Publishing)

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The Dog Detectives - Lost in London by Fin and Zoa

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Roo the Roaring Dinosaur by David Bedford and Mandy Stanley (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

Roo the Roaring Dinosaur

Written by David Bedford

Illustrated by Mandy Stanley

Published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books

Most of us (and most of our children) at one time or another must've had a special blanket, cuddly toy or trinket that never ever left our sides when we were tiddlers. Mine was a scratty nursing blanket which was called "My Cuddle", my little brother had something called "Blankie" (a piece of brightly coloured fluffy material) and Charlotte used to have a little lambswool blanket. I've heard tales from parents of what happens when those beloved items go missing, and children absolutely refuse to accept a replacement (or worse still, tales of children throwing three day long tantrums if those items are ever washed). I wonder if this was the inspiration for Roo the Roaring Dinosaur by David Bedford and Mandy Stanley.

Roo doesn't exactly look like the sort of dinosaur who throws his weight around, roaring willy-nilly and bothering the local animals. Roo, in fact, is a tiny wee mite who has a precious blanket called his Moomie. Roo and his Moomie are inseparable, until one day a visitor crashlands on Roo's island in a hot air balloon. The new visitor is a big and friendly woolly mammoth who quickly becomes a firm friend. But all too soon playtime is over, and the mammoth needs to get back home.

Alas his hot air balloon is a complete write-off, with a huge hole in it - a hole that just happens to be exactly the same size as Roo's Moomie...

Can Roo possibly give up his most treasured possession so that his friend can get home?

There are some wonderful scenes in this, quite touching in fact. Charlotte was initially quite bullish about the fact that this was a "Baby book, not for me" but when we settled down to read it (as we do with all the books we get sent, regardless of whether madam thinks they're 'baby books' or not), she snuggled down with me and our big Canadian horse blanket, cuddled close and fell quietly in love with this cute little story.

Oh - the roaring bit. Remember we said Roo doesn't do a lot of roaring? Read to the end of the book!

"Roo the Roaring Dinosaur" is out today, hooray!

Charlotte's best bit: Charlotte was initially not a fan of this, until we settled down for a good few reads through. She really loved Roo's particular way of speaking - toddler speak!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A wonderfully subtle and touching tale of friendship - oh and those utterly precious items that kids absolutely can't stand to be separated from. A lovely little Dino tale!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Daniel O'Dowd was Ever So Loud by Julie Fulton and Elina Ellis (Maverick Publishing)

Daniel O'Dowd was Ever So Loud

Written by Julie Fulton

Illustrated by Elina Ellis

Published by Maverick Publishing

Yay! It's time for another book in Julie Fulton's awesome "Everso" series, depicting the strange characters and comings & goings in Hamilton Shady. It's a crazy town and there's always something going on. Not the place for a peaceful holiday.

Even more so as we meet the latest character dreamed up by Julie and ace illustrator Elina Ellis. Daniel O'Dowd might look like a fairly ordinary boy, but like most boys he really isn't the quietest little dude. In fact most of the residents of Hamilton Shady need to walk around with cotton wool in their ears when Daniel is around.

The town is in peril though! Out in the dark reaches of outer space, a gigantic asteroid threatens to collide with earth, wiping out Hamilton Shady in the process. Could a loud-mouthed boy possibly save the world?

You'll have to read the book to find out. We have loved each and every one of Julie's books, but Charlotte was a little bit sad. One character was missing from the book, our favourite gastronome Mrs Macready was nowhere to be seen (or did we miss her completely Julie & Elina?)

"Daniel O'Dowd was Ever So Loud" is out today from Maverick Publishing.

