Thursday, November 21, 2019

"Max the Detective Cat: The Catnap Caper" by Sarah Todd Taylor, with illustrations by Nicola Kinnear (Nosy Crow)

Did you know there's a whole genre based around cat detective fiction? No? Well there most certainly is. Cats are naturally inquisitive, quite cunning and excellent at solving problems and puzzles (you thought those mackerel fillets were safe in the fridge? Better check again when you get home!)

"Max the Detective Cat" by Sarah Todd Taylor and Nicola Kinnear is an excellent example of middle grade detective fiction that just so happens to fall into the cat-egory (I know, the cat puns, we just can't help ourselves) and it's the third brilliant novel chronicling Max's amazing adventures.

This time the globetrotting cat is off to Paris to investigate a very mysterious disappearance amongst the rooftops and spires of this romantic and enchanting city.

Max arrives in the midst of preparations for a fantastic singing competition which has the city's attention, but meanwhile something altogether more nefarious is going on.

Pampered moggies are disappearing from their comfortable homes and no one knows why so it's up to Max to take a closer look at a truly puzzling and baffling case.

Sarah's characters are delicious, truly - and Max is whip-smart and engaging, setting us up for a glorious detective romp in a fabulous setting.

If you've not yet caught up with the series, do check out "The Disappearing Diva" and "The Phantom Portrait" - the previous adventures in Max's amazing life as a superb feline sleuth. Utterly brilliant stuff!

Sum this book up in a sentence: A superb moggy-based detective romp amongst the rooftops of Paris, beautifully written and illustrated, pulling curious kids right into the story with tons of atmosphere and cleverness.

"Max the Detective Cat: The Catnap Caper" by Sarah Todd Taylor and Nicola Kinnear is out now, published by Nosy Crow Books (kindly supplied for review). 
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"Insect Superpowers" by Kate Messner and Jillian Nickels (Chronicle Books)

Bugs are amazing, just ask any kid who has stared in awe at the antics of ants, beetles and bees.

"Insect Superpowers" by Kate Messner and Jillian Nickels gathers together some really impressive little critters, showing that despite their diminutive size, they're capable of amazing feats of strength, intelligence, cunning and even engineering!

Some are amazing predators, able to unleash a truly awesome arsenal of weaponry at their disposal.

Some are talented mimics, able to defy predators by pretending to be much bigger (and much hungrier) creatures than they actually are.

It's a superb collection of 18 incredible superheroes and supervillains of the insect world, in a book that's laid out in a cool comic style to maximise engagement with the subject matter, inspiring kids to pick up a magnifying glass and take a closer look at the insect world that often passes unseen beneath our feet.

Let's take a look inside at some of the amazing spreads:

Sum this book up in a sentence: A book that perfectly demonstrates just how incredible and amazing insects really are, brilliantly presented in a kick-ass comic style. 

"Insect Superpowers" by Kate Messner and Jillian Nickels is out now, published by Chronicle Children's Books (kindly supplied for review). 
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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Celebrtating National Non-Fiction November with two brilliant new titles from Cicada Books

It's National Non-Fiction November, a month-long celebration of all the awesomeness to be found in Children's Non-Fiction titles.

We're huge fans of innovative, engaging and interesting non-fiction titles and Cicada Books have two stunning new titles to tempt you, filled to the brim with fascinating facts and awesome knowledge.

So let's dig under the earth for the superb "Earth Shattering Events - Volcanoes, Earthquakes, Cyclones, Tsunamis and other Natural Disasters" by Robin Jacobs and Sophie Williams.

Our earth is a fragile ecosystem, and when climate change, adverse weather conditions and the slow shift of land masses and tectonic plates are at their most active, spectacular and dangeous things can happen.

In "Earth Shattering Events" you'll learn about natural disasters, how they occur, what causes them and how we've come to adapt, overcome and survive these catastrophies. Digging into the science of geology and metrology, this book is anything but a light touch, providing fascinating insights into areas of science that aren't often covered in such exquisite detail in natural history books. Authoritatively written with fantastic colourful and engaging illustrations, it's a brilliant book for home or school projects.

"Earth Shattering Events" by Robin Jacobs and Sophie Williams is out now, published by Cicada Books. 

The second book in our in-depth review of awesome non-fiction titles from Cicada is "Gut Garden: A journey into the wonderful world of your Microbiome" by Katie Brosnan.

This time the fragile ecosystem in question is the one inside our own bodies. Have you ever wondered what happens between you eating your dinner and - er - it coming out of the other end? In between are your intestines - and an amazing ecosystem in microscopic form, comprising amazing life forms and friendly bacteria that all have a part to play in extracting all the goodness from your food to build your body strong and healthy.

The book delves into what these different bacteria do, which foods are great (and terrible) for your gut, and how to maintain a healthy balance to ensure everything runs smoothly.

This is a truly amazing little title, one that again we don't often see dealt with as a subject but it's brilliantly done so here, a perfect jumping-off point for kids to discover all sorts of amazing biological functions our bodies are capable of.

