Wednesday, April 1, 2020

"I Don't Want to be Quiet" by Laura Ellen Anderson (Bloomsbury Children's Books)

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Loud is the word here, in a busy and energetic little book from a hugely talented author-illustrator.

"I Don't Want to be Quiet" by Laura Ellen Anderson centres around a little girl who, just like my daughter, seems to make an awful big din for someone so diminutive.

She loves stomping up and down stairs. STOMP STOMP STOMP!

She loves drumming with spoons! CLATTER BASH CRASH!

Silence is not her bestie, and all mum wants to do is get on with some work, but this little miss has other ideas.

How about some nice, quiet, gentle HUMMING instead!

A hilarious gag-filled story that'll have most parents nodding tiredly along in recognition of the observations made here. For all those of you (like us) who get to the weekend and wonder why the house suddenly sounds like a cacophony of noise, this is a brilliant little read.

Sum this book up a sentence: A little girl's noisy life depicted perfectly, in a story that kids will absolutely love reading again and again.

"I Don't Want to be Quiet!" by Laura Ellen Anderson is out now, published by Bloomsbury (kindly supplied for review). 

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

"Bug Belly: Babysitting Trouble" by Paul Morton (Five Quills)

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Here's a right ribbeting (hah) read that's perfect for little ones who love reading on their own, want to begin reading more wordy books, but also still love loads and loads of awesome illustrations in their books.

The hugely fun "Bug Belly: Babysitting Trouble" by Paul Morton sees the titular froggy on babysitting duty.

The only trouble is that he's babysitting for the taddies, wriggly slippery tadpoles who just love getting into trouble - and can't wait to try out their uncle's cool water slides, death-defying dragonfly drops and fancy frogball games.

But soon Bug Belly hears a rumbling from his tummy. He's absolutely starving, but what can he do with all his tiny new charges if he nips off for something to eat. As Bug Belly launches himself off his slide to find a tasty worm snack, he accidentally floods the pond!

It's now a race against time for Bug Belly as he has to make sure all his wriggly little pals are safe. Luckily he's a frog with brains, and he's got a foolproof plan to make sure all his nieces and nephews are safe from the snapping beak of Heron, and the gnashing jaws of Old Pike.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A bouncy fun read that's perfect for new solo readers, with a cast of hilarious and engaging characters sure to win any tiny tots over.

"Bug Belly: Babysitting Trouble" by Paul Morton is out on 1st April 2020, published by Five Quills (kindly supplied for review). 
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Monday, March 30, 2020

"100 adventures to have before you're grown up" by Anna McNuff and Clair Rossiter (Walker Books)

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It might feel like the worst time in the world to find a book like this in our review pile, but if there's anything we need right now, it's the thought of tackling the sublime list of things to try in this wonderful book.

"100 Adventures To Have Before You Grow Up" by Anna McNuff and Claire Rossiter is like a divine bucket list of all the things you could do as a curious, energetic and imaginative child.

(There's an awful lot of stuff in here to enjoy with mum and dad too!)

Though many of us are still in social distancing / isolation / lockdown mode, there's plenty in here to help you start building those wishlists of things you'll want to dive headlong into once things get back to a semblance of normal.

As outdoorsy types, we very much liked all the sections in the book that talk about things to do out in the fresh air, and thankfully at the time of writing this review, we've still been staving off our cabin fever at home and doing some of these at weekends.

Let's take a look inside at Anna and Clair's wonderful book:

Packrafting sounds too awesome for words!

One thing that's captured brilliantly in this book is how accessible and possible these adventures feel. You CAN do these things, in fact you can do most of these things fairly easily. 

Travel might feel like a distant wish but seeing the world is well worth it!

Clair's beautiful illustrations help to tease us with a taste of these wonderful adventures, beautifully described by Anna - who feels like she's done them all and would quite happily embark on them all over again!

We did try slack-lining once, but it's trickier than it looks!

