Friday, March 29, 2013

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week, Week Ending Friday 29th March 2013 - "Red Butterfly" by Deborah Noyes and Sophie Blackall (Candlewick Press)














Our book of the week this week is something spectacular and unusual, and a book that made Charlotte's eyes pop out with delight as soon as she saw the luxurious and beautiful illustrations on the cover.

"Red Butterfly" tells the story of how a lone Princess smuggled the secret of China's amazing silk out of the country, after being promised in marriage to the ruler of a kingdom far from her home.

We follow her life as, from an early age, she is surrounded by beauty and the richness of her father's land - and how her secret acts of rebellion change the course of history.

We've shown Charlotte a few amazing instances of Chinese folklore and have also told her that Mulan (one of her favourite Disney films) was a traditional Chinese folk tale long before it got the Disney treatment.

The story is joyful at times, as we see the Princess's rather privileged life not affecting her appreciation of how lucky she is, and where true beauty lies. It's also quite sad as she is inevitably drawn into the politics of empires rising and falling, and how tradition could not be swayed, even at the behest of a royal princess.

We talked about silk worms - when I was a wee whippersnapper we were taken on a school trip to a silk farm and shown where silk came from. A massive source of amusement to a coach full of schoolchildren that something people weave such beautiful clothing (and underwear!) out of could've originated from a worm's bottom! Our learning journey, finding out about silk, has only just begun but it's actually a good topic for classroom if you can get past the rather unsavoury commercial processes that harvest whole silk cocoons by essentially killing the poor larvae inside! Eek!)

This book is incredible though, beautifully illustrated, and presents an almost dream-like story filled to the brim with atmosphere and quite a lot of excitement (particularly if your child is interested in other cultures and their history).

A very well deserved book of the week.

Charlotte's best bit: The Princess' amazing flowing dresses and silken robes so beautifully illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Daddy's favourite bit: A luxurious piece of work that feels delicate and approachable, with a folk-tale feel. Brilliant!




Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Heart Bedtime by Clara Vulliamy (HarperCollins Children's Books)














(Check out the Twitter hashtag #iheartbedtime for more brill reviews!)

There have been lots of happy discoveries since we first started blogging about books way back in 2010 but some authors and illustrators somehow manage to escape our notice, purely by accident. I can't quite believe we've never had the pleasure of reading a Clara Vulliamy book before now, but I'm happy to say we have now rectified that situation in the best possible way - taking a look at Clara's new "Martha and the Bunny Brothers" book "I Heart Bedtime".

As a supporter of our #ReadItMD13 Campaign, and one of the very nicest people you could possibly chat to on Twitter, we've been quite interested to see what her books are actually like so when we were lucky enough to be involved (in our own small way) with the launch of this book (launch day is TODAY by the way! Hooray!), the most exciting part was actually getting to finally read something we'd already heard so much about.

For the uninitiated (who, like us, need to become initiated pretty durned quickly!) Martha is the big bunny sister to the two busy little bunny brothers Monty and Pip. When Martha's best babysitter-from-next-door comes to look after the bunnies one evening, Martha is determined that Monty and Pip are going to snuggle down to bed so that she can spend some time with Grace-Next-Door before her own sleepy dreamtime.

What can you do when the bunny brothers are such busy (and mischievous) little scamps though? Perhaps a little song might help...?

Coming to the very latest of Clara's 'Martha and the Bunny Brothers' books without seeing the others, we can really appreciate the amount of work (and love) that has gone into putting together a nicely packed and very satisfying story that's not just perfect for bedtime, but for any time at all.

Of course, we are now on a mission - to catch up with Clara's other MBB books, and to also take a look at The Lucky Wish Mouse books and all the other wonderful characters this extremely talented lady comes up with.

Charlotte thinks she's an absolute superstar, not just because she chose the 'right' Disney Princess in our interview with her that you may have seen earlier in the week, but also because Clara made Charlotte her very own little bedtime 'Martha'.

Charlotte's best bit: Even though I did it utterly truly awful justice, Charlotte actually rather loved Martha's Bedtime Song (see a much much better version of it on Clara's website here!)

Daddy's favourite bit: I love the way the story is laid out and the really busy little details all throughout the book. A great intro for us to Clara's work, and definitely a book that's made us look forward to catching up with "I Heart School"

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates (Red Fox Picture Books)














So this is the book that started Dog's wonderful journey of discovery across three very succesful books. We were very lucky to spot this at our local library so grabbed it with both hands.

We did things in a slightly higgledy-piggledy order (first reading "Dog Loves Drawing" and then most recently "Dog Loves Counting") but this is our favourite by far.

Dog is a happy-go-lucky little fellow who just happens to love books more than anything else. Best of all dog loves to share them so one day Dog decides that the best way to do just that would be to open his own bookstore.

With books a-plenty in stock, Dog busies himself one breakfast time and gets ready for work. The shop opens, and Dog prepares himself for customers...

...and waits

...and waits.

Poor Dog. Thankfully the greatest thing about being in a bookstore is that you're surrounded by lots and lots of books, so while waiting for legitimate customers to turn up (and I had to laugh at the first few he gets, particularly the woman asking for tea, because it reminded me of the lovely Hedgehog books and their tales of woe of tricky customers!) Dog escapes into the bookworld! Hooray!

As with the other 'Dog' books, the masterful way Louise Yates draws Dog helps build on a fantastic story - with lots of lovely references to books and how sharing them is one of the best feelings in the world. It's why we do what we do here, after all!

Charlotte's best bit: Poor forlorn dog when he realises the shop isn't quite buzzing as it should

Daddy's favourite bit: Loving his first proper customer, an inquisitive little girl very much like one who contributes hugely to this blog!

#ReadItMD13 - "Children's Poetry Week" - Day 3 with Joshua Seigal, Children's Poet and Performer

Joshua Seigal, Children's Poet and Performer getting the audience involved!
Once again we're delighted to guest a post for #ReadItMD13 Children's Poetry Week, this time by children's poet and performer Joshua Seigal. He's out and about this week visiting schools and the poem below was written for a year 2 class he'll be visiting. He's also just written a poem featured in one of our favourite magazines, Springboard Stories! Find out more about Joshua on his website.


Bradley by Joshua Seigal

In Year 2 we have a pet –

Bradley is his name.

Bradley is a stick insect

And Bradley has a game:

He often likes to leave his box

And crawl across the floor,

He’ll rest upon the windowsill

Or linger by the door.



He likes to lurk among the books

And wallow in the sink,

He sometimes nibbles at our lunch

And drinks our teacher’s drink!

He lolls across the radiator

Basking in the heat,

And when we’re sitting at our desks

He’ll flit across our feet.



In Year 2 we have a pet –

Bradley is his name.

Bradley is a stick insect

And Bradley has a game:

He hides in teacher’s handbag

And he gives her such a fright

That she leaps up high into the air

And screams with all her might!



She says that Bradley’s escapades

Are making her feel sick

So she went into the playground

And she came back with a stick.

She put the stick in Bradley’s box

And told him “This is Brian.

He is your new insect pal –

Now you play Sleeping Lions!”

(C) Joshua Seigal 2013 - Used with permission

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lion and Mouse by Catalina Echeverri (Jonathan Cape Ltd)














We love it when books fizz with energy, and Catalina Echeverri's debut for Jonathan Cape, "Lion and Mouse" does exactly that.

Taking a fairly well known story and adding a few twists and turns here and there, Catalina has produced a rather beautiful book underpinned with the strong message about how valuable a friendship can be, and how sometimes taking someone for granted is part of the ebb and flow.