"Gut Garden" by Katie Brosnan is out now, published by Cicada Books (both titles kindly supplied for review)

Check out more awesome Cicada titles on their website here!
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"Caveboy Crush" by Beth Ferry and Joseph Kuefler (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

Ready for an old-fashioned romance? I mean REALLY old fashioned, prehistoric in fact. 

In "Caveboy Crush" it's a case of caveboy meets cavegirl. Neander is a happy soul, spending his days doodling on his cave wall, chasing mammoth butterflies and playing with his pet rock (aptly named Rock!)

But sometimes life is lonely. Until the day Neander meets Neanne. 

She's short, hairy, possibly a bit pongy but in Neander's eyes she's utterly and completely perfect. 

The only problem is Neander is having trouble grabbing her attention. What can he do to impress this girl? 

Flowers won't work, nor pretty shells. Neanne needs something more to impress her, so it's up to Neander to come up with a way of wooing her that will win the day. 

Sum this book up in a sentence: Sweet, and unique, this is a great little book to save till next Valentine's Day. 

"Caveboy Crush" by Beth Ferry and Joseph Kuefler is out now, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers (kindly supplied for review).
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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Out today: "Greta and the Giants" by Zoe Tucker and Zoe Persico (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

Greta Thunberg's "Strike for Climate" has been one of the most inspirational things to emerge from the veritable train wreck of 2019. Understandably, her voice is shaping the way people think about the climate, their own efforts to help preserve it, and what big companies should be doing to offset their carbon footprint.

In "Greta and the Giants" by Zoe Tucker and Zoe Persico, Greta is the inspiration for a brilliant character facing off against giants who are ruining the forest for all the people and animals living there.

Greta loves nature, and though she's small, she's determined to stand up to the giants, make her tiny voice heard, and enlist the help of others to make a stand against the ruination of the natural world around her.

Presented here as a story for younger readers, both Zoes have pulled all the stops out to make this book as attractive, compelling and alluring as possible without diluting the core message - that the natural world deserves our protection and we should do all we can to preserve it.

Let's take a look inside at the gorgeous page spreads in this amazing book:

Sum this book up in a sentence: A beautifully woven story taking Greta Thunberg's epic climate battle as the inspiration for a fictional story around preserving nature and the environment.

"Greta and the Giants" by Zoe Tucker and Zoe Persico is out today, published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books (kindly supplied for review). 
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"Making the Moose Out Of Life" by Nicholas Oldland (Pikku Publishing)

Imagine the possibilities that open out before you in life, if you turn a "No" into a "Yes".

"Making the Moose Out of Life" is the latest in Nicholas Oldland's fun series of 'message' books, this time describing the joy of living your best life, even if (like us) you're a bit of a shy retiring type, quite often anxious and reluctant to join in.

Moose is such a creature, worried that he'll look daft and silly if he tries to join in with the other animals in their games - but secretly wishing for acceptance.

With an observational eye as sharp as a needle, Nicholas makes great use of humour to bring the core message to life - that you only live once, so try everything - what's the worst that can happen?

Sum this book up in a sentence: Absolutely brill for younger readers, a fab animal-based moral tale with a great pay-off at the end.

"Making the Moose out of Life" by Nicholas Oldland is out now, published by Pikku Publishing (kindly supplied for review). 
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Monday, November 18, 2019

"This Is How I Do It" by Matt Lamothe (Chronicle Children's Books)

You're amazing, did you know that? If you start to think about all the things in your life that shape who you are, all the myriad amazing things, and write them down, what would that list be like if you read it back?

Here's your chance to find out in a truly brilliant book that's part non-fiction, part activity book, and part journal - and entirely fantastic!

"This Is How I Do It" by Matt Lamothe is the follow-up to his previous "This is how We Do It" title examining the lives of kids all around the world.

This time Matt needs your help - in fact you are the star of this book, along with 59 real kids from around the world who all share their daily lives through superb page spreads and a fantastic overall design.

Matt's idea is to draw out from the reader their own contributions to a bigger picture of how kids live their lives all around the planet. Some might feel they're rich and well off, and have everything they need. Some might feel they're poor, but manage to still live an active and amazing life nonetheless.

Let's take a dip inside this truly amazing and diverse book filled with stories all about you, and kids like you!

All the kids featured in this book are real kids living around the world. How cool is that!
Diversity and equality shines from every page, particularly this one
Even our favourite animal friends get a moment in the spotlight in this fab book
It's such a brilliant idea to let kids join in and interact with the book themselves. Chronicle really have published some of the most stunning titles this year and this is no exception.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A truly awesome idea to make kids the star of their own book, joining kids from around the globe in talking about themselves and their lives in detail.

"This is How I Do It" by Matt Lamothe is out now, published by Chronicle Children's Books (kindly supplied for review). 
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"Under the Great Plum Tree" by Sufiya Ahmed and Reza Dalvand (Tiny Owl)

Growing up in a part of London that was ethnically diverse, rich with many cultural influences that made their way into school, I've always been drawn to stories from around the world - particularly India and the Far East.

That's why I'm always delighted to see publishers like Tiny Owl bringing those stories to the west, stories that are colourful, vibrant and gloriously descriptive.