Sum this book up in a sentence: Indulge in a spot of daydreamy wishlist creating, and make a pledge to yourself that when things get back to normal you'll get out there and do some of these amazing things!

"100 Adventures to Have Before You're Grown Up" by Anna McNuff and Clair Rossiter is out on 2nd April 2020, published by Walker Books (kindly supplied for review). 

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Friday, March 27, 2020

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 27th March 2020: "Paolo Emperor of Rome" by Mac Barnett and Claire Keane (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

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Our second Picture Book of the Week is like a brilliant travelogue of one of our favourite places to visit.

Italy is a beautiful country, and though we've never visited Rome, we have made it our business to plan a trip there once the world gets back to normal.

But this isn't just the story of Rome, this is the story of an amazing little pooch.

"Paolo: Emperor of Rome" by Mac Barnett and Claire Keane is a glorious little book that begins with a dog's daydreams of escape. Most of the time he's stuck in a busy hairdressers, staring out of the shop door as the world passes by.

Paolo sees enough of the busy world out there to know that he wants to be a part of it, but every time he tries to go outside, his owner (who is a bit harsh on her poor pooch) pushes him back indoors.

But one fateful day, a little old lady visiting the salon leaves the door open - just long enough for Paolo to make a break for it..!

Paolo dreams of the world outside but can't get past his grumpy owner
Out in the wild streets of Rome Paolo discovers an amazing world full of excitement, and danger. Though Paolo gets into a few scrapes, he soon discovers that his tenacity and bravery serve him well, and he begins a grand adventure amongst some of Rome's most famous landmarks.

Dreamy spires and amazing rooftops in Rome's gorgeous city streets

Mac and Claire weave an amazing story where you can almost smell the amazing smells of Rome's famous pasta dishes and pizzas, hear the roar of motor scooters, the coo of pigeons gathering around the Trevi Fountain, and experience all the wonders in this ancient and amazing place.

It's a beautiful book. Claire makes it feel instantly like a well loved classic and now it's made us more determined than ever to go back to visit Italy.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A brilliant original poochy tale that's as much a fab travelogue of Rome as it is the story of a brave little dog who finds his place in the world.

"Paolo: Emperor of Rome" by Mac Barnett and Claire Keane is out now, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers (kindly supplied for review). 
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ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 27th March 2020: "Why do I feel Like this?" by Shinsuke Yoshitake (Thames and Hudson)

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Oh yes! A new book from Shinsuke Yoshitake is always cause for celebration. This genius creative has an amazing knack for knowing what makes people tick, and in "Why do I feel Like This?" we find a little girl wrestling with her feelings, her moods and her inner demons (and angels).

The adorable little girl in the book is in a thoroughly bad mood as she walks home - but why? What causes a bad mood, what makes us scared, happy, grumpy, angry? What's with all these durned feelings and how do we make them go away (or, in the case of nice ones, stick around a while?)

In Shinsuke's trademark comic style each busy panel spread is chock full of detail and humour, as we quite literally delve into the girl's head to find out what's going on.

We've seen a ton of 'emotions' books - that quite often miss a trick of being engaging enough or interesting enough for kids to pay attention to, but that's not a problem here - as the jaunty story allows the little girl's character to shine through, and the zany antics of her actual (and imaginary) character compadres adds up to one of the most original and engaging picture books we've seen since...well since "Can I build Another Me?"

Sum this book up in a sentence: Sheer and utter brilliance from one of the most talented creatives working in picture books today, a real treat on every level imagineable and a thoroughly deep dive into what makes us tick.

"Why do I feel Like This?" by Shinsuke Yoshitake is out now, published by Thames and Hudson (kindly supplied for review).
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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Blogging in the time of a national crisis - How do I get my Mojo back? This Week's ReadItTorial

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When I was a kid, I hated the spring and summer. The sunny weather, and the fresh air were always the precursors to parental and grandparental nagging to "get outside, climb some trees, go get some Vitamin D into your skin" and it took a long time (well, adulthood really) before I began to crave being outdoors.

