Thursday 31 July 2014

Princess Evie's Ponies make the transition from children's picture book to early chapter readers with "Princess Evie Young Readers"

Princess Evie Young Readers

Written by Sarah Kilbride

Illustrated by Sophie Tilley

Published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books

Today sees the release of two initial titles in the "Princess Evie's Ponies" range, but they're not picture books this time - they're the first in a new range of "Young Readers".

As before, Charlotte's eyes lit up when these came in the post. She's previously loved the Princess Evie's Ponies range in picture book form and as her reading ability expands, it's almost perfect timing that these books have arrived for her to read before she settles down to sleep.

"Princess Evie's Ponies - The Forest Fairy Pony (Volume 1)" and "Princess Evie's Ponies - The Unicorn Riding Camp (Volume 2)" should please your pony-obsessed children. Each of the stories comes with pony facts at the back of the book, and bonus posters to collect with each volume.

In "The Forest Fairy Pony" Evie and her new pony friend Arwen (lovely name) travel through a magical glade, encountering a fairy kingdom and all new adventures.

In "Unicorn Riding Camp" Evie finds new friendship and fun and possibly her toughest challenge yet at Unicorn Riding School.

Charlotte dived straight into book one and when I asked her what she thought of them, she just ushered me away with a flap of her hand - which is high praise indeed!

"Princess Evie's Ponies - The Forest Fairy Pony" and "Princess Evie's Ponies - The Unicorn Riding Camp" are both out today, from Simon and Schuster

(Kindly sent to us for review by Simon and Schuster Children's Books)
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Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner (Macmillan Children's Books)

Smelly Louie

Written and Illustrated by
Catherine Rayner

Published by Macmillan Children's Books

It's Happy Launch Day to Catherine Rayner, author and illustrator of the utterly brilliant "Abigail". Catherine stays with animals, albeit rather less exotic ones than a giraffe for her latest book - "Smelly Louie" which goes on sale today!

Smelly Louie is a stinky, whiffy, pongy scruffbag dog who we meet in the opening of this hilarious tale engaged in an activity that dogs universally hate. Louie is sitting in a sweet-smelling bath, getting clean because his owners have had enough of his odeur d'animale.

Louie, as you'd expect, isn't exactly pleased with the outcome. His uniquely doggy scent has completely disappeared to be replaced with the essence of apple blossom and cedarwood so Louie decides to embark on an adventure to get back his canine pong.

As Louie patrols his neighbourhood, lots of other animals chip in to help Louie restore the balance of nature. After all, dogs can't go around smelling sweetly!

Does Louie succeed in his mission? You'll have to read the book to find out. Catherine Rayner's fabulous characterisations, hilarious wrap-around story and utterly gorgeous illustrations guarantee that Louie will find a place in your heart - but you might want to give him a bit of a going over with a sponge first!

Charlotte's best bit: A satisfying story with a novel twist at the end to ensure that you keep following Louie's antics right till the very (pongy) end!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Beautifully crafted and hugely entertaining! We love Louie even though he doth pong!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Macmillan Children's Books)
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The Very Best Sheepdog by Pinny Grylls and Rosie Wellesley (Pavilion Children's Books)

The Very Best Sheepdog

Written by Pinny Grylls

Illustrated by Rosie Wellesley

Published by Pavilion Children's Books

We do seem to be nestling under a deluge of lovely dog books at the moment and here's yet another dog tale for us to dive into, this time featuring a breed that Charlotte absolutely adores. A mischievous Border Collie is the superstar in "The Very Best Sheepdog" by Pinny Grylls. Pinny, an accomplished director and documentary film maker has turned her inexhaustible talent to writing children's books and in collaboration with Rosie Wellesley, has come up with a fabulous redemptive tale for children.

"The Very Best Sheepdog" starts off by making you think that Ben, the dog in question, is actually the worst sheepdog in the world. He's completely unfocused, and sheep just run away laughing whenever he tries to round them up.

Ben has one friend in the world though, a lovely little lamb, and the two form a firm friendship spending idyllic days playing "Sniff and Seek" as the lamb hides, and Ben finds her.

One day, the sheep go missing during a storm and there's only one dog who can possibly find the sheep - and the missing lamb too. The farmer decides to trust Ben and his nose to sniff out the missing flock and bring them home safely. Can Ben rise to the challenge?

As you'd expect from such a talented team, this book is hugely atmospheric. At times the artwork feels quite dark and foreboding - the farmer is a dark, almost sinister figure as Ben is admonished for his initial mischievousness - but is called to the fore to save the day.

Children will be hopelessly hooked in by the story and the fantastic illustrations and will be on the edge of their seats to find out what happens in the end (we won't spoil it for you, naturally!)

A hugely impressive debut for Pinny, and another immersive and brilliantly illustrated work from Rosie. Highly recommended.

Charlotte's best bit: Charlotte loves the way that the lamb and Ben become friends, and their friendship can save the day.

Daddy's Favourite bit: Atmospheric, involving and at times quite dark but a really beautifully written and illustrated tale.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Pavilion Children's Books)
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Wednesday 30 July 2014

Little Puppy Lost by Holly Webb and Rebecca Harry (Little Tiger Press)

Little Puppy Lost

Written by Holly Webb

Illustrated by Rebecca Harry

Published by Little Tiger Press

Holly Webb is definitely one of our favourite authors and it's brilliant to see her making her picture book debut so that younger readers can experience her fantastic stories. We're completely head over heels in love with her "Maisie Hitchins" books at the moment (Charlotte tucks herself into bed and reads four pages of the latest Maisie adventures before settling down to sleep). But let's meet "Little Puppy Lost".

Evie has a new little puppy called Harry, who is adorable and mischievous - and taking his first few steps out into the wide world. While playing with Evie at a local park, poor little Harry ends up getting lost - and soon finds that the world is a huge place full of adventure and danger.

Poor Evie can't find him anywhere, so reluctantly heads for home - leaving Harry to fend for himself and somehow find his way back to his distraught owner. Can a very special feline friend help reunite Harry with Evie?

Needless to say, Charlotte loved Harry as she's got an extremely soft spot for cute puppies and kitties. Though the story is aimed at slightly younger readers than Charlotte, Holly's knack of injecting stories with excitement and tension, even in picture book form, really comes to the fore. Aided by fantastic fluffy and colourful illustrations from Rebecca Harry, this is sure to be a book that your little ones will demand again and again. A great picture book debut and we can't wait to see what Holly comes up with next, she must be one of the busiest and most prolific children's writers around!

Charlotte's best bit: A showdown with a rather nasty moggy shows just how brave Harry can be!

