Wednesday 31 December 2014

The ReadItDaddy End-of-Year Roundup - All our awesome "Book of the Week" winners for 2014 - and our book of the year winners!

Phew! It's a bit of a big list this, and once again proves beyond a doubt that 2014 was one heck of an amazing year for innovative and original children's books. Most on the list were published during 2014, but we've drawn from a diverse range of books - not just new ones.

So sit back, and enjoy a breakdown of our Book of the Week list month by month - Or skip to the end if you want to know what we each chose as our book of the year (Note that our Book of the Year winners would be books published or re-published in 2014).


"The Arrival" by Shaun Tan

"The Paper Bag Princess" by Robert Munsch & Michael Martchenko

"Watch out for the Crocodile" by Lisa Moroni & Eva Eriksson

"My Grandfather's Beard" by Joshua Seigal

(39 books reviewed)


"Oi, Frog!" by Kes Gray and Jim Field

"Where the Poppies now Grow" by Hilary Robinson and Martin Impey

"Very Little Red Riding Hood" by Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap

"Shackleton's Journey" by William Grill

(48 Books Reviewed)


"Princesses are not just Pretty" by Kate Lum and Sue Hellard

"Ronny Rock Starring in Monster Cake Meltdown" by Merryn Threadgould and Bruce Ingman

"Hilda and the Black Hound" by Luke Pearson

"Hermelin - The Detective Mouse" by Mini Grey

"Grandma" by Jessica Shepherd

(49 Books Reviewed)


"The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me" by Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake

"The Queen's Hat" by Steve Antony

"William and the Missing Masterpiece" by Helen Hancocks

"Grandma's Gloves" by Cecil Castellucci and Julia Denos

(32 Books Reviewed)


"Me and You" by Anthony Browne

"Orion and the Dark" by Emma Yarlett

"My Name is Bob - An Illustrated Picture Book" by James Bowen & Garry Jenkins & Gerald Kelley

"Sir Scallywag and the Deadly Dragon Poo" by Giles Andreae and Korky Paul

"Jack and the Baked Beanstalk" by Colin Stimpson

(39 Books Reviewed)


"Klimt and his Cat" by Berenice Capatti and Octavia Monaco

"Hearts" by Thereza Rowe

"The Sheep in Wolf's Clothing" by Bob Hartman and Tim Raglan

"My Teacher is a Monster (No I am not!)" by Peter Brown

(41 Books Reviewed)


"The Last Alchemist" by Colin Thompson

"The Complete Rainbow Orchid (The Adventures of Julius Chancer)" by Garen Ewing

"Mr Tweed's Good Deeds" by Jim Stoten

(39 Books Reviewed)


"Ten Little Princesses" by Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty

"Where Bear?" by Sophy Henn

Digby Dog Delivers" by Tor Freeman

"The Colour Thief" by Gabriel Alborozo

"On Sudden Hill" by Linda Sarah and Benji Davies

(39 Books Reviewed)


"The Art of Frozen" by Charles Solomon

"Murilla Gorilla and the Hammock Problem" by Jennifer Lloyd and Jacqui Lee

"Tin" by Chris Judge

"Blown Away" by Rob Biddulph

"A Year of Stories and Things to Do" by Shirley Hughes

"Shooting at the Stars - The Christmas Truce of 1914" by John Hendrix

(51 Books Reviewed - PHEW!)


"Sketches from a Nameless Land - The Art of 'The Arrival' by Shaun Tan

"Plumdog" by Emma Chichester-Clark

"The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear and Charlotte Voake

"Detective Paws - An Interactive Who-Done-It Mystery by John O'Leary

"The Usborne Official Detective Handbook" by Colin King

"The Wonder" by Faye Hansom

"The Colour Thief - A Family's Story of Depression" by Andrew Fusek-Peters, Polly Peters and Karin Littlewood

"Bears Don't Read" by Emma Chichester-Clark

(58 Books Reviewed)


"Russell Brand's Trickster Tales - The Pied Piper of Hamelin" by Russell Brand and Chris Riddell

"Over the Hills and Far Away" by Elizabeth Hammill

"Homer Henry Hudson's Curio Museum" by Zack Rock

"Night Post" by Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder

(46 Books Reviewed)


"Snow Day" By Richard Curtis and Rebecca Cobb

"Animalium - Welcome to the Museum" by Jenny Broom and Katie Scott

"Minecraft Blockopedia" by Mojang / Egmont

And now (drum roll please) our Book of the Year Winners...

It has been such a tough choice - easily as difficult for us to choose just one standout book each for the entire year as it has been throughout the year to pick a Book of the Week each week. We don't usually try to do this but we thought "What the heck, why not!"

But Charlotte picked a book that she's been absolutely absorbed by and inspired by so her book of the year is:

"HILDA AND THE BLACK HOUND" by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)

Congratulations Luke!

I picked something that we've read, re-read, and re-read and each time we've giggled like drains at. It's beautifully created, utterly hilarious, so much fun to read aloud and best of all, a really neat and original 'take' on a well loved tale bringing something genuinely new and fresh feeling to the book table.

My book of the year (and a good dose of influence from how well received it was by Charlotte too) is:

"VERY LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD" by Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap (David Fickling Books)

Congratulations Teresa and Sue!

We look forward to seeing you all again in 2015 and sharing with you a whole new stack of utterly brilliant books. Huge huge thanks to you, our readers, and to the lovely book folk we've been lucky enough to converse with this year. To the top publishers and PR folk who work so hard to push the bar higher and higher for children's books standards every year and of course to the endlessly creative authors and artists whose spark of brilliance turns the seed of an idea into the most amazing and awesome books.

You're all superstars!

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Wednesday 24 December 2014

Booky Advent Calendar - CHRISTMAS EVE! - "Father Christmas Goes on Holiday" by Raymond Briggs (Picture Puffin)

Father Christmas Goes on Holiday

Written and Illustrated by
Raymond Briggs

Published by Picture Puffin

Our final Booky Advent Calendar entry (final because you'll hopefully be FAR too busy tomorrow to read our blog, right?) is an absolute christmas cracker, featuring our all-time favourite book portrayal of Father Christmas.

It's still impossible not to read this in the late great dear departed voice of Mel Smith - as he did the voices in the sublime animated version of this and "Father Christmas" by Raymond Briggs.

We do absolutely love both but this was the one that entertained Charlotte the most, simply because you see Santa as he is for the rest of the year. Santa plans his summer holidays more or less as soon as the last present is dropped off. Sitting at his kitchen table drinking hot cocoa and fending off the sniffles, Santa decides on a grand tour to take in all the sights and sounds all over the world that he usually only gets to see in passing.

Briggs' portrayal of Santa is as a slightly curmudgeonly fuzzy old grumpus, but with a certain joie de vivre and willing to try anything once. He's the epitome of "Brits Abroad" - clad in his handkerchief hat, no suntan lotion but still baking in the hot midday sun.