Under the current craziness, the near lockdown of the country and folk being urged to stay at home (obviously super-effective as a strategy because, from my window, I can see a couple of hairnetted old dears merrily having a chat outside my window, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they - in the highest risk group - could literally be talking their last) it feels like something's changed in terms of writing a book blog.

Now I'm working from home, the day job currently involves supporting a whole metric ton of other workers who are similarly working on creaky old computer equipment, trying to look like they're capably doing their work as efficiently as they would be if they were sitting in an office. That, of course, still relies on them having a strong work ethic, and buckling down to adapting to what is the new norm (don't you just hate that cheesy cliche and every time someone uses it? I know I do, I think I got tired of it a fortnight ago).

For book blogging, amazingly thanks to our awesome postal service and a lot of hard working PRs out there who are still kicking arse, the books are still arriving and I'm dutifully adding them to our review schedule.

The tough part is getting excited about them. I mean they're wonderful books, but it's so damned hard to focus and concentrate on something you love, when the world is filled with all the things you hate.

People's anger, people's selfishness, an inept government assuming that folk are going to be fine and dandy with staying in all day every day as the sun shines overhead, who won't mind being rounded up and told off by their local coppers if they're seen more than twice in one day. The way certain things just don't work any more, and the saddest of all, if you are crazy enough to venture out of your house - all those local shops and businesses you were once proud of being in a permanent state of lights off / no one home, with sad little printed posters up in their windows apologising to their customers in that typically English way we do when we're apologising for something that's not our fault - with eloquence and politeness edged with sarcasm and annoyance.

All these distractions, and also staying largely away from Twitter (because god, I really am sorry, but I don't need the constant moany grumpiness of the place laced with cheery folk playing ukuleles and singing John Lennon songs, on balance I can't decide which is worse).

As a family unit we are spending more time together (we don't live in a gigantic mansion, we kind of have to!) but the book stuff is suffering, and I don't honestly know what's going to happen over the next few weeks as I increasingly struggle to find time to write up our reviews.

We're still reading the books, still enjoying them but a troubled mind isn't one that lends itself well to focusing on nice things like kidlit. That's really pissing me off more than anything else at the moment.
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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - March 2020

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Welcome, welcome to our Chapter Book roundup for March. We have a huge selection of books to get our teeth into this month (hooray) so let's get going straight away with a piece of code-crackingly brilliant genius.

"Mickey and the Animal Spies" by dream team Anne Miller and Becka Moor introduces Mickey, a girl who loves nothing better than puzzling over secret codes and ciphers.

When she spots a strange code on a poster while on the way home from school, Mickey's curiosity is piqued. What can the poster mean? Can she unscramble the letters to spell out the intended message?

Soon she's hot on the trail of diamond thieves, dognappers and makes a whole crew of new allies - a bunch of wisecracking code-cracking animal spies to help her in her strange case.

Built around real codes for kids to solve, this is a captivating book idea that goes beyond most middle grade 'tec novels, delving into the intriguing and interesting world of spying, codes and riddles.

"Mickey and the Animal Spies" by Anne Miller and Becka Moor is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Something slick, stylish and fast-paced next with the third book in Sophie Green and Karl James Mountford's awesome "Potkin and Stubbs" series.

"Ghostcatcher" picks up after Nedly and Lil successfully defeated evil ghost Mr Grip. Now they're on their next case, and a particularly disturbing haunting. But Peligan City has had enough of ghosts and has hired ghost catchers - and Nedly finds himself being hunted!

Luckily, he has Lil on his side. Now an apprentice reporter for the Klaxon, Lil manages to talk her way into a job shadowing intrepid journalist Marsha Quake, who is writing a feature on Ghostcatcher Inc.

So with Lil's help, Nedly is able to stay one step ahead, but can Lil keep Nedly safe for long?

