Friday, 28 December 2012

2012 - That was the year that was - Part 1 (January, February, March) ReadItDaddy takes a retrospective look back at a year in Children's Books

Way back in January 2012 we decided to ramp things up a notch here at ReadItDaddy and start covering more books. This is always an ambitious thing to try and do, particularly during a year which has seen our blissful days off with Charlotte replaced by her first few months at school. Taking a look back over the year, we've reviewed a heck of a lot of children's books - some new, some old, some paper, some electronic but most of all we've enjoyed more interaction with lovely book folks (authors, illustrations, publishers and PRs) than ever before so here's hoping that continues well into 2013.

Kicking off back in January with our review of "Wanted - The Perfect Pet by Fiona Roberton", we thoroughly enjoyed the tale of a lonely duck and an equally lonely boy finding each other and learning a lot about themselves in the process. We stayed doggy with "Robot Dog" by Mark Oliver, beautifully illustrated and wonderfully clanky.

Our first book of the week in 2012 was the sublime "Banana Skin Chaos" by Lili L'Aronge. A super-detailed book where a massive accident happens in achingly slow motion, all set off by a carelessly discarded banana skin. Eeep!

Squeezing in another fantastic Book of the Week before January ended, we took a look at the utterly divine "If I Could Paint the World" by Sarah Massini. Beautifully illustrated, a gorgeous story and one of the many books in 2012 that made our jaws drop.

Moving onto February and a month of birthdays. We loved Jonny Duddle's brilliant artwork and salty sea tales in "The Pirate Cruncher" - Now the rest of the world has discovered what a supreme talent Mr Duddle is, we very much look forward to his "The King of Space" in 2013. It's going to be brilliant, trust us!

We started early on Phonics with the Oxford Learning Tree / OUP "My Phonics Kit". It's great to know that now Charlotte has started school and has started using the same resources, she had a bit of a head start before she'd even turned 4. Amazingly though, the package is so brilliantly put together than even little toddlers (as she was back then) could find lots to love about it. Naturally as the year has progressed we've dipped back into it many times since and the Biff, Chip and Kipper stories still capture Charlotte's attention and imagination.

Our first February book of the week was "Dougal's Deep Sea Diary" by Simon Bartram. This was the first book we read by Simon and we've made it our mission to hunt down as many as possible - We just can't get enough of Simon's hyper-detailed and utterly beautiful artwork as well as his entertaining characters like Dougal and of course Spaceman Bob!

Anthony Browne's slightly terrifying and unnerving "The Tunnel" was another Book of the Week back in February. For some reason, Charlotte still loves the scary books but we kept this one well away from bed-times. It's pretty disturbing but was demanded again and again, and the central theme of the story (sibling rivalry and brotherly / sisterly love) underpins the scary stuff quite beautifully.

February saw us take our first look at the books of MyLittleBigTown, an independent publisher who have produced some of the most interesting books of the year. We reviewed "Gorgeous George and the Giant Geriatric Generator" and George has of course gone onto further adventures, becoming a bit of a cult icon on Facebook as well!

Moving onto chilly March, we celebrated Winnie the Witch's 25th Birthday. We're massive fans of the Winnie the Witch books so Charlotte was overjoyed when she finally got to meet "Winnie" at her preschool fete in the summer (I think secretly she was a bit petrified of Winnie but loved Wilbur, most definitely!)

We took a break in sunny Lanzarote (and boy, did we ever need some sunshine!) and our first book of the week in March was "Beware of Boys" by Tony Blundell - the cautionary tale of what happened when a Wolf finally met his match, in the shape of a rather cheeky and resourceful young boy.

We said our final goodbyes to Mog as we finally got round to reading Judith Kerr's beautiful book dealing with loss and grief. Oddly enough, we've seen quite a lot of books dealing with what happens when we lose a loved one, a recurring theme throughout 2012.

Join us for part 2 of our yearly roundup where we take a look back at April, May and (less than flaming) June.