Santa's holiday adventures are hilarious - and in this largely wordless book the dialogue is purposely kept sparse so you can be entertained thoroughly by Briggs' amazing visual style - still as fantastic now as it was when it was created almost 30 years ago.

An utterly brilliant book to round off our series of Christmas recommendations. From all of us at ReadItDaddy - from me, Ali and Charlotte we wish you a Merry Booky Christmas and a Story-Filled New Year!

Charlotte's best bit: Santa's terrible case of tummy trouble, brought on by one too many fancy French dishes

Daddy's Favourite bit: Love love love this, so much fun to read aloud (in a really bad impression of Mel Smith's sublime mockney accent). Fun to find out what happens when Santa lets his hair (and his beard) down!

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The Really Abominable Snowman by Valentina Mendicino (Walker Books)

The Really Abominable Snowman

Written and Illustrated by
Valentina Mendicino

Published by Walker Books

It's the night before christmas, and all through the house - not a snowman was stirring, not even wait - that's not how it goes! If you're heading out to your local book emporium today for that last minute gift, it might be time for a book that neatly sidesteps the usual seasonal epithets but still feels like it belongs in anyone's winter book collection.

Step forward The Really Abominable Snowman. Now, I'm not sure what you've heard about Yetis, Sasquatches or Bigfoot but the Really Abominable Snowman has a terrible reputation. He eats children, he smells like stinky cheese, and his table manners leave a lot to be desired.

Only that's not strictly true. The Really Abominable Snowman is really called Milo, and he's rather partial to a cherry cupcake or two (and he bakes like Mary Berry too, bless him!)

He definitely doesn't pong either because he bathes every day with lavender soap. As for eating children? Wouldn't dream of it.

So why can't Milo find a friend? Why do people run screaming into the trees every time this personable, fuzzy and cute Abominable Snowman comes calling?

Milo feels sad, but soon it looks like the answer is at hand. Helpful woodland animals are on hand, and point to social networking as a way of making new pals. Poor Milo isn't exactly a successful tweeter (we can give him lessons!), he can't find any friends in that weird "Face Book" - and his makeovers are a disaster (to be honest though, we thought his punky street look was brilliant!)

In a local paper, Milo spots that a party is being thrown for strange creatures - so Milo decides to join in. Again though, everyone runs screaming leaving poor Milo behind all alone - everyone except Sophie - who is the biggest most beautiful creature Milo has ever seen.

We'll leave you to discover more about Sophie when you read the book yourself. Valentina's entertaining and original story (with the cutest fuzziest cakiest artwork) is a joy, and this heartwarming tale might not be christmassy but it's a wintry and wonderful story that warmed our hearts.

Charlotte's best bit: Milo's sumptuous and luxurious cupcakes look good enough to eat!

Daddy's Favourite bit: An endearing character and an utterly fabulous wintery tale. Not all snowmen are abominable!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Walker Books)
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Tuesday 23 December 2014

Santa's Beard by Matilda Tristram, Tom Duxbury and Nick Sharratt (Walker Books)

Santa's Beard

Written by Matilda Tristram and Tom Duxbury

Illustrated by Nick Sharratt

Published by Walker Books

There's always time to sneak in a few more books just in case you (like me) are a last-minute christmas shopper in search of some brilliant inspiration for your children's christmas book pile or stockings.

What a belter this is too, a novel take on those wonderful fuzzy books for toddlers that have tactile bits that are fun additions to an entertaining story. This is quite original, fun and cheeky - just the way we like our christmas books.

It's Christmas, and Santa is about to make his rounds - but his mischievous beard is looking for a new place to dwell. Off it flits, giving Santa a rest but looking for the perfect fizzog to attach itself to.

Here's where the novelty kicks in - that lovely fuzzy beard on Santa on the cover can detach, a nifty piece of velcro on each page gives you a new place to put Santa's facial fungus - with hilarious results.

Though the book is technically aimed at younger children, Charlotte spent the entire book cackling with glee as Santa's beard came to rest on a beautiful princess, or a gardening granny - or even on a little baby!

Finally it lands somewhere very cheeky indeed - but at least it's picked the right big red bottom to land on - as that bottom belongs to good old St Nick himself.

What an utterly brilliant idea for a christmas book (and don't worry about losing that beard, it's rather handily attached to the book via a piece of ribbon which should stand up to even the most enthusiastic tugging - which is more than you can say for the Santa at your local garden centre's beard!

Charlotte's best bit: Hooting with laughter at the baby with the beard! (We named him Pubert!)

Daddy's Favourite bit: What a hilarious and original christmas book - destined to cause mirth and merriment for kids of all ages!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Walker Books)
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Booky Advent Calendar Day 23 - "The Nightmare Before Christmas (20th Anniversary Edition)" by Tim Burton (Disney Editions)

The Nightmare Before Christmas (20th Anniversary Edition)

Written and Illustrated by
Tim Burton

Published by Disney Editions

It's not often you get a story that comfortably covers two glorious celebrations - both of which we absolutely love to bits. Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" gets a good solid airing at Halloween but also at Christmas, and this 20th Anniversary Edition of the original story is perfect for reading at bedtime as we get closer and closer to the big day.

If you're one of the handful of people who has no idea who Jack Skellington is, or has no idea what happened when the two holiday seasons of Halloween and Christmas clashed together so spectacularly in Tim's story and the utterly gorgeous movie that it spawned, then treat yourself to the book and the film and tuck into a glorious festive tale.

Jack Skellington is the big cheese in Halloweenland. Each and every year, Jack and his ghoulish crew plan Halloween celebrations and festivities. But Jack is becoming jaded, tired of dreaming up new ways to spook and scare people.

By chance, Jack discovers a magical forest filled with mysterious doors, portals to other holiday words. Drawn to the sparkliest and most colourful door, adorned with a tree and baubles, Jack accidentally falls through and finds himself in Christmas Land.

Caught up with the festive preparations, Jack falls hook line and sinker in love with the idea of becoming Santa for the year, and putting his own dark spin on Christmas! Time for Santa to take a holiday (or rather be kidnapped and put in a big sack by Lock, Shock and Barrel, three of Jack's most fiendish cohorts) and for Jack to take over!

But will Jack's perfect vision of a gruesome Christmas come to pass?

It's quite interesting seeing the original story that spawned the movie. Tim Burton re-drew sections of the tale and this celebratory anniversary edition shows off the rough and scribbly style that was so masterfully transformed into the glorious stop-motion movie that we all know and love. Nevertheless, despite its rough appearance it's a timeless story full of amazing characters - and good old St Nick himself to save the day. We love it!