Daddy's Favourite bit: An awesome picture book debut from an author who has delighted and thrilled us with her early readers and chapter books already. Brilliant illustrations from Rebecca Harry too. Sure to be a huge hit with your little ones!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Little Tiger Press)
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Artcards - Fashion by Hennie Haworth (Big Picture Press)

Artcards - Fashion

Written and Illustrated by
Hennie Haworth

Published by Big Picture Press

Big Picture Press have built up a hugely impressive library of titles in a relatively short space of time. We were privileged enough to take a look at the Big Picture Press range just before many of the books launched, to huge critical acclaim.

Back then we took a look at a mock-up of Hennie Haworth's first title for BPP, "Accessorize" - a hugely impressive book absolutely crammed to the gills with fabulous illustrations, stickers and ideas for crafting and designs.

Hennie is back with another more focused fashion-based title. "Artcards - Fashion" is again a hugely impressive book full of stickers, art cards, design sheets, templates and a metric ton of ideas for your fashion-obsessed tiddlers (in fact it's a really good title for a huge range of ages - even the very young can find lots to enjoy here!)

There are over 600 stickers which can be used in the book or on separate cards, or even your own designs. Hennie's illustrative touch and eye for design comes to the fore, and it's been a very inspirational book for Charlotte - who loves to create her own designs both on paper and mixing / matching outfits at home.

"Artcards - Fashion" is released in August, from Big Picture Press

Charlotte's best bit: So many things to do, stickers to use and ideas to play around with that she barely knew what to tackle first. This is a weighty tome that will keep your budding fashionistas busy for ages! Perfect for the long summer hols!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Like all Big Picture Press releases, this book positively exudes quality from every page. A brilliant way to get your youngsters designing their own cool outfits and fashion wows.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Big Picture Press)
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Tuesday 29 July 2014

The Little Factory of Illustration by Flore Saint-Val (Tate Publishing)

The Little Factory of Illustration

Written and Illustrated by
Flore Saint-Val

Published by Tate Publishing

Wow, now this is a book that is practically guaranteed to help out substantially with the long, long drawn out school summer holidays. If you have a budding artist at home, a talented doodler, a maker and doer, then you're going to have a lot of fun with "The Little Factory of Illustration" by Flore Saint-Val.

Introduced by the master artiste himself, the awesome Artful Sketcher, we're taken on a whirlwind tour of The Little Factory of Illustration and the colourful characters who dwell within its walls.

Welcome to reception! It's a little bit busy!

Each page spread opens up a wealth of art prompts, activities and fun to be had as The Artful Sketcher introduces us to The Doodler, Roxy, Bob and Jojo - all lifelong artists at work at LIFIPO - here to help you get the most from your artistic imagination.

The Doodler comes up with some cracking designs for you to colour or collage

Even when your little ones have run out of crayons and are all doodled out, you can dive to the back of the book and find a handy wallet tucked into the back cover containing games and other items that can be used with the book.

The only criticism I have of this utterly fantastic book is that it's such a thing of beauty, that we didn't want to deface it. Though it positively invites you to scribble all over it (something that we "just DO not DO daddy!") we came up with lots of ingenious ways to trace and copy the pages so that we could leave the book intact. After all, no one wants to work in a messy factory do they?

Absolutely marvellous and thoroughly recommended if your little ones are kicking their heels around bored with the long hot summer - or (chance would be a fine thing) if the weather turns nasty and you need something to keep 'em busy on a rainy day.

Charlotte's best bit: Scribbling designs and patterns along with The Doodler and making a fantastic collage fashion statement

Daddy's Favourite bit: So many things to see and so much to do in this book, blissful peace and quiet while your little ones get busy with a multitude of activities and fun in this one!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Tate Publishing)
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Best Friends by Mara Bergman and Nicola Slater (Hodder Children's Books)

Best Friends

Written by Mara Bergman

Illustrated by Nicola Slater

Published by Hodder Children's Books

Though we're predominantly cat people (meow!) at ReadItDaddy Towers, we cannot resist a doggy picture book and "Best Friends" by Mara Bergman and Nicola Slater is an absolute stunner.

This lovely little rhyming story tells the tale of Dexter, Daisy and Lily - three very different doggies and their very different owners. Like most dogs, Dexter Daisy and Lily are fun and mischievous and like nothing better than getting up to all sorts of shenanigans in the local park. The dogs and their young owners all meet up and soon chaos and fun ensues, and along the way the children find out that sharing and playing together is a huge amount of fun.

What caught our eye about this book, other than the utterly stunning retro-flavoured art by Nicola Slater is Mara's pitch-perfect rhyming and the glorious energy the book exudes from every page spread. From end paper to end paper, it's a charmer and if your little ones are pet obsessed, they'll love the story while you'll knowingly nod at some of the amusing antics that happen as the tale unfolds. Really love this!

Charlotte's best bit: Charlotte fell hopelessly in love with Daisy. Such a natty dresser!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Fun rhymes, utterly beautiful illustrations, a canine classic if ever I've seen one!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Hodder Children's Books)
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Monday 28 July 2014

Noisy Neighbours by Ruth Green (Tate Publishing)

Noisy Neighbours

Written and Illustrated by
Ruth Green

Published by Tate Publishing

Oh boy, the fun we've had with this book - even though it does touch a bit of a raw nerve at the moment (our immediate neighbours aren't noisy but our neighbourhood is!)

Charlotte and I sat down and cuddled up with this great little book from Ruth Green. Though it's been out for a while, we're playing catch up with Tate Publishing's truly awesome children's book range so watch out for more reviews soon.

A snail is the star of this story, a rather tired little snail if truth be told - who really wants nothing more than to curl up in his shell and get some much-needed rest. But the poor snail can't find a quiet place to kip.

Chirping sparrows keep him awake (again, fully identify with you Mr Snail, we get woken up at first light by the stupid pigeons in our locale! Grrr!) buzzing bees (check, we had a bee infestation a year ago that woke us up at first light with loud droning) and even quacking ducks (OK we haven't had this yet but we live quite near a river so it's not beyond the bounds of possibility).

We love the humour in this. You see Mr Snail is a bit of a tired old grump, a bit like...well me I guess! But he does come up with a stunning idea that might finally guarantee a quiet night's sleep. Can you guess what it is? Clue: Party time!

As you'd expect from Tate Publishing, Ruth Green's fabulous little book is a treat for the eyes - and it's rib-ticklingly funny. We always love books that are huge amounts of fun to 'act out' and read aloud, and that's certainly the case with Noisy Neighbours. Charlotte loved it to bits, though I found it a little bit too close to reality at times :)

By the way, if you're a story app fan, do not miss the app version of "Noisy Neighbours" - It's utterly fantastic! Take a look at:

iTunes link:

Charlotte's best bit: The snail's brilliant plan to finally get a good long peaceful snooze. Genius!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A fantastic and original book full of fun and humour - and awesome fun to read aloud!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Tate Publishing)
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The National Literacy Trust's Wicked Young Writers Award - 100 entries shortlisted for the 2014 pool of entries

WICKEDthe global musical phenomenon that tells the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz, is proud to announce that 100 entries, selected from more than 5,200 submissions, have been shortlisted for the 2014 Wicked Young Writers’ Award.