As Nedly develops his own inimitable and slightly haphazard haunting style, hoping to become a hero of Peligan City by protecting the weak and thwarting the powerful, Lil finds herself clashing with her mum, a journalist committed to uncovering the truth at all costs. Lil must protect Nedly by covering his tracks or risk losing him forever. Can she find a way?

The characters and settings for this ghoulish novel are pitch perfect, pairing a ghost who wants to be a  good spirit with a naturally curious girl who wants to protect her new found friend.

"Potkin and Stubbs: Ghostcatcher" by Sophie Green and Karl James Mountford is out now, published by Piccadilly Press. 

A real treat for us next, and a book series from an immensely talented young lady.

"Amelia Fang and the Naughty Caticorns" by Laura Ellen Anderson is the latest adventure for her awesome half fairy half vampire mighty girl.

But Amelia might not be the only fairy vamp on the block soon, as her mum has a little vampish sibling on the way and Amelia couldn't be more excited - though soon she begins to think that everyone's so wrapped up in new baby news that they haven't got time for her! Oh dear.

Luckily, Amelia is asked to practice her babysitting skills with three very mischievous Caticorns (half cat, half unicorn, what could possibly go wrong? Gerard, Butler and Mo might look sweet and cuddly, but they're very good at getting into mischief, and super-expert at getting poor Amelia into trouble too! Suddenly Amelia finds she's once more the focus of attention but not in a good way!

These books are so much fun, perfect for emergent solo readers who love illustrations, awesome characters and great little stories. We adore Laura's sense of humour and her knack for making us giggle loads.

"Amelia Fang and the Naughty Caticorns" by Laura Ellen Anderson is out now, published by Egmont UK. 

Something super-weird is on its way, in fact in "A Super Wrird Mystery: Danger at the Donut Diner" - the new fantastically funny series from Jim Smith, expect the unexpectedly strange!

When Melvin moves from the city to Donut (a perfectly round island with a hole in the middle), he thinks it's the most rubbish place ever.

Then he meets Rhubarb. Rhubarb is OBSESSED with mysteries and has her own school newspaper to investigate the strange goings on in Donut. (Unfortunately nothing ever happens in Donut so she's never had anything to write about.)

But then Melvin notices that the kids at school are acting very strangely. Could it be something to do with the Donut Hole Monsters that everyone is collecting?

Soon Melvin and Rhubarb are on the trail of a mystery – one that is going to lead them right into the centre of the donut hole… And Rhubarb might actually have something to write about in her newspaper, if they make it out alive.

Will they get to the bottom of the Donut Hole Monster mystery before it’s too late and the whole town is brainwashed?

From the demented genius mind of one of the funniest authors on the planet, this is cool and crazy, chaotic and frenetic storytelling.

"A Super Weird Mystery: Danger at the Donut Diner" by Jim Smith is out now, published by Egmont

Truly inspirational stuff next in the sparklingly brilliant and thoroughly original "Martin McLean Middle School Queen" by Alyssa Zaczek.

Martin McLean has always been surrounded by people who can express themselves. His mother is an artist, his colourful uncle Billy works in theatre and his best friends Carmen and Pickle are outgoing and don t care what other people think.

But Martin can only find the right words when he's answering a problem at a Mathletes competition - until his uncle introduces him to the world of drag.

In a swirl of sequins and stilettos, Martin creates his fabulous drag queen alter ego, Lottie León. As Lottie, he is braver than he has ever been; but as Martin, he doesn't have the guts to tell anyone outside his family about her - not Carmen and Pickle, not his Mathletes teammates and definitely not Chris, an older boy who gives Martin butterflies. 

When Martin discovers that his first-ever drag show is the same night as the most important Mathletes tournament, he realises that he can only pull off both appearances by revealing his true self to his friends - and channelling his inner drag superstar.

This is joyous stuff, with such a whomping great big positive message throughout, really inspirational for kids who feel that, like Martin, they are destined for something more in this life. 

"Martin McLean Middle School Queen" by Alyssa Zaczek is out now, published by Sterling Children's Books. 