That's a very good way to describe the reinvention of a classic "World Story" - "Under the Great Plum Tree" by Safiya Ahmed and Reza Dalvand.

Safiya and Reza have woven a beautiful book that tells the classic fable of The Monkey and the Crocodile - a story that can be found in several countries and cultures in one form or another.

Reworked and revised, this version of the story begins with an unlikely friendship between Miss Bandari and Mr Magarmach, which forms when the pair meet under the great plum tree, deep in the heart of India. 

Mr Magarmach is old and his hunting days are over but Miss Bandari loves hearing his stories as they munch plums together. One day their friendship is tested but with courage, trust and forgiveness they discover that living happily together tastes just as sweet as Miss Bandari’s golden plums.

As previously mentioned, this story can be found as a fable from the Panchatantra, an ancient Indian collection of animal fables dated to 300 BCE but it’s also a tale found in many culstures from Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, China, Japan and the Caribbean. Ripe with just the right amount of cheeky humour, with a sage message of friendship and tolerance tweaked in too. Gorgeous work!

Sum this book up in a sentence: An amazing book, perfect for reinvigorating early years reading when traditional 'western' subjects get a bit samey (which they unfortunately often do). 

"Under the Great Plum Tree" by Sufiya Ahmed and Reza Dalvand is out now, published by Tiny Owl Books (kindly supplied for review). 

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Friday, November 15, 2019

ReadItDaddy's Super Special Children in Need Chapter Book of the Week: Week Ending 15th November 2019: "Cyborg Cat and the Night Spider" by Ade Adepitan and Carl Pearce (Piccadilly Press)

This week we wanted to squeeze in a very special Chapter Book of the week, and a brand new adventure from a super-talented Paralympian and presenter, and illustrated by a real blog favourite.

"Cyborg Cat and the Night Spider" by Ade Adepitan and Carl Pearce once again weaves a brilliant adventure with a super-cool hero protagonist.

Ade loves playing football and he's amazing in goal, despite the heavy metal caliper he has to wear on his leg.

He can save any ball that's sent his way, from any direction, so his friends have nicknamed him the Cyborg Cat. 

But when the Parsons Road Gang stumble upon some unusual graffiti it starts to have a really weird effect on Ade. Somehow, the art is drawing him into another dimension, where he really is Cyborg Cat! 

But that's not all - after seeing the Night Spider's art, Ade starts to feel weak and everything begins to go wrong. He's banned from a school trip to a safari park because of his disability, and the doctors have some bad news about his legs. 

How can Ade overcome his challenges and what power does the mysterious Night Spider have over Cyborg Cat? Ade needs all his friends' help to uncover the truth.

We love where Ade's stories take us. His writing is fantastic, full of energy and positivity, and an instant win for kids who recognise that not all heroes wear capes. 

This is a brilliantly engaging, thoroughly original and hugely imaginative second adventure for Ade's superhero character Cyborg Cat, fantastic for middle grade readers who like a bit more zip in their stories. 

"Cyborg Cat and the Night Spider" by Ade Adepitan and Carl Pearce is out now, published by Piccadilly Press. Part of the profits from the book will be donated to the BBC's Children in Need Charity. 
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ReaditDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 15th November 2019: "Taxi Ride with Victor" by Sara Trofa and Elsa Klever (Prestel Publishing)

It's surreal, it's spacetastic, and it's quite unlike most of the picture books we see on the blog - Our Picture Book of the Week this week is "Taxi Ride with Victor" by Sara Trofa and Elsa Klever.

Victor isn't your ordinary everyday cabbie. In fact Victor is an intergalactic cab driver and has always wanted to be one, so he's living the dream.

The only problem is that space is big. Really big. In fact it's vast, and the mere act of popping to the shops requires more than just 'the knowledge' from this effervescent and well-meaning cabbie.

Sat Nav doesn't work in space either, so Victor quite often gets hopelessly lost.

As his customers request a particular destination, they quite often end up somewhere entirely different and unexpected. Though they dutifully pay up, Victor starts to worry that he's annoying everyone - until one particular cab ride ends in a destination he could never have dreamed of.

Poor Victor. Frustrated at his lack of navigation skills!
It feels like a bit of an odd 'message' at first, that failing miserably at your job could actually make people happy - but Victor's strange destinations for his customers often work to their advantge, and quite often they end up in a place that they probably should have requested all along (and yay to a book that considers libraries as an important destination!)

There's no left and right in space, you've gotta think in three dimensions, buddy!

As Victor realises that his customers actually quite like the adventure, he becomes what he always wished to be - a famous and amazing galactic cabbie!

We loved this book, it's completely weird and surreal, very different to our normal (some might say 'boring') picture book intake, with a wholly original story (why aren't there more children's books about cabbies?) and some really funky artwork too.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A strange, surreal and thoroughly brilliant book about that modern phenomenon, 'failing upwards' - but in this case for a character who's well meaning and cool rather than a bumbling idiot who ended up as Prime Minister!

"Taxi Ride with Victor" by Sara Trofa and Elsa Klever is out now, published by Prestel Publishing (kindly supplied for review). 
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