The Award was established in 2010 as a way of linking the themes and messages of the long-running musical with a competition to inspire self-expression and creativity through the writing of young people aged between 5-25 years old. 

This year’s entries saw young people exploring themes and concerns such as ageing, enduring love and loss, global warming, bullying, self-harm, and the effects of war. 

Michael Morpurgo said of this year’s Award: “All these talented young writers have allowed their imagination to live and breathe. They haven’t been afraid to tell their stories and speak their poems down and to express themselves with originality and flair. I have loved reading their writing and hope that you will as well.”

Wicked’s Executive Producer, Michael McCabe said: “As a show, Wicked strives to draw upon the thrill of live performance to inspire discussion around its story and themes.  It hugely rewarding to see so many young people across the country engage with these values through the Wicked Young Writers’ Award.”

In the younger categories, the entries were funny, scary and surprisingly complex: an alien helps a lonely little girl with cerebral palsy make new friends; a bully is given a dose of his own medicine; a happy, greedy Venus flytrap devours the world; and a surprisingly funny and mature poem about Albert Einstein.

Older categories’ entries, peopled with characters ranging from soldiers suffering with PTS to unwed teenage mothers, used sophisticated imagery and language to explore alienation, death, self-harm and struggling to conform without losing one’s identity.

The eldest 18-25 year old category was surprisingly mature, unselfconscious and insightful, providing a first look at the emerging voices of a new generation: moving, dark and sometimes playful themes comprised of repressed sexuality, love, murder and dementia. This is writing directly from the heart, trying to make sense of a complicated world.

The overall winners will be announced on Thursday 7 August at a special event at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, home of the award-winning musical.  The Award is championed by Patron Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, and spearheaded by Chair Judge and bestselling author, Michael Morpurgo, who was joined in the shortlisting process by Michael McCabe, UK Executive Producer of WickedDean Atta, acclaimed poet and playwright and Henry Smith, founder and director of Lend Me Your Literacy.

Discover more at
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Mine! By Jerome Keane and Susana De Dios (Orchard Books)


Written by Jerome Keane

Illustrated by Susana De Dios

Published by Orchard Books

With a cover that leaps out at you in bold colourful style, and a great little core message about sharing and friendship tucked away inside here's a rather attractive little book from Jerome Keane and Susana De Dios.

"Mine!" introduces Horse and Fox, who are bored one day and in dire need of something to do. Bored bored bored! When something unexpectedly drops out of the sky near them, it's only a matter of time before both Horse and Fox want to play with the mysterious thing that has appeared.

Each hopes the other hasn't noticed, but of course they have - and thus begins an animated discussion about who the object belongs to.

"It's mine!" says Horse.
"No, it's mine!" says Fox.

They argue and bicker, but can Horse and Fox learn to...share?

This will have an air of familiarity to it for any parent who is struggling to teach their little ones the value of sharing and playing together (lord knows we struggled with this one but it was very encouraging to see that we weren't the only parents at Charlotte's nursery who had problems getting their kids to share!) An amusing little tale with a superb twist and payoff at the end, guaranteed to slot nicely in before bedtime. Lovely!

Charlotte's best bit: Laughing out loud when she saw how Horse and Fox's problem was rather neatly solved!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A moral tale with amusing consequences, very nicely written and illustrated.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Orchard Books)
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Friday 25 July 2014

Maps Activity Book by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski (Big Picture Press)

Maps Activity Book

Written by Aleksandra Mizielinska

Illustrated by Daniel Mizielinski

Published by Big Picture Press

When we were lucky enough to see some previews of Big Picture Press's initial run of titles, we knew "Maps" was going to become a modern classic. Mizielinska and Mizielinski, already legendary in other territories, exploded onto the children's book scene in the UK thanks to Big Picture Press picking up several of their titles for publishing. Though we never got to see a finished copy of Maps (just a preview, awww) we've been spending a lot of time over the last couple of weeks with the Maps Activity Book.

When we're about to go on holiday, we are always on the hunt for a good selection of books that Charlotte can busy herself with for hours - for those times when the rain's hammering down and we're stuck in our cottage, or just for moments when daddy's cooking or mummy's packing things for a day out.

The Maps Activity Book is utterly brilliant for this, and also keeps children ticking over nicely while on the long school vacation away from all that brain-boxing and learning. Most of all, it's an immense amount of fun, created in the trademark style of Mizielinska and Mizielinski and literally fizzing with detail and engagement on so many levels.

Inside the Maps Activity Book you'll find the perfect companion to the original Maps book, with a ton of superb puzzles, brilliant illustrations and plenty for kids to draw, write, make and do. Pages can be torn out or kept in the book (tearing pages out of such an attractive book seems tantamount to treason, let alone letting kids scribble in it but that really is what it's made for :)

Like the original, this is truly stunning stuff as we've come to expect from Mizielinska and Mizielinski and of course from Big Picture Press. Fabulous!

Charlotte's best bit: Drawing a detailed Amazon scene full of plants and animals with all her best colouring pencils

Daddy's Favourite bit: Brilliantly compiled and illustrated, offering hour after hour of engagement, activity and challenge in a nice format size for packing into your Trunki for going away. Another belter from BPP!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Big Picture Press)
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Everyone's gone to the Loom! 3 current and upcoming kid's books for you obsessive Loomineers!

Loom Band It by Kat Roberts and Tessa Sillars-Powell (Apple Press)
If you'd told me a couple of months ago that I'd be eschewing the usual evening's entertainment to slavishly sit, almost exploding with concentration and frustration, twiddling tiny rubber bands around pegs or a couple of forks, I'd have called you a complete lunatic (or should that be Loom-Atic? Oh yes the puns will keep coming, never fear!)

The world seems to have gone Loom Band crazy, and it's almost impossible to escape hearing about the latest trend for kids to create amazing bracelets, charms and figures from tiny little coloured elastic bands. 

Though most folk turn to YouTube for some brilliant tutorials (we can heartily recommend searching for Loom Love and Olgacrafts - two of the best Loomers around) we wondered whether there were any books on the subject. 

Obviously it's not the sort of thing that lends itself well to a book (can you imagine how long some of the tutorials would be?) We find the diagrams that come with packets of loom bands a bit like reading double dutch and they're quite frustrating for kids - so we looked for 3 of the best. 

First up - from our header image is "Loom Band-it" by Kat Roberts and Tessa Sillars-Powell. This looks like it should offer an excellent starting point for kids who are just beginning to make their own loom creations. 60 projects ranging from bracelets to charms and rings should definitely get you up and running. 