Charlotte's best bit: Charlotte absolutely loves Jack's ghostly dog Zero, and the bit where Zero and his glowing pumpkin nose takes his place at the head of Jack's skeletal reindeer sled

Daddy's Favourite bit: I've lost count of the amount of times I've seen this movie, I even have a pair of Jack Skellington slippers at home (and several mugs, and goodness knows how many times I've drawn Jack and Sally myself too!) - A hugely appealing story full of dark and gothic charm and this book captures it perfectly!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Disney Editions)
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Monday 22 December 2014

Booky Advent Calendar Day 22 - "Stick Man" by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Alison Green Books)

Stick Man

Written by Julia Donaldson

Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Published by Alison Green Books

We couldn't really have a Christmas roundup without one of our all-time favourite Christmassy books. In fact, I think this is actually our favourite Julia Donaldson / Axel Scheffler collaboration - yes we prefer this to both "The Gruffalo" and "The Gruffalo's Child" (which might be tantamount to children's book heresy to state in public, but there it is!)

So why is it the perfect christmas tale?

Oops! Santa never makes the most graceful entrances does he?

It ticks all the right boxes, featuring adorable characters, Santa, crisp freshly fallen snow - and it tugs at the heartstrings a bit. The story of a noble stick man who is separated from his family by accident, and spends almost an entire year trying to get back to them by hook or by crook. Stick Man falls foul of nasty drooling dogs, and even ends up as the arm of a snowman!

Does he make it back in time for Christmas?

For all the effort put in to the marvellous TV adaptations of both Gruffalo books, it stuns me that Stick Man didn't get similar treatment as it really is a magical tale with a goodly dose of festive cheer. We don't get to read it nearly enough as it can really make me quite tearful but then I am a big softy.

Charlotte's best bit: Stick Man's perilous journey on the river, eeks!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Sublime story with a touch of christmas, and almost a tear jerking end that had me reaching for my hankie. Delicious!

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Sunday 21 December 2014

Booky Advent Calendar Day 21 - "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, Lesley Sims and A. Marks (Usborne Publishing)

A Christmas Carol

Written by Charles Dickens and Lesley Sims

Illustrated by A. Marks

Published by Usborne Publishing

Charles Dickens' classic christmas tale deserves a place on anyone's Booky Advent Calendar, but the original story can be quite a hard sell to kids. It's very wordy and unapproachable for younger readers so it's great to see a fantastically edited and illustrated version from the Usborne Young Readers range.

The tale itself is so well known, the story of mean old Ebenezer Scrooge who pinches pennies and lives in a constant state of avaricious misery, inflicting misery on others too. A thoroughly nasty and unchristmassy chap!

On the night before Christmas, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his late departed business partner Marley, who warns him that he will be visited by three spirits, the ghosts of christmases past, present and future. Scrooge scoffs at the warning but the first ghost soon arrives hot on the heels of Marley to show Scrooge the error of his ways.

The ghost of christmas present shows Scrooge what he's missing out on, and even though Scrooge is mean to his employee Bob Cratchit, the poor fellow manages to scrape together a christmas for his family and his young son Tiny Tim all the same.

The ghost of christmas yet to come has the most chilling message to impart. Scrooge is dead, and no one mourns him, no one is sorry that he has gone, no one misses him - the most tragic message of all. Is it too late for Scrooge to change his ways?

You'll know the rest - and though this book heavily edits down a fairly hefty story into just a few pages, it's nonetheless an effective and lovely version of a well loved classic, perfectly rekindled for children to love and enjoy.

Charlotte's best bit: Tiny Tim having a shoulder carry from a newly reformed Scrooge! Hooray!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A lovely version of a well loved Christmas classic, perfect for introducing children to the wonderful works of Dickens.
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Saturday 20 December 2014

Booky Advent Calendar Day 20 - "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey" by Susan Wojciechowski and Patrick Lynch (Walker Books)

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

Written and by Susan Wojciechowski
Illustrated by Patrick Lynch

Published by Walker Books

Oooh this is such a lovely christmas tale, the booky equivalent of a gorgeous mug of mulled wine and a fruity mince pie. This heartwarming story may start out feeling a little less than festive, but like all good christmas tales it's guaranteed to melt your heart.

"The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey" introduces us to Jonathan himself, who is a bit of a loner, always seems gloomy (the villagers nickname the poor soul "Gloomy Toomey") but no one quite knows the secret of the old woodcarver, or the real reasons for his self-inflicted solitude.

His reputation as an expert woodcarver brings him to the attention of a young widow and her son. New to the area, they solicit the services of the woodcarver to carve a very special set of animals and characters for a christmas Nativity scene.

At first, Jonathan Toomey is gruff and grumpy about the task at hand, but when the young widow becomes a regular visitor, and her son shows an interest in Jonathan Toomey's wonderful work, a special bond begins. As the work draws to a close, Jonathan Toomey begins to realise just how much he'll miss his house guests once the commission is completed. But this is a christmas tale, so we'll leave you to discover the rather lovely heartwarming ending to this particular tale.

At first glance you wouldn't mark this out as a christmassy book because it doesn't really scream Christmas at you! But it is such a lovely tale we couldn't resist it.

(Definitely don't be fooled enough to seek out the movie based on the book though, it's absolutely dreadful!)

Charlotte's best bit: Jonathan Toomey's glorious carved angels

Daddy's Favourite bit: A cuddly heartwarming story that's sure to be a favourite for reading while tucked up under a blanket next to the warm fire. Lovely and atmospheric
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Friday 19 December 2014

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 19th December 2014 - "Please Mr Panda" by Steve Antony (Hodder Children's Books)

Please Mr Panda

Written and Illustrated by
Steve Antony

Published by Hodder Children's Books

We couldn't resist sneaking in just one more book of the week before we take a bit of a break over Christmas (but don't worry, articles and reviews will still be popping up between now and January so stay tuned!)

Steve Antony has established himself as a bit of a superstar this year. His second book "The Queen's Hat" rocked our socks off back in April, with a wonderful celebratory mix of crazy chase antics, regal tomfoolery and a lovely touristy whirl around our beloved capital.

It's been really great to see other folk loving the book as much as we have - and they're going to fall in love all over again with Steve's latest book.

Put it this way, we knew we were going to love it from the moment we saw the star's dour and quite serious expression on the front cover of the book. Mr Panda may look slightly grumpy but he's a stickler for good manners. So when Mr Panda decides to offer a huge tray of (quite mouthwateringly delicious) donuts to his friends, you'd expect there to be a bit of a bunfight.

"Manners maketh the man" said my wise old Nan, and she was right - but it seems that none of Mr Panda's friends have ever been taught about good manners and politeness. They're rude, grabby and they're definitely NOT going to be sampling Mr Panda's fare with an attitude like that.

It takes an utterly adorable lemur to show people how it's done. In fact the rather delicious moment when Mr Panda hears a please, and a thank you caused us to cackle with glee - largely due to Steve's utterly fab way with expressions (Mr Panda is a deadpan superstar, we LOVE him!)