Charlotte's best bit: The poor aliens who have to suffer a severe dose of earache thanks to Daniel

Daddy's Favourite bit: Awesome rhymes, perfect comic timing, another cracker from Julie and Elina

(Kindly sent to us for review by Maverick Publishing)

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Mrs Macready was Ever So Greedy by Julie Fulton and Elina Ellis

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Here I Am by Patti Kim and Sonia Sanchez (Curious Fox Books)

Here I Am

Written by Patti Kim

Illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

Published by Curious Fox Books

Today sees the launch of a book we've been enjoying as a preview from Netgalley, now released in hardback and paperback by Curious Fox for the UK Market. "Here I Am" by Patti Kim and Sonia Sanchez feels like a child-friendly graphic novel, designed to be wordless and approachable - and speaking to children in a universal and visual language that fits the story's content perfectly.

A young boy and his family arrive in a new country, moving home lock stock and barrel. As you can imagine, moving to a foreign country can be scary enough for adults but for children there are a million and one questions - and just as many new experiences, sights, sounds and culture shocks to cope with too.

The boy in the story finds life tough in his new home at first, but clings to a magical seed that explodes with light and colour when he cradles it in his hand.

One day the boy spots a young girl playing outside his apartment, and as he stretches out of the window to take a closer look he drops his beloved seed, and the girl finds it and makes off with it!

Will the boy ever find the seed and the girl?

The tale unfolds delicately with Sonia Sanchez's expressive, energetic and vibrant visual style fitting Patti's wonderfully observed tale perfectly.

It's actually so good to see this in print in its final form as we loved it as a digital book, but really love it as a book to dive into at our leisure - each time finding new things to look at and talk about just as you'd imagine the young boy does as he encounters all the new things in his new environment.

Fantastic, inclusive and thoroughly enjoyable.

Charlotte's best bit: The boy and his seed, and the wonderful colours that explode from it whenever it's cradled and sung to.

Daddy's Favourite bit: A really fantastic book for children of all nationalities, perfectly pitched and beautifully paced.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Curious Fox Books)

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Marking Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th 2015 with Usborne's Young Readers range

"Usborne Famous Lives - Anne Frank" by Susanna Davidson (Usborne Young Readers)

To respectfully mark Holocaust Memorial Day today, we've been taking a look at a couple of Usborne's Young Readers range, specifically designed to tackle the terrible atrocities in a way that will deeply involve children who want to find out more. 

Starting with the Usborne Famous Lives series, and the remarkable story of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl forced into hiding as Hitler's Nazis invaded Holland. We learn Anne's story through her diary and the preservation of her memory by her father who survived the concentration camps only to learn of the fate of his wife and daughters after the second world war. 

Usborne's documentary account of Anne's life and death is sensitive and informative, and though it was quite tricky to take Charlotte through the book because of the disturbing nature of Anne's story, we persevered purely because the book helps answers all the questions she raised and more - and there's no reason not to use this book as a valuable resource when children learn about Anne's story at school.

The Holocaust by Susanna Davidson (Usborne Books)
The second book, "The Holocaust" by Susanna Davidson is similarly involving, expertly devised and also deals with some incredibly dark subject matter in a way that will educate children, speaking on their level. 

"The Holocaust" describes the rise of the Nazi regime and the final solution, and the colossal impact on the world of this heinous plan. This was trickier for us to go through as there are harrowing images and descriptions of how the Nazis slowly put their plans into action. 

Usborne can always be trusted to publish thoroughly well researched and fantastic informative non-fiction titles, and these are no exception. 

Find out more about Usborne's history range on the Usborne website

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm(Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore

Written and Illustrated by
W.E. Joyce and Joe Bluhm

Published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books

This is a book that has eluded us for so long but we've finally caught up with it, hooray. We love books that celebrate books, that celebrate that wonderful feeling when you immerse yourself in a story so deeply that you find yourself thinking about it later, hear yourself gushing about it to others, and get a sort of tingly thrill whenever you spot a copy in a book store or library, or tucked under someone else's arm.

That's how we feel about "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore". It was worth the wait.