Loom Magic! Creatures by Becky Thomas and Monica Sweeney (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)
Next is something that should tickle your fancy if you prefer making charms and figures, creatures and cute little things. "Loom Magic! Creatures" by Becky Thomas and Monica Sweeney (Simon and Schuster) has 25 loom projects that break away from boring bracelets and let you exercise your creative talents making all sorts of wonderful creatures. Rather like the look of this one as we've just started making things like this ourselves (and can heartily recommend any tutorials you find that use two forks - no I'm not kidding - rather than the sometimes quite expensive looms or peg boards). 

Rev-o-LOOM-tion - A modern kids guide to rocking rubber bands by Liz Hum (Triumph Books)
Finally something a bit more rad and fashion conscious. "Rev-o-LOOM-tion - a modern kids guide to rocking rubber bands" by Liz Hum is more for wearable loom creations. It's been getting some impressive customer reviews on Amazon so it could be the ticket if your kids prefer stuff they can wear rather than charms or figures. 

We're waiting to see what other publishers do to climb on board the rubber-band-wagon - Hopefully these are just a few of the books that'll be hitting shelves over the summer and through towards christmas when loom stuff will be high on a lot of children's christmas pressie lists. 
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ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 25th July 2014 - "Mr Tweed's Good Deeds" by Jim Stoten (Flying Eye Books)

Mr Tweed's Good Deeds

Written and Illustrated by
Jim Stoten

Published by Flying Eye Books

Once again, Flying Eye Books hit our "Book of the Week" slot with an utterly charming and peerless book that combines a whimsical story, cool counting and hidden object fun.

Jim Stoten's "Mr Tweed's Good Deeds" is fantastic, and instantly caught Charlotte's eye because of its colourful and detailed artwork and caught my eye because it reminded me heavily of the sort of books I utterly loved as a kid. Whether intentional or not, Jim Stoten's artwork feels wonderfully trippy and retro and it's not difficult to see why this ended up on Flying Eye's bookshelf, it really does 'belong'.

Mr Tweed sets out on an afternoon's stroll, and along the way he meets his many friends - each of whom has lost an object. As the story unfolds, each snippet of text sets out a counting challenge for youngsters, and then a hidden object spread (hugely detailed panels) to find something that one of Mr Tweeds' friends has lost.

We fell completely in love with this book as you can probably tell, and the beauty of it is that parents and children can interact with each other and the book on so many levels. Setting each other challenges of things to find once the main objects have been located, and of course counting along with this lyrical tale.

Sincerely hope that we see more of Mr Tweed's good deeds and of Jim Stoten's wonderful work!

Charlotte's best bit: Laughing because Daddy couldn't find the two moggies (I am so rubbish at hidden object books!)

Daddy's Favourite bit: A charming retro feel, but a book bang up to date in its appeal. Absolutely fantastic!
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Thursday 24 July 2014

"Honestly, we just really love what you do!" - A ReadItDaddy love letter to children's book and comic authors and illustrators

"Honestly we really just wanna let you know we love your work!"

It's been a while since I wrote anything editorial-ish for the blog so I thought I'd get back on the horse with a post about stalking. Er what? No actually scrub that, stalking is a little bit too strong a word - So let's call it superfandom.

We are children's book and comic superfans I guess. You know when you transit from that stage of knowing all the classic children's books that you should have on your shelves but don't want to just leave it at that, you want to know who the next generation of beloved national treasures are going to be when it comes to writing and illustrating for children.

We're very fortunate enough at ReadItDaddy to get invited to events. Events where we will meet authors and illustrators. Authors and illustrators who we've written lots and lots of nice things about.

That's OK, but naturally as a bit of a shy bloke (and Charlotte, unfortunately, has inherited my shyness to a certain extent, poor mite!) it's extremely hard not to turn into some sort of gibbering wreck at author / illustrator events. Meeting Jonny Duddle recently was awesome but I can't help thinking I scared the poor bloke half to death by being a little bit too enthusiastic about his awesome work.

Eep there I go again, slipping into superfandom. Charlotte is slightly more subtle than me but I get the feeling if she ever met Luke Pearson or Holly Webb or Shaun Tan or countless other much loved authors and illustrators in real life, she might be a little giddy too.

Really though we just love what you do, nothing more nothing less and sometimes if we get a bit scarily enthusiastic, apologies but what you do is vital, important, imaginative, artistic and we don't really know how else to tell you. We don't keep little effigies of you by our bedside, or photoshop grinning pictures of us next to your press shots, but we really do love what you do so forgive us if we seem a bit frighteningly enthusiastic at times :)
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The Selkie Girl by Janis Mackay and Ruchi Mhasane (Picture Kelpies)

The Selkie Girl

Written by Janis Mackay

Illustrated by Ruchi Mhasane

Published by Picture Kelpies

Rounding off our trio of reviews looking at the fantastic Picture Kelpies range, we've been taking a look at "The Selkie Girl" by Janis Mackay and Ruchi Mhasane. Tapping into scottish legends once again, it tells the tale of a young boy called Fergus and his father who are very poor, eking out a living from the sea and shore where they live. One day Fergus finds a mysterious fur blanket tucked away amongst the rocks as he combs the beach. He takes this newfound treasure home but doesn't realise that the fur belongs to The Selkie Girl, and without it she cannot return to the sea. For the fur holds the power to change the girl into a seal, allowing her to dive and swim underwater.

Trapped on land, the girl has no choice but to find her way to Fergus' cottage to beg for the return of her fur coat. Fergus (rather meanly in our opinion) likes her company, so tells her that he will return the coat to her if she spends a week with him on land.

The two become firm friends, and Fergus enjoys having a friend around - stark contrast to his usual lonely and miserable existence. But as the two play together, the Selkie Girl misses her family and thus must return to the sea...but what of Fergus, is he destined to be forever lonely? We'll let you discover this story and find out for yourself in the book.

Janis Mackay's thoughtful and touching retelling of this classic scottish folk tale is beautifully brought to life by Ruchi Mhasane's illustrations, and the lyrical text makes this a wonderful story to read before bedtime. We have been completely and thoroughly impressed with the Picture Kelpies range, fusing fantastic traditional stories with the very highest quality artwork and presentation. Do seek them out because they really are worth a place in your collection.

Charlotte's best bit: Fergus and Selkie playing together and having lots of fun

Daddy's Favourite bit: Another brilliant addition to the Picture Kelpies range, with a fantastic traditional tale melded with gorgeous art.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Picture Kelpies)
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Train! By Judi Abbot (Little Tiger Press)


Written and Illustrated by
Judi Abbot

Published by Little Tiger Press

We are loving this little book, full of colour and a great read-aloud story for younger children. Judi Abbot's "Train!" introduces us to Little Elephant and if there's one thing Little Elephant loves, it's trains! He's quite obsessed about them and loves making huge layouts with his wooden railways (as do we - in fact if mummy hadn't told me to stop buying bits for our layout it'd probably take over the whole house!)