We read this again, and again, and again (and as it turned up first thing in the morning we ended up in a mad rush to get to work and school - but hey, some things are worth being late for!)

So Steve effortlessly cruises into our Book of the Week slot once again, this book is an absolute hoot but more importantly it's something of a rarity - there really aren't enough books around that encourage politeness and good manners, and certainly none that deliver their core message in such an utterly brilliant way. Hooray for Steve and Mr Panda!

Charlotte's best bit: Lemur's look of blissed-out sugar-fuelled satisfaction after a ring-donut feast! (She adored the fact that he could thread all the donuts onto his tail and just scoff them at leisure)

Daddy's Favourite bit: Steve is swiftly establishing himself as a children's book superstar, comparisons to Jon Klassen are justified - with the tiniest tweak of his pen he can imbue the characters in this story with huge personality, none less so than Mr Panda himself! Love his deadpan expressions and utterly love each reaction to animal rudeness. Thoroughly well deserved as one of our final book of the week winners of 2014

(Kindly sent to us for review by Hodder Children's Books)
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ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 19th December 2014 - "Minecraft Blockopedia" (Mojang / Egmont)

Minecraft: Blockopedia

Minecraft created by Mojang

Published by Egmont Publishing

Like a super-exploding box of TNT this absolutely STUNNING book exploded through our letterbox and caused a huge amount of fuss. Egmont's "Minecraft: Blockopedia" is no ordinary Minecraft book, it's a block in itself and has to be a real contender for "Book Design of the Year".

Clad in a black monolithic box that screams Stanley Ku-brick (see what we did there?) at you, it's a real treat for the eyes before you've even opened the cover (and the whole forced perspective design has royally messed with your senses.

So what's inside? A block-by-block breakdown of the world's most popular game. Kids love it, adults secretly run off and play it when the kids are asleep, and it's become something of an obsession as the game has spawned merchandise, Lego (which is a real head flip - a game about building spawning a bunch of sets for building things with) and of course lovely lovely books.

Open up this fantastic book for deep knowledge about Minecraft's world. Ice? Nice!

There are two schools of thought when it comes to learning all the intricacies of Minecraft (and it is a game that looks deceptively simple, don't be fooled by the graphics - inside the game beats the heart of a living breathing world that's just waiting for you to shape it in whichever way you choose). Some folk stick to learning their 'craft online, with the various wikipedias, youtube videos and other sources of info. That feels a bit too much like cheating to us. So with the Blockopedia you'll get the inside track on every type of block and material in the game, plus a few you may not have even encountered yet (so be warned, there may be spoilers ahead but they're well posted!) but won't necessarily be shown the best methods of how to short-cut the game (aside from one tiny instance of learning a very quick way to make stone which is absolutely ingenious!)

We'd never even seen a daylight sensor before. Now we know what they're for and how to use them!

Charlotte seized this book and that was the last I saw of it for a while, as she'd tuck herself up in bed at night with it (and her torch - though thankfully not the Minecraft 'flaming' kind) teasing nuggets of information the next morning that 'silly old daddy' won't know. I was petrified that the book might get damaged as the hexagonal pages are a bit tricky to get hold of as you're flipping through, but the book is beautifully presented and made of sturdy stuff so it'll last a lifetime if treated right.

Really though, it's all about the detail in this - it's exhaustive, knowledgeable and authoritative, a real "must buy" for your own little Minecraft obsessives. Perfection comes at a price though, but hunt around for a good deal on this one and you'll find lots of retailers lopping a tenner off the hefty £30 RRP. Put it this way though, it's not just a book it's a real collector's item in its presentation box, so if you want something that's going to really up your game as well as be something that looks utterly gorgeous laid on your coffee table fooling people into thinking you've left a real life minecraft block there, then this is definitely for you!

If you'd like to see more from Egmont's amazing Minecraft book range, do check out our Minecraft Theme Week for more!

Charlotte's best bit: Charlotte is obsessed with The Nether at the moment, and loved learning about the best ways to stay alive in that particularly inhospitable environment thanks to this awesome book!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Utterly amazing, beautiful, stunning - we almost ran out of superlatives for this one. It's like "The Knowledge" for Minecraft fans, wrapped up in a truly jaw-dropping book design. Whoah!

(Kindly sent to us for review by those awsome folk at Egmont UK - our deepest thanks!)
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Booky Advent Calendar Day 19 - "The Stone Lion" by Margaret Wild (Little Hare Publishing)

The Stone Lion

Written and Illustrated by
Margaret Wild

Published by Little Hare Publishing

Though this isn't strictly a Christmas tale, it's the sort of heartwarming story we cannot possibly resist at this time of year. As soon as we saw the cover of Margaret Wild's "The Stone Lion" in the Library we knew we wanted to investigate further. Inside, is the meltingly gorgeous story of a proud stone lion who lives outside a local library. This Lion is magical, and is aware of the things going on around him although he doesn't always know the reason why certain things happen. A young orphan girl and her tiny baby brother often drop by to visit the Stone Lion, to cuddle him and both secretly wish that he could come to life.

A wise old gargoyle who also lives at the library tells the Lion that something magical must happen to bring that Lion to life. It takes a single spark of imagination for the lion to be able to run wild, be free, and breathe.

Day after day the young orphan girl and her baby brother visit, but their condition begins to deteriorate. They're hungry, freezing cold and as weak as kittens and the Lion looks on, powerless to help.

But we all know that magic is never far away and just as all seems lost, the Lion seizes his chance to grasp gasping at life, to save theirs.

I'll warn you now, if you hunt this book down (and it's a bit of a delicious rarity) be prepared to grab a box of tissues because you'll feel like sobbing your heart out, first with sadness then happiness as the tale gently unfolds. It's so atmospheric and just draws you in. The artwork is stunning and sumptuous and it's such an original tale. Do try and find it, even if you're the sensitive weepy type (like me!) It's well worth it.

Charlotte's best bit: When the Lion comes to life and roars for help in the library! Awesome!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A heartwarming heart-melter of a book that might not be christmassy but is utterly perfect for this time of year.
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Thursday 18 December 2014

Zombie RiZing Book 1 - Scared to Beath by Matt Pike and Steve Grice (Amazon Digital Services)

Zombie RiZing Book 1 - Scared to Beath

Written by Matt Pike

Illustrated by Steve Grice

Published by Amazon Digital Services

We're always on the look out for books that include mighty girl characters, but with an original twist. We're also huge champions of books that are thoroughly inclusive and a rip-roaring interesting read as well! So when Matt Pike contacted us out of the blue about "Zombie RiZing Book 1 - Scared to Beath" we were drawn in by the cool zombie-vibe story and importantly the characters too.

Meet the kick-ass zombie-slaying gang!