Mouse is a rather timid little fellow as you might expect. His best friend Lion, however, is loud and confident and very self-assured. Mouse feels like he's constantly living in the shadow of Lion's brash and outspoken behaviour and decides one day to disappear.

Despite own Lion's claims that he is amazing, brave, fearless and strong, Lion has a secret. There is something Lion is scared of - The dark!

So when darkness comes, who does Lion need by his side the most? Mouse of course!

Catalina's illustrative style lends the book its frenetic energy, and Charlotte rather liked the pace of the story. There are great opportunities for characterisation as you can read the book together, being as loud as Lion and then as quiet and timid as mouse. It's a brilliant book for early readers as the flow of text and the story is easy to follow despite the fairly quick pace.

We look forward to seeing more from Catalina, this is a brilliant debut.

Charlotte's best bit: Lion in the darkness, very scary!

Daddy's favourite bit: A neat little moral tale, not preachy or too in your face - and Mouse is a little darling really, despite Lion's rather rubbish behaviour towards him early in the book.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Jonathan Cape PB Ltd)

Dog Loves Counting by Louise Yates (Jonathan Cape Ltd)














Ahhh Dog, one of our favourite Children's Book Characters, is back once again to delve into a subject that I personally shy away from. Numbers. But children love numbers as much as dog, so in Louise Yates' latest 'Dog' book, the inquisitive little fellah embarks on a journey of discovery, as a whole host of animal friends help him find out more about numbers and counting.

For Charlotte, the most enjoyable part of any Dog book is the character himself, with his beautifully drawn expressions and his sheer joy as he discovers how easy it is to get completely wrapped up in the world of counting.

"Why is Dog so happy, Daddy?" - Dog is happy because he's discovering something new.

People sometimes ask us why we blog about books, and there's your answer right there. Books help us discover new worlds, keep our brains popping, inspire us to ask questions and stimulate us to break outside the boundaries of the pages (just as Dog does) and go off and find out more about a subject.

At a time where we, as parents, are playing the fine tuned balancing act of bringing what is learned at school home, and vice versa, books like "Dog Loves Counting" gently educate without feeling like a school book, and encourage children through Dog's discoveries, that a little knowledge is a wonderful and solid foundation to build a lifetime of learning on.

Charlotte's best bit: The Dodo! Her favourite character (other than Dog himelf!)

Daddy's favourite bit: Louise Yates' gentle pencils and colours are simple yet beautiful, and her animal characters are wonderfully crafted. Dog's world really comes alive as you make your way through the book. We can't wait to track down and read "Dog Loves Books" as it's the only one we've missed so far!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Jonathan Cape Ltd)

#ReadItMD13 - "Children's Poetry Week" - Colin West, author of "The Big Book of

Colin West, Author of "The Big Book of Nonsense (Vol 1-3)" with two awesome poetry books
We've giggled at his brilliant "Big Book of Nonsense" in its shiny new electronic form on iPad, and we've been entertained by his tweets. Ladies and gentlemen, for Children's Poetry Week we're very fortunate to have Colin West pop in to share with us a poetry-themed guest post. Over to you, Colin!

My Early Inspirations

Like most families in post war Britain, we didn't have many books in the house. Yet it hardly mattered to a boy fond of funny rhymes. I couldn't listen to the radio without hearing poetry in some form or other. Whether it was Lonnie Donegan enquiring about the properties of your chewing gum on the bedpost, or Alma Cogan speculating where the baby's dimple might be, novelty songs were everywhere.

Nor could I escape humorous rhymes at school. Playground chants educated me as to Popeye's toilet habits. Apparently he lived in a caravan and there was a hole in the middle where he did his piddle. And half past nine was the best time to hang your knickers on the line, I also learned.

In the classroom we were made to sing along to crackly broadcasts of folk songs twice weekly. Songs from all areas were covered, from Scotland to Somerset, Wales to the Wash, by way of Australia and the Deep South of America. Some were plaintively romantic, others plain nonsensical. One of my favourites bizarrely mixed "Rule Britannia" with a ditty about a mermaid at the bottom of the deep blue sea.

Meanwhile, TV was coming along apace. There was Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen. (Hardly high art, but the perfect theme for the programme's enthusiastic young audience.) Cy Grant sang topical calypsos almost nightly, Professor Stanley Unwin regularly popped up with his inspired gobbledygook and Spike Milligan read his silly verse on the Royal Variety Show.

Over on the newly formed commercial channel, advertising jingles rang in our ears: Murray mints, Murray mints, too good to hurry mints etc. In the streets, on the sides of Double Deckers, the slogan Drinkapintamilkaday shone out in multi-coloured lettering.

All this stuff was food for thought to a young boy acquiring an appetite for words.

As the 1960s dawned, a pre-Oliver Lionel Bart was writing witty words for the British rock'n'rollers. (Remember Tommy Steele's "Little White Bull"?) And even Frank Sinatra deigned to warble a daft ditty about some ant having trouble with a rubber tree plant.

A few years later, and I was greatly taken by the quirky lyrics of Ray Davies, Pete Townshend and the Beatles. (By the way, "I Am the Walrus" was supposedly inspired by Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter".) On my art foundation course, a friend introduced me to the black humour of Tom Lehrer. "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" seemed a pretty funny concept at the age of sixteen.

Tom Lehrer - "Don't let the pigeon play the piano!"

The Folk Boom was also under way, and half those songs from the BBC broadcasts were given a second airing by the likes of Fairport Convention and Bob Dylan. If all this was getting a touch serious, there was always those clever Pythons singing about a cross- dressing lumberjack. And who should happen to be Number One in the pop charts around this time? None other than Liverpudlian group Scaffold, amongst whose members was a real live poet in the form of Roger McGough.

So, you see, it hardly mattered that we didn't have a houseful of books when I was young. I found more than enough inspiration all around me. And by 21, I felt ready to start writing funny stuff of my own ...

Thank you very much for guesting on ReaditDaddy, Colin!

Visit Colin's brilliant website for more mirth and entertainment, and also pick up Colin's brilliant "Big Book of Nonsense" books, now available for your iPad.




Monday, March 25, 2013

Springboard Stories Issue 4 - "Space!"

Springboard Stories Issue 4 - "Space" - We are space nerds and we love this!

When you hear the wonderful folk behind Springboard Stories casually mentioning on twitter that their core aim is to make each issue just that teensy weensy little bit better than the last, you'd better believe them - Because it just so happens to be true and so far they're doing just that.

Springboard Stories Issue 4 - "Space" was an instant win for us, simply because we are a real family of Space Nerds. Grandad is the closest living thing in the family to being a rocket scientist (He worked for the European Space Agency and the SOHO Solar Project for a number of years). His influence definitely had an effect on my lovely wife and is also having an effect on Charlotte too.

Me, I've been a space nerd ever since I had my first telescope and watched science fiction become science fact as a kid.

So dipping into Springboard Stories Space Issue has been an absolute pleasure. As before you have a heady mix of brilliant information about school-friendly resources, an absolute plethora of gathered talent (including Joshua Siegal, who is coming up later this week on ReadItDaddy as a blog guest), and an accompanying story book - "Miss Wacky's Day Out" written by the extremely talented Peter Dixon and illustrated beautifully by the Walmesley brothers, Simon and James.

There's a rather beautiful set of pull-out posters for classrooms too. A superb astronaut mosaic by Cleo Mussi and a particular favourite subject of Charlotte's at the moment, the marvellous Mars Rover doing its thing all over the red planet.

If you've yet to subscribe to Springboard Stories, you can find out how to via the Springboard Stories website or just pop in to take a look at what to expect from the magazine and accompanying materials.

