Thursday, 27 August 2015

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - August 2015 - "Monsters, Penguins, Bobbly Socks, Wild Woods, Dorks and Stone Circles"

"Stop Those Monsters!" by Steve Cole, illustrated by Jim Field (Simon and Schuster)

A monstrously good day to you. We're basking in the middle of a heatwave as we type (though by the time you read this, we'll probably be languishing in the middle of our rainy season!) Yes it's the August Chapter Book and Early Readers roundup so what's on our dance card for this month?

We start off with Monsters. Did your eyes pop out at our header image? Well it's time to meet Steve Cole's latest monster meisterwork "Stop Those Monsters!"

Billed as "The Wizard of Oz Meets Monsters Inc." (which is a movie mashup we'd DEARLY love to see, "Stop Those Monsters" relates the tale of Bob. No he's not a monster, he's a human boy, trapped in a strange land populated with slobbering toothy hairy nefarious beasts.

As you can imagine, Bob needs his wits about him just to survive an average day but Bob isn't content to just sit around moping - Bob wants to escape this crazy place and with the help of three monstrous companions, Verity (A weird monster who looks a bit like a gigantic hamster), Alfie (voted "World's least scary monster or supernatural being" three years running) and Zola (who, despite being one of the infamous Gorgons, can't actually turn anyone to stone!) Bob hatches a plan to break out of the crazy place before it drives him ga-ga!

Steve Cole's pacy writing, coupled with Jim Field's monster-tastic illustrations, make this utterly essential reading for rib-tickling monster fans. "Stop Those Monsters!" is out now from Simon and Schuster.

With an intriguing title, and some extremely cool penguins, let's move on to chillier climes...

"Meet at the Ark at Eight" by Ulrich Hub (with illustrations by Jorg Muhle) (Pushkin Children's Books)
"Meet at the Ark at Eight" by Ulrich Hub (with gorgeous illustrations from Jorg Muhle) is the tale of a rainy day, a posse of penguins and a rather neat twist on the well-loved biblical tale of Noah and the Ark. This time though, as the flood waters rise our penguin pals are on a strict deadline - Meet at the ark at eight or risk drowning! A wise dove issues the warning and our caper begins.

The three madcap penguins aren't the brightest sparks in the box, but along with a rather surly (and hilariously funny) dove, a beautiful butterfly and an all-seeing god, will the penguins arrive safe and sound (and be home and dry?) Ulrich Hub's allegorical and hugely funny tale is rib-tickling from start to finish (and adults will certainly spot a lot of wry humour in it that will sail right over their little ones' heads!)

"Meet at the Ark at Eight" is published by Pushkin Press, and will be available on the 24th September 2015.

Next up, what has our favourite Tardis-Beret-Wearing dapper gadabout hound been up to lately...?

Claude: Lights, Camera, Action by Alex T. Smith (Hodder Children's Books)

Claude and Sir Bobblysock are hitting the sunkissed boulevards of Hollywood (or rather, the local high street transformed into a makeshift film set) in their latest greatest adventure, a book that caused considerable whooping and cheering when it arrived on Charlotte's bedside table. "Claude: Lights, Camera, Action" follows our dapper adventurous pooch pal and his woolly but clever companion into the movies, completely by accident. With the aid of a troublesome washing line, a trampoline and a deft disguise or two, Claude and Sir Bobblysock stand in for two injured actors when a film production company shows up on the other side of Claude's garden fence. It's time for high adventure on the silver screen as Claude and Bobbles (as Charlotte likes to call him) make a bid for stardom!

As ever, with Alex T. Smith's razor-sharp comic timing and superb illustrations, we're in for a cheeky cinematic tour-de-force in Claude's biggest outing yet.

Keep a very close eye on Claude news in the future because he might become a REAL LIFE movie star, at least on the small screen as a Claude TV series has been optioned! We cannot wait (we're just sad that Kenneth Williams isn't alive to do Claude's voice!)

"Claude: Lights, Camera, Action" by Alex T. Smith is out now from Hodder Children's Books

How about something from a writing legend next who you may not have heard of, but truly owe it to yourself to get to know...?
"The Letter for the King" and "The Secrets of the Wild Wood" by Tonke Dragt. Sprawling and epic stuff! (Puskin Press)

Pushkin Press have re-released Tonke Dragt's million selling "The Letter for the King" and now the sequel, "The Secrets of the Wild Wood" has also been released clad in a fantastic new cover. For those unfamiliar with Tonke Dragt, she's the Dutch genius author of a huge and important body of work to easily rival Tolkien and C.S. Lewis in scope and scale. "The Letter for the King" introduces us to 16 year old Tiuri, tasked with delivering a vital message on a perilous quest across an unforbidding landscape. Tiuri's world is in turmoil, and though the contents of the letter and Tiuri's identity must remain secret, the entire future of the realm depends on the letter reaching the king's hands.

In "The Secrets of the Wild Wood" Tiuri's quest continues as he becomes a knight, sent out on a rescue mission to a dark place filled with magic and foreboding.

If your children can cope with epic, truly epic books on a grand scale (put it this way, if they could work their way through the last few Harry Potter books they'll have no problem with this mammoth pair of amazing tales) they're going to be completely lost to these. "The Letter from the King" is available now from Pushkin Press with "The Secrets of the Wild Wood" released in September.

Did someone say "Dorks?" How rude, and it's definitely rude to read other people's diaries...

"Dork Diaries: Drama Queen (Dork Diaries 9) by Rachel Renee Russell (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

Fashionably late to the party as ever, darrrrrling, we're catching up with the zillion selling "Dork Diaries" books by Rachel Renee Russell. In "Dork Diaries: Drama Queen (Dork Diaries Book 9), our intrepid dork du jour Nikki updates her diary with unfortunate incidents involving beloved pet fish, and the joys (or terrors) of Spring as the diary catches up with the month of April. What else is in store for Nikki, Brandon, Zoey and Chloe? You'd better tune in to Dorksville and find out.

"Dork Diaries: Drama Queen" is out now, released by Simon and Schuster in the most gorgeous Leopard-print hardcover!

What's left in our gorgeous goodie-bag of chapter books and early readers this month?

"Circles of Stone (The Mirror Chronicles) by Ian Johnstone (HarperCollins Children's Books)
The follow up to the fantastic "The Bell Between Worlds", here's "Circles of Stone" by Ian Johnstone, picking up from where TBBW left off with Sylas and Naeo facing a dark army led by the nefarious Dark Lord Thoth. As they continue to explore the boundaries of the mirror world, both are being hunted by the dark lord's forces, intent on destroying the duo before their true powers can be realised. Ian's amazing fantasy world shows that Oxford really is THE city for amazing fantasy authors. Name any top selling fantasy series of the last couple of centuries and you'll soon be adding "The Mirror Chronicles" to the list along with greats by Pullman, Tolkein and Lewis. Fantastic stuff!

"Circles of Stone" is out now from HarperCollins Children's books.

Tune in for more chapter book gorgeousness next month!

(Many thanks to the various publishers who have provided chapter books for our roundups)