More action-packed storytelling with an ecological heart next, in the superb "Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt" by Jennifer Bell and Alice Lickens. 

When 8-year-old Agnes is signed up for SPEARS (the Society for the Protection of Endangered and Awesomely Rare Species), she has no idea of the adventures that lie ahead with her elephant-shrew mentor Attie (short for "Attenborough" - great name!)

Operation Honeyhunt sends them to the Brazilian rainforest, on a mission to save an endangered, dance-loving bee named Elton. 

Will Agnes pass the test and become a full SPEARS agent? 

Species in danger? Girl and shrew to the rescue in this inspirational adventure filled with awesome animals and mild peril. 

"Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt" by Jennifer Bell and Alice Lickens is out now, published by Walker Books. 

A beautifully atmospheric tale next, the truly fantastic "The Threads of Magic" by Alison Croggon. 

Pip is a street urchin living in the huge city of Clarel, and used to living on his wits. 

But when Pip mistakenly pickpockets the wrong man, he comes into possession of a strange object - a heart in a silver casket - an object wrapped in magic and mystery. This seemingly innocuous trinket seems to want to communicate with Pip, and soon he finds himself in danger, pursued by royal officials who will stop at nothing to get the object back. 

For Pip's thievery has broken an ancient spell, unlocking a war between witches and spectres, and threatening the very existence of Clarel itself. 

Can Pip be the key to righting an ancient wrong or will the mysterious heart succeed in wreaking horrible revenge for its tempestuous past. 

Absolutely mesmerisingly written with tons of originality and a fabulous Vic-punky feel to it, this is fab!

"The Threads of Magic" by Alison Croggon is out now, published by Walker Books. 

Just enough time for a few more fabulously atmospheric books, and we do love a good haunted house novel!

"The House on Hoarder Hill" by Kelly Ngai and Mikki Lish might well be set at Christmas, but don't be fooled into thinking this is a comfy little seasonal tale. 

When Hedy and Spencer start receiving messages on dusty picture frames, Christmas at their grandfather's spooky house turns into a mission to solve the mystery of their grandmother's disappearance. 

What is their magician grandfather not telling them and why is he so evasive about his own wife's disappearance? 

With the help of a (talking) mounted stag head, an (also talking) bear rug, and other (currently) disembodied spirits, and against the resistance of gargoyles and ravens, Hedy and Spencer set out to find the truth. 

"The House on Hoarder Hill" by Kelly Ngai and Mikki Lish is out now, published by Chicken House. 

Next up, something vastly different to our usual middle grade fare, a superbly gritty slice of life for a little girl who has led a less than perfect life. 

In "The Faraway Truth" by Janae Marks, we meet Zoe Washington. Zoe never got the change to meet her father, who was sent to prison just before she was born. 

But when she receives a letter from him on her 12th birthday, she begins to learn that everything she was told about him may be completely wrong. 

Zoe's mother always told her that he was a monster, a liar, a criminal - but his letters make him sound completely different. This leads her to indulge her curiosity about his case. Was it as cut and dried as it seemed, or could her father Marcus be entirely innocent after all? 

There's more to the whole thing than anyone could imagine, particularly Zoe. 

Full of brilliant plot twists and cliffhangers, this is a fantastically observed tale of one little girl dealing with two entirely different opinions of her dad, with a determination to find out the truth and make up her own mind once and for all. 

"The Faraway Truth" by Janae Marks is out now, published by Chicken House. 

Rounding off this month with another fabulous book by a hugely talented author who covers a subject that has been touched on many times in children's books but not always at middle grade.

"Talking to the Moon" by S.E. Durrant is every bit as captivating as "Running on Empty" or "Little Pieces of Sky".

Tackling the subjects of getting old and early onset Alzheimers, this is the story of a little girl called Iris who loves holidays with her beloved grandmother Mimi.

Mimi's behaviour has been a little strange lately. Her memory is getting worse - so much so that she's started to tie ribbons around her fingers just to remember things - only she's forgotten what the ribbons are for.