If you're a teacher looking for a rocket-boost to your lesson plans, or a parent who wants to find out more about a whole host of interesting activities and learning opportunities, Springboard Stories should be your number one cosmic destination du jour!



The ReadItDaddy Interview - Clara Vulliamy, author and illustrator of the latest Martha and the Bunny Brothers book "I Heart Bedtime"

Martha Hearts Bedtime!
It's launch week for Clara Vulliamy's latest (and we think greatest!) "Martha and the Bunny Brothers" book "I Heart Bedtime". We are very fortunate to have Clara guesting on our blog, answering some of our trickiest questions and we really appreciate her taking some time out of a very busy launch schedule to pop in and say hi.  Take it away, Clara!


ReadItDaddy (Daddy):  Hi Clara and congratulations on your new book "I Heart Bedtime" which looks fantastic. Tell us a little bit about it and what inspired the story?


Clara Vulliamy: 

Thank you very much! In I Heart Bedtime, Martha is trying to get her bouncy bunny brothers Monty and Pip into bed EARLY, so she can have some extra special time with best babysitter Grace-next-door. But this is a something of a challenge…

Bedtime is a fabulous theme for a book – it’s a daily family saga of sometimes epic (and exasperating) proportions, and it’s full of detail and different routines. Funny, sweet, and – in the bunny household - utterly chaotic.


ReadItDaddy (Daddy): We're massively grateful for all the support you've given our #ReaditMummiesandDaddies2013 campaign (you are a star!) Can you tell us why you think it's important for parents to read to their children?

Clara Vulliamy: 

I’m proud to be on board!
Getting children hooked on reading begins a lifelong love affair with books. Reading aloud to them, when they are babies and small children and when they are older too, does several incredibly important things:
it draws them in to the thrill of the story and develops their powers of imagination and observation,
it tells them that YOU love books too (there’s no better advertisement than that!),
and it’s a love thing - showing them that, for these few moments, there’s nowhere you’d rather be than right here.


ReadItDaddy (Daddy): I love your artistic style, describe a typical day when you're busy creating!

Clara Vulliamy: 

I start working early – the family ‘workers’ have left the house by 7.30 – so I’m at my desk with a strong coffee pretty much then.
If I’m writing, there’s lots of end-of-pencil-chewing, staring out of the window, day-dreaming. I might spend all morning writing one sentence and all afternoon rubbing it out.
But if I’m illustrating it’s much more delicious – squeezing out paints, cutting and sticking… think nursery school but not on one of those agonizing tiny chairs.


ReadItDaddy (Daddy): Finally from me before I hand over to Charlotte (and this is the killer question) name 5 books you'd take to a desert island!

Clara Vulliamy: 

That IS a killer! Only 5??

I would take:
  • Babar for his elegant green suit and spats;
  • Winnie the Pooh for my great pal Piglet;
  • A poetry anthology for some learning-by-heart;
  • His Dark Materials for the soul;
  • ...and an A to Z of London to remember all the places I love. 

ReadItDaddy (Charlotte): Do you have any bunnies at home as you really draw nice bunnies.

Clara Vulliamy: 

Thank you so much, Charlotte!
I love drawing bunnies, especially their soft pink noses and their long ears (that are a great way to show feelings – droopy for sad, perky for happy).
I did have a bunny called Mistletoe, but now I have two guinea pigs called Delilah and Maccabees. They keep me company and love to chat ALL THE TIME!


ReadItDaddy (Charlotte): What's the hardest thing to draw?

Clara Vulliamy: 

I used to think that cars were the hardest. The cars I drew looked like potatoes on wheels. But just recently I’ve been doing a book that has LOTS of cars in it, and I have loved doing them!
But I still can’t draw a tractor or a train…


ReadItDaddy (Charlotte): Who is your favourite Disney Princess (or other Princess)?

Well – I hope this is right, I THINK she’s a princess – my favourite is Snow White. It was one of the first films I ever saw at the cinema, and I thought she was very pretty. And I thought the witch was absolutely terrifying. There are lots of rabbits in that film, too!

(Charlotte says "Snow White is MY favourite too! She's the most beautiful Disney Princess!)

Huge gigantic massive thanks Clara for popping by to say hi to us and for answering our tricky questions. We wish you all the very best with your book launch!

"I Heart Bedtime" by Clara Vulliamy and published by HarperCollins Children's Books is out on the 28th March 2013. We'll be reviewing it very very soon so keep an eye out for our verdict! In the meantime if you'd like to win a copy, pop on by our competition page! Tweet us something Bunny  and Funny with the hashtag #iheartbedtime for a chance to win !

#ReadItMD13 - Elli Woollard on poetry vs really bad rhyming

Best rhyme ever!


When Rhyme is a Crime

"Shut that book! I’ve not got time

To read your bloody awful rhyme"



There are too many picture books written in rhyme. There, I’ve said it. A strange thing to say, you might think, coming from someone who writes almost exclusively in verse. But

that doesn’t mean that every book

that’s set in verse is worth a...second glance.

‘What?’ you might cry. ‘But, but, but…’ And you think of Dr Seuss, of Julia Donaldson – authors who have become famous for their rhyming styles. The problem is that for every Seuss or Donaldson there are several authors who can’t write in verse at all.

Partly this is down to metre. Lots of children’s books are, inexplicably, written in tetrameter (don’t worry, I had to Google that too), and

There is nothing that will bore me more

Than words all set in groups of four.


Fine for a while, and fine if done well, but so often done badly. And so the book simply plods. And plods. And plods. And…Sorry, nodded off there. Where was I? Plodding.

What a book needs isn’t rhyme, but rhythm. This can be done within a metre, or by varying a metre. Someone like Julia Donaldson is brilliant at it. ‘A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood. A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good’. Sheer genius. Julia Donaldson’s books work (on the whole) because of their bounce. The rhythm lifts them to a whole new level.

And then...

Lots of books go down the pan

Because they really really don’t scan


To be fair, some of the worst examples of this are those books produced in-house, often exploiting a particular character (think Thomas the Tank Engine or Angelina Ballerina). Editors, who are often rather wary of verse for all the reasons I am mentioning, know a cash cow when it’s mooing loudly in their faces. But some writers who really should know better manage to publish books that don’t scan properly. And the problem with bad scansion is that it’s difficult to read – a bit like going down a path and constantly having to stumble over stones.

The most important question for an author to ask is why a book should be written in rhyme. There is absolutely no point in writing in verse just for the sake of it. Yes, children love rhyme, and verse done well is sure to become a favourite. But bad rhyme is worse than no rhyme at all.

Of course that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be poetry in children’s books. But conflating ‘verse’ with ‘poetry’ is a huge mistake. Take a book like Helen Cooper’s ‘Pumpkin Soup’ (and if you don’t know it, go out and borrow or buy it now – even steal it if you have to – and devour it). Although it’s written in prose, it’s pure poetry: ‘Made by the duck who scoops up a pipkin of salt and tips in just enough’. And of course books in verse by the likes of Donaldson, Caryl Hart and Peter Bentley are, generally, brilliant.

But there really isn’t much that’s worse

Than a book written in crap verse


Someone please take note.

Elli writes brilliant poetry over at "Taking Words For A Stroll". World domination is imminent. Be ready!

Want to win a fantastic copy of "I Heart Bedtime" by Clara Vulliamy? Tweet us something Bunny and Funny!

I Heart Bedtime by Clara Vulliamy. We heart it a lot too!
Thanks to the lovely folk over at HarperCollins Children's Books (and also thanks to the lovely Clara herself) we've got a very special prize competition for you to win Clara's latest (and most brilliant) Martha and the Bunny Brothers book "I Heart Bedtime" along with something VERY special, made by the lovely Clara herself. Your very own tiny dinky and gorgeously made Martha Bedtime Bunny!

