Wednesday, August 24, 2016

This Book Thinks you're a Scientist (Thames and Hudson)

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If there's one thing we REALLY love, it's a book that brings out our inner Magnus Pyke (younger readers are now frantically googling that name and are probably cackling with glee at the YouTube videos of our fave nutty professor in full swing).

"This Book Thinks you're a Scientist" has been compiled in conjunction with The Science Museum, drawing on some of the brilliant exhibits and experiments in their innovative exhibitions.

Any science book worth its salt can carry across its themes and messages by encouraging you not to just read about cool science, but do some very cool science experiments yourself!

That's why this book encourages you to imagine, experiment and create with a ton of really fantastic ideas and ways to use the book to do some practical demonstrations of the theories shared in this fascinating tome.

Experiments involving ice cream and chocolate? WHERE DO I SIGN?
Most of the experiments can be done with simple household supplies (but don't be afraid to raid the recycle bin for a few extra bits - with parental permission of course!)

We're almost reaching our tipping point with this experiment!
Awesome science, awesome presentation and illustrations and tons to do. Yep, that's just how we like our science books...!

Why do I keep humming Pink Floyd tunes whenever I see this page?
"This Book Thinks you're a Scientist" is out now from Thames and Hudson. 

Charlotte's favourite bit: Making awesome paper aeroplanes that soar and stunt

Daddy's favourite bit: Exploring colour theory and coming up with daft names for paint shades.


(Kindly sent for review by Thames and Hudson)


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D is for Duck by David Melling (Hodder Children's Books)

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Time for some alphabet fun with one of the most talented storytellers in the business...
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"Feelings" by Libby Walden and Richard Jones (Caterpillar Books)

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Tackling the tricky subject of childhood emotions, this beautiful peep-through book is a bit of a winner...
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Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada by Jimmy Fallon and Miguel Ordonez (Hodder Children's Books)

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This book really got me thinking. What were Charlotte's first words? I'm pretty sure they weren't "Dada"...
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Monday, August 22, 2016

Maverick makes its mark with three brilliant new picture books to round off your summer

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Maverick are showing no signs of slowing down as the summer sunshine continues, and thoughts start to turn to the dreaded (or for parents, the blessed relief of the) return to school.

But stop a moment, sit down, curl up and enjoy a good book or three. Maverick have got you covered with three new fantastic picture book titles for tiddlers who love engaging and original stories.

First, well how could we NOT love any book that champions books themselves, and libraries. Oh and bears. In "The New LiBEARian" by Alison Donald and Alex Willmore meet a huge cuddly bear who just LOVES to read.

Miss Merriweather, the usual Librarian has gone missing but when the children turn up for storytime a rather hairy and fuzzy stand-in is ready to read a book or two. This LiBEARian might be a bit scary at first, but his love of books is infectious and soon all the children rather love their new replacement book fanatic.

An awesome and fun book with a touch of magic to it, "The New LiBEARian" by Alison Donald and Alex Willmore is out now from Maverick. 

More fun now, this time of the face-fuzz variety in "Mr Mustachio", a new story from Yasmin Finch and Abigail Tompkins.

Mr Mustachio is the proud owner of the world's most talented moustache. It twists and twirls like a huge extendable pair of extra arms and Mr M couldn't be more pleased with his fantastic top-lip soup-strainer.

But when Mr M is invited to a picnic, disaster strikes. The one problem with a huge long gangly moustache is you never quite know when it's going to get you into a terrible tangle!

Full of hilarious scenes and with gorgeous illustrations, Mr Mustachio is a brilliant romp!

"Mr Mustachio" by Yasmin Finch and Abigail Tompkins is out now from Maverick. 

And one more, this time a perfect story book to usher in the colder weather...

In "The Snowflake Mistake" by Lou Treleaven and Maddie Frost (appropriate name there, Maddie!) meet a young girl who absolutely loves the chilly weather.

Princess Ellie is left in charge of the magical snow machine when the Snow Queen takes a well earned break.

The Snow Queen's amazing snow machine churns out identical snowflakes and scatters them around the world, but Ellie has other ideas. Her snowflakes might not be uniform and identical but they're beautiful, delicate and all distinctly unique.

It's a lovely wintry rhyming tale with the most adorable illustrations full of character and snowy wonder. "The Snowflake Mistake" by Lou Treleaven and Maddie Frost will be released in September 2016 so watch out for it.