Like most toddlers, Little Elephant has a one (train) track mind, so when he meets other children he's a bit puzzled that they don't share his love of all things chugtastic.

I mean cat loves planes, honestly! Penguin seems to love cars! As for rabbit and his diggers, well the less said the better.

Can the little ones learn to play together, share and find out that there's more to life than just one toy?

Judi Abbot's bold illustrations and sing-song story are a delight. We had a slight niggle that the book was a bit boy-centric (put it this way, Charlotte spends an awful lot of time playing with trains, cars and planes too!) but it's still a cute little cracker of a book that is sure to please your vehicle-obsessed toddlers.

Charlotte's best bit: The brilliant bit in the middle of the book where the toddlers all get together shouting about their favourite vehicles (imagine the cacophony!)

Daddy's Favourite bit: A bold and colourful book full of bouncing read-aloud fun, all children are bound to love this one

(Kindly sent to us for review by Little Tiger Press)
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Little Tiger's "Reading Rocks" week continues with the paperback release of "Abigail" by Catherine Rayner (Little Tiger Press)

Abigail (paperback edition)

Written and Illustrated by
Catherine Rayner

Published by Little Tiger Press

Oh how we love Abigail! Catherine Rayner's book is not only beautiful but it's a lot of fun too.

Abigail, the wonderful Giraffe, just LOVES to count. Anyone who loves to count knows how much more fun it can be if you involve everyone else too, so Abigail soon meets all her animal friends on her travels while attempting to count their spots and their stripes. Animals rarely stay still for very long though so poor Abigail soon finds that counting is tricky when the thing you're counting is a big fidget!

This book is a true work of art, with some of the loveliest animal illustrations you'll see in children's books. Abigail herself is fab (but then we do share An Vrombaut's soft spot for giraffes and here Catherine Rayner has captured their loveliness perfectly) but so are her friends. The fun counting story is also fab and it's fun to find out what Abigail counts when the long day on the plains draws gently to an end and darkness falls.

People often ask us why we don't give any age guidance / ratings on books. The simple answer is that most books have such a huge appeal to children of all ages that it's unfair to try and pigeonhole them in that way. Taking Abigail as an example you could read it aloud to a tiny toddler just learning to count on their fingers and toes, or you could read it to a little girl like Charlotte who is busying herself with adding, subtracting and multiplication and let them soak up a beautiful and rather touching story.

In a nutshell, Abigail is as good as it looks (and it looks SO good!). It's really not hard to see how Catherine won the CILIP 2009 Kate Greenaway medal for "Harris Finds his Feet", her books are sublime.

Charlotte's best bit: Trying to count all the stripes on a lot of very busy and fidgety Zebras

Daddy's favourite bit: That delicious final spread. No spoilers but if you count all the objects in it I bet you they'll add up to exactly the number Abigail says!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Little Tiger Press as part of their reading rocks week. Review previously published for hardback version)
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Wednesday 23 July 2014

The Tale of Tam Linn by Lari Don and Philip Longson (Picture Kelpies)

The Tale of Tam Linn

Written by Lari Don

Illustrated by Philip Longson

Published by Picture Kelpies

The second of our reviews of the stunning new range from Picture Kelpies retells a traditional Scottish folk tale, The Tale of Tam Linn. Steeped in legend, Lari Don's retelling of this classic fable feels tightly written and immensely appealing for a wide range of ages.

The hero of the tale, Janet, is a young curious girl who is forbidden to venture into the woods near her castle home. Local legends tell of a child, stolen by an evil fairy queen to do her bidding, and dangerous magic woven deeply into the forest.

Janet (like most curious heroes) doesn't heed the warning and wants to find out the truth. She meets a fairy knight, none other than Tam Linn himself and befriends the woe-struck boy.

The fairy queen is furious at their new found friendship and vows that she can make Tam Linn turn on Janet. As she warps him into a frightening collection of animals and creatures, Janet struggles to hold on to Tam Linn, to save him from the fairy queen's evil curse.

As adventure stories go, this is truly stunning stuff. Lari's writing and the utterly sumptuous and gorgeous illustrations by Philip Longson bring this tale to dazzling life.

We have another Picture Kelpies review coming up on the blog (The Selkie Girl) so keep 'em peeled!

Charlotte's best bit: The thrilling conclusion to the story as Janet struggles to hold Tam Linn to prevent him from turning on her. Stunning and exciting stuff!

Daddy's Favourite bit: The Picture Kelpies range is aiming high with truly beautiful artwork, tightly wrought tales and luxurious presentation. Really do not pass these books by, they're amazing!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Picture Kelpies)
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Day three of Little Tiger Press's "Reading Rocks" Week - Let's take a look at "Mighty Mo" by Alison Brown (Little Tiger Press)

Mighty Mo

Written and Illustrated by
Alison Brown

Published by Little Tiger Press

Oh No! Or should that be "Oh NO!" Mo the Racoon is a well-meaning little fellow but try as he might, he just can't seem to get anything right!

Living at the Golden Dodo Zoo, Mo kicks his heels around as bored as bored could be. So what CAN he be good at?

In Alison Brown's latest fantastic book, we meet Mo who really only wants to be good at something - anything - but keeps messing up. Mo tries his hand at Hairdressing, to disastrous results. Mo tries to be an ice cream man, but no one's going to want to clear up the catastrophic mess left in his wake (and no flake!)

Perhaps though, Mo has hidden talents - only revealed when a sneaky and nasty burglar goes on the prowl in the zoo, looking to steal the infamous golden dodo (look out for him on every page - Charlotte absolutely LOVED spotting him and finding him and your tiddlers will too!)

Fun and energetic, with Alison's fabulous illustrations and storytelling prowess coming to the fore. Another corker of a summer read for Little Tiger Press's Reading Rocks campaign!

Charlotte's best bit: Looking out for that sneaky burglar, creeping around the zoo (and hiding in the most amusing places!)

Daddy's Favourite bit: Alison Brown makes it look SO EASY to produce such lovely books. A corker!

(Kindly sent to us for review as part of Reading Rocks Week by Little Tiger Press. Join in the fun!)
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Tuesday 22 July 2014

The Dragon Stoorworm by Theresa Breslin and Matthew Land (Picture Kelpies)

The Dragon Stoorworm

Written by Theresa Breslin

Illustrated by Matthew Land

Published by Picture Kelpies

A stunning new range of children's books landed on our doorstep just before we disappeared on holiday for two weeks. So we spirited them away with us and have been enthralled by them.

The first one we're taking a look at is "The Dragon Stoorworm" by Theresa Breslin and Matthew Land. A traditional feel to a Scottish tale of legend and of dragons, as the colossal dragon Stoorworm threatens the entire country. His huge appetite means that he is in danger of stripping the land of its flora and fauna. Only one thing will satisfy him. In return for not trashing the place, the dragon demands a young healthy person to eat every day - starting with the King's lovely daughter, Princess Gemdelovely (heck of a name, huh!)