I Heart Bedtime and Martha

Time to snuggle down!

Awww, fast asleep!

So cute!

Simply tweet us (@readitdaddy) your funniest bunniest tweet on Twitter using the hashtag #iheartbedtime or RT this competition. We'll pop your entries into our Jack Skellington mug (assuming they all fit!) and pick a winner by the end of Wednesday 27th March 2013.

We'll then DM the winner and hopefully you'll have some Bunny magic to look forward to before you settle down to scoff lots of choc over the holidays.

(The competition is now closed and congratulations to our winner Damyanti Patel! Your prize is on its way!)




#ReaditMD13 - This week's theme "Children's Poetry"

C from Edward Lear's "The Letters of the Alphabet" (1880)
This week we're diving headlong into a fairly tricky subject. Children's Poetry is often (quite wrongly) overlooked because parents often assume that just because a book rhymes, it's poetry.

No no no no NO! A thousand times no! In fact you'll hear more on that later on from our first guest on the blog this week, the awesome Elli Woollard from "Taking Words for a Stroll"

We'll also be hearing from Colin West, author of several poetic tomes including our favourites, "The Big Book of Nonsense" one, two and three. 

Last but by no means least, Joshua Seigal will also be dropping in with a fantastic poem composed for World Poetry Day (which was on the 21st March 2013 - our timing is terrible for our theme week, I know!) with school visits planned for this week, it's always worth stopping by his web site to see what he's up to. 

The aim of this week's theme is to highlight children's poems, poets and the pure brilliance of verse written as poetry, not necessarily as an amusing rhyming story. 

On with the show. Share with us your favourite children's poems, old and new. We'd love to read them!

Friday, March 22, 2013

The ReadItDaddy Interview - Emma Yarlett, Author and Illustrator of our Book of the Week this week - "Sidney, Stella and the Moon" (Templar Publishing)


Emma Yarlett and her debut children's book "Sidney, Stella and the Moon" (Templar)
It's a real treat to be able to interview lovely booky folk during the course of our weekly blogging antics, and this week we're extremely lucky to be able to welcome Emma Yarlett, Author and Illustrator of this week's Book of the Week "Sidney, Stella and the Moon".

With our best questioning expressions (no red crayon moustaches for us though, unfortunately) we managed to collar Emma during her busy launch schedule to pop a few quizzical musings to her.

ReadItDaddy (Daddy)

Hi Emma, congratulations on your first book for Templar "Sidney, Stella and the Moon" - Tell us a little bit about yourself and your first book!

Emma Yarlett 

Thank you! It's so exciting to be published and 'out there'.... although it is a little scary letting go of something so personal, this is my very very first authored and illustrated book and so is very close to my heart.

 I began it way back in 2010 when I was studying in my final year at Falmouth University College, and it has been on an incredible journey, slowly twisting, changing and adapting into the final book that you see today. I've changed a lot on the journey too- going from a Miss Bennett to a Mrs Yarlett, and making the big decision to stay permanently in the lovely warmer climates of Cornwall.

Children's picture books are very much at the heart of my illustration work, but I've worked on a whole host of other things too- from an animation to Waterstones, to greetings cards for Hallmark, to an educational play with the one and only Julia Donaldson! It's been a fantastic 2 years as a professional illustrator- and I can't wait to see what the future holds.


ReadItDaddy (Daddy)

We're always interested in how authors / artists organise (or disorganise!) their day. How does your typical day go?

Emma Yarlett

Well my day's usually start with a disgruntled waking up and a trudge through breakfast and a waltz into my studio...

But after that, every day looks so so different- sometimes I will be painting, sometimes I will be researching on my iMac, sometimes I will be chatting through ideas with friends and publishers, sometimes I will get away and go on a lovely walk to get my brain thinking in the fresh air and sometimes you might even find me in Starbucks surrounded by a sea of paper!

Today I am doing a teensy bit of admin, and then putting together a sample of my new book ready for my publishers... so today is an exciting day! I might even have a Jaffa Cake and Hot chocolate to celebrate.


ReadItDaddy (Daddy) 

Who are your favourite artists and authors (children's book author / artists or otherwise!)

Emma Yarlett

Ooo this changes all the time. At the moment I am absolutely amazed by Jonny Duddle's new book 'The King of Space.' (Yay us too :) It's so incredibly cinematic!

Other illustrators I am really liking are Owen Davey and David Roberts. I'm also enjoying the tough graphics of old Soviet Posters, the eclectic work of Kandinsky and the odd bit of Bauhaus.


ReadItDaddy (Daddy)

This is probably the toughest question of all, name 5 things you would take to a desert island / couldn't exist without

Emma Yarlett

Does Mr Yarlett count as a thing? Great! Mr Yarlett, a sketchbook with a never blunting pencil attached to it (technically one thing!), a jet ski, my iphone and a years supply of Jaffa Cakes. Yum!


ReadItDaddy (Charlotte)

What is the hardest thing to draw?

Emma Yarlett

Hello Charlotte! I find for me one of the most difficult things to draw is flowers.... I love drawing things with straight lines with strong structure, and flowers are so pretty and wild and delicate.... It just never quite goes to plan!


ReadItDaddy (Charlotte)

Who is your favourite Princess (Disney or otherwise!)

Emma Yarlett

My favourite Princess would have to be Princess Kate Middleton- she had the best wedding dress ever. But if I had to pick a Disney princess it would definitely be Cinderella.

Brilliant stuff! Thank you so much Emma for taking the time to answer some fairly tricky questions (that Disney Princess one gets 'em every time :) 

"Sidney, Stella and the Moon" is available from Templar Books in hardback right NOW! Go gettit!

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week ending 22nd March 2013: "Sidney, Stella and the Moon" by Emma Yarlett (Templar Publishing)














Ah the moon, the effect it has on our popular culture is phenomenal. Paul Simon once wrote "If you wanna write a song, write a song about the moon" but it also works for children's books too.

We're extremely lucky that the lovely Emma Yarlett has taken time out of her busy book launch schedule to answer a few tricky questions but first we'll take a look at her book and try to give you a sense of why, once again, Templar's keen eye for talent means they've bagged themselves another book of the week.

Sharing - if there's one thing that Charlotte is absolutely, positively, terribly bad at it's sharing and in a week where she actually ended up in Timeout at school (!) because of not sharing, the tale woven into the sumptuous pages of Emma's book is a timely one.

Sidney and Stella are twins, non identical twins. Like most brothers and sisters, they play together and also fight like cat and dog. But one day an incident with a bouncy ball and an argument ends up affecting more than just the warring siblings. The entire earth witnesses the result of their squabble.

This is where it gets tricky to put across why this book is special without utterly ruining the big 'twist' - but when you get to this particular bit in the story and what happens when you open the book at this point (hint hint) watch your child's jaw drop (if you're reading it to them). So much fun and firmly establishes Emma as someone who knows how to work a story in ways that children absolutely can't get enough of. Her artwork is atmospheric, beautiful and detailed, drawing comparisons with brilliantly talented folk like Oliver Jeffers and Leigh Hodgkinson.

Once again it's a book that's rarely strayed from the bedtime stack (and surely there's no better tale to tell when your youngsters are snuggling up and staring out of the window at that great big glowing orb than this!) and we urge you to read it 'cold' - that is, both reader and read-to experience the wow moment together. You'll want to hug Emma for it, I guarantee!

Charlotte's best bit: I can't tell you, it'd ruin the surprise - but it was brilliant!