For more awesome titles from Maverick, go and check out their website for some sneaky peeks!
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Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World by Laurence Anholt (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

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This one was snapped up and read from cover to cover the moment it arrived.

I've long been a fan of Frida Kahlo's work and I'm also a huge fan of Laurence Anholt's fantastic "Anholt's Artists" range, where Laurence introduces the most famous artists and their stunning works of art to children in a hugely engaging way.

In "Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World" we meet a little girl called Mariana who is visiting Frida to get her portrait painted.

The little girl is a bit shy and not quite sure what to expect. Frida is, after all, a fairly eccentric character. She has a pet monkey, she keeps a skeleton in her room and her works of art are stunning, sometimes macabre but hugely celebrated.

Mariana settles down to listen to a story, the story of Frida's life and as the book unfolds we too get to learn about this amazing artist and her extremely tough life, and the accident that almost killed her. Amazingly she recovered and is now recognised all over the globe, her works ensuring that her memory and legacy live forever.

It's fascinating stuff, and once again I firmly tip my hat to Laurence for producing such a brilliant tale, woven around Frida's life.

Charlotte's best bit: Learning all about Frida's early life and art, and her encouraging family (particularly dad!)

Daddy's favourite bit: One of my favourite artists, stunningly brought to life for children in this fabulous book.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

"Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World"

Written and Illustrated by Laurence Anholt

Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books

Publication Date: 1st September 2016
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Friday, August 19, 2016

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 19th August 2016 - "The Deluxe Collection - Volumes 1 and 2" by Lorenzo Etherington (Lulu Self Publishing)

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Not one, but two utterly stunning and MASSIVE art collections nail our second Book of the Week slot. We're Lorenzo crazy, baby!
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ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 19th August 2016 - "I Can Make My Own Accessories" by Georgia Vaux and Louise Scott-Smith (Thames and Hudson)

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A brilliant make-and-create book that's absolutely perfect for the summer holidays. Our first Book of the Week this week is "I Can Make My Own Accessories" by Georgia Vaux and Louise Scott-Smith
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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Why is being a massive cynic about everything "on trend?" - A ReadItTorial

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Once upon a time when I spent (read: wasted) a lot of my time and money on videogames, I used to love putting cursor to screen and writing about them.

I've played videogames since the dawn of time (alright, since Pong and all those crazy home 'sports games' that you used to plug into the black and white telly and blip-bloop your way through mindlessly) and every year I swear I'm going to pack it all in. I don't keep up with them as much as I used to but now and again I can't help dipping back in.

Despite my best efforts, I've also failed to put Charlotte off videogames. We're extremely strict (perhaps a bit too strict) about screen time but now and again, in fleeting moments, we'll sit down together and check out something new.

Finding kid-friendly games for modern consoles isn't that easy. Most are insultingly basic while others seem to rely heavily on cartoon violence or are branded heavily towards whatever 'flavour of the month movie or tv show' is hitting the back of the net. So it's always refreshing when something comes along that engages and stimulates in the same way a good book does.

Current flavour of the month is "No Man's Sky" which some have dubbed as "An action-exploration simulator". The game has certainly polarised opinion, though now it's out there and being played, most people seem to be really positive about it - which is good. But then there's the usual flurry of annoying coverage that seems to want nothing more than to put you off playing this game.

In all the years since I gave up regularly writing about games, one thing has remained pretty consistent (and it's not really something that's limited to games either, spreading to movies and books and just about anything else net-based journalists regularly cover). Everyone loves a good moan and it really does grate on my nerves as much now, as it did when I was far more into videogames and could stomach the negativity that seemed to haunt each and every release.

There's still this seemingly 'trendy' air of huge cynicism before we (the general public) get our hands on a new game, movie or book. Early released copies naturally find their way out to bigger websites or news outlets way ahead of release (well, in some cases anyway) so a privileged few get to enjoy these items in exchange for an early opinion. It feels like lately, that opinion is nearly always hugely negative and nitpicky, or misses the entire point of being into videogames in the first place. To enjoy yourself playing.



