Friday 30 September 2011

Crispin, the Pig who Had it All

Crispin is a bit of a spoilt brat, truth be told. Every week he gets a huge wad of pocket money from his dad, and every christmas and birthday he gets present after present after present. Usually his toys end up folorn and broken, until one Christmas, Santa leaves Crispin a rather unusual present. A huge empty box. 

Upset and annoyed, Crispin goes on a voyage of discovery learning that his imagination and his friends are worth more than a Teddybot 6000 or a PigStation with all the games. 

A fantastic book that serves up a morality tale without shoving it too hard down your throat, Crispin: The Pig who had it all is fantastically written and beautifully illustrated (in fact you could read and re-read this again for all the tiny little details Wilson Gage puts into his beautiful painted panels in this book). 

Deservedly our book of the week and thoroughly recommended. 

Charlotte's best bit - The sad fate of Crispin's box in the rain, aww. 

Daddy's favourite bit - The rather fetching costume Mrs Pig wears to do her aerobics in. Buns of steel!

Rating - 5 out of 5 stars, book of the week

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Cactus Annie

First days at school are stressful enough (we've got that to look forward to next year!) but when you're enrolling at Cowgirl School and you don't know your lasso from your saddle pommel, you're in serious trouble. 

Cactus Annie struggles to fit in with her class of talented cowgirl classmates, and ends up running away. Only to find that in a crunch, she's actually the rootin' tootin' cowgirl she'd always dreamed of being. Foiling the plans of a bunch of dastardly rats, Cactus Annie wins the day. 

This charming and idyllic view of the wild wild west is deliciously presented by Melanie Williamson. Great characters, great baddies (c'mon, every children's book needs a great set of baddies!) and a nice satisfying end to a cute little tale that should win the hearts of little girls (and little boys) everywhere. Hooray for Cactus Annie!

Charlotte's favourite bit - The nasty rats and their cheese-making machine

Daddy's favourite bit - That machine, it's a work of Heath-Robinson-esque genius

Rating - 4 out of 5 stars
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Thursday 29 September 2011

Teatime in Space

After 2 weeks in a self-inflicted tech blackout (avoiding all things computery is blissful if you manage to do so for even a few days!) ReadItDaddy is back with a whole stack of new books to sort through, and new reviews to publish. So let's kick off with 'Teatime in Space' by Caroline Castle. 

Pete is an ordinary everyday kid but one day Pete's ordinary everyday life is turned upside down by the arrival of an alien spacecraft in his back garden. Its sole occupant needs help, and Pete bravely steps in to fix the broken spaceship - inadvertently landing himself in all sorts of hot water at the same time. 

'Teatime in Space' is simple non-taxing stuff, beautifully illustrated and would make an excellent early reader when your children advance past the 'Here is spot. here is a ball' type stuff. Any child fanatical about aliens, space or spaceships should find plenty to giggle at, and Pete's a very easy character for kids to identify with. 

Charlotte's best bit: The strange shaped cutlery on the alien planet

Daddy's favourite bit: Odd alien food

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 
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Friday 9 September 2011

Barefoot Books moves into Summertown

Back in 1905, the beautiful building on the right of this photograph of Summertown was the Twinings Grocery Shop. Now it's about to become the latest "must visit" destination for anyone interested in children's books. 

Barefoot Books have set up an interesting mixture of shop, Storybook Cafe and events space in this fantastic location. The aim is to provide the feeling of stepping into a story book when you walk through the door. 

The Storybook Cafe will be run by Michelin-trained chef Vladmir Niza (who previously worked at Raymond Blanc's cookery schools and also Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons). As well as plenty of treats for your tummy, there are books, books and more books (we've already enjoyed plenty of Barefoot Books' range including "I Dreamt I was a Dinosaur" by Clare Beaton and Stella Blackstone). 

The new studio will stay true to Barefoot Books' philosophy of producing fantastic books for children that break away from the all-too-familiar commercialisation and branding that seems to be increasingly pushed at kids from an early age. 

An Open Weekend will take place on October 8th and 8th 2011. 

For more information on this exciting new venue, visit

The Barefoot Books Studio is at Twining House 294 Banbury Road Oxford OX2 7ED

Opening hours are 8.30am to 5.30pm, 7 days, with late nights on Wednesdays to 8.30pm.

See you there!
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Thursday 8 September 2011

Small Potatoes - The Album

A while ago, I remember making a comment on a CBeebies interview with Josh Selig, the creative brain behind Little Airplane Productions and CBeebies hits "3rd and Bird" & "Small Potatoes" that it was a shame the soundtracks for both shows weren't available. 

Lo and behold, what dropped through my letterbox the other day? The Small Potatoes album - and it's been riveted into Charlotte's CD player ever since. 