The story starts off fairly simply with just another ordinary day at school for Beth and her friends but lessons are about to take a darker turn as a Zombie plague swiftly consumes the planet, and leaves Beth and the gang trapped at school with only their wits and the contents of the stationery cupboard to defend themselves with.

Beth's no ordinary hero though, Beth is a cricket-bat-wielding mighty girl, and she rallies her crew to fight the Zombie menace and save the day. Along with Beth you'll also find Sonny Winterbottom - might be lacking in street smarts but powerful enough to turn a zombie into goo , Zhang Jing - smart and intelligent with a killer violin bow, Ms Simmons - the cool and intelligent science teacher,  Vihaan Pawar - Uber-geek but handy with a cricket bat and sling-short (ish) and Abby Carter - wheelchair bound but as sharp as a tack, Beth's best friend and solid supporter.

Awesome Abby - Smart and funny and the solid foundation for the zombie slaying gang!

Matt cast his own daughter Abby as a character in the book which is really awesome. Abby has Rett's Syndrome - a neurological condition that I hadn't known about until Matt got in touch.

Matt donates part of the proceeds from each book sale to and it's also worth looking at some of the other Rett Syndrome research and charities for more information:

We really enjoyed this mighty girl take on the Zombie genre. Illustrated with brilliant artwork by Steve Grice, this is the sort of book Charlotte seizes on, with an absolute metric ton of fast paced action and punchy dialogue (and a few gross-out giggles too!) She absolutely can't wait for Book 2, which should be coming along in 2015 with further stories in the saga planned for future release. 

Loving some of the neat little touches in the book too, like the token collecting 'mini game' peppered throughout volume one. You can also find a ton more information about the book and the characters over at Matt's website: (where you can also sign up for a mailing list to keep up with the gang's adventures!)

If you're looking for a really cool (and kid friendly) horror story with tons of originality and a brilliant character cast, definitely check out "Zombie RiZing Book 1 - Scared to Beath".

About the author, Matt Pike: 

Like the legendary R M Williams, Matt was born in Jamestown in rural South Australia. But that’s where the remarkable similarities between these two end. While Reginald went from bushman to world renowned millionaire outback clothing designer, Matt is a complete dag who was lured by the city lights of Adelaide. Kindergarten in the big smoke was a culture shock, but it is here he first discovered his love of storytelling.

In high school that love found an outlet in a series of completely unflattering cartoons about fellow students and teachers alike. He survived long enough to further his art into a successful career in multimedia design but, like a zombified leech, the lure of the written word gnawed at him, forcing him to pen his first novel, the award-winning sci-fi comedy epic, Kings of the World. It was followed the next year by Amazon Australia dystopian sci-fi best-seller Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor.

Matt donates part-proceeds of each book sold to find a cure for Rett Syndrome, a neurological condition the youngest of his three children, Abby, has. As a gorgeous Rett angel, Abby cannot walk, talk or use her hands in a meaningful way. So, not only is each of your book purchases a ticket to fantastically rounded, character driven, hilarious and poignant sci-fi awesomeness, it wraps you in a warm feeling that you’ve made a difference to people who deserve your help the most. Like the zombified leech it’s a no-brainer.

"Zombie RiZing Book 1 - Scared to Beath" is out today, Thursday 18th December, available from Amazon.

Charlotte's best bit: She is just completely in love with Beth and wants to be as kick-ass as her

Daddy's Favourite bit: A rip-roaring action packed zombie-laced adventure for mighty girls and boys everywhere, we love it and can't wait for Book 2

(Kindly sent to us for review in PDF Form by Matt Pike)
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Booky Advent Calendar Day 18 - "When It Snows" by Richard Collingridge (David Fickling Books)

When It Snows

Written and Illustrated by
Richard Collingridge

Published by David Fickling Books

Some books sum up the magic of christmas purely by one glance of their covers. From the moment you open that cover you're whisked on a magical and atmospheric journey that just draws you in, and doesn't let you go until the journey is complete (assuming, of course, that you don't do what we do and just flick straight back to the first page and start all over again!)

Richard Collingridge's fabulous "When It Snows" originally came out in 2012 and it's been a regular in our Christmas Booky Advent Calendar ever since. The story of a young boy making his way through a snow-bound landscape, the story's lyrical lilt and utterly fabulous illustrations take you through each stage of the boy's journey as he makes his way past frozen snow-bound vehicles, to a dark and magical place in the forest where fairies dwell and perhaps there'll even be a glimpse of Santa himself!

We often talk about books being 'cuddle-up classics' - books that seem purely designed to be enjoyed while cuddling up with your loved ones. In the spirit of such brilliant classics as "The Polar Express" and "The Night Before Christmas" we would place "When it Snows" and hope that one day you'll discover it too and make it a part of your christmas traditions!

Charlotte's best bit: The boy's polar bear ride and first meeting with the awesome fairy folk

Daddy's Favourite bit: The story flows perfectly, the images practically leap off the page to envelop you, it's a book that we have enjoyed again and again and really hope you'll seek out too!

(Kindly sent to us for review by David Fickling Books)
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Wednesday 17 December 2014

Wanted: Ralfy Rabbit - Book Burglar by Emily MacKenzie (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit - Book Burglar

Written and Illustrated by
Emily MacKenzie

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing

We couldn't resist sneaking this one in like a pair of book-reviewing burglars, ahead of this book's official release date on the 18th December. That way you'll have a chance to dash out to the shops with an elated "WHOOP!" of glee to pick up this book and enjoy it as a bit of a pre-festive treat.

And pick it up you must, because tucked within the covers of Emily MacKenzie's stunning debut for Bloomsbury is a love letter to libraries (and anyone who extols the virtues of our beloved libraries is pretty much OK with us!)

Ralfy the Rabbit isn't just your ordinary everyday bunny. While other rabbits dream of lettuces, carrots - or the really weird ones dream of celery (YUCK!) Ralfy the rabbit dreams of something else. He doesn't want to feed his tummy, just his mind - by reading awesome books every single day.

Ralfy becomes a bit of a bunny obsessive about books - and well he might. Merely reading his own books isn't enough for Ralfy, and soon he becomes a book burglar stealing into people's homes to read their well-thumbed classics. Ralfy doesn't just stop at reading them though, oh no - he takes them home with him too!

Naughty Ralfy. Though we applaud his bookish enthusiasm, his methods lead a lot to be desired - and when he steals a young boy's most treasured and favourite book about monsters and mythical beasts, a stakeout begins. The boy can't convince the police that the book-based burglar he caught a glimpse of is real, but when Ralfy takes things a step too far, it's curtains for the bunny book thief - and a day of reckoning!

What happens to Ralfy? Will he ever be able to indulge his obsession ever again or is it the clink for the cunicular miscreant? The boy takes pity on Ralfy and has the perfect solution!!