In the case of "No Man's Sky" - the game picture above and one I've had my eye on ever since an image from the game graced the box of my Playstation 4, the tiny team responsible for this amazing looking space exploration game (Hello Games) have had to weather a lot of adverse comments and negative opinions. "It's going to be a huge bomb" says one site. "It's not what I wanted, what I expected" said another, and with the team going back and reworking the game and producing a huge day one patch for it that practically reinvents the whole thing (a gigantic effort for such a tiny team), you'll hope those news outlets will be quick to follow up with a review or an opinion on the 'final' product, right?

(only, most won't bother)

Most news articles seem to obsess over two aspects of the game that don't interest me in the slightest. On the one hand you've got people claiming that the game's 'multiplayer' is deeply flawed. People can't meet up, and shoot each other. Even two people who somehow managed to end up on the same planet early on in the game's release couldn't meet up and have a pow-wow. To be honest, that's the sort of news that gladdens my heart because this is the sort of game where I'd like the opportunity to explore on my own, name new things, and find my own path without the pressure of having someone else flash their butt in your face shouting "FIRST!" at every opportunity. So the game's netcode might not be all that, but hooray! For once I'm not complaining.

Secondly there's the endlessly tedious willy-measuring (if you'll pardon my patois) that we have to endure every single time a new game is released on consoles and PC. PC owners aren't happy unless the game is blasting their eyeballs out of their sockets, running at stupidly high resolutions and framerates on a home gaming rig that cost more than my car. "It's crap, it underperforms, it's a broken mess" is probably what you'll read since the game was available for PC download. And of course all that and the usual multiplayer mumblings. It reminds me why I no longer bother with PC gaming, the whole thing went beyond actually enjoying games and turned into an endless braggardly arms race years ago and it hasn't changed one iota.

More bad news for the game is the current backlash about features that were alluded to prior to release that didn't make it into the final product. While the majority of folk are quite happily doing what we're doing, exploring and enjoying themselves, it seems there's a hard core of 'propah' gamers who want to try and rally support for some sort of lawsuit over the features they (and I quote NeoGaf here so expect the usual internet stupidity) "have a right to see in the game".

Sorry? You have a right to what exactly? You either buy the game or you don't. Why does a development team suddenly owe you something purely because you think that a comment in an interview is some sort of binding contract between you and the developer?

I think I know why I gave up trying to reason with folk like this or offer critique on games. Videogames do seem to bring out the worst in certain folk.

Anyhow, as ironic as it sounds to sit here talking about journalistic cynicism being the norm on a site that reviews books, and journalistic opinion even mattering when it comes to what the public want to spend their hard earned on, it really is depressing when you see how saturated online reporting is with this whole idea of being cynical to be "on-trend".

I get that people love moaning. Boy do people ever love moaning but I've picked up No Mans Sky (and it's very nice to actually find a game that I can play alongside my daughter, taking it in turns to hand over the pad and control the game with loads of awesome non-threatening action to enjoy).

Back to beloved books from now on though and if you still wonder why we're largely positive about the books we write about here on the blog, it's mostly because someone has to shine a light of positivity onto the net and we really couldn't give two hoots if that means we're not on trend, sorry.


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Two fab new titles for little ones from hugely talented author illustrator Britta Teckentrup

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Britta Teckentrup is an immensely talented lady and we've been looking at two new books from Britta that are tons of fun.

The first is "One is Not a Pair" which is new from Big Picture Press.

We take a spotting journey of discovery with Britta as each page spread hides a fiendishly difficult to spot "odd one out"

Can your keen eyes pick the one that isn't a pair amongst this fab and colourful designs?

Here are some page samples to tempt you in (if that cover hasn't already won you over. We loved it!)




Ooh! Which toadstool stands alone, and doesn't belong with another?
Superfast planes flying in the sky. Which one is on its own?
With wonderful rhyming text to accompany the illustrations, this is a really gorgeous little spotting book. Out now from Big Picture Press.

Britta also has a new title coming from Prestel Publishing, introducing a brilliant little crow character who we instantly fell in love with...

In "Oskar Loves", meet Oskar the Crow who is full of joie de vivre. He invites us to learn a little bit more about his life, telling us all about the things he loves the most.

Oskar really loves taking his cute little fluffy cloud for a walk. Oskar LOVES Cherries.

What other things does Oskar love? Let's take a look at some sample pages..














You can see why we love Oskar so much, can't you!

Mmm! Nothing better than cherry pie and custard. Good choice, Oskar!
A glorious little picture book. "Oskar Loves" is out on 5th September 2016 from Prestel Publishing.

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