She's also started to put jam on her scrambled eggs, and as things get worse, Mimi's house becomes a stranger to her, and is becoming harder and harder to navigate.

When Iris goes to stay, she feels as if a whole life is becoming muddled up. As her grandmother's memory fades, a mystery is uncovered. Who is Coral, and what happened to her?

Tackling such a tricky subject, but also keeping the reader on the edge of their seats is quite a fantastic balancing trick, and S.E performs it with aplomb in a heart warming, bittersweet and ultimately hugely emotional story.

"Talking to the Moon" by S.E. Durrant is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

That about wraps it up for this month, and what an amazing selection. Tune in next month when we'll be dishing up even more amazing chapter book awesomeness. 

(all books kindly supplied for review).

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"Meet the Planets" by Caryl Hart and Bethan Woolvin (Bloomsbury Children's Books)

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Time for a light-hearted and hugely fun tour of our solar system with a dynamic duo of kidlit creatives ready to whisk us off in a fab little spaceship, with a poochy companion who steals every scene.

"Meet the Planets" by Caryl Hart and Bethan Woollvin is brilliantly engaging, and perfect for mini space fans who love finding out more about outer space, and the amazing planets that are our galactic neighbours.

From mysterious Mars to sultry Saturn, gigantic Jupiter to gaseous Uranus, climb on board for a really brilliant and innovative way to explore space.

We love that Bethan still manages to work in her brilliant art style into this book. A real piece of genius linking up two of our favourite creative folk.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A fun and bouncy journey around our solar system for mini space fans, this is the perfect introductory book for kids who love finding out more about our galaxy

"Meet the Planets" by Caryl Hart and Bethan Woollvin is out now, published by Bloomsbury (kindly supplied for review). 
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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

"Once Upon an Atom" by James Carter and William Santiago (Little Tiger)

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Little Tiger's brilliant non-fiction range gets down to the atomic level with a truly fantastic book for budding scientists.

"Once Upon an Atom: Questions of Science" by James Carter and William Santiago is perfect for younger children who are just discovering the magic of science, and the amazing ways in which science features in our everyday lives.

With clever rhymes and clear explanations, James and William take us on a journey that stretches right back to the Big Bang, then brings us bang up to date, sending us out into space to find out all about amazing experiments out there in the inky blackness, and down on earth as we begin to learn more and more about our amazing world through the main science disciplines.

It's the perfect book for kids who are beginning to attend science clubs for the first time, or are just finding out about the sciences at school.

With tons of beautiful illustrations, it's perfect for curious kids who love asking "Why!"

Sum this book up in a sentence: A dazzling introduction to the sciences for younger kids who love to find out more about their world, even at a microscopic level!

"Once Upon an Atom: Questions of Science" by James Carter and William Santiago is out now, published by Little Tiger (kindly supplied for review). 
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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

"I Saw It First: Ocean" - A family spotting game with brilliant illustrations from Caroline Selmes (Laurence King)

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Our oceans are teeming with life, a rich diverse and amazing world exists beneath the waves.

What better way to get to know all those amazing creatures than with this brilliantly simple but hugely entertaining new board game from Laurence King Publishing.

With fab illustrations by Caroline Selmes, "I Saw It First! Ocean" compliments the previous "I Saw It First: Jungle" edition, with a fast paced observation-based game for younger players.

Each player takes it in turn to draw a token from the box, and then the first person to spot that creature on the board gets a point.

Are your sharp eyes quick enough to spot the creatures before your opponents?

Packaged in an attractive triangular box, with a huge hexagonal board and accompanying tokens, it's perfect for a bit of family gaming time - something we're hugely keen on here at ReadItDaddy Towers

Sum this game up in a sentence: A hugely entertaining, fun and beautifully presented game that's perfect for tiny natural historians who love finding out more about our amazing oceans and the animals that live in them.

"I Saw It First: Ocean" with illustrations by Caroline Selmes is out now, published by Laurence King (kindly supplied for review). 
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