You'll discover the joys of Ralfy's discovery of how he can indulge his passion just as much as we enjoyed our very first forays into our local library. Charlotte loved this story because A) Ralfy's a bit of a little tearaway really, and children cannot help but adore naughty characters they can live vicariously through and B) Ralfy's rather fetching little T Shirt is exactly the sort of shirt Charlotte would wear. It's a gigglesome and entertaining story and Emily is definitely a lady worth watching - as her first book is beautifully written and illustrated, a complete hoot and feels like the start of something spectacular if the rest of her work is of this superbly high standard!

Charlotte's best bit: Ralfy is rather good at hiding amongst bookshelves! Can you spot him?

Daddy's Favourite bit: A mighty impressive debut from Emily, and a brilliant little character destined to make children giggle (and also destined to make them want to read more books too! No bad thing!)

(Kindly sent to us for review by Bloomsbury Publishing)

Like this? You'll also love these...

Burglar Bill by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Grandma Bendy by Izy Penguin

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Booky Advent Calendar Day 17: Mr Men: The Christmas Party by Roger Hargreaves (Egmont Publishing)

Mr Men: The Christmas Party

Written and Illustrated by
Roger Hargreaves

Published by Egmont Publishing

Mr Men books have been staple fodder for a couple of generations of our family. I still remember the awesome animated TV series narrated by Arthur Lowe, and back when I was at primary school the Mr Men books were extremely popular, kids would draw them on their scrap books or pencil cases and there was even a brilliant range of plush toys (my sister had a Mr Bump complete with bandages!)

Along came the Little Miss books to join the male-dominated range, and now there are even more books than ever.

For our Booky Advent Calendar we've picked out one of Egmont's new stories with a christmas twist. It's time for the grand Christmas Party and all the Little Misses and Mr Men are invited. Mr Happy will be the genial host, and he soon sends out invitations to everyone.

One person is in two minds about coming along though. Little Miss Shy. She really wants to go but doesn't know if she can sum up enough courage to go along. What if she blushes and gets embarrassed? It's quite the quandary to be in!

Luckily on the day of the party it snows really heavily. Everyone is downcast and sad because it looks like the party will have to be cancelled. All but Little Miss Shy who doesn't have to worry about going or not going any more. But Mr Christmas has a fantastic idea. He's going to borrow Santa's sled to ensure everyone gets to the party on time, and it can go ahead! CATASTROPHE (for Little Miss Shy at least!)

So does she make it to the big yuletide bash, or does her shyness stop her?

You'll have to read this awesome little christmas story to find out. The Little Miss / Mr Men books are still as great as they ever were, and this story in particular struck a chord with Charlotte - who is quite shy herself. Maybe if you can gather enough courage to do the things that scare you, you'll end up having the most brilliant time ever! What a great message, not just for christmas but for any time of the year!

Charlotte's best bit: Mr Silly's amazing crazy band and their weird instruments!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A great little message and it's so good to see that the Little Miss / Mr Men books are still as fantastic as ever they were!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Egmont Publishing)
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Tuesday 16 December 2014

Booky Advent Calendar Day 16: "The Polar Express" by Chris Van Allsburg (Andersen Children's Books)

The Polar Express

Written and Illustrated by
Chris Van Allsburg

Published by Andersen Children's Books

Chris Van Allsburg's books always have a wonderful touch of the magical and surreal about them and never more so than in this utterly perfect christmas tale. Forget what you know about the CGI movie based on this (though, actually we really love the movie too!) - dip into the book which is one of the most atmospheric and perfectly paced christmas stories ever written for children.

We always make a habit of digging this out in the run-up to Christmas. It's the tale of a young boy who boards a magical train that shudders to a halt outside his door one Christmas Eve. The train guard loudly announces that the train is destined for the North Pole, and the passengers will meet Santa! What child could possibly resist!?

Amazing refreshments are served (just reading Van Allsburg's descriptions of the hot chocolate in this book make your mouth water!) and the train gallops through the landscape before arriving at all points north.

The young boy is miraculously chosen by Santa to receive the first christmas gift and he chooses something fairly humble, a bell from Santa's sleigh. But on the way back home the boy realises that he put the bell in his nightgown pocket - and that pocket has a hole in it!

The bell is lost, and the boy is downcast. But with the magic and spirit of christmas, will the boy's christmas wish come true after all?

We've read this so many times - which is why you'll always see a tiny bell somewhere on our christmas tree. We shake the bell to see if everyone can hear it (if you read this story you'll understand why).

An utterly perfect christmas tale. If you only know the movie, or have never seen either, then you definitely need this book on your christmas list!

Charlotte's best bit: As the boy grows older he can still hear the bell, even though his parents (and eventually his sister) can't

Daddy's Favourite bit: Utterly and completely magical. We love Van Allsburg's books but this is our absolute favourite.

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Monday 15 December 2014

Marceline and the Scream Queens - Adventure Time Mini Series by Meredith Gran (Titan Books)

Marceline and the Scream Queens - An Adventure Time Mini Series

Written and Illustrated by
Meredith Gran and others

Published by Titan Books

Adventure Time is one of our favourite cartoon distractions, the perfect mix of kid-friendly giggles and adult-friendly jokes that sail way way over your youngling's head.

We've watched the first volume of Finn and Jake's adventures on DVD (Poor show that these aren't more readily available in the UK!) and when we spotted that Titan Comics had produced a set of miniseries comic novels to accompany the show, we grabbed a couple.

Marceline is without doubt one of Charlotte's favourite characters. She's a crazy vampire girl who we're never really sure is a goodie or a baddie, but she carves out her own inimitable style in the Adventure Time universe (we love the fact that she mercilessly teases Finn and Jake at every opportunity!)

This collected miniseries tells the story of Marceline and her band, The Scream Queens, who are suffering from an identity crisis, creative differences, all the usual things that a band go through. It needs a level head to take up management of the band and put them back on track. Who better than Princess Bubblegum!

The graphic novel is divided up into a set of stories with Meredith Gran collaborating with the cream of comic talent working in the industry at the moment. The likes of Faith Erin Hicks, Ming Doyle, John Allison and Lucy Knisley all contribute as the tale unfolds of Marceline's cool and rocking back story.

It sets the bar fairly high for the rest of the Adventure Time comic series (which we'll be diving into at some point). It's also quite awesome to see one of our favourite characters in the series take centre stage pushing Finn and Jake to the background for a while (something we think Marceline would DEFINITELY approve of!)

Charlotte's best bit: She loves the story where Marceline's self doubt causes her to mutate into a big horrible scary monster. EEP!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Marceline's our fave character, and who doesn't love that guitar!
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Booky Advent Calendar Day 15 - "Christmas Crafts - Festive Things to Make and Do" by Danielle Lowy (QED Publishing)

Christmas Crafts - Festive Things to Make and Do

Compiled by
Danielle Lowy

Published by QED Publishing

There may be a mere 10 SLEEPS TILL CHRISTMAS (eek!) but that still gives you plenty of time to indulge in a little christmas craftwork. "Christmas Crafts - Festive Things to Make and Do" by Danielle Lowy is a whopping great big tome absolutely packed with stunning ideas to help you produce some really fantastic christmas decorations, gift ideas and wonderful yuletide goodies.