Daddy's favourite bit: A keen observation of sibling rivalry, and perhaps a book that makes that whole childhood business of sharing not seem too bad after all, particularly when something's shared and can end up working out brilliantly for both squabblers.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Templar Publishing)

#ReadItMD13 - "Brilliant Book Bloggers" Day Five Part 2 - Catherine at StorySnug

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell - A StorySnug Favourite!
Phew! We've just got time to squeeze in one more entry before bedtime - so here's Day 5 Part 2's entry from Catherine at Story Snug.

ReadItDaddy: Tell us your blog's name / who you are

http://storysnug.com / Catherine


ReadItDaddy: How long have you been blogging (book or otherwise) for?

Five months

ReadItDaddy: What's on your book stack this week (children's / grown up books count)?

Peace at Last by Jill Murphy
Ruby, Blue and Blanket by Jane Hissey
Pip and Posy: The Snowy Day by Axel Scheffler
King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bentley
Schlaf gut, Paulchen by David Melling (German translation of Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep)
Bedtime Little Ones! by Claire Freedman
Tom and Small by Clara Vuillamy
The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad


ReadItDaddy: Give a very brief summary of why you think books are important to children...

Books give children the opportunity to escape into a wide range of fantasy worlds and can introduce them to a wealth of weird and wonderful characters. They can expose children to situations or experiences that they may not have had in real life, prepare them for unfamiliar situations and also educate. Books give children opportunities to learn new vocabulary, solve problems and ask questions. Most importantly books can be a source of pure enjoyment, whether they are shared or read alone, and can give children countless wonderful opportunities to escape into whole new worlds.


ReadItdaddy: If you had to name one booky person as your complete and utter book-idol (Writer, Illustrator, Publisher etc) who would it be and why?

Janet and Allan Ahlberg (I can't differentiate between the two really can I?!)

Janet and Allan Ahlberg collaborated on so many of my favourite books – Burglar Bill, Each Peach Pear Plum, The Jolly Postman, Cops and Robbers, Happy Families and Peepo. I think it is a great achievement that they have successfully written and illustrated books across a wide range of ages, from babies and toddlers up to school children. I love the way that they have included traditional fairytale and nursery rhyme characters in several of their books, it introduces children to unfamiliar characters as well as providing them with an opportunity to revisit familiar rhyme and stories. I also find the Ahlbergs' books really lovely to use for literacy based topics in the early years classroom. Basically, I have had a lot of wonderful reading experiences withThe Ahlbergs' books which have given great joy to many children and also to the adults who share the books with them.


ReaditDaddy: Name 5 books you think everyone should have in their book case (children's OR adult book or a mix if you like!)

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Paddington Bear by Michael Bond
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham

Thank you very much Catherine. That neatly wraps up a fantastic week of book blogger posts and a huge huge thank you to Leyla, Melanie, Loll, Carmen, Anne-Marie and of course Catherine for making our "Brilliant Book Bloggers" week one of the most successful of our #readitmd13 campaign so far.

#ReadItMD13 - "Brilliant Book Bloggers" Day 5 Part 1

Child-Led Chaos, showing us how it should be done when it comes to book blogging!
We had such an enthusiastic response to our call for Book Bloggers to join in with our #readitmd13 theme week but how could we possibly resist featuring someone from our home town? Of course we couldn't, so here's Anne-Marie from "Child Led Chaos" to round off what has been a fantastic and very enjoyable week looking at book blogs.



ReadItDaddy: Tell us your blog's name / who you are

I’m Anne-Marie blogging as Child-Led Chaos. Mum to two small girl monsters and hoarder of books. http://childledchaos.me.uk/


ReadItDaddy: How long have you been blogging (book or otherwise) for?

I’ve been properly blogging for two years this July, that’s when I signed up with Twitter, met a wonderful community of people and started writing regularly. I started a personal blog in 2009 but never kept it up. Then there were the websites back in the 90’s that are best left unmentioned!


ReadItDaddy: What's on your book stack this week (childrens / grown up books count)?

Which stack?! I started using Goodreads this year to keep track of my reading (http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5682683) The shelves labelled 2013 tell some of the story.

At the moment we have 22 picture books out from the library which I tend to read from most nights, plus fourteen review copies that we’re still testing out (translation: that I haven’t written reviews for yet!) So far this year we’ve read over 200 different picture books, most of which we own… http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/5682683?shelf=2013-300-picture-books-challenge

According to Goodreads I’m in the middle of reading eight books, but seriously I’m currently reading three. These are:

Storyteller: The Authorised Biography of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock. This is an enormous hardback tome and although fascinating I’m not a huge non-fiction reader so it takes me a long time to get through any non-fiction.

Strangeness and Charm by Mike Shevdon. This is the third in a series that I bought the first from on recommendation from my local bookshop (Mostly Books, Abingdon) and is an actual grown up novel. About fairies.

A Life Drawing by Shirley Hughes. Another non-fiction book. I bought this when I saw Shirley Hughes speak at the Soho Lit Fest in September but didn’t start reading until recently.

Mighty-Girl (six) and Destructo-Girl (almost four) tend to choose a pile of books for reading before bedtime. One night this week we ended up reading three different versions of Hansel and Gretel as that’s what Destructo-Girl chose; for the last two nights we’ve been reading Clara Vulliamy’s Martha and the Bunny Brothers books on repeat. Fortunately they never get boring!


ReadItDaddy: Give a very brief summary of why you think books are important to children...

Books give a child control in a world where they have very little. Words are powerful, and books give children that power. Books can take overwhelming experiences and feelings and trap them into a safe space. They can take you on amazing journeys. They can let you escape. They can introduce you to new friends.


ReadItDaddy: If you had to name one booky person as your complete and utter book-idol (Writer, Illustrator, Publisher etc) who would it be and why?

I thought for ages about this question, thinking of favourite authors and book bloggers and what I used to read, what I read now, who has inspired me, what novels have surprised me, made me laugh, made me cry. But I can’t choose any of these booky people because my complete and utter book-idol is my mum. I remember when I was young and if I was ill, a surprise new book would be brought out of a hidden corner of a cupboard as a treat (I still have many of those special books). 

My mum is the person who realised that I loved science fiction before I did! She’d photocopy pages of The Bookseller and bring them back from where she worked, picking out the authors she knew I loved or articles she thought I’d like. She steered me to try adult books when I was at that frustrating early/mid teen age when there only seemed to be books for young children or Sweet Valley High novels that I had no interest in. 

I could mention how I used to avidly read the author comments at the end of Piers Anthony and Stephen King novels; how I was a fan of Neil Gaiman before I even realised because of his biography of Douglas Adams; how Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels got me through university, and no-one else has ever made me laugh as much; how Iain Banks’ Wasp Factory and Use of Weapons stunned me with their endings; how meeting David Melling and Clara Vulliamy inspired me so much and made me feel like a part of the picture book world; how Zoe and Melanie (of Playing by the Book and Library Mice respectively) urged me to join my local children’s book group. All of these people and more have been inspirations, but I’d not even be a reader without my mum.


ReadItDaddy: Name 5 books you think everyone should have in their book case (childrens OR adult book, or a mix if you like!)

Five is not enough! This list will change every second but right now I’ll choose: 
  • Dogger by Shirley Hughes
  • The Ordinary Princess by M M Kaye
  • The Pit Dragon Trilogy by Jane Yolen
  • The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper
  • The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea. 

Two of those are cheats as I can’t remember the individual books in the series well enough to distinguish a favourite! Whether everyone should have these books is debateable, but I definitely should.

Wow, and thank you Anne-Marie for such an interesting post. Coming up very shortly is Catherine from Story Snug. 

Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Phoenix Comic kicks off Oxford's first family-friendly Comics Festival on 4th May 2013. Updated Post!