The king cannot sacrifice his daughter, so puts word out that if any man can stand between Stoorworm and his daughter, and free the country from the evil dragon's tyranny, he will win the king's sword, the king's throne and the hand of his lovely daughter in marriage (though quite sensibly Princess Gemdelovely isn't exactly enthralled with the idea of daddy giving away her hand on a whim!)

Knights come and go, brave souls succumb to the dragon's awesome power but one day Assipattie spies the princess through the window of the castle and so desperately wants to get to know her that he decides to help the king. Assipattie and Princess Gemdelovely have a cunning plan to get rid of Stoorworm, and bravely they set out to battle!

Will they succeed? Ahh you know us, we're not here to tell you the ending of this fantastic tale, but to let you discover this wonderful range for yourself. Picture Kelpies combine brilliant traditional tales with utterly stunning artwork (it's amazing to think that this is Matthew Land's first picture book - the man has a bright future ahead of him!)

Check out the range - we'll be following up with reviews of "The Selkie Girl" and "The Legend of Tam Linn" very soon.

Charlotte's best bit: Charley's visit to the dentist. Rinse please!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Brilliant fun for tiddlers, beautifully illustrated and told

(Kindly sent to us for review by Picture Kelpies)
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Little Tiger Press's "Reading Rocks!" week continues with "Why?" by Tracey Corderoy and Tim Warnes (Little Tiger Press)


Written by Tracey Corderoy

Illustrated by Tim Warnes

Published by Little Tiger Press

Archie is back! The cute little rhino from Tracey Corderoy and Tim Warnes' fab book "NO!" is back, and he has a question.

It's the question that most parents dread, because there is often no right answer. We're currently STILL going through the "Why?" phase with Charlotte as she has a zillion and one questions about everything, and never quite hears the answer she wants or expects from long suffering mummy and daddy (even when it's the right answer!)

Archie is the same. He plagues his parents from dusk till dawn.

"Why is glue so sticky?"

"Why do things smash when I drop them on the floor?"

"Why Why WHY?????"

We love the parents' hang-dog expressions in this book and we love the way Archie's natural curiosity fizzes from every page. We have tried all sorts of methods of satisfying Charlotte's curiosity when she asks "WHY?" but perhaps this fabulous book might help a little bit (and help you too!)

Charlotte's best bit: When Archie finally runs out of steam at the end of a busy day. Aww!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Why is this book so great? WHY? WHY?

(Kindly sent to us for review by Little Tiger Press as part of their summer "Reading Rocks" campaign! Join in the fun!)
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Monday 21 July 2014

The Usborne Art Book about Colour by Rosie Dickins, Ashok Roy and Desideria Guicciardini (Usborne Books)

The Usborne Art Book about Colour

Written by Rosie Dickins & Ashok Roy

Gallery Consultant: Desideria Guicciardini

Published by Usborne Books

Usborne's peerless art series continues with a book that offers a glimpse into the history of colour as well as the history of art. Children are like hungry sponges when it comes to finding out about the past and also how things work. Something as 'basic' as colour is something that children take for granted from an early age, as soon as they start breaking out the crayons and the poster paints - but where do those wonderful colours come from - in fact where did they come from before paint arrived in handy plastic squeezy bottles?

Usborne's fabulous "The Usborne Art Book About Colour" provides answers with a series of brilliant illustrations, informative text and fascinating facts. There are pages about the history of pigments, of the various things that early artists would use to create paints, and comes bang up to date with essential pages detailing colour theory. All of course punctuated by some scintillating artwork and expertise gained from collaborating with experts at The National Gallery.

As a lowly art student, I was told by my course tutor that I had the worst grasp of colour theory of any of her students (to be fair to her, she was not wrong, I am completely hopeless!) After an hour or two with this book, and with Charlotte propped on my knee reading alongside, we both felt like we'd learned an awful lot and had fun doing so. That's a perfect summary of how Usborne books can make art fun and engaging, and books like this truly are inspiring the next generation of little artists to look deeper into the fascinating world of art.

Charlotte's best bit: Slightly over-obsessed with the fact that some pigments were derived from dung!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A fantastic book imparting valuable knowledge about colour theory, art history and the history of pigments with superb presentation and fascinating facts. Brilliant!
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Joining in with Little Tiger Press's fabulous "Reading Rocks" summer campaign, we grill Sue Mongredien and Nick East about "Harry and the Monster"

We're joined for another themed post for Little Tiger Press's fantastic "Reading Rocks" campaign. All summer long, Little Tiger will be encouraging little readers to have a great time reading for pleasure over the summer. And what better way to kick off a summer of stories than with the utterly fabulous "Harry and the Monster" by Sue Mongredien and Nick East. 

Pop by and read our review but we've also been lucky enough to put some tricky questions to Sue and Nick, so without further ado let's get things under way!

1) Hi Nick and Sue, thanks for stopping by ReadItDaddy - Tell =us a little bit about yourselves!
SM: Hello, thanks for having us! I’m Sue, and I wrote the words of the story. I live in beautiful Bath with my husband and our three children, and spend a lot of time staring out the window – I mean, thinking up ideas for new stories.

NE: I'm Nick and come from the land of flat caps, whippets and Yorkshire pud and I also live in a beautiful city called York. I draw and colour-in and have a weird collection of Pink Lady apple stickers on the side of my desk (well where else do you put them when your apple's finished).

2) We really love "Harry and the Monster". We particularly liked the balance and the core theme of the story (the idea that even monsters can be scared of something!) and the fantastic illustrations. What inspired you both when putting the book together?

SM: The story came from my son, Tom, having bad dreams when he was much younger. Nobody was getting much sleep! In the end, I suggested trying to turn a bad dream into a funny dream and a little story lightbulb lit up in my head…

NE: On my first read of Harry and the Monster I scribbled and doodled all over my printout of Sue's text - which is always a good sign for me. Some stories just trigger instant visuals, they begin like a wobbly mirage in the head and solidify as pencil goes on paper, it's always my favourite part of the process.

3) We consistently find 'dark' children's books end up as our "Book of the Week" winners, why do you think children are drawn to books that dally with darker subject matter?

SM: I think for the same reason that as adults, we find ourselves drawn in by darker films or books too – it’s the delicious lure of feeling a bit scared and shivery! For children, having a story read to you by a parent or grandparent or older sibling is such a safe and lovely thing to do, it creates a secure environment in which to discuss any fears raised in a darker story. It definitely makes a happy ending more satisfying too.