Morris is a lovely character, who has a wonderful book collection crammed into his modest home. One day after a terrible storm, Morris finds his beloved collection trashed, and wanders the devastated landscape lost and folorn. Folorn is an expression Morris does so well. He's part-based on the looks of Buster Keaton so his doleful puppy-dog eyes make us sympathise with his plight (not to mention the fact that the poor fellah loses a whole stack of books).

Thankfully as he wanders the land, he spies a lovely young girl flying off into the sky, being tugged aloft by a whole flock of flying books. Anxious to find out where these books came from, he follows them to their roost, the most amazing library crammed with these friendly tomes (needless to say, we completely fell head over heels for one little book that's cleverly designed to look like a happy little Humpty Dumpty).

Morris spends the rest of his life reading stories, listening to them, caring for the books until he becomes old and frail and lets the books read themselves to him. Soon it's time to move on and our story begins anew as Morris is taken aloft, just as the young girl was before - leaving a legacy of stories including his own.

The book is so delightful and so easy to become immersed in. We'll be picking up a copy of our own, and tracking down the animated feature based on the book too. In the meantime, if you're searching for an inspirational and celebratory book about books, this should definitely be your next port of call.

Charlotte's best bit: At the end of the story, a young girl very like Charlotte follows in Morris's footsteps. A lovely moment as she discovers Morris' story for herself.

Daddy's Favourite bit: A glorious story, the most gorgeous art style, and a heart-meltingly touching homage to our most favourite thing, a durned good book.

(Borrowed for review from our wonderful Abingdon Library)

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Friday, January 23, 2015

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd January 2015 - "Goth Girl - A Fete Worse than Death" by Chris Riddell (HarperCollins Children's Books)

Goth Girl - A Fete Worse than Death

Written and Illustrated by
Chris Riddell

Published by HarperCollins Children's Books

You know we already fell in love with Chris Riddell's Goth Girl. Ada Goth is the sort of children's book character that you just can't help falling in love with and though we're late to the party with her second adventure, we're hugging ourselves with glee at how great "A Fete Worse than Death" is.

We pick up the story as a frisson of excitement fizzes around Ghastly Gorm Hall. It's time for the summer garden party, and competition is already heating up for this year's bake-off title (and you can bet that Chris includes some brilliant knowing nods to everyone's favourite cake-based TV show as well as a few other celebrity chefs thrown in for good measure!)

One person - or should that be one bear isn't quite as excited about the garden party as Ada and her newly found friends, the Attic Club. Marylebone the Bear (wink) - Ada's Maid in Waiting, is rather more concerned with matters of the heart. A mysterious marriage proposal has sent the normally erudite bear into a tailspin.

It's up to Ada and her pals in The Attic Club to lend cupid a helping hand, while avoiding the steely gaze of the nefarious indoor gamekeeper Maltravers.

Charlotte and I had to toss a coin to see who would get to read this first (I did the decent thing in the end and let her read through before stealing off with it). It's a sign of a great book that we are still giggling about it, and while discussing all the best bits, each of us got a batch of different story experiences from our read-throughs. Chris is a genius, creating a set of stories that are not only cross-generational (Charlotte knows enough about bake off to find Chris's amusing refs funny, while I can really dig all the nods to classic gothic and children's fiction).

This is so good, and now thanks to our lovely pal Anne-Marie over at child-led chaos we know that a third book is on the way, this time taking a wry poke at the beloved Brontes. We absolutely cannot wait!

"Goth Girl - a Fete Worse than Death" is available now from HarperCollins Children's Books. Do NOT miss it!

Charlotte's best bit: Her sheer and utter delight at the cake tasting!

Daddy's Favourite bit: So many genius observations, comic nuances and lovingly written tongue-in-cheek references that beg you to dive straight back in for another read through once you reach the end. Particularly loved the Nigella Lawson-alike though, oh yes!

(Kindly sent to us for review by HarperCollins Children's Books

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