The Phoenix Comic Festival - Coming to the Story Museum, Oxford!
It's so exciting, it's a wonder my underpants haven't exploded. News reaches us courtesy of the super-fabulous Jabberworks (Sarah McIntyre) that The Phoenix Comic and The Story Museum Oxford have teamed up to kick off Oxford's first family friendly Comics Festival.

Mark 4th May 2013 in your diary, and come along to the Story Museum between 11am and 4pm for a whole host of comic-related goodness, with The Phoenix and a family-friendly 2000AD (!) on offer.

Edit: Please take a moment to look at the Phoenix info page on the event. Due to the level of interest, the event is now ticketed with limited spaces. Ticket vendor to be confirmed soon.

http://www.thephoenixcomic.co.uk/toccf/

We'll be there!

#readitmd13 - "Brilliant Book Bloggers" Day 4 - Carmen at Rhino Reads

"I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie" - So do we, lovely Rhino, so do we!



Day Four of this week's #ReadItMD Campaign theme of "Brilliant Book Bloggers" and we have a genuine book fairy with us to share her experiences in book blogging. Over to you, Carmen Haselup at Rhino Reads!

ReadItDaddy: Tell us your blog's name / who you are:


Hi, I'm Carmen from RhinoReads where I review big books for little people and play host to Ronnie Rhino. Http://www.rhinoreads.wordpress.com



ReadItDaddy: How long have you been blogging (book or otherwise) for?

I've been blogging for a couple of years now but I only started blogging about children's books with Ronnie in January, so I'm still a newbie on that front. I started the Rainbow Library - a nursery library for disadvantaged children - for International Book Giving Day in February and things have really taken off from there.



ReadItDaddy: What's on your book stack this week (childrens / grown up books count) ?

Well, I technically have more than one book stack. I try to review books from the local library, my own collection and books donated to the Rainbow Library so I have piles everywhere.

In the book stacks this week are:

From the local library:
Not on a School Night - Rebecca Patterson
Dog Loves Books - Louise Yates

From my collection:
Goldilocks and Just the One Bear - Leigh Hodgkinson
The Cloud - Hannah Cumming
The Darkness Slipped in - Ella Burfoot
Oliver - Birgita Sif

And from the Rainbow Library:
Mum and Dad Glue - Kes Gray
Harold Finds a Voice - Courtney Dicmas
Copy Cat - Mark Birchall
No! - Marta Altes
Flip-up Fairy Tales by ChildsPlay

Ronnie and I are going to be busy this week! Extra cake will be required.



ReadItDaddy: Give a very brief summary of why you think books are important to children...


I think books are a vital part of childhood. Children learn so many things from looking at books and being read to. Not just how to hear and see language but how to see the world and their place in it. They learn how to feel and to understand how others might be feeling. They see themselves and the self they could become. They can find comfort, reassurance, inspiration and knowledge. In short, everything they need to thrive in life.

(I'm not good at 'very brief' when it comes to the importance of books)



ReadItDaddy: If you had to name one booky person as your complete and utter book-idol (Writer, Illustrator, Publisher etc) who would it be and why?

I think it would have to be ChildsPlay. I have admired their ethos since I first came across them when I started working in early years education. They were the first publisher I hoped I could get on board with the Rainbow Library, because they believe in, and stand up for, the child. And every child. I am inspired and encouraged by their philosophy and am proud to share their books with the rainbow library children.



ReadItDaddy: Name 5 books you think everyone should have in their book case (childrens OR adult book, or a mix if you like!)

5? 5?!! Ok, 5. Wow, that's a daunting thought. But 5 books that everybody should have, in age order:

A ChildsPlay baby book. It doesn't matter which particular book as they are all wonderful, but every baby should have one.

Martha and the Bunny Brothers I Heart School - Clara Vulliamy

Matilda - Roald Dahl

Skellig - David Almond

Northern Lights - Philip Pullman

Written on the Body - Jeanette Winterson

What do you mean that's six? One, two, three, four, four and a half, five. Job done.

That was fun! Now for some cake.


Thank you Carmen, marvellous stuff! Tune in tomorrow for blogger numbers 5 and 6, the dynamic duo of Anne-Marie at Child-Led Chaos and Catherine Friess at Storysnug! Go Team!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

View the new Book Trailer for Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen's epic "The Dark" - a ReadItDaddy Book of the Week!


Book trailers always fill us with a hint of fear. How can you distil a brilliant book down into a short video clip?

The answer, as you'll see from the trailer above for Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen's brilliant "The Dark" is "with consummate ease". Love this to pieces!

You can see why it became a "ReadItDaddy Book of the Week" by reading our review. The Dark, by Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen is available from Orchard Books and all good indie booksellers.

#ReaditMD13 - "Brilliant Book Bloggers" Day 3 - Melanie at "The Library Mice"

Mice love books - and tea!
Welcome to Day 3 of our Book Blogging theme for #ReadItMD13 and we're very honoured to feature a blog that sets exceptionally high standards. Step forward Library Mice!

ReadItDaddy: Tell us your blog's name / who you are


Mélanie @ Library Mice www.librarymice.com


ReadItDaddy:  How long have you been blogging (book or otherwise)


I started by blogging in French about British children's literature in March 2007 (http://bouquine.canalblog.com), before starting Library Mice in May 2008.


ReaditDaddy:  What's on your book stack this week (childrens / grown up books count) ?


Currently Reading: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Next on the pile: 

Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle

Wendy Quill is a Crocodile Bottom by Wendy Meddour

Darcy Burdock by Laura Dockrill

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (a rare grown-up read, but I want to read the book before I see the movie!).

On the pile to be reviewed: 

Littleland by Marion Billet
Angel Creek by Sally Rippin
Hot Air by Sandrine Dumas Roy & Emmanuelle Houssais


ReadItDaddy: Give a very brief summary of why you think books are important to children...


I have so many quotes that I "throw" at parents at work about how reading helps you achieve better at school, that children who read regularly have better chances of a good career regardless of their socio-economic background etc.
I think that simply, reading books make us better people, more emphatic, more open-minded. Reading opens our minds to so many possibilities.


ReadItDaddy: If you had to name one booky person as your complete and utter book-idol (Writer, Illustrator, Publisher etc) who would it be and why?


That's easy: Wendy Cooling MBE, founder of Bookstart and reading for pleasure champion. She also edited one of the most beloved books in the Library Mice household, With Love.


ReadItDaddy: Name 5 books you think everyone should have in their book case (childrens OR adult book, or a mix if you like!)


That's a tough one, as possibly my reply would change according to my mood! So having looked at my shelves today, I'd say:

- The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac

- Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness (I know it is 3 books, but they go together, is that allowed?!?)

- The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers

- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

- Toby Alone by Timothée de Fombelle

Weird mix, I know!

Wow thanks Mel! Coming up soon is our fourth contender, the mighty and incomparable Rainbow Library Fairy Carmen at Rhino Reads

Easter Eggstras - "Dr Duck" by Steve Smallman and Hannah George (Little Tiger Press)














Like a streak of yellow, Dr Duck races in to save the day! Once again we're steering you towards books not eggs this Easter and here's a duck on a mission. You've wowed at Doctor Dog, You've had a  thermometer jabbed up your nose by Doctor Ted so here's Dr Duck, the one-man (sorry, one-duck) mobile doctor who can bandage you up in no time at all.

Dr Duck is always on hand to help his animal friends. A Giraffe with a sore throat? It's catastrophic but Dr Duck knows exactly how to cure the poor thing.

A Gorilla with rather embarrasing wind? No problem, Dr Duck is there with a Kite...I'm kidding, you'll have to find out for yourself how our MD (Medical Duck) fixes that particular problem!