The book helpfully comes with a brace of templates tucked away at the back to get you off to a flying start as you find out how to make all sorts of amazing christmassy things. Perfect for the christmas holidays when kids are hopping from foot to foot with excitement before the big day.

Charlotte's best bit: Cutting, sticking, glueing and generally getting covered in acres of glitter making awesome decorations for the christmas tree

Daddy's Favourite bit: A fun and inventive set of awesome christmas "makes" with fantastically clear instructions and a good dose of originality. Perfecto!

(Kindly sent to us for review by QED)
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Friday 12 December 2014

Booky Advent Calendar Day 12 - "Amelie and Nanette - Snow Flakes and Fairy Wishes" by Sophie Tilley (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Amelie and Nanette - Snow Flakes and Fairy Wishes

Written and Illustrated by
Sophie Tilley

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing

This is a christmas cracker that almost seems to spontaneously play "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies" as you open the cover. "Amelie and Nanette - Snow Flakes and Fairy Wishes" is the latest book in Sophie Tilley's Amelie and Nanette series.

The girls are planning the perfect christmas, but poor Nanette comes down with a bad case of the sniffles just as plans are made for a really special christmas day.

Thankfully Amelie rallies friends around, and together they do their utmost to make Nanette's christmas dreams and wishes come true.

Charlotte loved this vision of christmas, perfect in its depiction of all the things that little girls would love to happen around the festive period and I'm sure your little girl(s) will absolutely love it too!

Charlotte's best bit: Pilou the Dog joins in to help Nanette's christmas go with a bang (and a bark or two!)

Daddy's Favourite bit: Your little girls (and boys) will adore this gleefully christmassy story.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Bloomsbury Publishing)
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ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 12th December 2014 - "Animalium - Welcome to the Museum" by Jenny Broom and Katie Scott (Big Picture Press)

Animalium - Welcome to the Museum

Written by Jenny Broom

Illustrated by Katie Scott

Published by Big Picture Press

Welcome to natural history in all it's glory! When we first heard about Animalium, and saw those initial few illustrations our curiosity was piqued. It sounded exactly like the sort of book we'd be able to lose ourselves for hours in, just like we love losing ourselves in our local NH museums (we're very fortunate enough to have one of the best Natural History museums outside London in our locale, the awesome University Museum here in Oxford and we'll quite happily disappear into that wonderful place to check out all the astonishing creatures therein).

Jenny Broom and Katie Scott are our curators for a fantastic journey through the animal kingdom. They wanted to recapture the magic of museums in book form, and they've done so with aplomb. Here in "Animalium" you'll find collected together animal species both familiar and unfamiliar, in their associated classifications with historical information about how species are named, and showing the particular traits of each species too.

The book is HUGE, hardback and luxuriously presented - feeling like a weighty Victorian tome on genus and species - and the illustrations feel like they hark back to that era where each animal drawing was meticulously worked on and rendered in beautiful detail.

The text respects children's thirst for knowledge. There's no dumbing down here, but at the same time the book doesn't feel cold and scientific. It's extremely inviting and absorbing, and you can't help but be drawn in (I will freely admit to tucking myself up with this book when Charlotte is fast asleep, it's truly dazzling for a really broad range of ages).

Charlotte's reaction to the book was similar, and she loves picking through the myriad facts and figures about the animals, but above all it's the sort of book that demands to be sprawled out on the floor with, thoroughly explored from cover to cover - better still if done so as a shared experience.

It's been fantastic to see this book taking pride of place in stores too, in both the standard edition and the gorgeous deluxe version that looks like its own museum cabinet.

Thoroughly recommended, it's a real 'wow' book this, and if you want an absolutely beautiful book to give to your children this christmas, it's utterly perfect!

Charlotte's best bit: A fascination with all things squid and frog-like (particularly the cute Tomato Frog - well Charlotte thought it was cute anyway!)

Daddy's Favourite bit: Glorious, luxurious, utterly essential book that will absorb and involve you and your children for hours

(Kindly sent to us for review by Big Picture Press)
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Thursday 11 December 2014

The Big Reveal! Here's the awesome poster for International Book Giving Day 2015 (#giveabook) from the hugely talented Chris Haughton!

Chris Haughton's brilliant official poster for International Book Giving Day. Join in on 14th February 2015!

Once again, International Book Giving Day will take place on Valentines Day, that is 14th February 2015! To get the ball rolling we can reveal the official IBGD poster, designed by the truly awesome Chris ("A Bit Lost, Hat Monkey") Haughton. Gaze on it, marvel at its splendour!

Chris Haughton has been an illustrator for over 12 years. His first children’s book, A Bit Lost, has been translated into 19 languages and has won 9 awards in 7 countries. This was followed by Oh No, George! in 2012, winner of the Junior Magazine Picturebook of the year award. His latest picture book SHH! We Have A Plan (March 2014) won the AOI award for children's books for 2014.

“I am absolutely delighted that Chris Haughton has designed this year’s poster. His unique, eye-catching style will help spread the word to encourage many more people to give books on 14th February 2015.” Emma Perry, IBGD.

You can join in and support International Book Giving Day in a variety of ways but most importantly, spread the word via blogs and twitter if you can (using the hashtag #giveabook)

Also check out the following useful links to get more directly involved: 

Website |

Twitter | @bookgivingday


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Snappy Birthday by Mark Sperring and Laura Ellen Anderson (Bloomsbury Children's Books)

Snappy Birthday

Written by Mark Sperring
Illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson

Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books

This book isn't actually out for another week (shhh! We're probably not supposed to be telling you about it) but it's so good, we wanted to make sure we got in early so that you could sneak it onto your christmas lists.

"Snappy Birthday" from Mark Sperring and Laura Ellen Anderson (the utter GENIUS behind the Phoenix Comic's Evil Emperor Penguin) starts off with a relatively serene scene of a bunch of ragtag kids who receive a mysterious birthday invite from one of their neighbours. This neighbour usually isn't a sociable type, so they're curious enough to pop along.

The neighbour isn't quite what they expected though. It's a huge, bombastic, snappy-toothed, green, scaly, monstrous crown-wearing CROCODILE! EEP!

He politely states that he absolutely can't wait to have them for tea (this is the bit where Charlotte snorted out loud and said "I bet he means actually eat them for tea!" and she's right!) There's only one thing on this crocodile's mind. Scoffing each and every one of his party guests without so much as a please or thank you!

Those kids can think quick on their feet though and so they come up with a plan, a delicious plan to head off Crocodile's appetite steering him in the right cake-shaped direction instead! HOORAY!