Available for preorder now on iTunes for £1.79 (£5.99 later)  and released on the 13th September 2011, the album has 12 tracks taken from the hit show. 

Oddly, the 'Small Potatoes' theme tune isn't here. Probably because it's fairly short, but it would've been a neat addition in my opinion. What you do get though are recognisable songs such as 'Imagination' and 'This is my Family', which are great little singalong songs. 

The talented spuds, Ruby (the Diva), Nate (the artist), Olaf (the caretaker) and Chip (the cheeky little scamp and the smallest potato of all) sing their hearts out and if you're familiar with the show you'll know to expect tuneful child-friendly stuff (that will drive most parents quietly mad if this is demanded on long car journeys). 

The best way to describe the album is "short and sweet" but hopefully it'll sell well enough to prompt another volume, or even a full '3rd and Bird' album from the same folk. 

A must-have for fans of the show (and there are a lot of you out there judging by how high up the 'favourites' list episodes of "Small Potatoes" feature on the BBC's iPlayer) so get those preorders in to snap up a bargain. 

Charlotte's best bit: I Just Want to be Me

Daddy's favourite bit: Small Potatoes Mash Up

Rating: 4 out of 5

(This item was sent to us for review)
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Tuesday 6 September 2011

Trouble at the Dinosaur Cafe

There's real trouble in store down at the Dinosaur Cafe. Big bully Tyrannosaurus has dropped in for tea, and he's only got one thing on his mind. Meat. Mainly Dinosaur meat. Not great news for the rest of the peaceful veggie dinosaurs who just want to get on with their swamp pies, milkshakes and salads. 

There's only one thing for it, call on Triceratops - the trouble-shooting tough guy who will wade into any situation and kick some serious dino butt!

Brian Moses / Garry Parsons take a 50s kitsch diner, give it a dino slant and weave a rhyming tale of giving a big noisy (and smelly) bully what for. The bold artwork is lovely, the text is entertaining and it made Charlotte giggle a lot. Thumbs up!

Charlotte's best bit: Flicking between the front inside picture, and the back inside picture in this book (Clean, dirty, clean, dirty!)

Daddy's favourite bit: The Dino Elvis picture on the diner wall. Uh huh huh!

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Monday 5 September 2011

Meet the team

Welcome to all the new readers directed here from the excellent Abingdon Blog. We recently met the blogger chap for the first time, doing good deeds in Abingdown Town Centre for the Heritage weekend. Dressed in our weekend scruffies, he took a photo of us to put on the blog: 

So that's "Can I Walk Mummy" and the terrible twosome behind "ReadItDaddy" (I'm the far less hairy one). As usual Charlotte is doing her diva thing of never looking directly at the camera (we think she's got a bright career ahead of her in fashion photography). 

Many thanks to The Abingdon Blogger for the links and a good natter. 
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Friday 2 September 2011

There are cats in this book!

There most certainly are. Cats in this book I mean. And how. This playful and mischievous little tome captures the essence of moggy-dom perfectly and it's blindingly obvious that not only does Viviane Schwarz know exactly how cats behave, she knows exactly how busy and fidgety little toddlers behave around cats. 

Full of interesting and cool page layouts, lift-the-flap sections and boxouts to the previous or next pages, it's an absolute masterpiece of design never forgetting its target audience. 

Charlotte couldn't wait to go right back to the start and begin again once we'd finished. About ten times. So with that, it's a 5 star book of the week!

Charlotte's best bit: 'Throwing wool' at the cats

Daddy's favourite bit: Moonpie. Just too cute!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Book of the Week

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Day of the Diesels - The Movie Story Book and Sticker Activity Book

Our triple-header of Thomas the Tank Engine reviews continues with the Day of the Diesels Movie Story Book. Released by Egmont Books as an accompaniment to the Day of the Diesels DVD / Blu Ray, the book uses stills from the movie and illustrations to weave the tale of Steamies vs Diesels, and how friendships are worth fighting for through thick and thin. 

As with Egmont's other glossy softcover books, this is a fantastic book at an attractive price which is a great addition to any Thomas fan's library. 

Also from Egmont: 

Yep that's right, there's also a sticker activity book to go with the film - chock full of stickers, colouring challenges, puzzle games and lots of glossy backgrounds and illustrations to stick that bumper bunch of stickers on. Nice to see that handy page number guides are given with the sticker sheets (why oh why more publishers don't think to do this is beyond me) though as with most sticker books, a way of liberating the sticker sheets from the book without damaging / ruining it would've been nice (perforated lines on the sticker sheets that go under a book's staples perhaps?)

All in all though, both books are of extremely high quality. 

Here's a couple of Amazon links to both: 

(These items were sent to us for review)
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