This book is brilliant and definitely a huge hit with Charlotte, who still has quite a fascination with doctor characters in children's picture books.

Not to be confused with "Doctor Duck" (the Songbird Early Readers book by Julia Donaldson). It's a lot of fun, and brilliantly illustrated (we really loved the good doctor's superb looking Motorcycle Combination!)

Charlotte's best bit: Needless to say, lot of mirth and laughter at the Gorilla. Pee-EWW!

Daddy's favourite bit: Tight and entertainingly funny writing, beautiful illustrations, make sure the good Duck Doctor makes a housecall this easter!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Little Tiger Press)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

#ReadItMD13 Theme Week "Brilliant Book Bloggers" - Day 2: Loll Kirby at Storyseekers.co.uk


Story Seekers at work!


Day Two of this week's #ReadItMD Campaign theme of "Brilliant Book Bloggers" and we're lucky enough to hear from Loll Kirby at the brilliant StorySeekers.

Take it away, Loll!

ReadItDaddy: Tell us your blog's name and who you are

I'm Loll Kirby and my blog is Story Seekers, which can be found at www.storyseekers.co.uk


ReadItDaddy: How long have you been blogging for?


I set up the Story Seekers blog at the end of May 2012, though I didn't really post very much until a few months later. It's my very first blog so it's taken me a while to find my feet with it all and to decide what I want the blog to be (actually, I'm still deciding that!).


ReadItDaddy: What's on your book stack this week (childrens / grown up books count) ?



My goodness, that's tricky - depends which stack you're talking about! We've just received a copy of 'Sidney, Stella and the Moon', by Emma Yarlett and we're loving that. I'm also re-reading 'A Bit Lost', by Chris Haughton and 'The Foggy, Foggy Forest', by Nick Sharratt in preparation for a storytelling session I'm running next week. 

 I'm about to review four books that are making us happy on a daily basis for the blog - the 'Emily Brown' books by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton. I'm also hoping to review the 'Olivia' books by Ian Falconer and the 'Bugs' books by Beatrice Alemagna, as well as 'Naughty Bus', by Jan and Jerry Oke. 

 I doubt I'll get all that done but they're on my pile nonetheless!


ReadItDaddy: Give a very brief summary of why you think books are important to children...


Because reading books opens the doors to everything else in life. They can make you happy, help you understand sadness and encourage you to dream bigger than you might otherwise dare to hope. It's wonderful to read by yourself, snuggled up with a loved one or in a bigger group for discussion. There are enough books in the world for everyone to find stories that they love and I hope to do as much as I can to to make sure that as many children as possible grow up with a love for books and reading.


ReadItDaddy: If you had to name one booky person as your complete and utter book-idol (Writer, Illustrator, Publisher etc) who would it be and why?

My granny would be my ultimate book hero as she gave me my love of reading, but in terms of someone with whom everyone is familiar I'd probably go for Sir Quentin Blake. Obviously he is most famous for his collaboration with Roald Dahl, but he's illustrated for other wonderful authors and has written and illustrated his own books as well. He has taught illustration to others and was the first Children's Laureate. Most admirably, he is still working in his eighties - what a legend! His drawing style seems so relaxed and comfortable which just draws you in and the books he worked on were such a huge feature of my own childhood.


ReadItDaddy: Name 5 books you think everyone should have in their book case (childrens OR adult book, or a mix if you like!)


I'm going to stick to children's books, I think - mainly to narrow the field a little bit, but also because my aim with Story Seekers is to encourage reading for pleasure from birth and these are books that I think would be brilliant to share in those magical early years.

 They're all very well known and very well loved already, but I can't imagine a childhood without them. I could probably have chosen any book by these authors and illustrators and you'd have been onto a winner, but I've stuck rigidly to the rules and limited myself to just the allotted total of five!

  • 'Dogger', by Shirley Hughes - this definitely reminds me of my own childhood and I'm so glad that my children love it as much as I do. It's a heartwarming and sniffle-inducing story about the loss of a favourite toy and an incredibly noble act on the part of a sibling. Book perfection.
  • 'Owl Babies', by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson - I love owls and the illustrations in this book are simply gorgeous. However, I've also chosen it as it was the first book that really made me see how powerful stories are in helping children to deal with new and potentially scary things. When C started pre-school he was understandably unhappy with me leaving him. We read this book many times a day and even now I know it by heart, so every time I picked him I would swoop him up in a huge hug and say, "And she came!" (referring to when the mummy owl returns to her babies in the book). I could see how genuinely comforting this was for C and it helped us both with the transition.
  • 'You Choose', by Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt - this isn't a book that was around when I was little, but both my sons have got SO much out of it. There are very few words, a multitude of pictures and an infinite number of possibilities for your imagination to go wild. One of the very best books for creating your own stories.
  • 'Matilda', by Roald Dahl - a determined and delightful little girl who believes in the power of books, an amazing teacher and a little dose of magic to help her escape some pretty horrid things.  This book made me feel super cool for being a bookworm :-)
  • 'Peepo', by Janet and Allan Ahlberg - this is one of the first books I remember being in my own bookcase as a child and was among the first that I read to myself (actually it was to my doll, Sally) once I got going with reading. I then read it to both my children whilst I was pregnant with them and then from the moment they were born. Timeless and wonderful.

ReadItDaddy: Fantastic stuff, thank you very much Loll! 

Tune in tomorrow for blogger number 3, the super-spectacular Mel at Library Mice

Easter Eggstras - "Stop That Egg" by Helen Poole (Little Tiger Press)














Here's another review to steer you towards your local bookshop rather than your local confectioner when it comes to finding the perfect Easter present for your little ones.

How about this fantastic (and rather noisy) book from Helen Poole.

"Stop That Egg" is a great little book for younger readers, telling the tale of a bouncy and rather impatient little chick who gets so excited about chipping his way out of his eggshell that he bounces right out of the nest! EEK!

Mum is not impressed, and shouts "Stop that Egg!" and then it's a race to catch up with the little eggbound chick before he hatches.

Nice sturdy (chewable) board pages and a superb pay-off at the end, youngsters will love this. Parents - be warned that there is a very small battery tag on this book that will need to be removed before the book is used by little ones as it could be a choking hazard (will also completely ruin the surprise at the end but safety first! Remove the tag and dispose of it safely before use as per the book's instructions)

Charlotte's best bit: She loved the book's end (and drove us quietly mad with it!)

Daddy's favourite bit: Bold bright illustrations, and a great story to bounce along to. The end is brill too!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Little Tiger Press)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fancy something utterly brilliant to hang on your wall? How about Captain Claw's Submarine?

The Treasure of Captain Claw Cover
We've been utterly wowed by the work of Steve Cox over the last couple of days, and you can now grab yourself a slice of his fantastic artwork to stick on your wall.

If you hop through to Steve's Illustration Site on Big Cartel, you can get a massive and beautifully produced poster of the awesome Captain Claw's submarine from the book "The Treasure of Captain Claw" by Jonathan Emmett and Steve Cox.

Reasonably priced at £25 per print, and a whopping 75cm x 35cm, it's just the thing to adorn the wall of your own ocean-spanning sub, or your room if you've not got the sea-legs for undersea exploration.


#ReadItMD13 Theme Week - "Brilliant Book Bloggers!" Day 1: Leyla at "This Day I Love"




Oh we've got a treat in store for you this week. A seriously talented bunch of lovely booky folk have kindly offered to join in with this week's #ReadItMD Campaign theme of "Brilliant Book Bloggers" - Six who have set the bar incredibly high for us newbies to follow.