This is uproariously good, from the hilarious expressions on the poor children's hapless moggy's face (as it realises that the perfect party host would probably scoff moggies as a side dish) to the calamitous catastrophe of cake-gnashing that happens at the end.

Charlotte's best bit: Definitely the perfect birthday tea at the end, which is really how we ought to celebrate our birthday next year - with a huge CAKE FIGHT!

Daddy's Favourite bit: We love cake, we love crocodiles, and we love smart-as-heck kids who are great at talking themselves out of trouble. This is a hilarious treat by a dynamic duo we really hope work together again! Superb stuff, Mark and Laura!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Bloomsbury Children's Books)
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Booky Advent Calendar Day 11 - "Surprise! The Book that Keeps on Giving!" by Jonathan Litton and Fhiona Galloway (Little Tiger Press)

Surprise! The Book that Keeps on Giving

Written by Jonathan Litton

Illustrated by Fhiona Galloway

Published by Little Tiger Press

A riotous game of pass the parcel with a christmassy feel and the cutest little penguin you could ever hope to meet! That's part of the surprise in store for little ones as they explore "Surprise! The Book that Keeps on Giving!" by Jonathan Litton and Fhiona Galloway. This chunky but funky board book slowly reveals the story as each of the animals hopes to win a prize, with each layer peeled off each animal comes up with their own ideas on how to use their bit of wrapping paper (which is quite a neat thing to see - any parent who has ever organised pass the parcel for their little ones usually knows that a fairly compact parcel can fill an entire living room with paper after just one round!)

We won't reveal what the final surprise is but it caused whoops of glee from us! What a great little book!

Charlotte's best bit: Some fantastic ideas on how to use your christmas wrapping! Cool!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A nicely presented little book with a fantastic surprise in store at the end! Perfect stocking filling fun!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Little Tiger Press)
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Wednesday 10 December 2014

The Lorax by Dr Seuss (HarperCollins Children's Books)

The Lorax

Written and Illustrated by
Dr Seuss

Published by HarperCollins Children's Books

There are so many brilliant Dr Seuss books, and I loved them as a child (and still love them now). It's been a huge pleasure to rediscover these classics through a new pair of eyes, Charlotte's. With her love of clever rhyme and whacky surrealism, the books are a huge draw for her.

Bizarrely though, I'd never actually read "The Lorax" as a kid and hadn't managed to catch up with it before now either. We spotted it in our wonderful local Library in Abingdon, and couldn't wait to dip in.

I'd already heard that it was a children's book way ahead of its time, a book that told a grim tale of what might happen if we don't look after our planet. The Lorax - "He speaks for the trees" - was an amazingly forward-thinking piece of character creation from Mr Giesel, the book was originally published way way back in 1971 as green issues and the impact of mass fossil fuel consumption and deforestation became more of a public focus.

In the story we meet a little boy who finds himself amidst the desolated remains of a once prosperous and bounteous landscape, stripped bare and in ruins. One building remains, a mysterious tipple-topple tower that hosts a faceless individual known only as "The Once-Ler", a creature with a story to tell. For the small cost of a handful of coins and a nail, the story begins.

The unseen narrator tells of the landscape before, of the amazing Truffula trees and their soft foliage and how The Once-Ler saw the potential to make some easy money. Creating "Thneeds" from the Truffula trees, The Onceler sold each Thneed for three eighty nine, and soon began to ramp up production as more and more consumers demanded his unique product.

Inviting friends and family to join him, The Once-Ler began to process more and more Truffulas into Thneeds. But soon a strange little creature aimed to put a stop to his profiteering.

"The Lorax" arrived, and warned of the impact of taking so many trees. Local fauna were suffering, and as the Once-Ler's factories started to belch out pollution into the air and the local rivers, the wildlife suffered and eventually left.

Despite the Lorax's opposition, the Once-Ler carried on regardless until there was nothing left...leaving the Lorax with no choice but to pick himself up, dash himself into the sky, and leave forever too.

There are many reasons why this book is so ground breaking aside from the hugely important message it imparts. It's core message is quite a 'grown up' concept but it's never too early to involve children in ecological issues, making them aware of the importance of being 'green'. It's a book that delivers that message effectively (in Dr Seuss's trademark tricksy rhymes, which are a real joy and a mouth-mangle to read aloud as ever). It's also a book that could quite easily have ended on a sour note, leaving the barren landscape to serve as a lesson, but turns things around with a tiny seed of hope at the end (quite literally).

Other Seuss books will inevitably be more widely known and more fondly remembered, but The Lorax is amazing and definitely should be in every child's bookcase.

Charlotte's best bit: The poor little Bar-Ba-Loots who are forced to leave their beloved Truffula Trees. Awww!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Way ahead of its time, hugely important and thoroughly enjoyable, possibly one of the most accomplished Dr Seuss books - do not overlook this if you spot it in your library!
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Booky Advent Calendar Day 10 - "One Special Christmas" by M Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton (Little Tiger Press)

One Special Christmas

Written by M Christina Butler

Illustrated by Tina Macnaughton

Published by Little Tiger Press

Hooray, hooray! Little Hedgehog is back in a new touchy-feely soft and cuddly book for christmas by M Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton.

"One Special Christmas" sees little hedgehog setting out on a very special yuletide mission. Santa has the sniffles and it looks like Christmas might have to be cancelled, but thankfully Little Hedgehog plops on his new soft red hat and soft red scarf, and pitches in to help. On his little red sled, he's ready to help deliver presents to all the waiting girls and boys.

This book is packed with magical christmas atmosphere and the inlaid soft felt-like panels throughout the book are great for little ones to stroke and touch while you read the story out loud to them. Join little hedgehog on the perfect festive adventure!

Charlotte's best bit: Mouse's tiny tiny tree and even tinier presents! Awww bless!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A lovely little addition to the festive little hedgehog books

(Kindly sent to us for review by Little Tiger Press)
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Tuesday 9 December 2014

Night Sky Watcher by Raman Prinja (QED Publishing)

Night Sky Watcher

Written and Illustrated by
Raman Prinja

Published by QED Publishing

QED produce some of our favourite non-fiction titles, and we've been lucky enough to have received a copy of their rather innovative star-spotting book. At first glance "Night Sky Watcher" by Raman Prinja doesn't even look like a book at all, clad in a funky weatherproof plastic cover, with a zip around it to protect it from the elements. But open it up, and on a clear night you'll soon be spotting constellations, stars and planets with the help of the extremely approachable and kid-friendly content.

Space is cool, and this is an excellent addition to the amazing non-fiction books we've seen about space and star spotting.

This book, a clear sky, a frosty hilltop and a flask of warm cocoa = BLISS!

Charlotte's best bit: Spotting Orion thanks to the book's help

Daddy's Favourite bit: An innovative idea for a book that just BEGS to be taken out for night-time strolls!

(Kindly sent to us for review by QED Publishing)
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