NE: Yes I agree Sue, we all adore to be scared a little bit. As a small boy I remember being terrified by those wonderful monsters in Maurice Sendak's 'Where the Wild Things Are' but as the story progresses they become a bit foolish and dependant on Max, making them all seem a bit silly. Until Max leaves the island and the wild things cry 'Oh please don't go - we'll eat you up - we love you so!' I found this quite shocking at the time but actually really loved it!

4) With that in mind, did anyone ever raise concerns over the monster in the book? He does seem a bit of a rotter at first!

SM: The idea was always for him to SEEM scary and awful but for there to be a hidden depth to him. Plus Nick has drawn him with such comedy, I can’t help feeling he’s rather loveable underneath all that roaring and bellowing.

NE: That was exactly the idea Sue - I wanted him to be all bark and no bite. He had to have all the usual things scary monsters have but to instantly look a bit daft and vulnerable at the same time. Lets face it a purple monster with a pot belly, fluffy tail, blunt claws and pink underpants on his head, can never really be that threatening.

5) Art and story work together so well in "Harry and the Monster" - How easy was it to collaborate on the book and bounce ideas off each other?

SM: It is always quite nerve-racking, handing a story over and seeing how an artist brings your characters to life. But from the very first sketches I saw of Nick’s ideas for Harry and the Monster, I knew I was in safe hands. Thank you, Nick!

NE: My pleasure Sue! Unfortunately on most collaborations authors and illustrators don't meet at all - sorry to disappoint! Maybe publishers want to keep nutty arty types (like me) away from very capable and intelligent writer types (like Sue)!

6) What's the best advice you can give to an author or illustrator looking to break into children's books?

SM: Do your research. Sit and read books with a child and get a feel for what they find funny or exciting. Don’t patronise or under-estimate your reader, and don’t over-describe the action: let the pictures do the talking, too! Finally, it’s vital to read your own story aloud to see how it sounds. The acid test is when you reach the end and a child says the magic word: “Again!”

NE: Illustration involves a lot of drawing, as you might have guessed. And if you love to draw and draw and draw and draw with a bit of colouring in, then maybe it's the illustrators life for you. If I had my time again I would go to art college - there are some brilliant illustration courses in this country that will teach you everything you need to know. But other than that, always browse bookshops, keep a sketchbook, draw funny, unusual and original characters and never ever give up if it's what you really want to do!

From Charlotte:

1) Who is your favourite monster?

SM: Am I allowed to say the monster in this story? I do love him. When he’s not growling and stomping, I think he looks very huggable. Otherwise, I’d have to say Sully and Mikey from Monsters, Inc. When my children were little, we watched that film a LOT!

NE: Funny you should say that Sue. A little girl (who shall remain unnamed) said to me that she needed a cuddly toy of the monster NOW!! So he obviously has that huggable appeal. To answer your question Charlotte I would have to say Fungus the Bogeyman. I read this book hundreds of times as a child and he is definitely still my favourite monster.

2) Which is harder, drawing or writing?

SM: Oh, writing. WRITING! Definitely writing! (But I would say that, wouldn’t I? :-D )

NE: Writing is so much harder - believe me I've had a go!!

3) Will Harry and Monster ever come back in another book?

SM: Hmmm, good question. I don’t have any plans to write another Harry and the Monster book right now, but you never know. And if they do come back for another book, I think they’d be friends now, don’t you?

NE: If he does the book should definitely come with a cuddly toy!

Huge huge thanks to Nick and Sue for some brilliantly entertaining answers to our tricky questions. Do not miss the fantastic "Harry and the Monster" by Sue Mongredien and Nick East, published by Little Tiger Press. (Pink pants on head are optional)

If you'd like to have a go at putting together your own monster creations, download and print this fabulous Monster Sheet!

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Kicking off "Reading Rocks!" blog tour week with Little Tiger Press. "Harry and the Monster" by Sue Mongredien and Nick East

Harry and the Monster

Written by Sue Mongredien

Illustrated by Nick East

Published by Little Tiger Press

You know how much we love monster books, right? You know how much Charlotte always looks for the darkly-tinged bedtime stories (while mummy and I try desperately to steer her away from anything that will give her nightmares)? Well how about a book that, rather cleverly, works in two ways. On the one hand it does feature one mean and nasty monster who keeps invading poor Harry's lovely dreams at night, causing Harry to wake up with a squeak...

Harry and the Monster. Someone ought to give that monster a real telling off!

On the other hand it's actually a tale that should go some way to assuring kids that dreams are harmless, and the biggest scariest monster that pops into your imagination and runs gleefully around causing havoc and chaos is actually quite scared of something too.

Like all great children's picture books, there's a twist in this tale and Sue keeps us hanging on till quite near the end when the twist is revealed. Alongside Nick's fabulous art (with lots of truly gorgeous detail and such a meany monster!) this is an immensely satisfying book that ticked our 'monster book' boxes good and proper (and don't forget to look elsewhere on the blog today as we feature a mini interview with Sue and Nick, and our all time top-ten monster book recommendations!)

The evolution of a monster! Nick East's fantastic character drawings for "The Monster"

"Harry and the Monster" is available from Little Tiger Press. Please do join in with their "Reading Rocks" Campaign for the summer and keep kids reading (and loving doing so, of course!)

Charlotte's best bit: So what is it that a monster is scared of? Charlotte LOVED the twist reveal. So awesome!

Daddy's Favourite bit: We do love a good monster yarn and we particularly do love a meany monster (as long as they see the error of their ways!). A corking good read!

(Kindly sent to us for review as part of the awesome "Reading Rocks!" summer campaign by Little Tiger Press)
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Friday 18 July 2014

Normal service is resumed...!

Ooh hello!

Yes you've probably noticed we've been away for a couple of weeks - in an internet blackspot or two - but we're back with a bulging review stack waiting to be tackled.

Hope you enjoyed our queued-up posts while we were away. We missed you all!

Looking forward to lots of booky fun now the summer holidays proper are upon us.

Great to have you back

Phil & Charlotte (and mummy of course!) @ ReadItDaddy
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Friday 11 July 2014

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 11th July 2014 - "The Complete Rainbow Orchid (The Adventures of Julius Chancer)" by Garen Ewing (Egmont Books)

The Complete Rainbow Orchid (The Adventures of Julius Chancer)

Written and Illustrated by
Garen Ewing

Published by Egmont Books

So many people have described the revival of kid's comics as a new golden era, with huge buzz and interest greeting any new release. With comics like The Phoenix leading the charge, folk are slowly discovering something we've known for a heck of a long time - Comics really are a great way to engage kids in reading and drawing, and better than that, they can teach kids a thing or two along the way as well.

Garen Ewing's sublime "Rainbow Orchid" series is something we've (ahem) been meaning to get around to reading for a very long time but when we spotted a copy in our library, we just couldn't resist it. Charlotte is becoming a huge Tintin fan, drawn to stories of derring-do in the style of the saturday morning matinee flicks so it was pretty obvious that she'd want to investigate Rainbow Orchid too.