So without further ado, I'll kick off with the first of our lovely blog entries from Leyla at "This Day I Love!"

Take it away, Leyla!


ReadItDaddy: Tell us your blog's name and who you are


I blog at this day I love. My name is Leyla and I am mummy to 2 beautiful girls. My blog aims to capture those precious daily Mummy moments.



ReadItDaddy: How long have you been blogging for?


I started this day I love on the 26th October 2012.



ReadItDaddy: What's on your book stack this week (childrens / grown up books count) ?

Grown Ups:
  • Underneath - Michael Cargill
  • Explosive eighteen - Janet Evanovich
  • The Boleyn Inheritance - Philips Gregory
Children's Books:
  • Pirates love Underpants
  • Angelica Sprocket
  • Greedy Goose
  • The Jolly Pirate
  • The Little Raindrop
  • Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

ReadItDaddy: Give a very brief summary of why you think books are important to children...


Books encourage imagination and creativity. They give children the ability to think and can help provide understanding to often difficult situations such as death, moving house and new siblings.


ReadItDaddy: If you had to name one booky person as your complete and utter book-idol (Writer, Illustrator, Publisher etc) who would it be and why?


Very tricky as there are so many. I think though it would be Roald Dahl. Some of my favourite childhood memories are reading his stories, they provided me with laughter and fun and captured my imagination like no other author in all of his books.


ReadItDaddy: Name 5 books you think everyone should have in their book case (childrens OR adult book, or a mix if you like!)


  • The Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton
  • The Twits - Roald Dahl
  • The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
  • To kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
  • The Catcher in the Rye - J D Salinger

ReadItDaddy: Fantastic stuff, thank you very much Leyla! 

Tune in tomorrow for blogger number 2, the lovely Loll at Storyseekers

#ReaditMD13 - "Brilliant Book Bloggers Week"


Hooray! Our theme this week is "Brilliant Book Bloggers" and as part of our #ReadItMummiesAndDaddies2013 theme weeks I've invited Six (count them SIX!) of the best bloggers in the business to take part.

Being the wonderful folk they are, they've all accepted so you're in for a treat this week - a window into the inner workings of This Day I Love, StoryseekersThe Library Mice , Rhino Reads, and Child-Led Chaos (with Story Snug hopefully following - see edit note at the bottom)

We came up with some pretty tricky questions for them, and they rose to the challenge magnificently. So our first post, by Leyla at This Day I Love is coming up at 10am with the rest to follow during the course of the week.

If you've ever thought about book blogging and you'd like to know how high the bar has been set by these lovely folk, then dip in for the rest of the week, it's going to be fun!

Edit: Unfortunately due to technical difficulties we're sad to hear that Catherine from Story Snug won't be joining us for the theme week. Nasty blog hackers have had their wicked way with her site so hopefully they'll be back up and running very soon. Our sympathetic thoughts and hopes that it's all quickly sorted out.


Easter Eggstras - "Duck says Don't" by Alison Ritchie and Hannah George (Little Tiger Press)














As part of our run-up to Easter we are looking at books that make a far far better present than chocolate (though mums might not agree with me here!).

Nevertheless, ducky antics are on the schedule in this fantastic book from Alison Ritchie and Hannah George, "Duck Says Don't!"

It's time for Goose to go on holiday and she decides to leave Duck in charge of the pond while she's away.

Duck turns into a power-crazed quacker and soon mysterious signs start appearing all over the pond as Duck flexes his dictatorial muscles and starts bossing all the other pond-dwellers around.

"No Fishing!" says Duck, much to the puzzlement of the others.

"No Splashing!" (but splashing is SO much fun!)

"No Racing!" says Duck, upsetting the applecart.

In fact before long, the pond is awash with signs and one rather mean and surly duck ensuring that peace and tranquility are the order of the day, not fun and laughter.

The other animals are fed up to the back teeth (beak) with Duck's horrible behaviour and soon look for somewhere else to play. Duck gets his wish, a nice quiet pond to float around in. But is a quiet Pond really that much fun?

This tale is beautifully constructed and most mums and dads who've ever dealt with an annoying jobsworth in their workplace, or a deputy manager who goes crackers when the Boss is away, will laugh out loud at Duck's antics as he strives to make sure everyone does as they're told.

I'll leave you to discover what happens later on in the book.

Fantastic stuff from Alison and Hannah. Don't quack up, get "Duck Says Don't!"

Charlotte's best bit: Duck's rather fetching little sailor hat and the beautiful butterflies in the book

Daddy's favourite bit: Duck reminds me of so many people at my place of work though rather than impressive painted signs they tend to use post-it notes!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Little Tiger Press)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Usborne Sticker Atlas of the World by Alice Pearcey, Fiona Patchett and Tim Benton (Usborne Publishing)














This fantastic factual book combines two of Charlotte's favourite things - Maps and Stickers - into an utterly fascinating resource for children to dip into. Usborne's non-fiction books are renowned for their high quality, engaging content and utterly superb production values and this is no exception.

"The Usborne Sticker Atlas of the World" encourages children to learn and discover through doing something fun, and each page spread contains a mix of world maps, facts, figures and all the ancient AND modern wonders of the world so that kids can always refer back to it once they've finished sticking.

It's great for stimulating young minds, and in particular Charlotte loved looking at the countries we've visited together, and the countries Mummy and Daddy managed to get to before she came along.

Though it's probably pitched at children slightly older than Charlotte, it's fun and beautifully illustrated so there's plenty to keep her occupied inside and lots of interesting activities that the book can lead on to as well.

Charlotte's best bit: Learning all about Kennedy Space Centre in Florida (She is such a space geek, just like Mummy and Daddy)

Daddy's favourite bit: A brilliant set of over 140 stickers that don't totally ruin the book as you try to extract them cleanly. Once done the book becomes a valuable resource for both home and school.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Usborne Publishing)

Wrap yourself in Anorak Magazine Issue 27: "Inventions"

Anorak Magazine Issue 27 - "It's Wheely Great!"
The lovely folk at Anorak Magazine have kindly sent us Issue 27 to take a look at, and it's a fabulous journey through the world of science and invention!

For those of you unfamiliar with Anorak, it's the happy mag for kids and it's a refreshing read for folk who are fed up with their house being inundated by plastic tat and truly awful "branded" children's magazines and comics.

So what's inside the issue? How about a look at what goes on behind the scenes of The Science Museum in London? Always a fascinating place and great to hear from resident inventor Mark Champkins about a few of the things he does in his amazing job.

The regular Anorak strips are there and with an extra 8 pages of fun, there's lots to see and do. We particularly liked seeing our favourite local museum The Pitt Rivers Museum (which I can actually see out of my window, well, through the torrential rainstorm!) which is thorougly recommended if you're ever in Oxford and looking for fascinating things to do.

There's a bonus book with the Magazine which got a huge thumbs up from us (not just because of the name). "The Gardens of Mayland" is a fun and colourful look at some truly poetic plants as they muse on their moods. Great for younger children (and it's nice and sturdy though we don't advise toddlers to get into the habit of chewing books, it's much nicer to read them!)

You can obtain Anorak Magazine by subscription from the Anorak Website, buy a single issue, or pick it up at your local independent bookseller, priced at a very reasonable £6 - a bargain for the amount of content and the hours of enjoyment you'll get from this lovely mag.

Charlotte's best bit: Clamouring for us to make her the scrumptious Toffee Cake (we will definitely give it a try this weekend! Nom!)

Daddy's favourite bit: Always, always love the sneaky peeks at my favourite country (New Zealand) in the Horace and Munkie strip. Miss that place V much!

(Very kindly sent to us for review by Anorak Publishing)