Intrepid archaeological assistant Julius Chancer is drawn into a globe-spanning adventure - the search for the mythical Rainbow Orchid, and a dastardly plot full of twists and turns. Set in our favourite era for stories (the 1920s) Garen's exhaustive research (lovingly detailed at the back of the book, a section that had me scurrying off with this mighty tome to read up on his methods) shines through in a thrilling adventure tale that will appeal to both girls and boys. Julius Chancer is an everyman hero. He's no lantern-jawed goon but uses his brain to outwit his foes, and his historical knowledge to uncover secrets and clues to the Orchid's whereabouts. Unfortunately Julius and his friends aren't the only ones seeking the sacred flower. Nefarious baddies are also on the trail, led by the foul Urkaz Grope (what a great name!) The race is on for fortune and glory.

Reading up on the publishing history of this story is almost as interesting as reading the story itself. Garen originally published the set of stories on his website, and then later self-published (if ever there was an example to set for reviewers NOT to overlook self-published stuff, this is it!) before being picked up by Egmont.

It's easy to draw comparisons between The Rainbow Orchid and Tintin but I actually (dare I say it) prefer Julius Chancer's adventures (Charlotte won't forgive me for saying that! She still loves Tintin best, but really enjoyed this).

Thrilling, exciting, chock full of delicious detail, edge-of-your-seat moments and as a bonus, lots of things to go off and investigate where the story touches on the real world, this is one of the books I'll shove up people's noses when they tell me comics are "bad for kids".

Charlotte's best bit: Fab and exciting, and plenty of awesome female characters for her to identify with as well as a no-nonsense hero that uses his brains rather than his fists.

Daddy's Favourite bit: A shining example of a brilliant story that you can comfortably recommend to parents looking to introduce their kids to comics. Cannot recommend this highly enough.
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Wednesday 9 July 2014

Dragon Loves Penguin by Debi Gliori (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Dragon Loves Penguin

Written and Illustrated by
Debi Gliori

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing

Sometimes you can really get lost in a story that taps deep into your imagination and sense of wonder and conveys such a heartwarming tale that you could almost burst into tears as you reach the last page.

Debi Gliori is a master storyteller. She has a knack for producing the most immersive and involving stories. "Dragon Loves Penguin" is the touching tale of a little penguin called Bib who curls up on his mummy's knee one night to hear a bedtime story. Bib's favourite story is about the dragons and so Bib's mum settles down, snuggles tight and tells of the days when dragons freely roamed the earth. Slowly driven out of their homes, the dragons make their way to the realm of the penguins and hunker down atop a fiery snow-covered volcano for warmth.

One dragon isn't like the others, and when she discovers a lost egg, she vows to take care of it. Soon the egg hatches but it's not a dragon that emerges, it's a penguin - but the dragon loves it like it was her own.

The other dragons scoff and sneer but they stay together and the dragon is very protective of her offspring, despite how different she is and how she can't do all the things that the other dragon children do.

One day there is a huge rumble from the earth and the volcano erupts. Penguin spots the danger and urges the other dragons to fly before it's too late but poor penguin is left behind! Will no one save her from fiery doom?

We'll have to stop there in case we spoil too much of this wonderful tale. It's exciting, nail biting stuff and you owe it to yourself to discover the rest of the tale under your own steam.

Debi Gliori makes it look easy, to marry together the most wonderful stories with gorgeous artwork. We were already sold by the dragon on the cover long before we even read the story, but the content more than lives up to the wrapper in this case so wrap your peepers around this gorgeous children's book.

Charlotte's best bit: Little Penguin is SO CUTE! And what a genius idea to feature a story with penguins AND dragons

Daddy's Favourite bit: Superlative storytelling from Debi. Don't miss!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Bloomsbury Publishing)
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Tuesday 8 July 2014

The Cherry Thief by Renata Galindo (Child's Play)

The Cherry Thief

Written and Illustrated by
Renata Galindo

Published by Child's Play

Oh c'est si bon! Chef Armand, renowned p√Ętissier is the star of this fabulous story by Renata Galindo that will have your tummy rumbling by the end of the book. Chef whips up the most delicious cakes and pastries in his bakery, and his signature is to decorate absolutely EVERYTHING with beautiful red cherries.

Soon though, Chef Armand notices that customers are complaining. Their cakes are cherry-less and the chef is mystified. What on earth is going on? Is there a cherry thief at work?

There's only one thing for it, and Chef Armand embarks on a stakeout - to see if he can catch the thief (cherry) red handed. Soon enough the pesky varmint is revealed and Chef Armand tries everything to catch the critter before it escapes with its cherry booty!

Renata Galindo's story zips along at a cracking pace and is such a thing of beauty, each page spread seems designed to make you want two things - 1) Lots of lovely cakes (well that's pretty much the norm for us at ReadItDaddy Towers) and 2) lovely ripe juicy red cherries!

There is a nice message in the book though, and you'll find it out when Chef Armand discovers quite by accident, partially thanks to the fruit-stealing hedgehog (well we think it's a hedgehog anyway!) that sometimes it's better to share.

Child's Play books are always exceptionally high quality and this is definitely no exception, it's a joy and younger children will absolutely love counting all those cherries!

Charlotte's best bit: The Cherry Thief's rather innovative way of stashing so many cherries! Neat idea!
Charlotte's favourite cherry cake: A cherry bakewell

Daddy's Favourite bit: A superb story with a rather lovely message tucked into its pastry folds. Perfect with a cherry on top!
Daddy's Favourite cherry cake: A big swirly cherry danish pastry covered in icing and juicy sultanas. YUM!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Child's Play Publishing)
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The Mermaid of Zennor by Charles Causley and Michael Foreman (Orchard Books)

The Mermaid of Zennor

Written by Charles Causley

Illustrated by Michael Foreman

Published by Orchard Books

We couldn't resist this book. As soon as we saw the cover I knew it'd be coming home with us. We both love mermaids so a story that taps into traditional Cornish tales about "Merrymaids" was too good to miss.

"The Mermaid of Zennor" tells us the story of a young boy and his best friend. They always attend church every sunday, but a mysterious woman who sits at the back of the church catches their eye, and changes their lives forever.

Steeped in local history, both Charles and Michael have produced a tale that feels instantly like something that has been passed down from generation to generation as the older boy runs off to sea with his newly found love - but the two boys paths cross again later on in life.

We're trying not to give away too much because you really should discover the story for yourself. Suffice to say that if we're ever anywhere near Zennor, we'll be dropping into the little church mentioned in the book to see if there really is a chair with a "Merrymaid" carved on it tucked away at the back.

Charlotte's best bit: The lovely Merrymaid babies, all 7 of them!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A charming and instantly accessible story that feels traditional and ancient, but is still a gorgeous story to tell out loud to your little merrymaids and merrymen!
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